Edition One: Quarterback Rankings

It’s that time. As the ruckus of fantasy football leagues begin to formulate, the brainstorming is even more intense. Quarterbacks are often the least looked at in early rounds of fantasy football, besides Manning, Culpepper, and McNabb. That’s a pattern that won’t change because quarterbacks are inconsistent. After the top five quarterbacks, you aren’t going to get an alarming separation of fantasy points from a quarterback sixth through twentieth.

That’s why a lot of owners that don’t go after an exclusive quarterback, will play the match up game with their quarterback tandem. They’ll draft two average quarterbacks and then maybe a long shot third string in twelve or fourteen team leagues. With that concept they can plug in and start the quarterback that has the fair advantage to exploit a weak defense.

It benefits a lot of owners but sometimes even that isn’t enough to overcome the deficit of head start points Manning, McNabb, and Culpepper give. So with your draft board, you need to make a conscious decision on what you are going to do with your pick. Don’t make the automatic assumption that you want to draft a running back. The back you are looking at could be snatched up, and leave you to reach out for a back.

Look at it the same way NFL teams do with the annual NFL Draft. Take the best available player on the board, and go from there.

Here is the first of many quarterback rankings.

1. Peyton Manning
No surprise here. Manning is the only quarterback I’d warrant drafting in round one. He is so far ahead of the pack, that it’s hard to pass him up. It’s almost a given that he is going to throw four to five touchdowns a week. With other quarterbacks it’s almost a long stretch for them to throw two. Manning is even hungrier than last season, and is going to put up similar numbers without a doubt. He has to be valued as the number one fantasy football sports athlete. The reason why, is because of the overwhelming separation of Manning and the rest of the quarterbacks. The disparity is amazing, and the constant blood flow will be at a rapid pace.

2. Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper will have to show his value without Moss, and that could lead to a slight drop off in his stats. For what it’s worth, he did prove himself with Moss being held out with injury last season. Still, the running back situation is shaky and he’ll have to rely on a pair of receivers that did absolutely nothing when together in Baltimore. Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor will get a stab at it again, and there is no reason to think anything will be different. At least Culpepper will have Nate Burleson, and rookie Troy Williamson to differentiate from Robinson and Taylor.

3. Michael Vick
Two years ago Vick was the consensus first pick in many drafts, only to falter completely due to injury. The sour taste he left in fantasy owners only soured more as his disappointing season last year has people wondering. His pocket presence is not even in the top fifteen right now, and the majority of that has to do with his receivers. Peerless Price has been the biggest bust of a free agent wide receiver cashing in, and he obviously needs a big physical receiver opposite him, like Moulds was in Buffalo. The Falcons drafted Roddy White in hopes of Price getting less attention so that he can use his speed and get off the line. Regardless of Vick’s struggles throwing the ball last season, he more than made up for that rushing the football. His nine hundred yards rushing made up for his sloping passing numbers. His rushing ability is a given, and his ability to throw the football can only improve. In early mock drafts he has been falling to the third round, which is a steal.

4. Marc Bulger
One thing Mike Martz will never change is his air arsenal game plans. The Rams are still a great show on turf, and Bulger’s growth is impeccable. He has extreme poise and fearlessness in the pocket. He just has the total package of being a true leader that is never going to give up. At times his crisp passes and demeanor are reminiscent of Dan Marino. The receivers are still there, and the combination of Jackson and Faulk is only going to free up the passing game more. Bulger’s passing yards have always been fantasy football friendly, but this year expect him to creep up in the touchdown numbers as well.

5. Donovan McNabb
McNabb’s psyche may be the best in the league, as he has done everything except win a Super Bowl. He definitely has a bad taste in his mouth, and must keep his composure. With all the negative publicity he has received for his play in the Super Bowl, it must be shaken off. Last year he had a career year and threw for 31 touchdowns, and showed what he could do with a great receiver. Terrell Owens is still holding out, but unless Owens is extremely selfish he’ll be out there opening day.

