These 2011 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 2011 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2011 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Bye: 8.
Aaron Rodgers should be the consensus No. 1 quarterback. In 14-and-a-half games, Rodgers compiled 3,922 yards, 28 passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions despite missing stud tight end Jermichael Finley for half the year. What separates Rodgers from Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are his rushing numbers; he compiled 356 rushing yards and four extra scores.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Bye: 7. AUG. 19 UPDATE: Tampa's secondary had no answer for Tom Brady in New England's preseason victory. Brady went 11-of-19 for 118 yards and two touchdowns in one half of action. He led the Patriots to three touchdown drives in the first quarter. Brady could have posted better numbers, but Bill Belichick decided to run the ball most of the time in the second quarter. Brady is going way too low in most fantasy drafts. He's my No. 2 fantasy quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.
Tom Brady started slow last season, but the Randy Moss trade and a weird loss to the Browns seemed to wake him up. Following that Cleveland defeat, Brady's numbers in his final seven games of the year look like this: 1,875 yards, 20 touchdowns, zero interceptions.
There's no reason to believe Brady will regress. He doesn't have to force the ball to an overrated Moss, and he'll be even more comfortable with his two young talented tight ends.
QB Eagles No. 7, QB, Eagles. Bye: 7. AUG. 19 UPDATE: I wonder if Matthew Berry still thinks Philadelphia's quarterback should be the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts. Playing against a blitz-happy, talented Pittsburgh defense, Philadelphia's quarterback predictably melted down, going 5-of-12 for 47 yards and three interceptions in one full half of action. He wasn't even as good as those miserable numbers indicate; he showed no awareness in the pocket, and all of the picks were legitimate. There could have been two more interceptions, as Troy Polamalu came within inches if hauling in his other throws. Opposing defenses figured out how to confuse QB Eagles No. 7 at the end of the 2010 season, and it appears as though that'll continue into 2011.
This guy is very overrated. The Monday night game against the Redskins caused everyone to overreact to what they witnessed on national TV. Late in the year, opposing teams figured out that they could confuse Philadelphia's quarterback with blitzes. He consequently struggled against the Vikings and Packers.
Philadelphia's quarterback is still a very good fantasy player if you don't mind rooting for him. However, as I wrote earlier, he's vastly overrated. There's also the fact that he's played a full 16 games in his pro career only once, back in 2006. The numbers below do not reflect a 16-game slate:
Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Bye: 11. AUG. 29 UPDATE: I'd say this was a far cry from two weeks ago. Drew Brees really struggled against the 49ers in the preseason opener, but he was in mid-season form at Oakland. In just three drives, Brees went 15-of-23 for 189 yards, as he completely abused Raiders rookie corner DeMarcus Van Dyke. He was unstoppable despite missing reliable slot receiver Lance Moore. The only reason Brees didn't throw a touchdown was because Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas each scored on the ground on the first two possessions. The Saints managed a field goal on the third.
Drew Brees suffered through an MCL tear and the Madden Curse last year, yet he still managed to throw for 4,620 yards and 33 touchdowns. The interceptions (22) were a problem, but that number was a career-high; assuming Brees his healthy, his pick total should be in the lower teens again.
Brees is a bit of an afterthought despite being a top-four fantasy quarterback because of those 22 interceptions. You might be able to get him slightly lower than he should be drafted.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Bye: 6. AUG. 12 UPDATE: Philip Rivers looked like he was in mid-season form against the Seahawks in the preseason opener. He went 5-of-6 for 87 yards and a touchdown, with the sole incompletion being a downfield shot to Vincent Jackson. Antonio Gates didn't play, making Rivers' performance that much more impressive.
Prior to 2010, Philip Rivers had never attempted more than 486 passes in his career. In 2010, Rivers threw the ball 541 times. The culprit was San Diego's anemic special teams; constantly trailing, Rivers had to fire the ball early and often.
That probably won't be the case in 2011, so I expect Rivers' passing numbers to revert to normal. Rivers might be a bit overvalued because of that, but he's still a very good third-tier fantasy quarterback.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys. Bye: 5.
