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Johnny Manziel NFL Draft
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie quarterback class.
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1. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles was not only the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he’s also the one most likely to play meaningful snaps in the 2014 NFL season. The third overall pick is 6’5″ and 232 pounds. He threw for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns at Central Florida. Bortles should be able to get a shot with Chad Henne holding down the starting job in Jacksonville. Not having Justin Blackmon at his disposal hurts, but the Jags did a nice job of adding Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round.
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2. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Despite the talk surrounding Johnny Football, don’t expect him to be Johnny Backup all year long. Brian Hoyer is the top man on the depth chart, but with 192 career pass attempts and a big game against a bad Minnesota Vikings defense shouldn’t give him a very firm grip on the job as he recovers from a knee injury. Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns to win the 2012 Heisman. He responded to offseason criticism with 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns last year. Manziel ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman and “just” 759 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last year. At 6’0″ and 210 pounds that trend should continue against the bigger, faster NFL players. Like Bortles, Manziel will have to get by without a star player. In Manziel’s case it is Josh Gordon.
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3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr will get to learn behind the newly-acquired Matt Schaub, who has been pretty average the past few seasons despite having Andre Johnson to throw to. Neither Schaub nor Carr have good talent to work with in Oakland, but that could lead to an earlier look at Carr. He threw for 3,544 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore, 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior and 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior. He has the pedigree. Hopefully he has more success than his big brother David.
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4.  Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy will get to learn behind Matt Cassel, who will form a bridge to the Bridgewater era. Cassel will likely miss a couple of games during the year, which will give Bridgewater a chance to get his feet wet. If he runs with the job he will never look back. Over the past two seasons the 6’2″, 205 pound Bridgewater averaged 3,844 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He’ll have to add to his frame, but Bridgewater isn’t a running quarterback that you have to worry about getting put in harm’s way.
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5. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans
Zach Mettenberger rounds out the top five only because of Jake Locker’s injury history and a general lack of immediate impact players at the position in this year’s draft crop. Mettenberger is 6’5″ and 235 pounds, but lacks any sort of mobility. He also has character concerns. Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns. If Locker goes down again, Mettenberger could see some action.
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Super Bowl XLVIII pits the old guard against the new guard when it comes to the quarterback matchup.
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Peyton Manning came into the league in what seems to be a lifetime ago with all the expectations in the world. He has delivered on that promise over the years, including leading the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl XLI victory.
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Peyton has had plenty of success with the Denver Broncos, including setting NFL records with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. He is basically an offensive coordinator on the field. He always seems to be a step ahead of the defense. Even the raised stakes of the playoffs hasn’t slowed him as he has averaged 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns in wins over the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
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Seattle can get pressure up front and have a talented secondary. I don’t see Peyton having a monster day, but I just can’t go against Peyton in this historic year.
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Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is the new breed of quarterback that can do damage with his arm and his feet. Wilson was a third round pick that was a bit of a surprise last year as he won the starting job over Matt Flynn.
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Wilson averaged 209.8 passing yards, 1.6 passing touchdowns and 33.7 rushing yards. He hasn’t been asked to much in two playoff wins as he has averaged just 159 passing yards, 0.5 passing touchdowns and eight rushing yards. Seattle has relied on its defense and a strong rushing attack featuring Marshawn Lynch.
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Against Denver things are likely to change. The Broncos are going to put points on the boards. As good as Seattle is on defense, I can’t see them shutting down Denver’s high-powered offense. Wilson is going to have to put the Seahawks on his back and make plays with his arm.
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Denver allowed 254.4 passing yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game during the regular season.
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While I think Peyton has the better day, I do think Wilson will put up decent numbers as well.
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Super Bowl XLVIII
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We are in that time of the year where unless you are a fan of one of the Super Bowl teams you are probably not in football mode. You’ll gear up for the big game next week as you get your party plans and food figured out. Sure, the Pro Bowl is this week, but does anyone really care about that game? It’s cute that they are doing a Pro Bowl Draft, but if the game was in my back yard I might tune in for a drive or two. Why not take a moment and look towards next year’s fantasy draft?
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
As long as he holds up in the Super Bowl and his next checks out, how can you not rank him number one after his record-breaking season? He threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. He has great weapons in place. Peyton should have no problem putting up monster numbers once again.
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2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees threw for 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns. That’s three straight years with at least 5,000 yards and 39 touchdowns. He is the poster boy for consistent excellence.
