As the NFL preseason begins, all fantasy football owners are beginning their draft preparation before the regular season begins. One of the most important personal cheat sheets you can write up is positional rankings. Today I will be breaking down my quarterback rankings.
When I put together positional rankings, I look at multiple different things to determine where I slot certain players. I try to weigh season-to-season consistency, potential, and injury risk. I don’t take into account average draft position. For instance, I will not own Aaron Rodgers on any of my fantasy teams this year. It’s not that I’m down on Aaron Rodgers (he’s my #1 QB),I just don’t like where he’s going in drafts. This doesn’t change the fact I think he’s the best option this year as your fantasy QB.
I am also not trying to predict where players will finish. For instance, my #1 running back at the moment is Le’Veon Bell, but he is going to miss the first 2 games of the season, making his chances to finish with the most points at the position very difficult. Perhaps these position rankings can be defined as my projection on points per game at the position. Anyways, let’s get into it.
1. Aaron Rodgers- When trying to differentiate between Rodgers and Luck, it really comes down to safety and potential. I’m almost always going to side with potential, but in this case I will make an exception. Rodgers may not have the potential that Luck brings because he isn’t given the opportunity to throw it as much, but cummon. It’s Aaron Rodgers. Even if he does go out and throw it 100-150 less times throughout the season, he has proven to be a much more efficient passer. If I’m taking one of the top QBs, give me the guy that never seems to turn the ball over while still putting up elite numbers.
2. Andrew Luck- He’s still so young, and he is only getting better year by year. The new additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson will make this Colts offense even more dangerous, and that only means great things for the young superstar. Want a good reason to take Luck over Rodgers? Injury history. Granted, this can be chalked up as a fluke in Rodgers’ case, but the history is there, and Luck has a clean slate of health so far in his career.
3. Peyton Manning- I’m seeing a few fantasy experts start to fade away from Manning, and I find this absurd. Yes, his 2nd half of the 2014 regular season was poor by anyone’s standards, but we all could tell he was battling some sort of injury he suffered against the Chargers mid-season. Are you afraid that Gary Kubiak’s run-first offense is going to limit his statistics? Are you forgetting that we are talking about Peyton Manning? I don’t doubt that more running plays will be established into the game plan for the Broncos, but Manning, when fully healthy, is going to be leading that offense. Yes, the old age should not be dismissed, but I’ll take my chances on Manning bouncing back this year and contending for the #1 QB in fantasy football in 2015.
4. Cam Newton- After the top 3 quarterbacks, I start to have troubles picking and choosing where to place players in my rankings. Where do I turn when I’m stuck? Potential. Cam Newton had a poor season last year as he dealt with rib injuries and poor offensive line play each and every week. It’s important to point out that Newton was the #1 QB during the last 4 weeks of the regular season, and that huge arm and rushing ability finally came to life. All signs point to Newton being healthy headed into the 2015 season, and this guy has a track record of putting up top 5 QB numbers throughout his career. I expect a huge increase in his statistics as I expect him to become a goal line threat once again with a healthy body.
5. Drew Brees- In what seemed like a forgettable year for Brees in 2014, he was still able to throw for 4952 yards and 33 TDs. The problem here was, like Peyton Manning, people were drafting him looking for historic numbers. Why don’t I have him as high as Manning then? Well, you have to account for the loss of Jimmy Graham for one. I don’t expect for it to be a huge loss when it’s all said and done on the stat sheet, but it certainly doesn’t help. Losing Kenny Stills will prove to be a big loss as well, but, like Manning, it’s Drew Brees. I know it seems careless to dismiss old age, but when I’m investing mid-level draft picks into QBs, I better be damn sure he is going to fulfill his draft stock. I don’t think Brees is a lock to finish in the top 5, but I can guarantee a top 8 finish for him. At a position where most of the players seem interchangeable, I’m putting a guy I feel most confident to be atop the point total by the end of the year.
