I was going to make this a top 30 like the running back edition but ended up not having too much fun digging through the dregs of the league’s QB’s in order to rank the late twenties. Always one to alter things on the fly if it will convenience me, I cut the list down to the top 20. My temples have since thanked me for it.
As always, enjoy and feel free to question my sanity in your replies!
20. Matt Leinart (ARI)
Despite having a man 12 years his senior as the only other option at QB, Matt Leinart’s position as the Cardinals starter is not set in stone. Once it finally dawns on Leinart that he is indeed an NFL quarterback, he has the skills and weapons to succeed. All he needs to do is put the work in both on the field and in the film room. I mean, he has Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin! Either Leinart claims the starter spot as his own this year or he replaces Reggie Bush’s status as the highest profile bust of the 2006 draft.
19. Vince Young (TEN)
Even though he regressed last year, Vince Young didn’t have much to work with either. It appeared he realized some of the things he got away with in Texas and his rookie season might not work as well anymore. With former offensive coordinator Norm Chow now gone and his rapport with his promising WR duo of Justin Gage and Roydell Williams growing all the while, we’ll likely get a real glimpse of the path his career is taking this year.
18. Jason Campbell (WAS)
Apparently realizing their WR corps needed an upgrade, the Redskins organization attempted to trade for off-the-field diva and touchdown celebration extraordinaire Chad Johnson right before the draft. When that failed, they instead selected 2 WR’s and 1 TE in the second round to add to their West Coast offense and more importantly, Jason Campbell’s arsenal. If Campbell can pick up the West Coast quickly enough, he will have the tools and be given the throws to make a huge leap in what will be his second full year as a starter.
17. Jon Kitna (DET)
With the departure of Mike Martz, many of the Jon Kitna supports have mysteriously fallen by the wayside. He’s likely to get less attempts than last year, but not dramatically so due to the mix of inexperience and under-achievement that makes up the backfield. If the offensive line can manage not to give up the league lead in sacks again, Kitna has some lethal options on offense. He could surprise everyone for the second year in a row and not be a bust easier than you may think. Let’s hope he shoots for fourteen wins this year.
16. Philip Rivers (SD)
Antonio Gates has accounted for nearly 30% of Philip Rivers career passing yards. While Gates obviously won’t be out for more than a few games, it will be interesting to see how Rivers begins the season without his favorite target and safety net right there with him. Rivers also has his own health to worry about, coming off of off-season ACL surgery. If everyone can stay health and Rivers can focus on things like getting the ball to Chris Chambers more instead of jawing with the fans, he could return to 2006 form. If not? Well, those are the types of gambles you take in take in fantasy football, friend.
15. Eli Manning (NYG)
Unless your in a no-interceptions league or have been living under a rock the past year, you probably noticed that despite being a Super Bowl champion QB, Eli Manning didn’t quite look it during the regular season. A Super Bowl win very well could have sparked something in Eli and cause him to play like he did in the post-season. Or he could revert to the old Eli, throw just as many picks as TD’s and appear perfectly okay that his own receiver just cursed him out for three minutes even though he was the one who fudged the route. Only time will tell but is it too much to ask to see some intensity? Drink a Red Bull! Huff some flavored oxygen! Look alive out there!
14. Matt Schaub (HOU)
The Falcons must have seriously kicked themselves in the ass when the Vick saga finally opened the door for Matt Schaub to start, except that he had actually shipped out to Houston. Talk about bad timing! Despite injuries to nearly his entire body, Schaub showed last year that when healthy, he is the real deal. Key words there are “when” and “healthy”. If you don’t mind the risks, Schaub’s upside is tempting.
13. Marc Bulger (STL)
To the poorly-rounded fan, Marc Bulger’s 2007 stats may look atrocious and send them running in the other direction (2,392 passing yards, 11 TD’s, 15 INT’s). However, to those of us with NFL Sunday Ticket those stats are actually quite impressive. Stephen Jackson missed most of the year, that much is common knowledge. So is the fact that the Rams offensive line suffered a black plague-esque injury bug. Bulger may have been better off taking his chances with stationary practice pads in hopes they would at least slow the pass-rush down a bit. You see, for those of us who watched most of his games -- the fact that he even put up those numbers and didn’t have to retire is a wonder. With the offensive line all healthy again and Stephen Jackson one bill-day away from reporting back to camp, Bulger can actually focus on completely passed instead of what his emergency room co-pay is.
