These 2009 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2009 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2009 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other things.
2009 Fantasy Football Rankings - Quarterbacks:
Last Updated: Sept. 8, 2009
Tom Brady, Patriots. Bye: 8. AUG. 30 UPDATE: The Boston Globe is citing a source who says Tom Brady is healthy, but will be held out of next week's preseason game. Newspapers aren't as reliable as they were in the past (thanks to dwindling sales leading to irresponsible reporting), but this is a good sign. Brady should be the top quarterback drafted in all fantasy leagues.
AUG. 29 UPDATE: It was a crazy roller-coaster ride for Tom Brady owners in the first half of Friday night's contest against the Redskins. Brady was 0-of-2 on his first drive, as he missed Fred Taylor on a short pass and endured a Joey Galloway drop.
Brady was able to bounce back, leading the Patriots to a touchdown on the next possession, going 4-of-4 for 59 yards. Brady found Randy Moss in the end zone on a 26-yard strike. On the next drive, Brady was 5-of-6 for 44 yards, finding Moss once again for a 27-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. Brady nearly threw a pick (dropped by Fred Smoot) and later Brady injured his shoulder on a fierce hit by Albert Haynesworth. Brady grimaced and appeared in discomfort on the sidelines. He left with the team doctor just prior to the beginning of the third quarter, meaning he ended his night 12-of-19 for 150 yards and two scores. The Patriots told the media that Brady had a "sore shoulder." Whatever that means. Stay tuned for updates.
AUG. 21 UPDATE: In a battle between Tom Brady and Just Turnovers O'Sullivan, it's very difficult to believe that O'Sullivan was the superior quarterback. After a solid Week 1 performance, Brady was very shaky, going 4-of-8 for 57 yards. That gives him a nice YPA of 7.13, but keep in mind that 32 of those yards belong to Wes Welker, who caught a screen at the line of scrimmage and bolted downfield.
Most of Brady's completions were short stuff. All of his long attempts were incomplete. Brady wildly overthrew Randy Moss for a potential touchdown. A few plays later, Brady missed Welker in the end zone. The 2007 Tom Brady would have hit those targets.
AUG. 14 UPDATE: He's back. Tom Brady shined in his first extensive action since the Super Bowl loss to the Giants, going 10-of-15 for 100 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Keep in mind that does not include a 50-yard bomb in which Asante Samuel interfered with Randy Moss. Brady's pick was underthrown, and it looked like he was worried about getting hit in the pocket. Excluding that interception, however, Brady was sharp. He remains my No. 1 fantasy quarterback.
Historically, quarterbacks have struggled coming off ACL surgery. That changed when Philip Rivers threw for 4,009 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2008.
Advanced technology in knee surgery or just luck? I'm not really sure, but it's hard to imagine Tom Brady putting up poor numbers with Randy Moss and Wes Welker by his side. I mean, if the weak-armed Matt Cassel can turn into a fantasy stud in New England's offense, having faith in a quarterback coming off ACL surgery doesn't seem to crazy - especially when he's arguably the best player at his position in the entire league.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Bye: 5. AUG. 30 UPDATE: I know it's just the preseason, but Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable. In three games, Rodgers has yet to be sacked or intercepted. Rodgers was 14-of-19 for 258 yards and three touchdowns in only one half of work Friday night, and he definitely was as sharp as those numbers indicate. In fact, Rodgers had a fourth touchdown nullified because of an illegal touching penalty. Also, two of Rodgers' incompletions were a thrown-away ball and a deep shot downfield knocked away by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Rodgers had two deep completions - one of 55 yards to Donald Driver and another of 76 yards, where Jordy Nelson burnt Rodgers-Cromartie for a touchdown. Rodgers ran for a gain of 34 yards as well. His only mistake of the night was a nearly thrown pick he made off his back foot.
I've said repeatedly that it wouldn't surprise me if Rodgers finishes the year as the top fantasy quarterback. He's an incredible bargain if you can get him late in Round 3 or early in Round 4, depending on the size of your league.
AUG. 24 UPDATE: You may want to own everyone on Green Bay's offense. Aaron Rodgers was simply amazing, going 8-of-9 for 98 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night. Rodgers' only incompletion was a drop by Donald Driver, who redeemed himself with a 5-yard score on the next play.
AUG. 17 UPDATE:
Aaron Rodgers looked on top of his game during the preseason opener; he was 5-of-10 for 102 yards and a 53-yard touchdown strike to Donald Driver on the opening possession. Rodgers endured a dropped pass.
