In my world, it is never too early to start thinking about fantasy football. It may be March Madness for most fans, but fantasy owners like me are glued to free agency.
While the running back position has been the most valued position in fantasy football for years, that changed last season. Quarterbacks now rule the school in fantasy football and it is time to start keeping your eyes of the fantasy QB who will take you to the Promised Land.
Unfortunately most of the big moves in free agency have been on the defensive side of the football. There were only a handful of moves thus far that will have any kind of major fantasy football impact. So in taking a look at the top 25 fantasy football quarterbacks in March, you can only account for a handful of offseason moves and last year’s numbers. While these numbers will undoubtedly change for some, here is how I think the Top 25 fantasy football quarterbacks would look if the season started today.
2. Peyton Manning – Like the Saints, there hasn’t been much change on the offensive side of the Colts ball. The Colts will have Anthony Gonzalez back at wide receiver which should make them even more dangerous on offense.
3. Matt Schaub – This is a tricky one here. Schaub lost his offensive coordinator which could impact Schaub in a big way. However, as long as he has Owen Daniels, Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton catching balls out of the backfield, and Gary Kubiak’s coaching philosophy, I don’t see a drop off here. Ironically, I think he will have an even better year.
4. Aaron Rodgers – The only concern for me is that Donald Driver will be another year older. A decline in Driver’s ability could sink the entire Green Bay Packers offense and greatly impact Rodgers’ number. However, wide receiver is a position that doesn’t see as big a drop off as others when it comes to older NFL players.
5. Tom Brady – Tom Brady will be two years removed from his ACL injury and most experts tend to think that it takes two years for quarterbacks to fully recover from those kinds of injuries. That said, I do worry about Wes Welker and whether he can a) come back next season and b) play anywhere near 100%. However, the Pats like to roll up the points when they can so while you may only get 12 points from Brady one week, you could get 30 the next, which makes him a top five fantasy football quarterback in my opinion.
6. Brett Favre – Once again, there are a ton of questions here about the old gunslinger’s future in the NFL. Now if Favre does come back, I think he is right in the top tier of quarterbacks. Another year in the offense, another year of experience for his young receiving core, and the same offensive line equals big things as far as I’m concerned for Brett Favre.
7. Jay Cutler – Now before you start bashing me, let me make my case for young Jay. For one thing, he has an offensive minded new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz. Two, he has a running back that can catch the ball and make big things happen with Chester Taylor. Finally, the swinging door known as Orlando Pace is no longer on the team and to me that is addition by subtraction. I love him in 2010!
8. Tony Romo – It’s the same story for Tony Romo every year. He will give you those frustrating weeks late in the year, yet he will also give you a hot early season. I don’t see much of a drop off from last season, but I don’t see much of an increase in numbers this season either.
9. Philip Rivers – There is something about Philip Rivers going into this season that I don’t like. Part of it has to do with the hole at running back. Letting LaDainian go was fine, but the Chargers have yet to replace him. I just think they are letting way too many guys go for a team that continually gets close to the Super Bowl. I’d tread lightly with Rivers next season.
11. Joe Flacco – The Baltimore Ravens were one of the few teams that made a bold offensive move. The addition of Anquan Boldin and the return of Derrick Mason should spread out the Ravens offense more than ever before. I like Flacco in a big bounce back year.
12. Matt Stafford – Stafford is a tricky guy to predict. Nate Burleson will give him another weapon, albeit a minor weapon at that. I do expect something of a sophomore slump, but I think he puts up consistent numbers throughout the season in come-from-behind games which makes him a decent fantasy player next season.
13. Alex Smith – Which Alex Smith shows up is always the big question? Michael Crabtree will have a full off season with Smith which should increase Smith’s value next season. I like him as a dark horse, but how many times have we said that before about Alex Smith?
14. Matt Ryan – He can’t get much worse can he? He is too good to have a repeat season like last year. Tony Gonzalez will have an entire off season to spend with the offense, Roddy White will have a full season without any worries about his contract and I like this offense a lot coming into next season.
15. Vince Young – Once again, which Vince Young will show up? What I liked about Young is that he was passing more than at any time in his NFL career last season. Young and Kenny Britt have a ton of potential together. Young’s favorite target Bo Scaife will be back, and of course teams will be gaming for Chris Johnson. If Young can take advantage of those matchups, I expect a solid season from him in Tennessee.
16. Carson Palmer – Carson Palmer is arguably the most disappointing quarterback of all of last fantasy season. I have never been a huge Antonio Bryant fan so I can’t get too excited about his addition to the team. This is a team that will live by the run and die by the run, and that leaves Carson Palmer in the dust when it comes to fantasy numbers. I like him as a bye-week fill-in, but nothing more.
17. Matt Moore – There isn’t a lot to work with here, but how much worse can he be than Jake Delhomme? Steve Smith managed to have some good games down the stretch last season even with Delhomme and his many mistakes. Moore will have opportunities with teams stacking the box against the run. Can he take advantage of them? I think so. He has a ton of upside, but nobody I’d even consider with my first quarterback pick.
18. Eli Manning – What you have to bank on is that Brandon Jacobs wasn’t making excuses and really was hurt most of last season. If Jacobs can come back and throw another dimension into this offense, Manning could put up some good numbers. Then again, with Kevin Kill-A-Drive calling plays, I’d avoid this Manning like the plague.
19. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben had 26 touchdowns on a team that has been mostly known for their running. I have a sneaky suspicion that the Steelers will put more of a focus on their running game next season. Additionally, Big Ben is one of those quarterbacks that will give you a few huge games, but he is way too inconsistent to make the top fifteen to me.
20. Matt Cassel – If we are to believe that Charlie Weiss is as responsible for Tom Brady’s development as we hear, than Cassel should skyrocket this season. Although, his throws are likely to go down with a backfield of Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones. Then again, he could take advantage of some big play action passes here. One thing is for sure, we are going to find out real fast whether Matt Cassel is a fantasy star or a perennial backup.
21. Kyle Orton –Kyle Orton is a tough one, because he does put up numbers. He isn’t the greatest quarterback in the world, but he is helped out greatly by Brandon Marshall. Today, Marshall is still a Bronco so I’ll rank Orton accordingly. Orton had 21 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards last season , even after missing some games. I like him probably a lot more than where I have him ranked, but I just can’t trust him yet.
22. Jake Delhomme – Here we go again! Like Jay Cutler, I can’t believe that all of the sudden Jake Delhomme has turned into a terrible quarterback. He is bad, but he isn’t that bad. A new system and a new team should be able to give Jake new life. The lack of weapons on offense is worrisome which is why I have him ranked so low.
23. Josh Freeman – This is just a feel, but I think he has the potential to turn into a sleeper quarterback this season. He showed more potential than any other Tampa Buccaneers quarterback has in years.
24. Chad Henne –I really expect the Miami Dolphins to open up the offense more this season. Why the Dolphins aren’t in the Brandon Marshall sweepstakes is beyond me. They desperately need a #1 wide receiver. Maybe they get one in the draft, maybe they step up and grab Brandon Marshall, but until that happens I don’t see big fantasy numbers coming from Henne.
25. Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson – Like the Eagles situation, I am just going to assume as of today that Matt Leinart is the starter. My fingers are cringing just typing his name. If there is anything you can learn from watching great wide receivers, it is that they can make even average quarterbacks look good. How bad can Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson be if they are throwing to Larry Fitzgerald every week? Well, then again…
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