12. Jay Cutler (DEN)
Even with Brandon Marshall suspended for the first few games, Jay Cutler should start off his second full season just fine -- causing Broncos fans to cringe at the mere thought that they once went into an NFL season with Jake Plummer manning the offense. Cutler has proven after last years performance that he was indeed the hidden golden ticket of the 2006 QB draft class. The Cardinals and Titans have been left with just Wonka bars. Delicious, no doubt, but not the grand prize that is a golden ticket! With potential question marks at receiver besides Brandon Marshall, Cutler will likely rely on the up and coming TE Tony Scheffler (and to a lesser extent Brandon Stokley) until both Marshall is back and he has become well-acquainted with newbie’s Keary Colbert and Darrel Jackson.
11. Derek Anderson (CLE)
Derek Anderson took everyone by surprise in 2007 and if you claim otherwise, than you sir are a bull-faced liar. Surrounded by one of the most potent offenses in the game, Anderson has a weapon to utilize in almost every conceivable offensive situation. Although he tailed off at the end of the season, big game jitters and some inconsistent play from the rest of the team contributed to his poor performances. Anderson didn’t appear too worried with Brady Quinn waiting in the wings last year, but it will remain to be seen if he’ll handle it that way after a media circus and 23-hour coverage on ESPN ensues after his first poor performance.
10. David Garrard (JAC)
Many people questioned Jack Del Rio’s decision to with David Garrard over Byron Leftwich at the start of last year. After guaranteeing it was the wrong move, telling everyone to write it down, these people showed us all why they work behind a desk and not for an actual NFL team when Garrard excelled and Leftwich eventually imploded in Atlanta. Although many people describe a conservative QB like it’s a bad thing, Garrard has both the poise to know when to go for a big play and the skill to make it happen.
9. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA)
Not only has Matt Hasselbeck proved to be one of the funniest players in the game, he has also proved to be a solid fantasy option for what seems like forever. With Deion Branch likely out for most of the season, Hasselbeck finds himself tasked with throwing once again to a question group of WR. At least this year the Seahawks will have a running game, no matter how many RB’s are a part of it. If it were a lesser QB, there would be cause for concern. However, Hasselbeck is one of the few QB’s who no one really doubts despite not having a clear number 1 option.
8. Brett Favre (NYJ)
Although we’d like to believe otherwise now that Brett Favre’s been traded to New York, all of the Favre coverage isn’t going anywhere. In fact, Vegas has been rumored to have set the number of Brett Favre mentions this year on NFL Live at 300. That’s roughly two separate mentions per show -- and people are taking the over! Blatantly failed attempts at humor aside, the Jets were the best landing spot next to Tampa Bay. I don’t think anyone will argue that the Jets will provide Favre with more weapons than he would have had in Tampa. You can now begin reassessing the entire Jets offense in regards to how positively affected they will be with Favre’s arrival. I for one say Thomas Jones will benefit the most.
7. Donovan McNabb (PHI)
All throughout his career, save for the time with Terrell Owens that we’re supposed to pretend never happened, McNabb has never had many high quality receivers. At least not on a consistent basis. The major knock against McNabb is that he gets injured. A lot. Usually, it’s not that bad of a idea when drafting him to just hope for 12 games -- with anything more just being extra. Although Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown aren’t considered elite receivers by any means, they did prove to be effective targets for McNabb last season. It also doesn’t help having perhaps the best receiving back in the game -- especially one coming off of a 2,000+ yards from scrimmage season. It could be argued that McNabb is perhaps the biggest starting QB injury risk this year -- however it could also be argued that if he stays healthy, he could put up MVP type numbers. Ah -- decisions, decisions.
