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Top 24 Quarterback Rankings
This is the first draft of the season, lots of finickiness and changes to come.
1) Peyton Manning (DEN) – Manning should take a small step back from his record setting numbers, but still has enough talent around such as both Thomas’ and Wes Welker that he should still be an elite option every week. The Broncos lost Eric Decker to free agency but were able to add Emmanuel Sanders to help fill the roll and drafted WR Cody Latimer in the second round of the draft.
2) Drew Brees (NO) – The loss of Darren Sproles won’t help Brees’ stats but the hopeful growth of young players like Kenny Stills could help Brees maintain his 5000 yards per season pace. The selection of Brandin Cooks 20th overall in the draft should also help.
3) Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Rogers threw 84 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions in the 2012 and 2013 seasons combined and had 17 touchdowns in the 8 full games that he played last season. While he may not lead the league in yards he has a penchant for touchdowns while keeping the interceptions in check. His ability to run for a few touchdowns also adds some more value. James Jones is gone but the Packers drafted three wide receivers and a tight end.
4) Matt Ryan (ATL) – Even without the elite services for Julio Jones of almost the entire season, Ryan had the second best season of his career in terms of passing yards and completion percentage. His did throw less touchdowns and have more interceptions but should improve on those numbers with an improved O-line, the return of Jones and the continued improvement of Harry Douglas in 2014. I think people are sleeping on Ryan at the moment.
5) Matt Stafford (DET) – Stafford is still looking to repeat his 2011 season when he threw a career high 5038 yards and had 41 touchdowns. In the past two seasons he has thrown for about 4750 yards per season but has just 49 total touchdowns and 36 interceptions. The Lions have added WR Golden Tate in free agency, which should be a big help to Stafford who has the arm the go deep, something Tate is very good at. The Lions could also get some additional help from new addition Kevin Ogletree and the growth of young wide outs Ryan Broyles and Kris Durham. The Lions also addressed a major need for the team by drafting tight end Eric Ebron tenth overall in the draft. Ebron could easily be a top-10 TE in his rookie season.
6) Colin Kaepernick (SF) – Kaepernick was just inside the top-10 at the quarterback position this past season and has a good chance of moving further up the board in what will be his third season as a starter and second full. He has a solid receiving core in Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin as well as a solid veteran running back in Frank Gore who despite having lost a step in recent years, knows how to catch the ball out of the backfield. The 49’ers also recently acquired Stevey Johnson from Buffalo for a forth round pick and drafted a WR in the fourth round of the draft.
7) Tom Brady (NE) – Despite the lack of options that he had at wide receiver last year Brady was still able to throw for 4343 yards but was held to just 25 touchdowns. I will also note that since his 50-touchdown season with Randy Moss, Brady’s is yet to crack the 40-touchdown mark. He should be a lock for another 4000-5000 yards again this season and the resigning of Julian Edelman is very good news for fantasy owners. What Brady needs to regain top-5 quarterback status is a healthy Gronkowski, which would instantly help his touchdown totals. A healthy Danny Amendola is very rare but would also help Brady’s stats.
8) Andrew Luck (IND) – Luck was still able to manage over 3800 yards last year despite not having his best receiver Reggie Wayne available for more than half of the season. He also threw 57 less attempts than in his rookie season, likely in part due to the lack of quality options to throw too. What I like best about Luck’s sophomore year were his interceptions, which he cut in half from 18 to 9. I like the chances that Luck will cross the 4000 yards mark in his third season and will be able to improve upon his 23 touchdown passes. He might not be elite yet, but he is awfully close. He also has Hakeem Nicks on the roster now who could be primed for a bounce-back season and the Colts drafted a wide receiver in the third round.
9) Tony Romo (DAL) – When Romo plays all 16 games he is pretty much a lock to throw for more than 4000 yards (3828 in 15 games last season) and is liable to get you around 30 touchdowns (31, 28, 31 in last three seasons). He may not among the elite fantasy performers at the position, but he is a very safe bet once those players are off the draft board. Romo’s biggest drawback might be that the team has very limited depth at wide receiver after Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams.
10) Robert Griffin III (WAS) – I had RGIII down at the 16 spot when I first put out this list, but I think the signing of DeSean Jackson could be very big or the Redskins offence and it looks like there in only upside for Griffin in 2014 barring another injury.
11) Jay Cutler (CHI) – Cutler was off to a pretty solid start last season before getting hurt early in the fifth week of the season. He had just over 1000 yards and seven touchdowns in just over four full games. He still has one of the best offenses in the game this season with Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte at his disposal, and should see a boost from the emergence of Alshon Jeffery who looks to be an elite option at wide receiver. Everything depends on Cutler playing a full season.
12) Nick Foles (PHI) – Foles burst onto the scene last season with his seven-touchdown game and was extremely efficient with the ball throwing just two interceptions. He was very consistent throwing multiple touchdowns in eight of his fifteen games and finished the season as the third best weekly point producer behind only Manning and Brees. I don’t see myself as being as high on Foles as many other people have been however since DeSean Jackson is no longer on the roster and I don’t think Cooper is that great of a receiver. The health of Maclin will be crucial for the Eagles offence this season, but they did add some wide receiver depth by drafting WRs in the second and third rounds of the draft.
