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Monday, 18 May 2015

Fantasy Football: Top 30 Quarterbacks for 2015

With my wide receiver and tight end rankings out of the way, we shift our focus to the quarterbacks.

Quarterback is the most stable position in fantasy football. The scoring doesn't fluctuate year-to-year as wildly as it does for other positions, and quarterbacks don't come with the same risk for injury.

For the better part of the last five years, it's been the same names leading the way at the position -- Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Those same names litter the top ten again this season.

There are some changes, though.

After such a sustained period of fantasy excellence, Brees took a step back in 2014. While young guns Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill continue their ascent.

While rankings for other positions can vary drastically from now to the start of the season, for the most part, quarterback rankings will hold true. For those in two-quarterback leagues, as we progress toward the start of the year, we will get a better feel for who will be starting for teams with uncertain quarterback situations like the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.

1. Aaron Rodgers -- Best quarterback in the game. Has been a top-two finisher in six of the last seven seasons. Finished with a ridiculous 38-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2014. Surrounded by Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, an absolute juggernaut offense.

2. Andrew Luck -- A volume machine. Actually had 380 more yards and two more scores than Rodgers, but also had 11 more picks. Added 45 fantasy points with his legs. Run game doesn't appear to be much improved, so he'll do it all again this year. Could finish No. 1 if he cuts down the interceptions.

3. Ben Roethlisberger -- Finished as QB No. 5 a year ago, his best ever finish. Set or tied career marks in yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. Has arguably the game's top receiver and running back in Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Suspension of Bell should mean air-heavy attack first three games.

4. Russell Wilson -- Doesn't have near the passing volume of the other top quarterbacks, threw just 20 touchdowns in '14. The game's premier running quarterback. Had 849 rushing yards last year, and does it without taking too many hits. Addition of Jimmy Graham could mean the offense is starting to shift away from it's run heavy scheme. Graham will be the first elite pass-game target he's had.

5. Peyton Manning -- Overdrafted a year ago after his astounding 2013. Regressed in 2014 but still finished fourth overall. Gone is red-zone weapon Julius Thomas, but Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are on the outside. Over final five regular season games last year, averaged 233 yards, totaling five touchdowns and six picks. I think he continues his slide in '15, but a slide for him is a career year for most.

6. Matt Ryan -- Had a nice bounce-back campaign in 2014. Should get more support from the run game this year. Julio Jones is Julio Jones. Roddy White isn't done yet. Rookie Justin Hardy will replace Harry Douglas in the slot. Should have something resembling a run game this year.

7. Drew Brees -- Could be a nice value pick. Last season snapped a three-year run of top-two finishes. Attempts, completions and yards fairly similar from '13 to '14. Touchdowns dropped off and picks rose. Saints have loaded up on run-game weapons.

8. Cam Newton -- Like Brees, there's value here. Expecting a bounce back season. Down year in '14 spearheaded by injuries (missed two games) and a drop in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Finished as QB No. 17. Was a top-four QB in each of his first three seasons. Needs the running numbers to return to career norms.

9. Tony Romo -- Uncertain running back situation could mean more passing volume. Finished '14 as QB No. 11 despite being 23rd in passing attempts. Led NFL in completion percentage (69.2). Has 65 touchdowns and 19 picks over the last two seasons. Health is a concern. Not as mobile a year ago.

10. Eli Manning -- Had a better 2014 than you think, boosted by Odell Beckham's eruption. Quietly finished as QB No. 10 last year. Over final 14 games, tossed 27 touchdowns and averaged 284 yards per contest.

11. Ryan Tannehill -- Finishes of 24th, 16th and eighth over his three seasons. If waiting to take a quarterback is your preferred strategy, he may be an ideal fit. Had career-best marks for most touchdowns and fewest interceptions in '14.

12. Matthew Stafford -- Likely bounce-back season coming after a disappointing '14. Finished as QB No. 15 last season. Wasn't the same risk taker with an elite defense. Should be asked to shoulder more of the load this year. A healthy Calvin Johnson also helps.

13. Tom Brady -- Tough to rank. Was fifth before being suspended. If ban is reduced to two games, bump him up. Was superb over final 15 games, tossing 39 touchdowns. Entering the year with a healthy Rob Gronkowski.

14. Philip Rivers -- Still a steady producer. Addition of Melvin Gordon should give the Bolts a run game. Keenan Allen will rebound in '15.

15. Sam Bradford -- The allure of Chip Kelly may prevent him from being too much of a bargain. If he stays healthy -- big if -- he should be a fringe QB1. Is better than Sanchez, who put up 2,418-14 in eight starts.

16. Colin Kaepernick -- Lots of changes on the coaching staff. Talent is still there. Reggie Bush and Torrey Smith should boost offense. Had 639 rushing yards last season. Could put up QB1 numbers.

17. Jay Cutler -- Lost a pass-friendly skipper and favorite target. Offense still loaded. If he can keep his job, will be a serviceable streaming and QB2 option.

18. Joe Flacco -- Average finish of QB No. 15 over the past four seasons. Like him better for '16, once Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams have a year under their belts. QB guru Marc Trestman is new offensive coordinator.

19. Andy Dalton -- After a top-five finish in '13, plummeted to QB No. 18 last year. Does have weapons around him. A.J. Green needs to stay healthy. Great streaming option in one-QB leagues.

20. Teddy Bridgewater -- Had a nice rookie season, but I don't get all the hype. Had just 14 touchdowns and 12 picks. Poor pass-game weapons. Low-end QB2.

21. Robert Griffin III -- After a historic rookie year and multiple knee injuries, just hasn't been the same guy. Hard to trust on a week-to-week basis even as your QB2.

22. Jameis Winston -- Has nice weapons on the outside in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Will have some rough games but should put up QB2 numbers.

23. Carson Palmer -- Lost '14 due to injury, but Bruce Arians loves to take vertical shots. Team needs to figure out how to use the talented Michael Floyd.

24. Alex Smith -- Jeremy Maclin can be a nice addition if he masters the underneath routes because Smith can't win with deep balls. When deployed in the right matchups, can be a solid streamer. 

25. Nick Foles -- Believe he was relevant because of the Eagles system.

26. Derek Carr -- Decent rookie year. His strengths match Amari Cooper's strengths, namely the short, quick passing game.

27. Marcus Mariota -- Will have some nice plays with his legs but a rookie QB in a terrible offense.

28. Blake Bortles -- Had a historically bad rookie year. Will get every chance to succeed in Jacksonville. The Jags have done well these past two years to surround him with weapons.

29. Geno Smith -- Think he ends up starting for the Jets. There are worse receiving duos than Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Can Chan Gailey resurrect his career?

30. Brian Hoyer -- Neither he nor Ryan Mallet will be a recommended option. Both do know Bill O'Brien's system well.


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