Green Bay's defense will be better with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews on the roster, but I really doubt that two rookies will have a huge impact on a defense that couldn't stop anyone last year - especially when all of the other players are transitioning to a new 3-4 scheme.
So, what does this mean? Well, it's bad for Green Bay's playoff aspirations, but it's great for Aaron Rodgers' fantasy value.
Because the defense forced Rodgers to air it out early and often, the Cal alumnus had 536 attempts in his first year as a starter. The stop unit hasn't improved much, so you can expect a similar number in 2009. And with both Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley bound to get more involved as second-year players, Rodgers' YPA (7.5) may increase.
Peyton Manning, Colts. Bye: 6. AUG. 30 UPDATE: Peyton Manning made things look easy on the opening drive of the game Saturday afternoon. He was 5-of-5 for 46 yards and a score. Manning had all of the time in the world to make his throws. Detroit finally got some pressure on the next couple of drives, but once again looked feeble as Manning led a scoring drive to open up the third quarter.
Manning finished the game 12-of-15 for 123 yards and a touchdown. His first incompletion came with 2:02 remaining in the second quarter when Anthony Gonzalez dropped a perfect pass that he probably could have taken for a 55-yard score.
AUG. 21 UPDATE: I guess having your two starting offensive tackles makes a huge difference, huh? Last week, Indianapolis started two reserve tackles and Peyton Manning was sacked three times on the team's first drive. This week, with Charlie Johnson and Ryan Diem in the lineup, Manning was able to effortlessly march down the field against the Eagles. He began the game 5-of-5 for 50 yards, and his first incompletion was dropped by Jacob Tamme in the end zone. Manning eventually tossed a beautiful touchdown to Anthony Gonzalez, finishing 7-of-10 for 70 yards and a score on the opening drive.
Manning completed the game 10-of-14 for 167 yards and two touchdowns; the second was a 76-yard strike to Reggie Wayne. Manning fumbled the ball away on the second drive, but was brilliant otherwise. Manning is currently being underdrafted in most leagues because he's going behind both Tom Brady and Drew Brees. If you can get him in the third round, don't hesitate.
AUG. 1 UPDATE: So much for Tom Moore and Howard Mudd not being around... Moore and Mudd, the former Colts offensive coordinator and offensive line coach (respectively) will be with the team as consultants in 2009. All worries that Indianapolis' offense will suffer any sort of dropoff this year should now be quelled.
Peyton Manning has thrown for 4,000 yards in all but one of his past 10 seasons, so can we expect a similar output now that Manning is 33 and Marvin Harrison is gone? I'd bet on it.
Harrison is history, but he wasn't very effective in 2008 anyway. The Colts used a fourth-round pick on Austin Collie, a talented receiver who will be able to transition into the NFL easily. Bill Polian also likes Pierre Garcon. Collie or Garcon will man the slot, allowing Anthony Gonzalez to play outside across from Reggie Wayne. Dallas Clark will still in the mix, as will rookie running back Donald Brown, who can excel in the passing game.
Manning will still have a talented arsenal at his disposal, but perhaps the greatest reason to expect another big year is that he won't be coming off a mysterious knee injury like he was in 2008. Manning struggled early, as he had just one game where he maintained a YPA (Yards Per Attempt) of greater than 7.5 in the first weeks of the season. From Weeks 9 to 17, Manning topped a 7.5 YPA five times.
Drew Brees, Saints. Bye: 5. AUG. 30 UPDATE:
Drew Brees was on fire Saturday afternoon, easily abusing the Raiders' pathetic defense. He finished 14-of-17 for 179 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a sterling YPA of 10.5. Brees actually began the game 8-of-8 for 83 yards; his first incompletion was broken up by Nnamdi Asomugha.
Drew Brees has led the league in attempts the last two years, airing out 655 attempts in 2007 and 635 in 2008. The former is an NFL single-season record, by the way.
That's not surprising when you consider how poor New Orleans' defense has been. Sean Payton has had no choice but to call tons of pass plays each week.
Brees' attempt total may decrease this season, as the Saints signed Jabari Greer and drafted Malcolm Jenkins to improve their poor secondary. They also get Tracy Porter back from injury. The team still has defensive issues, but they aren't as bad as they have been in the past.
