With the regular season just over a week away there is little time for people to join a Fantasy Football team. But as we are getting closer and given that many are trying to get into last minute leagues, let’s take a look at some rankings. This series is going to give a general ranking of the top 10 fantasy players (will specify a difference for keeper verses not when applicable) as well as a player I see as a “sleeper.” Also throughout the season we will have a “hot”, “cold”, “upcoming” update every week or two, or when it seems appropriate.
1. Aaron Rodgers: Its hard to argue that Rodgers isn’t the #1 QB (at least in fantasy football). He is a proven commodity in Green Bay and has proven targets such as Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley and James Jones. The other thing that gives Rodgers the edge is that he battled past all the losses his team suffered last year — as well as his concussions. He is going to take the field for every game, if at all possible. He should be first QB off the board.
2. Philip Rivers: Take a look at what Rivers was capable of last year, without most of his receiving options — Peyton Manning knew the feeling. He still threw for a career high 4,710 yards, and added 30 TD’s. Supporting cast matters here as well, while it is true that Rivers has a good cast, my faith in Malcom Floyd is shaky so I’m not sure what to expect from there passing game. The only sure-thing is Vincent Jackson and with the running backs on the roster they will also likely run a lot more than Green bay will. Late 1st – early 2nd.
3. Drew Brees: Brees would be ranked higher if not for his high interceptions total and an average 7 yards per attempt. This year’s running game should be improved though after the backs were riddled with injury last year. He is still a solid fantasy option but is not a pick earlier than the 2nd round.
4. Matt Ryan: Matt Ryan is a Top 5 fantasy QB this year. Last year, he finished 5th with an average receiving core. He had Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez but that was about it — and he set career highs in most stats. This off-season he has seemed to develop, partially because he has been watching more tape of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The addition of Julio Jones will do two things: first it is going to help White because he wont be doubled quite as much, second it will lead to more deep passes for bigger gains and more total yards. I look for him to surpass 4,000 yards passing and 30 TDs. Value: 2nd/early 3rd
5. Peyton Manning: This ranking is assuming he plays Week 1 and is healthy. Value: 2/3
6. Tom Brady: Like Manning, Brady is one of the more consistent QB’s in fantasy football. To me he could have a better year in the passing game potentially with Ochocinco though I think Ochocinco’s value is helped more by the move than Brady’s. Value: 3/4
7. Micheal Vick: Assuming his line is much better than it has been in the preseason, he could have numbers that compare with those of the top 5 QB’s — particularly in standard leagues. Value: 3/4
8. Matt Schaub: He definitely has some big offensive targets but the Texans have become more balanced over last couple years, so he isn’t airing it out quite as often. Although that being said they may throw it more early on this season with the questionable availability of Arian Foster. Value: 4th
9. Ben Roethlisberger: Value 4th
10. Tony Romo: He has the potential to be much better than this, but the Cowboys typically fall short of what is expected. I see him ending up around 10th at end of the year.
Best Keeper/ Sleeper options:
Sam Bradford: He seems to be living up to the hype he carried into the league. He threw too many interceptions last year, but I attribute that to the fact he was thrown into the fire as a rookie in a new offense with limited targets. He should improve significantly with a greater command of his offense, even with only modest upgrades in the receiving targets. He is my top Keeper Pick next to Matt Ryan, but I wouldn’t really call him a sleeper.
Josh Freeman: Has an improved command of offense and some good weapons. The Bucs see him as there future and if his line can improve, and they can get one more WR to M. Williams, he could move up on the fantasy boards.
Matt Stafford: Yes, glass shoulder. No one has ever questioned what his potential is, but after the last two years it is hard not to question if he can live up to it because he has been unable to stay on the field. The hope is that this year his offensive line is better — and thus far in the preseason that appears to be the case. I also like the receiving targets around him and think a healthy year will take him to where people expected him to be. Expect numbers similar to Bradford in fantasy points, but more total passing yards with greater targets.
Feedback and questions are welcome. If you want to ask questions on Twitter, contact me at @Travis_Tango.