13) Cam Newton (CAR) – The Panthers did not resign veteran Steve Smith this offseason, which as it stands at the moment, leaves them with Brandon LaFell as their number one wide receiver. The team did draft a wide receiver in the first round of the draft, but still, just look at the wide receivers currently on the Panthers roster and you will see why Newton has dropped on my list.
14) Andy Dalton (CIN) – Dalton is not going to repeat as a top-5 quarterback in 2014 but could still fight for a top-10 spot if he keeps putting up 3-4 touchdown a game performances that way he did last season. AJ Green is a lock for a touchdown just about every week and the Bengals have a nice supporting cast around him. Dalton also needs to keep making strides as a quarterback and have some post-season success if the Bengals are going to keep him around for the future, so that should provide some incentive.
15) Philip Rivers (SD) – Like Dalton, Rivers was also a big surprise last season as he finished as the 6th overall quarterback in 2013 and is likely to take a pretty big drop off. He did have a great completion percentage last year but has a new offensive coordinator once again and has a great young receiver in Keenan Allen, but Allen won’t be taking anyone by surprise this season. Rivers should again be drafted as a high end backup in 2014 in 12 team leagues.
16) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – With the aid of a breakout season from Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger finished as a top-12 quarterback, ahead of players such as Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. While I don’t necessarily think Big Ben will take a step back, I think other quarterbacks such as Brady and Ryan will be having rebound seasons and push Big Ben back in the rankings. Big Ben could suprise though with a cast of supporting wide receivers that includes Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and the newly drafted Martavis Bryant.
17) Russell Wilson (SEA) – Wilson had very similar stats across his first two seasons with around 3000+ yards, 26 touchdowns and 10/9 interceptions respectively. The biggest change for him came in scoring just one rushing touchdown as a sophomore as compared to four as a rookie. As trustworthy as Wilson has shown he can be over his first two seasons, the upside is to limited for me to consider him a top-12 quarterback even though he finished #8 at the position last season.
18) Eli Manning (NYG) – On paper it looks like the Giants have a pretty solid receiving core led by Victor Cruz and supported by Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, 12th overall draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr and the reacquired Mario Manningham. The Giants also drafted a centre in the second round which should help with some of the O-line problems. I don’t trust Eli as a 12 team starter this season, but am aware of what he is capable of (Almost 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011).
19) Alex Smith (KC) – A safe backup pick, the upside is extremely limited for Smith. The wide receiver core for the Chiefs is very thin with just Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery as the starting pair, and the team waited until the 4th round of the draft to select another WR. The Chiefs are also pretty limited at tight end with Anthony Fasano set to be the #1 option.
20) Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – As a Dolphins fan I am hoping that Tannehill takes another step forward in his third season. He jumped from 12 to 24 touchdown passes in his second season, and was just shy of 4000 yards. If he takes another step forward in 2014, he could be around 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, which would make him a very serviceable backup option, or even vie for a top-12 spot. While I don’t know that Tannehill will be able to produce those kind of stats, the Dolphins did make some major changes to what was the worst O-line in football last year and drafted a wide receiver in the late 2nd round to join Wallace, Hartline and Gibson.
21) Joe Flacco (BAL) – Flacco is nothing more than a bye week replacement as best most of the time. He has never reached the 4,000 mark and his career high in touchdowns is 25. Currently ranked 20 on my list, I think I am going to end up dropping him even further, and he could be passed by some of the rookie quarterbacks. The Ravens added an aged Steve Smith to the roster and will again have the services of tight end Dennis Pitta, but it’s not enough for me to think Flacco will be much better in 2014.
22) Josh McCown (TB) – After a breakout season in Chicago at the age of 34, McCown earned himself what should be a starting role in Tampa Bay for a season or two. While he will no longer be throwing to a pair of elite targets in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he still has a pair of tall receivers in Vincent Jackson and newly drafted Mike Evans. It is unlikely that McCown will reproduce the numbers he was putting up as a Bear, he could continue to surprise people as a Buccaneer.
23) Sam Bradford (STL) – Bradford is going to be playing for his job soon, but it doesn’t help that his receiving core has no one who caught more than 700 yards or had five touchdowns in 2013. Injuries have also been a problem for Bradford, but the team did draft Greg Robinson, an offensive tackle second overall in the draft which should help keep him on his feet. This is an important season for Bradford, he is going to need help and improvement from his young receivers.
24) Carson Palmer (ARI) – In usual Carson Palmer fashion, he was able to put up decent numbers with over 4,200 yards and 24 touchdowns, but almost matched his touchdown totals with 22 interceptions. The Cardinals did add a tight end in the second round and a wide receiver in the third, but it is hard to see Palmer as anything more than a bye week or injury replacement. It is hard to predict when Palmer is going to throw three touchdowns or three interceptions or both in a game.
25) E.J. Manuel (BUF) – Manuel showed positive signs as a rookie, but also struggled with 12 turnovers in just 10 starts and also completed just 59 percent of his pass attempts. Manuel did not however have a very good receiving core, which saw a big upgrade in the draft with the selection of Sammy Watkins 4th overall. The Bills also drafted an offensive tackle in the second round while adding a guard and another OT later in the draft.
Honorable Mention: Jake Locker (TEN)