Philip Rivers, Chargers. Bye: 5. AUG. 30 UPDATE:
Despite missing both LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers was extremely sharp Saturday night, finishing 10-of-15 for 185 yards and a touchdown. On one drive in the second quarter, Rivers converted a 3rd-and-13 with an 18-yard pass to Malcolm Floyd; a 3rd-and-17 with 18-yard toss to Chambers; and 3rd-and-24 on a 48-yard hookup to Michael Bennett, who did a great job staying inbounds and getting into the end zone.
I was way off on Philip Rivers last year. He was coming off knee surgery, so I thought he'd struggle. He proved me way wrong, throwing for 4,009 yards, 34 touchdowns and 11 picks on an amazing 8.4 YPA - by far the greatest season of his career.
The scary part is that Rivers' numbers may continue to improve. He's continuing to build his rapport with Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers; LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates are fully healthy again; and it seems like the other three teams in the division have gotten worse, if that's even possible.
One thing to keep in mind: Rivers' first four games are against the Raiders, Ravens, Dolphins and Steelers, four very tough pass defenses. If you can't draft Rivers, you may be able to get great value for him in a trade from a panicking owner.
Donovan McNabb, Eagles. Bye: 4. AUG. 28 UPDATE:
Aside from the QB Dog Killer antics, Donovan McNabb actually put together a good game Thursday night, going 21-of-36 for 244 yards, one touchdown and a pick in less than three quarters of work. Michael Vick Preseason Debut Analysis here.
Though he often throws his teammates under the bus and he has no idea what ties are, there's no denying Donovan McNabb's talent. Finally armed with a talented receiver (DeSean Jackson), McNabb went on to have the second-best season of his career, throwing for 3,916 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also ran into the end zone twice.
McNabb had a career-high 571 pass attempts in 2008. I can't see him matching that number because Andy Reid appears set on running the ball this season. He brought in Leonard Weaver and used a second-round pick on LeSean McCoy, so expect McNabb's attempts total to drop into the low 500s. If I'm right about that, McNabb should have about 3,500-3,600 yards, given that his YPA usually hovers around 7.0 (he's very tentative when it comes to taking shots downfield into coverage).
Tony Romo, Cowboys. Bye: 6. AUG. 22 UPDATE:
Tony Romo was every bit impressive as his awesome stats (18-of-24, 192 yards) indicate Friday night. Romo was almost picked off on the third play of the opening drive, but then went on to go 9-of-11 for 68 yards on the next possession. Despite the loss of Terrell Owens, Romo is a very solid QB1, but if you draft him, make sure you have a solid backup to take over in December.
Tony Romo missed three games in 2008, so if you do the math, he would have compiled 553 pass attempts, eclipsing his career high of 520 in 2007. Dallas' defense was exceptionally horrific down the stretch, which forced Romo to air it out a lot.
However, the bigger picture here is that Terrell Owens is gone. Romo and Roy Williams have been working out a lot this winter and spring, but as good as Williams can be in 2009, he's no Owens.
Romo should still be able to put up decent numbers; I like Williams as a semi-sleeper this year. Jason Witten is still a top-three tight end in the NFL. And Tashard Choice emerged as a potent threat out of the backfield late last year. But without Owens, we could see Romo's YPA continue to shrink (8.6 in 2006; 8.1 in 2007; 7.7 in 2008).
One more concern: Throughout his career in the month of December, Romo has never thrown three touchdown passes in any contest. If you combine all of Romo's December games, he has 22 interceptions to just 11 touchdowns. And excluding two tilts against the Lions, Romo has never eclipsed the 280-yard passing barrier in the final month of the calendar year. There's a reason I call him Aurora Snowmo when December rolls around.
Carson Palmer, Bengals. Bye: 8. SEPT. 2 UPDATE: Carson Palmer practiced Tuesday after missing the previous two preseason games. Marvin Lewis later told the media that he was impressed. Palmer will be fine for Week 1 and is safe to draft as a late QB1.
AUG. 15 UPDATE: Carson Palmer is back and looks 100 percent. Palmer's first throw in his preseason opener was about 50 yards downfield to Chad Ochocinco amid good protection. The pass fell incomplete because a Saints defensive back made a nice play, but Palmer showed no ill effects of last season's elbow injury. Two plays later, Palmer found a wide-open Chris Henry 27 yards downfield.
Palmer's third pass was a laser in a tight spot to Laveranues Coles. He later threw a pick, but it was on a third down with pressure in his face; it had nothing to do with his elbow. Palmer finished 7-of-11 for 133 yards and that interception. I love Palmer as a mid-round sleeper this year.
