2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks <br> By Steve Strange
By Steve Strange. Steve Strange, a graduate of Penn State's Center for Sports Journalism in 2006, is currently writing Fantasy is Reality, a book geared around the commissioner aspect of fantasy sports. Steve has been playing fantasy sports of all sorts and sizes since 1997. Feel free to e-mail Steve questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These 2010 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 the other 2010 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2010 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts. Bye: 7.
Peyton Manning is Larry Bird with shoulder pads. I actually feel he's underrated in fantasy circles. Manning's the closest thing to a 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown lock you can get. The fact he ever slips to the second round is embarrassing.
What to Like: Manning has consistency, arm strength, intelligence, will to win, pedigree... should I keep going?
Concern: The fact that Manning is 34 years old is worth noting. He hardly ever gets hit though, and prepares and conditions as well as anyone in the league.
X-Factor: If the Colts defense and running backs step up, it could hurt Manning's fantasy dominance. Remember, the Colts greatest real life success came during the playoff portion of the 2006 Super Bowl run. The Colts defense dominated the Chiefs, Ravens, and Bears on the way to winning the Lombardi, while Dominic Rhodes racked up yards on the ground. During that time, Manning simply managed the game. If running back Joseph Addai, safety Bob Sanders, and defensive end Dwight Freeney are healthy (which is rare in all cases), the Colts offense might have less need to gun the football around. It might sound odd, but a healthy Colts defense could hurt Manning's fantasy value.
The Colts completely trust Peyton Manning, and basically allow him to do whatever he wants. Manning will do what he always does.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Bye: 10.
Drew Brees outlasted Brett Favre and Peyton Manning to be the best real-life quarterback last season. That momentum, and the Saints fantasy friendly roster, dome, and game plan should allow Brees to continue to dominate.
What to Like: Some notes on Brees over the last three seasons: Back-to-back seasons with 34 touchdowns, 440 completions in 2007, and 5,069 yards in 2008. He's an absolute stud in any scoring system.
Concern: It's nitpicking, but Brees did have nine fumbles last season. He fumbled eight times in 2007. If your league penalizes for coughing it up, Brees could hurt you there (and only there).
X-Factor: Brees has so many weapons. From Marques Colston to Jeremy Shockey to Pierre Thomas out of the backfield, Brees gets his numbers whenever he wants them.
Brees is an indestructible force extremely dedicated to his craft.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Bye: 10.
I have seen Rodgers as high as No. 1 on some lists. Rodgers is good, but he's not Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.
What to Like: Most are aware of Rodgers' passing skills (30 touchdowns to seven interceptions last season), but he had 316 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as well.
Concern: Rodgers was sacked 50 times in 2009, which tied Ben Roethlisberger for tops in the league. Rodgers is tough, but he takes a lot of abuse. He needs to start getting rid of the ball instead of taking shots to the face, but it might not be in his nature.
X-Factor: Jermichael Finley had four touchdowns in the final five regular season games, and had six receptions for 159 yards in the wildcard loss to Arizona. In other words, Rodgers might have a great quarterback's best friend: A stud tight end.
All of Rodgers' weapons are back, and he's only 26.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Bye: 5.
After the big three (Manning, Rodgers, Brees) there is a drop-off. I'm going with the guy who dominated the NFL for a decade at No. 4.
What to Like: Brady had a TD-INT ratio of 28-13 and threw for 4,398 yards in 2009. Not bad one year removed from a torn ACL. Remember, 2007 wasn't THAT long ago.
Concern: According to reports, there is no timetable for safety valve WR Wes Welker's return. If Welker's out, Brady is short of the most reliable short yardage target on Earth.
X-Factor: The New England Patriots will enter the 2010 season as a dynasty foaming at the mouth to avenge last season's wildcard embarrassment to Baltimore. Or they'll come back old and injured. Brady, as leader of the team, will go as the team goes.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Bye: 10.
This is the player I never want who always kills me. Between my three leagues it seems like I always play against Rivers a zillion times. And he devastates me every time.
What to Like: He's a warrior. Remember Rivers limping around on one leg against the Pats in the AFC Championship a couple years back? He also had 28 touchdowns to only nine interceptions last season.
Concern: When you watch Rivers play, he never looks overly impressive (at least not to me). My instinct is telling me he has hit his ceiling.
X-Factor: Antonio Gates is aging and LaDanian Tomlinson is gone. The Chargers offense may take on a slightly different look. Until we see rookie running back Ryan Mathews in NFL action, there's a cloud of uncertainty surrounding this offense.