6. Carson Palmer (CIN)
Despite being on the team who’s nickname is often associated with being arrested and going to jail, Carson Palmer continues to put up quality numbers. Even last year, when he barely had a running game he threw for 4,131 yards and 26 TD’s. Yes, he had 20 INT’s which obviously isn’t good but the guy is only human. Now with Ben Utecht as the starting TE, Palmer will find himself in a situation he has never really experienced before: He has a TE who can catch the ball! While all signs point towards another solid season, it would behoove you to take the lingering time bomb that is Chad Johnson into account. On one hand, Johnson realized he was being selfish and goes through the season in typical Ocho Cinco fashion (1400 yards, 8 TD’s). On the other hand, you would have The Terrell Owens Saga 2: Now Featuring Chad Johnson occurring. Say what you want about T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but if Chad Johnson ends up leaving Cincinnati then it will definitely reflect itself significantly in Palmer’s numbers.
5. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Although he threw for less yards than the previous year, Ben Roethlisberger improved upon his TD total tenfold (from 18 in 2006 to 32 in 2007). With an offense that remains largely the same, save for the departure of guard Alan Faneca, it is not out of the question that the arrival of Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed could perhaps help increase Ben’s touchdown total. Of course, that would mean he would have to stay on par with his performance from last year and since his play has differed from year to year. This could be blamed on his off-year in 2006 and thinking otherwise may be overanalyzing it.
4. Drew Brees (NO)
After a horrendous start to the year in which had many fantasy owners begrudging the reasons they took him, Drew Brees got right back on track and actually finished with similar numbers to 2006 -- albeit with seven more interceptions. It’s scary to think what he could have posted had he started the season like the Drew Brees we know and love (or hate, if he’s burned your team). If Deuce McAllister can come back healthy and Devery Henderson can step it up then we may again see the offensive firepower that the Saints exhibited in 2006 during their failed run to the Super Bowl. And that would be a good thing for Drew Brees owners.
3. Peyton Manning (IND)
It’s eventually going to happen. Peyton Manning will begin to regress. While I’m not saying he’s not going to have a great season, I am saying that there’s a chance that the Peyton Manning of yore may be aging into the Peyton Manning in the twilight of his prime. Although he had knee surgery out of the blue, it’s likely not to be a serious factor. Marvin Harrison however, is approaching the age of 37 and is coming off of a limited injury year. Is it out of the question to think that the decline of Marvin Harrison may mean a decline in Peyton Manning as well? Sure, Reggie Wayne is great and can replace Marvin should he continue to have a decreased role -- but the scariest thing about the Colts these past few years has been the Wayne/Harrison combo. While Anthony Gonzalez shows some promise, he’s no Reggie Wayne. The Colts may need to lean even more on there running game which would mean a decreased role for Manning and thus, a decrease in his fantasy points.
2. Tony Romo (DAL)
Despite his playoff failures, Tony Romo has emerged as a fantasy football superstar. Not only does he score you points on the field, but he’ll also be on TV when your out somewhere and you can nudge whoever your with and say, “Hey, he’s on my fantasy team.” Does anyone else feel incredibly weird whenever they say that out loud to someone? If they don’t really know what fantasy sports is, it sounds awfully creepy. Back on topic, Romo has got it all. Although Terry Glenn was effective when he played, his departure will not likely be missed. Nor will his injuries. Patrick Crayton has emerged as a legitimate threat opposite Terrell Owens and rookie Felix Jones brings some of what Julius Jones brought to the table and then some. T.O. is getting up there in age but it’s highly likely you’ve seen him shirtless at some point or another the past few years. Although he is approaching 35 years old, in Terrell Owens fitness years that’s about 27. So there’s no real reason to worry yet. It’s highly unlikely Romo will put up the same numbers as last year but it’s also unlikely he won’t put up some comparably good ones.
1. Tom Brady (NE)
I’m not even going to explain this one. If you don’t know why he’s number one, well then -- just don’t be going and wagering any money on your fantasy leagues. Actually, don’t be wagering your money on anything period.