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3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton averaged 211.2 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns, 36.5 rushing yards and 0.4 rushing touchdowns. He should continue to deliver with his legs. I expect Carolina spends the offseason upgrading his arsenal so he can start doing more damage with his arm.
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4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers was limited to nine games last year, but I think a bounceback is in order. He isn’t quite as dangerous with his feet, which cuts into his fantasy value a little. He still elite.
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5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck threw for 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns. He added 377 yards and four touchdowns with his feet. His ability to run puts him right up there with the best of the best. I expect his passing totals to rise.
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6. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford threw for 4,650 yards and 29 touchdowns, putting his three-year average at 4,885 yards and 30 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson is an elite talent. I expect the Lions to add help. Jim Caldwell’s presence should also help.
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7. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady did as much as he could with the talent available to him. He still finished with 4,343 yards and 25 touchdowns. Assuming he has better options next year, Brady should continue to put up big numbers.
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8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Most teams would kill for a quarterback that throws for 3,828 yards and 31 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. Unfortunately Tony Romo will carry a stigma until he can win the big game. For fantasy owners, that’s irrelevant. He’ll continue to put up big numbers.
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9. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles threw for 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He has a firm grasp of Chip Kelly’s offense. Expect more growth, even if the numbers take a little hit. A 13.5:1 TD-Interception ratio is not sustainable.
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10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson has 52 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions in two seasons. He adds value by running the ball. A healthy Percy Harvin should only help his passing numbers.
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the  the AFC & NFC Conference Championship Games of the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs.
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning averaged a ridiculous 342.3 yards and 3.4 touchdowns per game. The New England Patriots held him to 150 yards and a pair of scores in the first meeting. I don’t think the Pats will contain him quite as well in this one. Manning has too many weapons. Despite all of his success, Peyton still has plenty to prove. As long as he doesn’t press he should have a big day.
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2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady had 344 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting with Denver. He averaged 314.9 yards and two touchdowns in the final eight games of the regular season. Brady threw for 198 yards in the playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but that was due to the Patriots scoring six on the ground. Brady will be asked to do more this week. I believe he’ll be up to the challenge.
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3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick didn’t have a banner regular season, but he’s averaging 211.5 passing yards, a passing score, 56.5 rushing yards and 0.5 rushing touchdowns in two playoff games. Kaepernick was held to 302 passing yards, one passing touchdown (four interceptions) and 118 rushing yards in two games against the Seattle Seahawks. Kaepernick should continue to get the job done with his feet and his arm thanks to having a solid trio of weapons in Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
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4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson continued to provide reduced production as he was held to 103 passing yards and 16 rushing yards against the New Orleans Saints. In two games against the Niners he averaged 170.5 passing yards, a passing touchdown, an interception and 17.5 rushing yards. He could pick up the victory, but I don’t expect Wilson to produce big numbers.
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning set the NFL record for most passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55). He faces the San Diego Chargers for the third time. In two games he averaged 309.5 yards and three touchdowns.San Diego ranked 29th in the league in pass defense with 258.7 yards allowed per game.
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2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady got off to a slow start averaging 228 yards and 1.1 touchdowns in his first eight games. He finished strong though, putting up 314.9 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his last eight games. Look for him to continue to roll against the Indianapolis Colts.
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3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck showed as much poise as skill as he led the Colts back from a 28-point deficit, throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Luck added 45 yards on the ground and scored on a heads-up fumble recovery. He won’t be intimidated by the Patriots. Luck’s ability to produce with his arm and his feet against a mediocre Pats’ defense should pay off for fantasy owners.
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4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton averaged 211.2 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns, 36.5 rushing yards and 0.4 rushing touchdowns. Look for him to do plenty of damage with his arms and legs against the San Francisco 49ers.
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5. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick only threw for 227 yards and a touchdown last week against the Green Bay Packers, but he added 98 yards on the ground. Look for that formula to continue against the Panthers.
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6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
It’s unusual for Drew Brees to be ranked sixth, especially when there are only eight options, but that’s an homage to the Seattle Seahawks defense. Plus, Drew Brees isn’t quite the same quarterback on the road. Brees has averaged 286.3 yards, including the Wild Card game, and 1.4 touchdown passes on the road. At home he averaged 354.4 yards and 3.4 touchdowns.
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7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson saw a dip in production down the stretch, but look for him to kick it into gear against the New Orleans Saints. He had 310 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 47 rushing yards in the first meeting with the Saints. Wilson should also do damage with his legs.
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8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers only threw for 128 yards and a touchdown, but he helped the San Diego Chargers advance past the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite an impressive season he only averaged 192 yards and 1.5 touchdowns in two games against the Broncos.