6. Tom Brady
It’s been the Brady exclusion show the past few years, and the savvy of this guy is incredible. His bold presence just rubs off in the huddle. Even after making a bonehead mistake against the Dolphins on national television, he recovered like it didn’t happen. The Patriots offense never seems high powered, but Brady’s numbers don’t reflect that. If you’re looking for a sure safe bet, this is the guy. He’ll get you 3,500 yards passing and 25-28 touchdowns.

7. Trent Green
As long as Tony Gonzalez is wearing a Chiefs uniform, Green will remain a top ten quarterback. The connection between the two is unreal, and teams still can’t stop it. Gonzalez opens up so many different options for Green, as well as does Priest Holmes. He is an old school type quarterback that’s only going to get you fantasy points with his arm, but he hasn’t disappointed as a Chief. Even though he isn’t getting any younger, the fact that he has started every game the past three years is a bonus to wipe out cautiousness.

8. Matt Hasselbeck
The Seahawks bounce back and forth on the hot and cold spectrum as worse as any football team in the NFL. Hasselbeck’s overall season totals last year looked solid but were misleading. His cold streaks were agitating to fantasy owners and seven times last season he only threw one touchdown pass or went without. His play is an exact comparison of the Seahawks play, and time will tell if that has changed.

9. Kerry Collins
Job security hasn’t been a title for Collins career, and this will be the biggest challenge for Collins. All complaints on a sub par last season have been filled in with the correct acquisitions. Collins now has a running back in Lamont Jordan, and a wide receiver that is beyond special. The acquisition of Moss changes so much for the Raiders, and Collins needs to be able to play with consistency. His deep throw is probably up there with Manning as the league’s best, but his play overall has always remained erratic. Collins has always had the ability to be a top three quarterback, and this could be his year. The receivers Collins has are the best group in the league. Moss, Porter, Curry, and Gabriel assets should make for a lot of four wide receiver sets.

10. Drew Brees
Fantasy owners often overlook efficiency, and with that in mind Brees would rank at the top. He takes what defenses give him, and won’t lose you points with interceptions. We’ll see how Brees handles pressure, as the Chargers are obviously testing his mind. They know and Brees knows, that if he has another stellar year the Chargers will deal Rivers. If not, Brees one-year contract will be expired, and the Chargers will let him run rampant. Expectations of showing weakness were expected week-to-week last season, and it never happened. It won’t happen this year either.

11. Brett Favre
This is the lowest Favre has been ranked amongst quarterbacks since the mid 90’s. Favre wouldn’t submit to his body’s request of retiring last season, and you wonder if being on the football field may finalize that. Favre’s tendency to freestyle and make something out of nothing is what has been a fascinating part of his game. Last season though it seemed to backfire all the time. He’d just throw the ball up for grabs or make a rookie throw. Things that would get any other quarterback criticized were overlooked. Favre still had a monster year but the teams in his division have improved a lot on defense, and his best days are far behind him.

12. Aaron Brooks
Wow, now here is the definition of a player leaving room to fill in his potential. He is an exact replica of Jake Plummer. A quarterback that just moderates at a certain level but never progresses. He’ll give you a little taste here and there, but for the most part is barely above an average quarterback. Really nothing has evolved in his game since taking over for Jeff Blake in 2000. If he can ever get out of that funk, he can be a top five quarterback.

13. David Carr
Taking a beating is supposed to keep you down, but Carr has used it to launch and propel his travels in the NFL. He has definitely gone through his bumps along the way, but this should be his year to be a solid number two fantasy quarterback. Carr, Domanick Davis, and Andre Johnson are the youngest dynamic trio in the league.

14. Carson Palmer
It was unfortunate Palmer got hurt at the end of last season, because it finally clicked for him right before that. He went a three-week stretch of putting up dominating numbers, including a dazzling 29 of 36 performance against the Baltimore Ravens. Now he’ll have to prove that he hasn’t fallen off that trail and can keep walking that path.

