Well running backs, it was a good run (no pun intended). For over ten years, you have been fantasy football gold. The old cliche was that when draft night came, it was best to draft running backs early and often.
However, with the arrival of platoons in the backfield, a greater emphasis on passing, and unbelievable rule adjustments that make it practically impossible to defend the pass, running backs just aren’t as valuable as they once were.
In fact, one could easily make the case that there are several players of other positions who are more valuable than even the top running backs. This has never been more the case than it is this year at the Quarterback position.
But which quarterbacks should you be targeting in your drafts or when the free weekly FanDuel beat-the-expert contest starts? And which ones should you stay away from?
Just like I did earlier this week in ranking the running backs, here are my top 15 fantasy QBs for 2011, as well as my suggestions for who you should stay away from.
Fantasy Football QB Rankings: The “Stay Aways”
The pretty boy is probably the most over-rated player in all of sports besides Ryan Howard. Don’t believe me? Check out his third down numbers and his Red Zone numbers. I mean really, the guy is an insult to other QBs who have been labeled “game managers.” He might prove me wrong this year…but I doubt it.
Joe’s the classic guy that’s “better in real life than he is in fantasy”…only he’s not even that good in real life.
The former Brady understudy has loads of potential but will be saddled by his coach’s conservative philosophy, and when you can hand it off to Jamaal Charles, that’s not a bad philosophy.
There’s just way too much going on in Denver for anyone to succeed, let alone a guy named Kyle Orton.
Repeat after me: “Just…say…no.”
He might be a good guy to pick up and stash on the bench. Besides rookies, Kolb might be affected by the lockout more than any other player. Six weeks in though, Kolb could very well be an enticing option, especially considering the fact that he gets to throw the ball to the best WR in the game.
Just don’t expect greatness from him early on, as he will be adjusting to a new team, a new climate (don’t discount this), and a new playbook.
Fantasy Football QB Rankings: The Top 15
15. Matthew Stafford
To be honest, if you think Stafford is in your top fifteen, he might as well be in your top ten. He might have the strongest arm in the NFL, he plays indoors, and oh yeah, he gets to throw to a guy named Calvin Johnson every game. Year three is often a coming out party of sorts for young quarterbacks, and if anyone is capable of making the leap, it’s Stafford.
Obviously though, there’s the whole injury thing. That’s the only reason he slides to #15 on my board. Unless you have a really good feeling about him, I would probably lay off of him until he slides past #12; but after that, he would represent great value…especially if he finally stays healthy.
14. Josh Freeman
I think that Freeman is going to have a good year and that he may end up being the next Ben Roethlisberger. If that does happen, Tampa Bay fans should be thrilled. However, fantasy owners should remain wary.
Freeman didn’t have a single 300-yard game last year, and even though he has some talented receivers, the Bucs will probably rely a lot on the running game yet again in 2011.
In 2012, Bradford could possibly be in the top five. To me, though, he’s still a year away from becoming a fantasy superstar. Pounce on him if he slides past #10, but don’t take him before too many of these other guys.
12. Matt Ryan
Probably the greatest “better in real life than fantasy” player I have ever seen. I don’t know if that’s a compliment, or an insult, but either way, be careful with Ryan when it comes to drafting your team.
On the one hand, if Julio Jones is a star the Falcons could possibly have the best 1-2 punch at WR in the entire NFL. On the other hand, Michael Turner gets tons of looks in the red zone, and Tony Gonzalez is no longer the TD-threat he once was.
At the end of the day, how you feel about Ryan probably has a lot to do with how you feel about Julio Jones. If you love the Alabama wide-out, you should probably take Ryan in the top seven. If not, he’s probably a stay away until later rounds.
11. Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger won’t kill you by any means, but he probably won’t single-handedly win any weeks for you either. If Rashard Mendenhall gets hurt, Big Ben might shoulder a little more of the load. If not, the Steelers will remain what they have always been – a team that kills you with defense, a running game, and staggeringly boring consistency.
