Fantasy Football Preview – Quarterbacks
With training camp approaching, I figured what better time to take a look at the QBs around the league.
These are the best of the best. The beauty of having a Big Dog is you can plug and play them every week without debating which is the best matchup. Owning a BDQB means you’ll likely win that matchup most weeks. The drawback is you could weaken your RB and/or WR depth because you’ll have to take them fairly early in the draft. Another risk is there is always one or two Big Dogs at each position that doesn’t deliver. They can sink your franchise faster than you can say “Toilet Bowl”. Last year’s Big Dogs that missed were Marc Bulger and Donovan McNabb.
Tom Brady – Obviously any QB discussion needs to start with Brady. While I don’t expect him to replicate his record-breaking 2007 season, I do think he’ll be the Alpha Dog among QBs again this year. He’s got a ton of weapons and is in a great system. I could see him approach 40 TDs again.
Tony Romo – He’s not the second best QB in the league, but he is in fantasy circles. Of course, that depends on whether T.O. will continue to stay healthy (mentally and physically) and he doesn’t allow outside “distractions” affect his play.
Peyton Manning – When you ask who the best QB in the league is, Peyton is your 1B answer in my book, meaning he’s on the same plane as Tom Brady. If Marvin Harrison can make a healthy return life will be a little easier for Manning. Of course, with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, etc. he’ll be just fine if Marvin doesn’t return to form.
Drew Brees – I think Brees will be a great value this year as Big Ben and Derek Anderson will likely go ahead of him in most drafts. I like Drew’s track record better than those AFC North gunslingers. He has produced back-to-back 4400 yard seasons, and his TD production has increased the past couple of seasons.
Carson Palmer – He may also be overlooked a little because of the turmoil in Cincy. He lost a weapon (Chris Henry) and could lose another one (the disgruntled Chad Johnson). Nonetheless, he’s still one of the games best. T.J. Houshmandzadeh will deliver huge numbers, and, if Ocho doesn’t go, Carson will make a star out of one of his other wideouts. Either that or he’ll turn a couple of guys into “matchup” plays.
Ben Roethlisberger – For some reason I don’t see Big Ben repeating his 32 TD performance. What scares me off a little is 3100 yards he threw for last year, which is far fewer than the rest of the Big Dogs. With Willie Parker and the addition of Rashard Mendenhall, I would be surprised if Pittsburgh didn’t focus a little more on their ground attack.
Derek Anderson – Here’s another guy who’s fluke factor is high. Derek Anderson came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest surprises in football last year. His 3787 yards and 29 TDs helped many a lucky owner advance to the playoffs. What makes me nervous is his splits.
Games 1-8: 91.7 QB rating, 57.6% completion percentage, 2108 yards, 17 TDs (2.1/gm), 9 INTs (1.1/gm)
Games 9-16: 73.7 QB rating, 55.6% completion percentage, 1679 yards, 12 TDs (1.5/gm), 10 INTs (1.3/gm)
What’s even worse were his December numbers.
66.6 QB rating, 53.1 completion %, 205.8 yards/gm (well off his average), 7 TDs (1.4/gm), 8 INTs (1.6/gm)
You don’t have to look very hard to see who I think will be the Big Dog letdowns at the QB position. You can still draft them, but be sure to have a decent backup plan.
These aren’t the flashy picks that you can walk away from your draft with your head held high because you got one of the game’s best gunslingers. That’s not to say you can’t be proud of you team because you opted to wait until you got better value for your QB slot. In most leagues the QBs will score the most points. That’s just the way it is. What’s more important than actual points though is point differential. If you get a QB that averages 18 points per week, he’s only 2 points per week worse than a 20 point guy. Now if by choosing that 18 point QB (instead of the 20 point QB) you get a Running Back that averages 12 points (instead of an 8 point RB you’d get if you opted for the 20 point QB) then you’d be ahead two points per week. Before I have to break into long division, let’s steer away from the mathematics and move onto who the Second Tier QBs are.