6. Russell Wilson– Let me start by saying I will not be owning Russell Wilson on any of my teams this year. Many experts have him as their #3 QB, and that is overreacting to the stats last year. Wilson ran for 849 yards last year, which was 310 yards more than his 2013 rushing total. He ran for 6 TDs, compared to his 1 in 2013. What stayed constant? his passing yards, which the past two years have average out to be right around 3400 yards. He threw for 20 TDs in 2014, which was a decline from his 26 in 2013. Look, 850 rushing yards for a quarterback is a lot. Does Wilson play in an offense that will allow him to repeat? Absolutely. But for Wilson to return the value as the #3 drafted QB he will have to repeat his rushing totals AND increase on his passing stats. If you are bullish on Wilson this year, go ahead and take him there, but I’m going to take the safer route and stick him at #6 in my rankings.
7. Ben Roethlisberger- Big Ben has begun to emerge as a reliable QB1 in fantasy over the past couple of years, and this has everything to do with the weapons that have emerged around him. Antonio Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in the game, and Le’Veon Bell is the best dual threat running back in the NFL today. Roethlisberger is a tough SOB, but that doesn’t necessarily help his fantasy value. He tends to play through injuries, and it ultimately limits his statistical performance. When he is healthy, however, he has made this Steelers offense one of the best in the league. Even with Bell suspended for the first 2 games, Big Ben is a very safe option to draft in the mid to late rounds as your #1 QB.
8. Tony Romo- Romo’s passing yards took a huge hit last year as the Cowboys finally realized that they roster the best offensive line in the NFL, making running the ball a hell of a lot easier. This didn’t stop Romo from being a starting option for your fantasy teams, however, as he was able to throw for 34 TDs and only throwing 9 INTs. 2015 will be an interesting year for the Cowboys offense as they let Demarco Murray leave and didn’t exactly replace him with anything significant (no, Darren McFadden is not the answer). Will the Cowboys return their old ways and force Romo to throw the ball all four quarters? I hope not. That doesn’t seem to translate to fantasy success for Romo, but I do expect a slight uptick in passing attempts. It’s not a sexy pick for your QB, but Romo has the weapons, the offensive line, and the talent to be a solid back end #1 QB for 2015.
9. Tom Brady- With a four game suspension looming, Brady’s draft stock has taken a massive hit. Even understanding you will be without him for four games, finding a way to draft Brady in the later rounds could be the steal of the draft. When you assemble your own positional rankings, you need to take into account of the format of your league when accessing Brady’s value. I play in a 10 team league with normal bench spots, and taking Brady and stashing him doesn’t limit my roster flexibility too much. In such a shallow league, finding a replacement for four games won’t be much of an issue. If you are in a deeper league, say 16 teams, taking Brady can still be a smart play, but just make sure you have a plan to draft another quarterback sooner rather than later. Does your league have a shallow bench? Maybe rank Brady a little lower. He will be a top option at QB when he’s playing, you just have to be ready to eat a roster spot for while and find a viable option in the mean time.
10. Ryan Tannehill- Tannehill has much to improve on in his deep throwing accuracy, but after that he has already grown into a solid quarterback in the NFL. He has solid mobility, and I would put him atop the 2nd tier in terms of quarterbacks with scrambling abilities. Rushing stats cannot be undervalued when evaluating your fantasy quarterbacks. The Dolphins acquired a few new weapons for Tannehill as well, as Kenny Stills is one of the most underrated deep threats in the league. If first round draft pick DeVante Parker is healthy for the regular season, along with Jarvis Landry coming off his solid rookie season, the Dolphins will have plenty of talent in the receiving core. I love the potential in this whole offense, and it’s all going to depend on Tannehill to make it all run smoothly
11.Eli Manning– Ugh. It’s really an unsexy ranking for this guy, but you can’t ignore that Odel Beckham Jr. is lining up wide for Eli this year. Victor Cruz is coming of a terrible injury from last year, so you can’t expect him to be 100% for a while, but if he gets it going, watch out. Overall, Eli Manning is a pretty safe pick in the later rounds, and with 16 games of ODB, the potential to be a QB1 all year is there.