10. Eli Manning
I think Manning will have a great year this year. Hakeem Nicks is one of the best WRs in the league, and even though Steve Smith is off to Philadelphia, Mario Manningham emerged last year as a consistent #2 threat. Add to that the fact that their running game is not what it once was, and that they will probably play at least four high scoring games against Philadelphia and Dallas, among others, and the elements are there for another strong statistical season for Peyton’s brother.
Eli will not be an exciting pick, but he’s good to throw for at least 4,000 yards and around 30 TDs. If he drops his rather flukey INT total from last year, you will be looking at a top 8 QB, easily.
9. Matt Schaub
Two words: Andre Johnson.
Don’t laugh. He’s in year two of the Mike Martz era, and he actually has a few more options to throw the ball to this year. If the Bears can keep him off the turf (52 sacks last year), Cutler should throw for 4,000 yards and 25 TDs like he did as a rookie.
7. Tony Romo
I don’t really know what to say about Romo. I think he’s an incredibly overrated QB in real life, but for one reason or another he always puts up great numbers in fantasy land. To me, he’s the classic guy that you pick, take your ribbing from the other guys for drafting him, and then rub it in as much as possible when he’s the reason for you beating them in week eight.
6. Michael Vick
Let’s just say I’m not drinking the Vick Kool-aid. Many of you probably completely disagree with me, so I will just present three stone-cold facts with no emotion that you can’t argue with:
- He is a lock to miss games at some point this year. This is a given.
- He has looked terrible in preseason so far. Admittedly, it’s a small sample-size, but admit it: it has you worried at least a little bit. The QB position is a tricky one – you can never stop working at it. Vick has unlimited potential, and last season he really put in the work that was necessary to succeed. But he has a track record of being over-confident in the past. If he has taken an extended amount of time off this off-season, he could definitely have a regression in 2011.
- He played awful down the stretch last year. Over his final four games (including the playoffs) last season, he only finished with 7 TDs and 5 INTs. He also failed to break 300 yards once. It’s possible that he was playing injured. It’s possible that the other teams started to figure out. It’s possible that’s he’s just not as good as we thought. If any of those statements are true, you should stay away from Vick as the #1 guy.
All of that said, if he plays to his potential, he could single-handedly win your league. If you have a great feeling about him, you might pick him first overall. If you don’t, I would suggest that you stay away.
5. Peyton Manning
His neck absolutely does present a scary issue, and he could very well get off to a slow start. But don’t worry. Just be patient. If he plays 16 games and doesn’t finish the year with 4,000 yards and 28 TDs, you can email this article to me every day for the rest of my life.
4. Aaron Rodgers
I’m high on A-Rodg this year, but not as high as everyone else. I think the Packers will be playing a LOT more games from ahead this year, and Ryan Grant is back to anchor the running game. Remember: even with the high scoring games and lack of a running game last year, Rodgers didn’t throw for 4,000 yards or 30 TDs.
I definitely think that 2011 will be the year when we all officially cast him into the “best QB in the game” role, but I don’t think his fantasy numbers will be as good as the next three guys.
3. Drew Brees
Put it this way: he passed for over 4,600 yards and 33 TDs last year…and people were disappointed. You could easily make the case that he should be #1.
2. Tom Brady
Remember 2007 when the Pats were coming off a disappointing season and Belichek and Brady appeared to be mad at the world as they ran up the score in every games and broke all sorts of passing records? Well, I have a feeling that it’s about to happen again. I mean, good grief, they have been running up scores in the PRE-SEASON.
Brady also has great weapons again. His tight ends are among the best in the game, Wes Welker is back, and the newly acquired Chad Ochocinco will help out more than you think, especially in the end zone.
Add it all up, and I think Brady could have a frighteningly good season, as if last year’s 36-4 TD to INT ratio wasn’t good enough.
1. Philip Rivers
Quite frankly, he’s the best fantasy QB there is.
Last year, he threw for 4,700 yards and 30 TDs…WITHOUT his #1 threat on the outside. He also throws the best deep ball in the game, and if your league has any sort of “big play bonus” Rivers is a lock to lead that category this season.
Rivers may not be the best pure QB in the game, and he may be a huge jerk that’s no fun to have on your team, but if he’s your fantasy QB in 2011, you will learn to love him, and may end up having to send him a letter of appreciation when he wins you your league.