Between 2005 and 2007, Carson Palmer was one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football. He averaged 4,001 yards and 28.7 touchdowns in those three seasons. Unfortunately, a serious elbow injury cut Palmer's lackluster 2008 campaign short. Palmer played in just four games, collecting only 731 yards and three scores.
It may not mean much because it's coming straight from the horse's mouth, but Palmer stated that his elbow is "100 percent" at the end of March. We'll have to see how Palmer looks in the preseason, but if he's fine, he could be a sleeper quarterback for the 2009 season. The offensive failed to protect him early in 2008, but with the addition of Andre Smith and the emergence of Anthony Collins late in the season, Palmer should have all the protection he needs to find Chad Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles downfield.
Draft Palmer as your QB2; he has tons of upside and could be used as either an insurance policy or trade bait.
Matt Ryan, Falcons. Bye: 4. AUG. 23 UPDATE:
Matt Ryan was nearly flawless against the Rams, going 7-of-8 for 81 yards and a score. Ryan's only incompletion was floated deep down the sideline that went out of bounds. Ryan's obviously a great QB1 to have this season.
Matt Ryan had one of the best rookie seasons of any quarterback in NFL history. He finished with 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 picks.
With Ryan entering his sophomore year, look for Mike Smith to give him more opportunities to air it out; I definitely expect Ryan's attempt total to increase from 434 to the low 500s.
That alone makes Ryan somewhat of a sleeper quarterback. But then you also have to factor in the addition of Tony Gonzalez. With Gonzalez, Roddy White (in his contract year) and an improving Harry Douglas at his disposal, Ryan could crush his 2008 numbers.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 3,850 passing yards. 22 passing TDs. 13 INTs. 80 rushing yards. 1 rushing TD.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 312.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points (ESPN Scoring): 230.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points (QB Friendly): 312.
Jay Cutler, Bears. Bye: 5. AUG. 24 UPDATE:
I guess having your left tackle, tight end and running back in the lineup makes a huge difference, huh? With Orlando Pace, Greg Olsen and Matt Forte on the field, Jay Cutler shook off last week's jitters and had an amazing outing against the Giants on Saturday night. Cutler was 8-of-13 for 121 yards and a touchdown. One of his incompletions was a drop by Olsen. Another was a miscommunication between he and Devin Hester. A third was thrown away. And a fourth was a potential 91-yard touchdown where Hester simply misjudged the ball.
If that wasn't enough, Cutler also ran for a 12-yard gain. His only mistake of the night was a near-interception that he tossed in the second quarter.
I still can't believe the Bears have a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. I think when we'll look back in a few years, we'll see that the Cutler trade was one of the most lop-sided deals in NFL history.
Cutler will thrive in Chicago, but I wouldn't expect him to come close to matching the 4,526 yards he posted in 2008. Lovie Smith is too conservative for that to happen, and Cutler won't have to air the ball out 616 times because he'll actually have a decent defense supporting him.
One area Cutler will improve is the interception category. Expect that figure to decrease dramatically; with a good defense behind him, Cutler won't be forced to take as many risks.
Matt Schaub, Texans. Bye: 10. SEPT. 1 UPDATE:
Matt Schaub (10-of-14, 108 yards, 1 INT in first half) struggled early on Monday night. He opened the game 1-of-4 on third downs, and failed to lead the Texans into Minnesota territory until there were eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. Schaub was pressured often (sacked once, called for intentional grounding another time). Worst of all, Schaub stared down a receiver and was consequently picked off in the second quarter.
Fortunately, Schaub got into a groove later in the second quarter. After the pick, Schaub led the Texans on a 7-minute, 11-play scoring drive. However, Schaub tweaked his ankle on a 5-yard gain. He was hobbled and began limping even though no one touched him. He stayed in the game, but got taped up after Steve Slaton scored. The good news is that Schaub came back into the game and led the Texans to a field goal on the following possession, thanks to two deep throws of 20 and 16 yards. The bad news is that this is a reminder of how fragile Schaub is. If you take Schaub, make sure you have a very good backup.
AUG. 25 UPDATE:
Matt Schaub played a quarter and a half Saturday night, finishing 11-of-16 for 97 yards and a score. He was 5-of-6 for 56 yards and a touchdown on the Texans' opening drive. His sole incompletion was a deep pass to Andre Johnson that was overthrown a bit. If Schaub can stay healthy all year, he'll probably be a top-five fantasy quarterback.