Rivers is a gamer and he's consistent. While Rivers will never be a top-tier fantasy stud, he is good enough to help you win a championship.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears. Bye: 8.
I know most lists don't have Cutler this high, but I think the six-spot is justified. When a talented arm meets Mike Martz, it's usually a happy fantasy ending.
What to Like: Cutler threw for eight touchdowns and 549 yards in his final two games of the 2009 season. I cannot get the Week 16 Monday Night finale - in which Cutler out-threw Brett Favre to an overtime victory - out of my head. I think Cutler arrived in Chicago that night.
Concern: Cutler threw 26 interceptions last year. New offensive coordinator Mike Martz will chuck it 40 times a game. Potential disaster looms.
X-Factor: When Mike Martz takes over an offense, no-name receivers benefit. How Cutler interacts with Martz' hand-picked, system-friendly receivers is something to keep an eye on.
This is your classic high-risk, high-reward pick. If you gamble on Cutler, take a solid Eli Manning-type backup.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys. Bye: 4.
Fantasy sports were created for players like Tony Romo. This guy would have trouble lugging Brett Favre's athletic protector around in real life. But, hey, Romo puts up nice numbers.
What to Like: With Felix Jones set to start, and rookie receiver Dez Bryant plowing around, the Cowboys offense should be even more dynamic in 2010.
Concern: Romo has only had two really good fantasy seasons (2007 and 2009).
X-Factor: Romo is sometimes labeled as an erratic quarterback, but he only had nine interceptions in 2009.
Romo's only 30 years old, he has a ton of weapons around him, and he loves to throw the ball around. Romo should put up nice numbers, and his value slightly increases in leagues that reward passing yardage bonuses.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings. Bye: 4.
Well, here he is. Favre got the ankle surgery, so we need to assume he's coming back.
What to Like: Brett Favre shoved it in his critics faces last season. Favre crack back blocked and hail married his way to the dream season... almost. With Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe, and the new Purple People Eaters on defense, why can't Favre do it again?
Concern: He's really old, and really indecisive.
X-Factor: Will head coach Brad Childress let Brett Favre be Brett Favre? Why did Childress bench Favre in that Carolina game last season? He said it was to protect him. Please. It's fine to treat Brett Favre like a rare artifact in the offseason. But once the season starts, the Vikings need to let Favre be the gamer he's been for two decades.
There's something extra fun and special about having Favre on your fantasy team (when he's going good).
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans. Bye: 7.
I know I'm in the minority with my Schaub caution. I have seen Schaub as high as No. 4 in some 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings. With Andre Johnson unhappy about his contract, and the running game situation unclear, the Texans offense doesn't excite me. Neither does a quarterback who gets injured every season.
What to Like: Schaub had an awesome fantasy season in 2009. He led the league in yards and completions.
Concern: Schaub's only had one good season. Granted, it was a really good (and really recent) season.
X-Factor: Tight end Owen Daniels was having a big 2009 until he tore his right ACL in Week 8. Then he tore a knee ligament on Nov. 1. Daniels is unlikely to be ready for training camp, and his status for Week 1 is in question. Daniels caught 40 balls, accumulated 519 yards, and hauled in five touchdowns for Schaub last season. The quarterback needs his productive tight end to be healthy.
Schaub proved last season that he can be a top level fantasy talent. He needs to do it again. Until then, I recommend erring on the side of caution.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Bye: 8.
Some rankings have Ryan lower than this. I don't get it. I just can't get that 2008 rookie season out of my head. I watched Ryan scramble into the end zone from about 10 yards out (diving headfirst to the pylon) midway into that season, and I was like, "Whoa, this guy is explosive." I've been sold ever since.
What to Like: Ryan threw five touchdowns in the final two games of the 2009 regular season - both Falcons victories. Ryan started to look like his rookie self again, and he should carry that confidence into 2010.
Concern: While Ryan's toe is all better, the effect of last season's injury still hurts. Many expected Ryan to join the upper echelon of fantasy quarterbacks last year. He started hot, stumbled, and finished strong. At the end of the day, his status lowered.
X-Factor: Ryan needs to keep Tony Gonzalez on speed dial. Gonzalez is the greatest tight end in the history of fantasy football, and he has at least one good season left.
The Falcons offense is loaded with weapons, and Ryan is chalk full of talent.