15. Brian Griese
Give Griese all the credit in the world as he resurrected his career when it seemed at a low point. After jeopardizing his status as quarterback with Miami, he came to Tampa Bay as a castoff bench veteran. That status soon fell into the hands of Brad Johnson, and Griese surpassed Chris Simms with ease. When finally in the fold, Griese put up better numbers in eleven games than some quarterbacks did in sixteen. Twenty touchdown passes and a fair amount of monster 300 yard games. The weapons are now there offensively, and Griese could be a huge steal in draft’s this season.

16. Chad Pennington
The Jets are all about ball control, and are very similar to what the Steelers objective is. They grind it out offensively, and let the defense win games. They don’t want to run up and down the field, and that means Pennington can only be an average fantasy quarterback. He’ll have the occasion game of throwing three touchdowns, but the three hundred yard passing games aren’t going to be there.

17. Jake Delhomme
Don’t expect the same type of stats from Delhomme this season. The Panthers were forced to throw the football a lot last season due to DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis’s injuries. He also lost his main threat in Mushin Muhammed, but will get his former favorite target back in Steve Smith. Delhomme is the perfect quarterback to have for spot duty.

18. Steve McNair
Which McNair are we going to see this season? A healthy flashback McNair, or a quarterback that’s best days are behind him. According to McNair he has recovered nicely and is ready to go. That’s hard to believe and fantasy owners will have to be the judge of that. Slippage of McNair in drafts is not even a question, and the Titans outlook this season isn’t going to help. They lost Derrick Mason to free agency, and their main targets are now Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico. The only bright side is the Titans are going to be down a lot this year, so that means a lot of garbage statistics for McNair to pick up in the fourth quarter.

19. Byron Leftwich
Comeback fourth quarter victories by the Jaguars last year were always highlighted by Leftwich touchdowns. That happened in the majority of the Jaguars wins, but Leftwich only had 15 touchdowns. A big component of the Jaguars victories had to do with their defense, and their offense finally clicking when needed. Leftwich’s notoriety is there now, and it’ll be up to him to advance to another level.

20. Jake Plummer
Each year Plummer is listed as a sleeper, because people know he can be much better. It hasn’t happened yet, and now he has become a fantasy write off. Maybe draft him and take a chance, but realize his acquisition can be a simple write off. No one is high on him anymore so the potential of being a bust is non-existent. It ends up simply being a non-worthy eighth or ninth round pick.

21. Patrick Ramsey
The disarray of the Redskins team is at a high point. LaVar Arrington has run off the mouth about his point of view, and the latest news with Sean Taylor is head shaking. Still, the Redskins had the best defense last season, but couldn’t get an iota of help from their offense. Brunell is back on the bench, and Ramsey has been inserted to get another stab as a starter. One more drastic basement year on Ramsey’s part, will result in the crumbling of his career.

22. Drew Bledsoe
How many times has a remarriage ended on a bad note in the NFL? The glory days seem to be behind both Parcells and Bledsoe, but both think the magic can happen again. Bledsoe still possesses the same tools but can’t seem to grasp the idea of getting rid of the football. He still holds the ball too long, or flings the ball uncontrollably. The fact that Cowboy fans still are chanting for another Drew is unbelievable. Bledsoe can quiet those doubters with wins, but won’t be a flashy quarterback with or without victories.

23. Ben Roethlisberger
Who was having nightmares during the off-season? If a poll were taken amongst NFL quarterbacks I’m sure Roethlisberger would rank number one. Can he shake off the quick exit of last year’s success? Either way the Steelers are going to grind it out, and let the other team lose the game. Roethlisberger threw for under 200 yards nine out of the fourteen games he started last year.

24. Kurt Warner
Somebody please want me, I’m a former MVP. Warner was being tossed around with no love by the Rams and Giants, and has opened his arms once again this time with the Cardinals. The love was enough to grant another one-year contract, wow. Warner wants to prove himself, and the supporting cast is reminiscent his best days with St. Louis. This is the lowest he’ll be ranked all season, unless he loses his job to Josh McCown.

25. Joey Harrington
Harrington is another quarterback that can only shoot up rankings, or lose his job to Jeff Garcia. The Lions aren’t going to give him any leniency this year, and Harrington will either rise or fall. Just like Warner there is crazy talent surrounding Harrington, and if there are still no results, than we all know what the main problem is.