AUG. 17 UPDATE:
Matt Schaub was flawless on his two drives during the preseason opener; he was 7-of-7 for 70 yards and spread the ball around. He was sacked once (not a mistake; the Chiefs actually got a sack). Schaub led Houston to seven points.
Matt Schaub was one of my sleeper quarterbacks last year and I consequently drafted him in almost every league I participated in, which worked out very well for me. Schaub missed five games, but still finished with 3,043 yards and 15 touchdowns.
If Schaub can stay healthy the entire year, he has a shot to break the 4,000-yard barrier. Andre Johnson is one of the top receivers in the league; Owen Daniels is a really good tight end; and Kevin Walter is a solid No. 2. Having Steve Slaton as a weapon out of the backfield doesn't hurt either. In fact, Schaub averaged 320 passing yards per game in the final four weeks of the season - as in the period of time where Slaton was utilized most often.
Kurt Warner, Cardinals. Bye: 4. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I've been down on Kurt Warner all preseason, and Thursday's performance didn't do anything to change my mind. Warner, who played three series, was just 2-of-7 for 48 yards. One of his completions, a 36-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald, was a short pass that Fitzgerald was able to turn into a long gain. Warner's other completion was a screen pass thrown to Chris Wells that turned into a 12-yard reception. Making matters worse, Warner tossed a pick on his final attempt. As I've said all summer: Avoid the 38-year-old man coming off hip surgery.
AUG. 30 UPDATE: Another mediocre performance by Kurt Warner on Friday night. Warner opened the game with a number of short throws and then found Larry Fitzgerald for an 18-yard completion. Unfortunately, Warner struggled after that, completely missing a wide-open Fitzgerald on what would have been a 15-yard gain. Warner fumbled in the red zone a few plays later.
Warner had a second fumble returned for a touchdown by Aaron Kampman on the next drive. He later had a horrendous throw picked off by Anthony Smith.
Warner finished 10-of-16 for 139 yards and the interception, as most of his completions were short conversions. To be fair, Warner was screwed on four drops by Jerheme Urban, Tim Castille, Lance Long and Early Doucet.
AUG. 24 UPDATE: I didn't like Kurt Warner this year from a fantasy perspective going into this game, and nothing I saw Saturday night changed my mind. Warner finished 6-of-13 for 80 yards and a pick. He didn't look right all evening, and understandably so, given the fact that he's coming off hip surgery.
Warner opened the first drive inside San Diego's 5-yard line. He went 0-for-2; his first pass was a poor throw in the flat. The other was broken up by Quentin Jammer. Warner didn't look any better on his second possession, as he was nearly picked off on a deep throw to Larry Fitzgerald.
Thirteen of Warner's yards came on a short checkdown toss to Jerheme Urban, who broke two tackles to gain the yardage. Warner later threw behind Fitzgerald and then overthrew Tim Hightower in the flat.
Warner seemed to get on track later with a 25-yard dart to Anquan Boldin, but unfortunately, he was later picked off in the end zone.
Take it from a guy who absolutely loved Warner as a sleeper last year - avoid him at all costs this season. He's a 38-year-old man coming off hip surgery with a new contract. If that doesn't scream bust, I don't know what does.
AUG. 7 UPDATE: One reason I don't like the Cardinals to repeat as NFC West champs is because of Kurt Warner's age (38). Well, apparently, Warner is already breaking down. Warner said he's about "85 percent" right now after hip surgery, and KTAR Sports Radio says he's "slightly hindered."
Warner has played only one full season since 2001, so if you draft him as your QB1, make sure you have a solid backup just in case.
Kurt Warner was one of my 2008 late-round sleepers. Because of how successful he was last year, it's pretty funny when you recall that we weren't sure whom the Cardinals would choose as their starting quarterback for the first week of the season.
Warner went on to throw for 4,582 yards, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Can he repeat that performance? Yes, but I wouldn't bet on it for three reasons.
First, everything went perfectly for the Cardinals last year. Even when Anquan Boldin went down, Steve Breaston stepped up. It would be unreasonable to think that the same thing could happen two seasons in a row, especially when you consider that Warner is 38 and has a new contract.
Second, with the addition of Chris Wells, Arizona will focus more on its rushing attack. That means that Warner probably won't throw the ball 599 times in 2009.
And finally, Super Bowl losers have struggled in the ensuing season. There's no scientific explanation for it, but as Emmitt would say, "The prooves are in the pudd... uhh... yogu... pudd... uhh... I forget."