Matt Hasselbeck – Matt reminds me a lot of Trent Green from a few years ago. He puts up solid numbers every year, but is never considered a “must-have” QB. He’s averaged nearly 24 TD passes per year to 13 INTs the past five years. He’s also averaged over 3400 yards during that stretch. His best year came last year when he tossed nearly 4000 yards and 28 TDs (both career highs). With Shaun Alexander out of the picture, I can see Seattle remaining a pass first team.
Marc Bulger – Last year Bulger was a Big Dog. This year he becomes on of the best QB values. The Rams were just a mess last year. Injuries to Bulger and Steven Jackson kept St. Louis from ever getting in a rhythm. I can see them bouncing back in a big way. The beauty of picking Bulger is, even if he misses, you won’t be in that bad of shape. I’d probably try and grab another second tier or the best of the third tier QBs shortly after selecting Bulger just to be safe.
Donovan McNabb – McNabb has Big Dog talent, but annual health concerns make drafting the former Syracuse star a risky proposition. He’s only played in 75% (48 of 64) of the Eagles’ game the past four seasons and 68.75% (33 of 48 ) the past three. As big of a name as he’s been in fantasy circles, he’s never reached the 4000 yard plateau and has only suprassed 25 TDs once. Personally, I’m not high on him.
David Garrard – He grew up right before our eyes last year. That run vs. Pittsburgh was an instant classic. He showed great poise last year and an ability to avoid the big mistake. If you’re in a league that penalizes for INTs, David’s whopping 3 didn’t cause much of a dent in your tally.
Eli Manning – A guy who’s far too familiar with INTs is Eli Manning. He’s thrown 55 in his past three seasons (18.3 per year). However, he’s also tossed 71 TDs (23.7 per) in that span while averaging close to 3450 yards per year. Oh, and he won that little game they call the Super Bowl. Manning should be much more relaxed next year now that he’s A) stepped out of his brother’s shadow and B) given himself some breathing room from New York fans and media.
Philip Rivers – I didn’t like the way Rivers mocked and ridiculed Jay Cutler last year, but he has produced back-to-back solid seasons. He’s averaged 3270 yards, 21.5 TDs, and 12 INTs while completing over 60% of his passes. He has some great weapons in LT and Antonio Gates, and having a whole offseason to work with Chris Chambers should pay dividends.
Jay Cutler – Speaking of Cutler, he has the potential of having a pretty solid year for the Broncos. The departure of Javon Walker won’t be too hard to overcome because of the limited role he played last year. A few things will need to fall in place for Cutler to be counted on for your fantasy team. Brandon Marshall will need to be healthy (mentally and physically) first and foremost. Second, he’ll need to get some production out of Darrell Jackson, Keary Colbert, and Brandon Stokley.
These are guys who you can plug and play when the matchups fit, use in deep leagues, make good backup QBs or second starter in 2 QB leagues, or guys to roll with if you waited until well into your draft to pick a QB.
Matt Leinart/Kurt Warner – This one is tricky because Matt is the guy that will be given every chance to be the starter, but Warner (3417 yards, 27 TDs) was highly effective last year. With Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald as starters, either of these QBs are worth having. Problem is you may have to own both.
Jake Delhomme – When you have a target like Steve Smith, you have potential. When you add D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad to mix, things get even more exciting. If his elbow holds up (and the rest of his body) he can easily make the leap to the Second Tier level (if not even the Big Dog level). Perhaps no QB has a wider spectrum between highs and lows.
Vince Young – Entering his third season, VY has to start living up to the hype. He regressed last year, mainly because he didn’t have any weapons to work with. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t have the weapons to be a consistent fantasy starter, but I think he’s a good enough football player that he’ll show glimpses of greatness this year.
Matt Schaub – There are things Schaub has going for him. It’s his second year as a starter so everything shouldn’t feel as new with him. He has one of the best targets to throw to in Andre Johnson (who will hopefully stay healthy this year). The reason he’s not ranked higher, though, is because capable backup Sage Rosenfels is waiting in the wings. If he gets off to a slow start, the Texans won’t hesitate to cook with Sage.