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Drew Brees spiral
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Here are the Lester’s Legends fantasy football quarterback rankings for the Wild Card Round.
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1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
If it weren’t for Peyton Manning’s historic season we would likely be talking about Drew Brees’ fourth 5,000-yard season. Brees averaged 322.6 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. Brees averages 68.5 fewer yards and 1.9 fewer touchdowns on the road, but he should offset that due to his matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles allowed a league-worst 289.8 passing yards per game.
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2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers shook off some rust and finished with 318 yards and a pair of touchdowns to propel the Green Bay Packers into the playoffs. He faces the San Francisco 49ers. Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against them.
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3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick averaged just 199.8 yards and 1.3 touchdowns through the air, but he added 32.8 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on the ground. He threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in he first meeting with the Packers. He had his coming out party against them in last year’s playoffs with 181 rushing yards, 263 passing yards and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing). The Packers allowed 247.3 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game.
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4. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles led the league with a 119.2 passer rating. He threw 27 touchdowns and had more rushing touchdowns (three) than interceptions (two). He faces the New Orleans Saints in what should be a shootout.
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5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton quietly finished the season with 4,296 yards and 35 touchdowns (33 passing, two rushing). Dalton had 11 touchdowns in his past four games and 20 touchdowns en route to an undefeated home record. He faces the San Diego Chargers at home. The Chargers allowed 258.7 passing yards per game.
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6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck averaged 238.9 passing yards, 1.4 passing touchdowns, 23.6 rushing yards and 0.3 rushing touchdowns. He has a tough matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he is playing at home.
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7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers averaged 279.9 yard and a pair of touchdowns per game. He had nine touchdown passes during the four-game winning streak that put the Chargers into the playoffs. A tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals hurts his value.
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8. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith is capable, but he isn’t asked to do as much as the other options since Jamaal Charles is such a force. Smith did average 220.9 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns and a sneaky 28.7 rushing yards.
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Most fantasy leagues have wrapped up already, but there are some that still play to the bitter end. For those leagues I present the Lester’s Legends 2013 Week 17 fantasy football quarterback rankings.
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning broke the NFL record with his 51st touchdown pass last week. He needs just 266 yards this week against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have allowed 250.5 yards and 1.9 touchdown passes per game. Look for Peyton to put the final stamp on a historic season. He lit the Raiders up for 374 yards and three touchdowns in their first meeting.
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2. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles has a 118.8 passer rating, which is actually higher than Peyton Manning’s. Foles has thrown 25 touchdowns with just two picks. He should finish in style against the Dallas Cowboys. The Boys have allowed 290.7 yards and 2.1 touchdowns per game.
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3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is averaging 215.3 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns, 34.2 rushing yards and 0.4 rushing scores. He should roll on the Atlanta Falcons.
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4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford is averaging 295.5 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game. He capped off one of the worst fantasy football stretches as he averaged 202.7 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions. He should get back on track against the Minnesota Vikings, which won’t give much solace to the owners that got bounced from the playoffs. The Vikes allow 294.4 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. Stafford threw for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first meeting.
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5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is averaging 318.7 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game. He wraps the season up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needing 219 yards for his third straight 5,000 yard season. The Bucs have allowed 229.1 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game.
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6. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is averaging 342.4 yards and 2.1 touchdowns in his past seven games. He faces the Buffalo Bills in the finale. The Bills have allowed 1.8 touchdown passes per game. Brady had 288 yards and two scores in the first meeting.
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7. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is averaging 236 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns, 24.7 rushing yards and 0.3 rushing touchdowns. He finishes with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have allowed 244.2 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game. Luck threw for 257 yards and a pair of scores in the first meeting.
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8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
He’s back. He may be a little rusty, but there is a lot at stake. He has great weapons and a strong running game to support him. Plus, the Chicago Bears are struggling defensively. Rodgers is worth the risk.
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9. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler will try to rebound from a poor showing against the Philadelphia Eagles in a crucial matchup with the Green Bay Packers. The Pack have allowed 248.8 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game.
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10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 272.1 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game. He’s averaging 2.3 touchdown passes in his past six games, including a pair against the Cleveland Browns in the first meeting. The Browns have allowed 1.9 touchdown passes per game.
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11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson is averaging 212.3 passing yards, 1.7 passing touchdowns and 36 rushing yards. He faces the St. Louis Rams. He threw a pair of touchdowns in the first meeting against the Rams.
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