At one time, it was Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees at the top and then everyone else fell after that. That was actually last season. Now, with most fantasy football drafts kicking off in the next few weeks, there are new names at the top of the list and more men trying to sneak in the back door. Here are the top quarterbacks ranked for you heading into your fantasy football drafts.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers finally helped Green Bay Packers fans forget about Brett Favre as he became the third quarterback to lead the team to a Super Bowl ring. If his career ends up as great as the other two men, Bart Starr and Brett Favre, he will be one of the greats. There is not a safer pick at quarterback in fantasy football as he will surpass 4,000 yards and close to 30 touchdowns. He also runs pretty well too.
2. Michael Vick
The rehabilitation of Michael Vick is complete. The man seems to have finally turned his life around and is honestly a better quarterback now than he was when he first started out in Atlanta. He is more poised in the pocket and his 676 rushing yards in 2010 proves he is just as mobile as ever. He is a younger, fresher Donovan McNabb and should lead all fantasy football quarterbacks in 2011 in rushing while throwing for over 3,000 yards again. If he does not get injured, he might be better than Aaron Rodgers.
3. Peyton Manning
It’s strange how things change. It used to be Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Then Drew Brees moved into that group. Now, after only one year, they are ranked 3-5 and almost threaten to fall further. This is not because they are not still great, because they are, but it is because the quarterback pool is improving. Peyton Manning is still the greatest pure quarterback in the game but his running skills, or non-existent running skills, holds him down slightly. The two men above him give added value on the ground but no one will throw more touchdowns than Peyton Manning.
4. Drew Brees
Actually, one person may match touchdowns with Manning and that is Drew Brees. Brees snuck up and leapt into the Manning/Brady party and has done nothing to hurt his value since. He is best thanks to the play calling of Sean Payton giving him numerous chances to throw the ball downfield. He doesn’t have many name-brand receivers on the team but has thrown for over 4,000 yards in last five seasons and threw for over 5,000 yards in 2008. He is as safe a bet as you will find in fantasy football.
5. Tom Brady
Tom Brady fell off a tad bit in 2010, losing Randy Moss to trade while Wes Welker was still recovering from injury. In 2011, he gets Welker back full speed, Deion Branch gets his second year back in the Patriot system and Chad Ochocinco joins the party. Brady threw 36 touchdowns last season, despite the lack of quality receivers and will be even better this year. Expect him to surpass 4,000 yards again and be a solid fantasy football contributor all season long.
6. Philip Rivers
It’s hard to believe that Philip Rivers was as great as he was in 2010 with his best receiver sitting out most of the season and the only other quality person catching balls being his tight end. Now, Vincent Jackson is back and ready to play and Philip Rivers is just getting started. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards for three seasons in a row and finished 2010 with 30 touchdown passes. Expect more of the same in 2011.
7. Matt Schaub
Over the last few years, Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub have been threatening to break into the upper echelon of fantasy football quarterbacks and both have been really good. Matt Schaub’s only downfall is the durability of Andre Johnson. Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL and, when he is healthy, Shaub can match numbers with anyone. When Johnson is hurt, Schaub disappears. While he has never thrown for more than 30 touchdowns in a season, Schaub has surpassed 4,000 yards in back-to-back years and seems to be getting stronger. As long as Johnson is healthy, Schaub is a star.
8. Eli Manning
Eli Manning has always been the other Manning boy in the NFL but that all started to change in 2010. He threw for over 4,000 yards for his second season in a row and finished with 31 touchdown passes. However, one big problem with Manning is interceptions. If you play in a fantasy football league that penalizes harshly for interceptions, drop Manning at least six spots on this list. He threw 25 interceptions last season and has thrown for 20 or more in two of the last four. If he can get that under control, he can be a star.
9. Tony Romo
Tony Romo went down to injury in 2010 and the Dallas Cowboys season effectively ended. This fantasy football ranking is banking on Romo coming back healthy like he was when he threw for 4,483 yards in 2009. 2009 also was the year that Romo brought his interceptions down into single digits. Miles Austin has to hope that Romo is healthy because, without Romo, Austin disappeared as well. With Austin, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, Romo should have a big bounce back year in Dallas.
10. Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is always underrated despite putting up big numbers consistently. He missed four games in 2010 thanks to a suspension and still threw for 3,200 yards. It was also his best season interception wise, with only five compared to 17 touchdowns. The Steelers have completely changed away from the hardnosed running team they once were and now Big Ben throws the ball all over the field. With a number of new receivers, it is time to see where Ben goes from here.
11. Kevin Kolb: The biggest news in the offseason was where, if anywhere, Kevin Kolb would move to. He went to Arizona and, paired up with Larry Fitzgerald, the two should make some magic in 2011.
12. Jay Cutler: Jay Cutler still has a big league arm but he has never won big, throws too many interceptions and plays for a team with few wide receiving playmakers.
13. Kyle Orton: Kyle Orton was the best thing going for Denver in 2010 and they still benched him for Tim Tebow. Despite the benching, he still threw for 3,802 yards and 21 touchdowns. If Tebow is kept off the field, keep Orton in your lineup.
14. Matt Ryan: Roddy White is a big-time weapon for Matt Ryan and if Julio Jones is as great as Atlanta thinks he is, Ryan will only get better in 2011. He throws a lot of touchdown and only threw nine picks in 2010.
15. Matthew Stafford: If Stafford can stay healthy, he can be a Top 10 fantasy football quarterback. He has only played in 13 games in his first two NFL seasons. In his three games prior to injury in 2010, he threw for 535 yards, six touchdowns and one pick. But he has to stay healthy.
16. Joe Flacco: Joe Flacco just got some new weapons. Lee Evans comes over from Buffalo to give Flacco a very talented No. 2 receiver to line up opposite Anquan Boldin. Ricky Williams also joins the club, replacing Willis McGahee. Flacco throws for big time yards and decent touchdown numbers but needs to get more consistent week after week to be a legitimate fantasy football starter.
17. Josh Freeman: Talk about a guy coming from out of nowhere. Tampa Bay was a poor team with little hope for the future and then Josh Freeman stood up in his sophomore season and led them from the ashes. He threw for 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions and has given Buccaneers fans reason to hope.
18. Sam Bradford: Sam Bradford caught a lot of slack for his monstrous rookie contract, something that will not happen again thanks the new CBA. However, he proved to be worth every penny. He led the Rams to more wins than they had the three previous seasons and had them one game away from the playoffs. He considers his rookie year to be a failure because they missed the playoffs. That is the kind of winner you want on your fantasy football team.
19. Donovan McNabb: Donovan McNabb played his worst season in 2010 but that was not all his fault. Yes, he was not very good but neither was the Redskins and they never had faith in him anyway. Now he has a fresh start in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson is the kind of running back that will take pressure off McNabb and he has some great wide outs in Minnesota for a career revival.
20. Mark Sanchez: Mark Sanchez has some big time receivers this year, including Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Dustin Keller, at his disposal. He will have an improved year but needs to limit his interceptions to move higher on this list.
21 David Garrard
22 Ryan Fitzpatrick
23 Matt Hasselbeck
24 Matt Cassell
25 Cam Newton
26 Jason Campbell
27 Alex Smith
28 Rex Grossman
29 Chad Henne
30 Colt McCoy
31 Andy Dalton
32 Tim Tebow
33 Tavaris Jackson
34 Jimmy Claussen
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