Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fantasy Rankings: Quarterbacks

Hey guys. I was going to do a big review of the free agency frenzy, but it was too overwhelming. Instead here's the quick recap:

-Lions got their guy. Stephen Tulloch is a top 5 MLB in the league and will lead this team in tackles. Levy and Durant are the OLBs, and neither are as good as people think. The corners still stink. But the defense got a huge piece with Tulloch. I'm thrilled. But I would love to see them trade for a cornerback.

-Eagles are the NFL's version of the Miami Heat, only without all the secret-plotting and cowardice and back-stabbing and obscene douchiness. Philly signed pass rushers Jason Babin (12.5 sacks) and Cullen Jenkins (7 sacks), traded their backup QB for a Pro Bowl corner, signed Vince Young as the new backup, and of course got the best CB in the world, Nnamdi Asomugha, for a contract that is about $20 million less than what he should be paid. They are now the team to beat in the NFC.

-The Patriots traded for Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. Both guys are low-risk, high-reward. My hunch is one of them will completely suck and one will be completely awesome. Not sure which will be which.

-Arizona got Kolb, and although they probably gave up too much for him, they definitely leaped ahead of the QB-challenged Seahawks and 49ers and are now the most likely challenger to St. Louis in the NFC West.

-Speaking of Seattle, they had a hideous week, losing Matt Hasselbeck and acquiring Tavaris Jackson, whom they named the starter. They gave Sidney Rice a 5-year deal and cut Lofa Tatupu. I wonder if they're even trying to compete, or if Pete Carroll is just tanking this season so he can draft Matt Barkley.

-Chicago traded Greg Olsen to Carolina, signed Roy Williams, and is apparently going to start rookie Gabe Carimi at left tackle as soon as week 1. He's going to be a stud. I knew the Lions should have drafted him.

-The Vikings got McNabb; the Titans got Hasselbeck; the Bengals got Bruce Gradkowski; the Niners kept Alex Smith. All four teams can now leave their rookies on the bench a little while. Not necessarily good news for anybody, but at least the rookies won't get killed.

-Cam Newton will be the only rookie starting week 1. He got about half as much money as Sam Bradford did last year being the #1 pick. But at least he didn't hold out like I thought he might. Instead the Panthers gave $75 million to Charles Johnson, who might be a fringe top 10 defensive end. Oops.

-Denver failed to trade Orton, and insists they'll still start Tebow. Dumb. If they're smart, they'll keep Orton, cut Tebow, and actually try to win some games. I think they'll settle and give Neckbeard to Miami for a 3rd round pick. Miami picked up Matt Moore as a way of low-balling Denver. "No thanks, we're all set with Matt Moore." Yeah right.

-Reggie Bush went to the Dolphins so he can party with LeBron and Wade. Darren Sproles replaced him in New Orleans. Upgrade for the Saints.

-Atlanta got Ray Edwards, giving them the pass-rusher they needed. Very big move. This weakens Minnesota's front 4, while making the Falcons formidable on the edges.

-The Jets kept Holmes and Cromartie, and signed Plaxico. But they put all their eggs in the Nnamdi basket and got burned. New England destroyed them in free agency, and I think that fact will be reflected this season.

-The Texans took Jonathan Joseph from the Bengals, giving the Texans a great cover corner and wrecking the Bengals defense. Big swing up for one team and down for the other.

-Braylon is still a free agent. He's not getting the big offer he hoped for. I think he settles for a crap contract in Arizona or maybe Baltimore.

-Randy Moss retired yesterday. Top 5 receiver all time, first ballot HOF, and a total screwball.

-Tampa, San Fran, San Diego and the NY Giants all got worse. And of course Oakland, who lost their best player on both sides of the ball. Tight end Zach Miller signed a big deal with Seattle.

-I probably missed some details, but oh well. Let's get into the QB Rankings.

Tier One: The Super Elite

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB
The Super Bowl MVP is coming off 3,900 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INTs, and a stunning 8.26 YPA. He tacked on 350 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs. The scary news (or good news if you draft him) is that he's going to improve on the passing numbers in a massive way when JerMichael Finley plays a full season, and the offensive line continues to improve, and he no longer has to appease 50-year old Donald Driver. My gut says that Rodgers will enter the season with amazing confidence and plau unbelievably well. I think the only weakness of him from a fantasy standpoint is that he'll score so many points in the first 3 quarters that Green Bay will just relax in the 4th. But don't be shy about taking him in the first round. Expect at least 4,500 yards. Last year Rodgers was 14th in attempts with 475. The previous year he threw 541, ranking 6th. I think this year he'll throw close to 600, and if his YPA stays around 8.2 he could flirt with 5,000 yards. My prediction is 4,700. Count on 30-35 passing TDs, fewer INTs than last year, and his usual 20 rushing yards per game. All of those factors make him the #1 quarterback on my board.

2. Michael Vick, PHI
You've probably seen Vick ranked #1 overall on more than a few lists, and you may be wondering how I can rank Rodgers ahead of the dog murderer? It's simple. I think Vick will score more points per week, but I think Rodgers will play more weeks. Vick's style of sprinting around and dancing through tacklers is bound to get him injured. Maybe not seriously, but I highly doubt he'll play 16 games. The other elite 5 quarterbacks are all going to play 16 games. But Vick probably won't.

However, what you want our of your first round pick is somebody who's going to single-handedly win you at least 3 fantasy matchups. A guy who gives you a steady 12 per week isn't going to do that. But Vick will have a handful of weeks where he runs for 80 yards and has 4 total TDs. He'll be in the 30s more than any other quarterback. Maybe he'll miss four weeks with an injury. You'll still be glad you drafted him.

Just make sure you get a decent backup.

Tier Two: The All-Time Greats

3. Tom Brady, NE

4. Peyton Manning, IND

Tier Three: The Can't-Miss Studs

5. Drew Brees, NO

6. Phillip Rivers, SD

That's it. Just six elite quarterbacks.

Who is QB #7 is a debate to be had. Most people have Matt Schaub. I think I might lean in a different direction. Rest of the rankings to come later.

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