12. Matt Ryan- I have never been a big fan of Matt Ryan as a fantasy QB, but year in and year out he gets the volume to put up reliable stats. I don’t see any of that changing, but I am concerned with one of those wideouts that made his high volume so effective throughout the years. Roddy White battle injuries all year last year. A receiver that was so reliable for 16 games throughout his long NFL career finally came to an end. He is getting up there in age, and without another top wide receiver target, Ryan will have to rely on Julio Jones even more. That’s not a bad thing, obviously, but Julio seems to be hurt every year for some amount of time. Taking Ryan is putting faith in Julio staying healthy for the majority of the year and hoping Roddy White is not on the decline. Draft at your own risk.
13. Colin Kaepernick- What an epic bust Kaep turned out to be in 2014. A guy that seems to have all of the tools to be the #1 QB in fantasy just regressed into an unreliable option for fantasy teams. This is a rankings based purely on potential, as Kaep will make up for poor passing days with his incredible rushing ability. If the outlook we had on this guy just last year comes to life in 2015, you will have quite the steal here. If not, the waiver wire will be the home for the 49er’s quarterback.
14. Carson Palmer- Don’t sleep on Carson Palmer. While staying healthy seems to be impossible for the veteran, he plays in an offense where throwing the ball is option numero uno. Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, and John Brown are three targets that will make his volume come to life, and a receiving back in Andre Ellington gives a dynamic security blanket in the backfield. You draft Palmer with a boom-or-bust QB or even another late QB draft pick and play the match-ups, you will be well off.
15. Matthew Stafford- Stafford throughout the years has seen his stock be ranked right up there with the elite tier, but after a poor 2014 season many people are finally coming to the realization that Stafford may not be the answer. With the value there year to year, with one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game at his side, Stafford can’t seem to put it all together. I’ve finally lost faith, but who knows. This may be the year he puts it all together. Just don’t plan on it.
16. Sam Bradford- Bradford’s rankings is sure to change as the preseason plays out. Reason #1: is he going to be the starting QB? Most likely, but Mark Sanchez is going to make it as much of a contest as he can. Reason #2: Who the hell is Sam Bradford? I know most of us don’t know, but Chip Kelly says he fits the short passing attack the Eagles run, and Bradford has a small amount of athleticism (not that it matters too much, just look at Nick Foles). The Eagles under Kelly have produced top 10 QB production over the last two years, so Bradford seems to be destined to be finishing there. I’m just going to use the ‘wait and see’ approach before I rank him as such.
17. Teddy Bridgewater- I am as bullish on the Vikings offense in 2015 as I am with the Dolphins. Peterson is coming back, and the addition of Mike Wallace should help out the passing attack. Bridgewater showed some positive signs as a rookie in 2014, and if the Vikings prove to be the sleeper pick in the NFC, he is surely going to be a solid fantasy option. Why rank so low then? Even if they are highly successful, I see Bridgewater playing more of a game manager style under center, while Adrian Peterson and the defense lead the way.
18. Phillip Rivers- Am I sleeping on Rivers with such a low ranking? Perhaps. The problem I find here is there isn’t much to differentiate him with the guys ranked ahead of him, and he doesn’t bring any type of upside like the others. quarterback, like tight end, becomes a cluster bleep pretty quickly. Would I be surprised if Rivers finished around the top 10? Not at all. But in this area I’m looking for guys to crack the top 5, and Rivers just doesn’t have a chance.
19. Joe Flacco- Sigh. The father I go down my power rankings for quarterbacks, the more confused and sleepy I get. Why do I rank Flacco here? Only for the fact that if I somehow hadn’t drafted my starter by now, I can count on him for 16 games of mediocre production. Flacco is no stiff by any means, and I like what the Ravens added around him in rookie Breshad Perriman to hopefully help his statistical output. Don’t expect this guy to be breaking the top 10 in 2015, but he’s a consistent quarterback #2 week in and week out, with upside in plus match-ups with his deep ball ability.
20. Robert Griffin III- LOL. Take a shot on him at this point. It’s most likely never going to be what we thought it would be after his rookie year, but on the slight chance it is…who am I kidding? I just root for the guy. He gets the honor of rounding out my top 20.