All of the hopeful news regarding the potential of an agreement has me feeling that doing fantasy rankings isn’t quite as worthless now. I have already begun by doing initial Running Back rankings (part I and part II) and followed it up with my early Tight End rankings. Today, I turn to the quarterbacks. I feel pretty good that the top of this board won’t change all that much, though there is a lot of uncertainty after the top 12 or so. I’ll cut it off at my top 24 in this first pass because there are so many rookie situations and other cases where guys may be traded or veterans signed elsewhere.
Also, this is my fantasy rankings based on early projections of passing yards, touchdowns, and rushing for quarterbacks, as well as opportunity, and teammates. It is not my ranking of individual quarterbacks outside of fantasy football scoring. These early projections were compiled by looking at recent team passing numbers and usage, a quarterback’s age and experience, and likely team and teammates in 2011.
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay. At his peak, with Jennings and Finley coming back, offensive line with depth and youth. He seems like the safest elite pick.
- Michael Vick, Philadelphia. By peak value, he’s #1, but he is more of an injury concern. He also wored down late, but if your league gives more points for rushing, he is near the top.
- Tom Brady, New England. Led the league in touchdown passes and in offseason outfits.
- Drew Brees, New Orleans. Had a high interception total last year, but that is notoriously inconsistent, should bounce back in 2011 with more consistency from his receivers.
- Philip Rivers, San Diego. He carried teams with major receiver injuries, and he is still in his prime.
- Peyton Manning, Indianapolis. I bump him to the bottom of the top tier because of a) his age, b) the fact that he threw so many passes in 2010, and that will regress.
- Tony Romo, Dallas. Yeah, he was injured last year. The Dallas QB position still put up top 8 numbers with he and Kitna combined, and the group of Witten, Austin and Bryant will provide some big games. Could be value a round or two after the top tier is gone.
- Eli Manning, New York Giants. The Giants have become more of a passing team with Eli, and if Steve Smith returns and is healthier, he will have a potent duo to throw to.
- Matt Schaub, Houston. Two words: Andre Johnson. Touchdowns were down in 2010 with Foster’s emergence, but that could regress back.
- Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay. He took a huge step forward in 2010, and still has room to grow. Plus, his pass attempts were low and should increase, boosting his value in 2011.
- Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh. The defense can hold down his production because he doesn’t need to throw as much, but he’ll have several games this year against the NFC West, where he could be a top scorer for a week.
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta. Julio Jones may provide a little boost, but there are also 3 free agents on the offensive line that need to be monitored.
- Joe Flacco, Baltimore. Flacco is the elite of the QB2′s in a 12 team league.
- Matt Stafford, Detroit. Detroit’s offensive production from the quarterback position was better than you might realize, and Calvin Johnson is a beast. Stafford’s health is the big concern, but the upside is there to be a quality part of a QB platoon.
- Jay Cutler, Chicago. I’ll be interested to see if Cutler gets any receivers in free agency that would upgrade his outlook. His sack totals must go down.
- Sam Bradford, St. Louis. Bradford didn’t put up a huge first season statistically, but if he improves, and if the Rams add anyone, he could take a step forward.
- Kevin Kolb, unknown. This is a place holder spot on the assumption that Kolb will be traded to a team, such as Arizona or Seattle, and become the starter.
- Mark Sanchez, New York Jets. He’s a safe bet to be the starter, and we are getting toward the end of where that is true, but we don’t how the wide receiver situation will shake out yet
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo. He has the job for 2011 and not much competition, and is a capable backup for your fantasy team.
- Kyle Orton, Denver. Here’s a hard one. He would be higher but for the competition with Tebow that is unresolved. Whoever wins the Denver QB should be higher, because of upside, but we don’t know yet.
- Matt Cassel, Kansas City. He had some big games against the NFC West and at Denver, but unless the matchup is very favorable, this is a running team that limits his upside as a fantasy quarterback.
- Alex Smith, San Francisco. It’s assumed that he will re-sign once the lockout ends and be the starter for at least this year.
- Tim Tebow, Denver. He has upside to be a borderline fantasy #1 or part of a platoon if he is starting because of his likely rushing numbers, so he’s worth a pick toward the end of a draft if that is still undecided.
- Carson Palmer, Cincinnati. Obviously, he’ll drop off if he officially retires, but this is a place holder spot that puts it at 50/50 that he plays in Cincinnati, or somewhere else, in 2011.
[photo via Getty]