Aaron Rodgers – This is mainly on potential than anything else. He’s a starting QB (so long as Brett Favre doesn’t butt his way in) of a team with great offensive weapons. He’ll have to show he can handle the pressure of replacing a legend, which is a tall order. Additionally, he’ll have to stay healthy.
Jon Kitna – With Mike Martz bringing his pass-happy ways to San Francisco, Jon Kitna sees his value take a dip. He most likely won’t be chucking the ball 40-50 times a game this year. If he doesn’t get in as many attempts, all of the sudden he’s just a mediocre fantasy QB. If the Lions’ season goes sour, there’s a good chance Drew Stanton can get a turn. I was high on Kitna last year, and this year I couldn’t be more opposite.
I know scrap pile may seem a little harsh, but when you consider we already profiled 20 QBs, you catch my drift. These guys will be used on bye weeks and when injuries strike. I’m sure a few of them will turn out to be decent plays. Some will likely lose their starting job. That’s the nature of the beast when you deal with the shallow end of the QB pool.
Jason Campbell – I actually don’t mind Jason Campbell. If he weren’t coming off a knee injury I would probably put him in the Serviceable QB group. He made decent strides in his second year. I would just like to see him throw more TDs.
Jeff Garcia – Garcia is a decent play in leagues that penalize for INTs since he seldom throws to the wrong color jersey. He’s not going to give you a huge week, but he’s a decent fill-in when your starter is on bye. He’s in the scrap pile because Tampa has a few decent QBs on hand in case they want to go a different direction.
Tarvaris Jackson – With the acquisition of Benard Berrian, the development of Sidney Rice, the double-headed monster in the backfield, and a little experience gained, and T-Jack has some potential to break out of the scrap pile. He needs to gain confidence and consistency.
Alex Smith – Smith was a pick of mine to breakout last year. He made me look foolish. My expectations are justifiably lower this year. However, he does have Mike Martz to help him along, as well as newly acquired Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce. Perhaps this is the year Vernon Davis lives up to his hype as well.
JaMarcus Russell – They will probably be passing a lot since they will be behind in most games. He’s got that going for him. As long as Javon Walker can get home for some beauty rest instead of curbside butt whoopings, he’s got a legitimate weapon. He’s still very inexperienced though, and there will be plenty of bumps along the way. I can see him leading the league in INTs.
Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens – Let’s face it. Neither of these QBs excite you. For good reason. They do have a pair of quality WRs, but I can see split duty out of these two. That’s a situation I’ll steer clear of.
Trent Edwards/J.P. Losman – Trent is penciled in as the starter, but I’m not sure Buffalo has witnessed the last of Mr. Losman. Neither is going to wow you with statistics, but they may be useful for a game or two this year.
Brodie Croyle/Damon Huard – I ‘d like to see Brodie Croyle take the job and run with it. He’s got some weapons in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe. Still, I know I wouldn’t trust him.
Rex Grossman – Yuck. Marty Booker is back. Oh boy. They lost their best deep threat. They are going to need Devin Hester to step up his game if Rexy is going to even be relevant in fantasy circles. Avoid this like the plague.
Kyle Boller/Troy Smith/Joe Flacco – I actually could see all three getting starts this year. Boller get the starting nod and loses it by Week 4. Troy Smith takes over and mans the post until Week 10. The rookie Joe Flacco finishes the season off to get him experience for next season. That’s how it plays out in my head.
Josh McCown/John Beck/Chad Henne – I can see the same scenario go down in Miami. McCown early. Beck gets another shot and misses, Henne finishes with eyes towards the future.
Chris Redman/Joey Harrington/Matt Ryan – The question is when, not if, the Matt Ryan era will begin. I don’t know why, but I’d like to see Joey have a decent little go of things. I’ve had a soft spot for him for whatever reason. I think he got a bad shake in Detroit, and was ruined. That said, the sooner they get to Ryan the better.