Welcome to the first part of a four part series that will preview fantasy rankings for the upcoming NFL season. Each part will rank the top 15 players at specific offensive positions (QB, RB, WR, and TE) needed for fantasy football.
Part One: Quarterbacks – It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a football!
Quarterbacks may be the face of the franchise in the NFL but when it comes to fantasy football they’re usually overlooked and running backs become the “sexy position.” That being said, QBs are able to have just as much of an impact as RBs do. Last season, the top 15 QBs averaged 234 fantasy points while the top 15 RBs averaged 196 fantasy points. This just shows that picking the right QB is imperative to your fantasy team’s success. Looking forward to 2010, there are a number of elite QBs in the league ready to torture defenses while there are few more ready to try and do the same. The big question for fantasy enthusiasts this off-season has been who will be the number one fantasy QB in 2010? Could it be Drew Brees? Maybe it’s a Manning? Can Aaron Rodgers reclaim the crown, or will it be someone entirely different? Let’s take a look at my top 15 ranked QBs heading into the 2010 season:
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) – Rodgers solidified himself as a top-tier fantasy QB last season by putting up monstrous numbers with a line that, for some reason, didn’t want to see him live very long. The rushing stats shown below are mainly there because of Rodgers. While there have been better rushing seasons by QBs in the past, Rodgers was not only able to have the best rushing season, he had the best season overall for any QB. In addition to getting healthier, the Packers made a couple of moves in the draft OTs Bryan Bulaga (1st) and Marshall Newhouse (5th) to shore up their woeful offensive line.
Prediction: With these additions as well as another year under his belt, Rodgers should establish himself without question as the #1 fantasy QB.
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) – Brees can be an enigma for fantasy owners. He can have an amazing week followed by a sub-par performance the next week. The fact is, in the long haul, Brees is worth drafting early amongst the QBs since he has the ability to put up huge point totals each week. He likes to get all of the Saints skill players involved (which makes them far less valuable) and keeps defenses on edge.
Prediction: The schedule proposes a much tougher task than last season but Brees has established himself as an elite QB and should be ready to take on the challenge.
3. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts) – The greatest thing since the forward pass might be the safest pick anyone can ever make in a fantasy draft. Manning created stars out of two wet behind the ears wide receivers last season when the Colts #2 wideout, Anthony Gonzalez, suffered a season-ending knee injury in week one. He was also able to put up those gaudy numbers with shaky, at best, offensive line play. He has been a top seven QB since his second year in the league. The only reason he’s number three on this list is because of the Colts philosophy on late season games.
Prediction: What we’ve all come to expect: 4,000+ yards passing, 30+ TDs, and 25+ commercials on Sundays.
4. Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) – Before last season, Schaub had been waiting for a long time to have a breakout year. Staying healthy the entire year, he was able to do just that. His finest season yet gives his fantasy stock a boom heading into the 2010 season. Considering that Owen Daniels, one of the league’s top tight ends, was sidelined with an injury halfway through the 2009 season. Up until his injury, Daniels was playing out of this world football. He led the Texans in catches and was one of the top “receivers” in the league. Add in a top three receiver in Andre Johnson and you’ve got one dangerous offense.
Prediction: Schaub has the talent around him to put up the same gaudy numbers as last year.
5. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) - There can’t be any sane people in this world who don’t dislike Rivers but nobody can deny his talent on the football field. He’ll be facing a bit of a challenge as Vincent Jackson opens the season with a three game suspension but Rivers has shown, time and again, that he’ll make do with what he’s given. Hoping for a resurgence in the run game, the offense could be as balanced as ever and ready to put up a lot of points.
Prediction: He’s the poster boy for winning ugly, but win he will.
6. Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys) – Picking Romo this year has to be all about the Cowboys’ skill players. Miles Austin emerged as Romo’s favorite target last year with Jason Witten not too far behind. Add in rookie WR Dez Bryant and the Cowboys offense becomes a force to be reckoned with. Romo is on the cusp of being a top five fantasy QB; he just needs to show what he can do with the talent surrounding him to become a mainstay at the top of these lists.
Prediction: Too many weapons and too good of a line for him not to do well week in and week out. Then again, he is Tony Romo.
7. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) – Brady might love goats or he might love Wes Welker, but one person he should love is Welker’s surgeon. The possibility of Welker being able to play at a high level come September seems to be getting higher. That’s a huge plus for both Brady and the Pats offense. Welker and Randy Moss might be the top WR tandem in the league giving Brady the weapons needed for continued success. He’ll face his biggest challenge of the season in weeks 6-11 facing Baltimore, San Diego, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis.
Prediction: Tough schedule withstanding, he’s still a top 10 QB.
8. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) – I’m telling you right now, I’m wacko for Flacco! The Ravens might have the most balanced attack in the league this season. Ray Rice will lead the running game and should take over where he left off last season. Meanwhile, the introduction of Anquan Boldin in purple and black should spread the field for Flacco to air it out more than he’s done before.
Prediction: Flacco has improved since his rookie year two years back but I believe that 2010 will be his breakout year.
9. Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia Eagles) – Kolb will get a legitimate shot this season after the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb away. In limited action last season, Kolb showed glimpses of what could turn out to be a great move for the Eagles. Fantasy owners should feel comfortable with him as a sleeper in drafts this year as he has potent weapons in WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
Prediction: Kolb probably won’t go as quickly as he should making him a potential steal for his future fantasy owners.
10. Donovan McNabb (Washington Redskins) – McNabb is surrounded by different levels of talent in his first year with the Redskins. He’s got superb help at the TE position with Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. McNabb doesn’t have the talent at WR that he did when he was an Eagle but he has always been one to work with what he has around him. As he was dealt to a hated division rival, McNabb will play with a cheese steak size chip on his shoulder.
Prediction: Expect to see a fresher McNabb out there, not only doing his thing in the passing game, but also running all over the field.
11. Eli Manning (New York Giants) - Rounding out the NFC East portion of this preview is the younger Manning. In standard ten-team leagues, Manning would be the second QB chosen on a team. He’s definitely a serviceable backup and in deeper leagues is obviously a starter. The Giants started off last season as one of the hottest teams in the league and Eli Manning was one of the hottest QBs. Unfortunately for both, the Saints crushed them in week 6 and Eli (and the Giants) never got his groove back. One of his main goals looking forward has to be greater ball security; his eight lost fumbles last season probably cost his team not only some games but more importantly they cost his owners a few wins.
Prediction: Let’s call him Manning-lite – not as many yards as big bro, not as many TDs, and no where near as many commercials but still a worthy fantasy option. Also, Victor Cruz.
12. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Ryan was the 2008 rookie of the year but fell off the map in 2009 as a result of an injury and lackluster play by his supporting cast. But 2010 is a new year. The weapons have always been in place for Ryan to put up bigger numbers. Tony Gonzalez, nearing the end of his run as a football player, gave the Falcons the TE they desperately needed. Add Roddy White and Micahel Turner to the mix and you’ve got a scary offense.
Prediction: Playing one of the weakest schedules in the league this year, Ryan should be able to take advantage of all the weapons he has.
13. Chad Henne (Miami Dolphins) - The official sleeper pick of the 2010 season. Henne was made the starter early in the 2009 season after an injury to Chad Pennington and he never looked back. By the end of last year, he had put together a string of good performances. A true number one receiver like Brandon Marshall should make him a hot commodity this pre-season.
Prediction: His upside is unmatched and if the Dolphins run game is 100%, Henne can lead his fantasy owners to the playoffs while leading his team with a balanced attack.
14. Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears) – This year can’t be as bad as last year, can it? Cutler was able to throw for eight TDs in his last two games in 2009 starting an encouraging connection with WR, Devin Aromashodu. Another year in the offense and anything from the run game at all should give Cutler top 15 value.
Prediction: Going to go out on a whim and say that 2010 will be better than 2009 for Cutler.
15. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Can anyone say wildcard? Roethlisberger won’t be going high in any drafts this season but getting him with one of your late round picks before anyone else can snag him up could be a very smart move. He had a spectacular season last year even with all the sacks he took.
Prediction: His suspension early in the season may deter you from drafting him, but keeping him for a chance to play late in the season against the Panthers and Browns could be well worth the risk.
33. Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) - He just wins!
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