26. JP Losman
The Bills believe they found a gem in Losman, and have handed their future to the youngster. Can he step in, and not disrupt the chemistry the Bills had going toward the end of last season? The Bills think the majority of the success was due to McGahee’s abilities, and will run him to death again. Trust me, Losman will be tested and it’ll be a rough year.

27. Kyle Boller
Todd Heap is set to be at 100 percent, and Boller also now has Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. It took awhile for the Ravens to use some money in the receiver area, but it’s a wrap now. Can the inclusion of the new talent, add to the development of Boller? It should, and Baltimore has to be one of the scariest teams in the AFC.

28. AJ Feeley
Reports are that Feeley may not even win the starting job over Gus Frerotte. The Dolphins may have let Jay Fiedler go too early. He fit the system perfectly and didn’t do too much until the Dolphins had no rushing game. Feeley had a few signs of being an okay quarterback, but mostly he was just a weekly case of fear factor for his own team.

29. Rex Grossman
The evaluation of Grossman isn’t based on his prior experiences, as we have no idea. We have to base his ranking on the Bears system of quarterbacks, and that has been the bottom of the barrel for a long time.

30. Eli Manning
Hopefully his years of struggles are behind him, because we haven’t seen a rookie go through a rougher season in awhile. Manning has a cannon for an arm, but needs to obviously develop his ability to read defenses. That comes with time, and there should be a brighter improvement for Manning this year. He is still a good year or two away though from even being considered being drafted.

31. Trent Dilfer
Dilfer has been a journeyman, and seems to keep being picked up by teams that really should be looking elsewhere. Dilfer isn’t the answer for Cleveland, and Charlie Frye will likely get an opportunity somewhere in the middle or latter part of the upcoming season. One thing that can’t be taken away from Dilfer is his Super Bowl ring, and a lot of quarterbacks can’t state that.

32. Alex Smith
The 49ers rookie will be in a tug of war battle to win the starting job over Tim Rattay. Favoritism will lead the way for Smith, and a nice highlight reel that he’ll want in a locked vault will accompany that as well.

33. Jeff Garcia
Aww, your former head coach for years has signed you to be a backup. I think we all saw that wink from a mile away. Just wait for the right moment, and Garcia will be inserted like neither expected. It’s kind of like a staged WWE event.

34. Gus Frerotte
Frerotte has managed to hang around the league, even after his head butt into the wall. The reason why is because he knows the game, and that’s why he will likely eclipse Feeley before training camp even starts. Feeley doesn’t understand his position yet, and Frerotte will snatch it like it a receiver going up for a football.

35. Billy Volek
McNair’s injury concerns and the Titans future will come up rapidly this year, and Volek will likely play into the fold. He did well last year, and will be involved one way or another at some point.

36. Kelly Holcomb
Anytime there is a youngster starting, a veteran backup is watching with wide eyed binoculars for the mistakes to tip over. Holcomb has always flourished in a backup role, and that pattern may be tested.

37. Josh McCown
Don’t give up on McCown yet. Dennis Green has been known to make changes quicker than he can finish a sentence. Warner is already on a thin line throughout the league, and the offers weren’t overflowing for his contributions. McCown is hungry to get back in, and finished the season nicely after Green gave him his job back.

38. Philip Rivers
It’s a long shot that Rivers will step on the field this year. It would take a Chargers losing season or a Brees injury for that to happen. The sad thing is that Rivers is probably better than six to eight current starting quarterbacks and he hasn’t even started a game.

39. Andrew Walter
The ASU grad broke several Pac-10 records and would have been a high draft pick if it weren’t for his late collegiate shoulder injury. If Collins doesn’t perform, Walter could step in and have an immediate impact. Unlike other rookies, Walter started all four years of his collegiate career, so he is a more mature and prepared quarterback. The ASU offensive system is also very similar to an NFL style.

40. Charlie Frye
It’s just hard to imagine Trent Dilfer starting the entire season.


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