The Cowboys stunk last year, but Tony Romo was actually enjoying a great fantasy campaign prior to being knocked out for the year in the Monday night game against the Giants. In five full contests, Romo had 1,566 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those numbers translated over a full 16-game slate become: 5,011 yards, 32 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
I don't think Romo will throw for 5,000 yards or anything, but he's slightly underrated right now because he hasn't played since October. Also, keep two things in mind: First, Romo will have a greater rapport with Dez Bryant this season, and second, Dallas' defense still sucks, so Romo will have to throw a lot.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. Bye: 11. AUG. 29 UPDATE: Ben Roethlisberger threw nearly a third as many times as Matt Ryan in the preseason Week 3 contest, but finished with almost as many passing yards. Big Ben went 11-of-16 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, thanks to two separate deep bombs to Antonio Brown. With Brown and Emmanuel Sanders emerging, Roethlisberger has more weapons than ever. He could finish as a top-six fantasy quarterback this year.
AUG. 19 UPDATE: Though he was constantly pressured throughout the first half, Ben Roethlisberger torched Philadelphia's vaunted secondary, going 8-of-12 for 125 yards and two touchdowns in one-and-a-half quarters of action. As always, Big Ben evaded pressure and brushed off pass-rushers to find his receivers downfield. After the top six quarterbacks, Roethlisberger is arguably the No. 7 fantasy signal-caller.
Those who drafted Ben Roethlisberger last year definitely enjoyed his production after a four-game suspension. In 12 contests, Roethlisberger threw for 3,200 yards, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
If the Steelers re-sign Willie Colon, Roethlisberger will be able to post improved numbers with better protection. Plus, the Steelers also get to look forward to the growth of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, two young wideouts who flashed at times last year.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Bye: 7. AUG. 28 UPDATE: Matthew Stafford was possessed against the Patriots. He went 12-of-14 for 200 yards and two touchdowns in just slightly less than a half of action. The kicker is that one of his incompletions was a dropped 15-yard score by Nate Burleson. Definitely make an attempt to get Stafford on your team. Yes, the injury concerns are there, but if he can stay healthy, you're getting a potential top-six fantasy quarterback in the seventh or eighth round.
AUG. 14 UPDATE: Matthew Stafford played two drives against the Bengals in the preseason opener, and he was incredible. That's not an exaggeration by any means. He looked every bit as good as Philip Rivers did against the Seahawks on Thursday night. Stafford went 6-of-7 for 71 yards and two touchdowns. His sole incompletion was an easy drop by Jahvid Best out of the backfield. Even better, Stafford was not pressured on a single attempt. This will obviously change when he battles a tougher defense in the regular season, but it's encouraging nonetheless. If Stafford can stay healthy, he'll easily be a top-eight fantasy quarterback.
AUG. 8 UPDATE: Perhaps the Lions now regret passing on offensive tackles early in the previous three NFL Drafts. Detroit's top three offensive linemen, Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus and Jason Fox, are all out with various injuries. Matthew Stafford is brittle and needs all of the protection he can get. This is a huge concern.
I really liked Matthew Stafford last year and drafted him as a backup in nearly all of my fantasy leagues. Of course, Stafford suffered an injury in the first week of the season, which knocked him out until November.
Everyone is down on Stafford now, so buy low. Once upon a time, Matt Schaub and Phil Simms were considered extremely brittle due to a plethora of injuries early in their careers. They proved their critics wrong, and so could Stafford. He has the talent around him to be a fantasy stud.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Bye: 8. AUG. 29 UPDATE: I never thought I'd ever see a veteran starting quarterback attempt 42 passes in any preseason game, let alone in just one half of action. Matt Ryan did just that, going 22-of-42 for 220 yards, one touchdown and an interception prior to halftime at Pittsburgh. His stats could have been much better. He launched a beautiful 52-yard touchdown bomb to Julio Jones, but the rookie wideout had the ball bounce right out of his arms. Another potential score was nullified because of a Tony Gonzalez pass interference penalty. Ryan also had an uncharacteristic drop by Roddy White; the ball hit the All-Pro wideout right in the face mask.
I didn't like the Julio Jones trade because I think the Falcons surrendered too much, but there's no questioning his talent, especially in the red zone, where he'll be a massive target for Matt Ryan, who remains a solid starting fantasy quarterback.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers. Bye: 8. AUG. 29 UPDATE: As surprising as it was to see Chad Henne light it up, it was equally shocking to see Josh Freeman struggle against Miami. Freeman went 12-of-23 for 149 yards, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He easily could have tossed two interceptions; the first was dropped by safety Yeremiah Bell on the opening drive. The second nearly occurred in the second quarter when Freeman tried to force the ball into LeGarrette Blount in between two defenders. Freeman threw only six picks last year, but he's going to have many more if he doesn't improve his decision-making.
Josh Freeman made major strides in 2010, throwing for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Seventeen of Freeman's 25 scores came in the final nine games of the season, indicating that he developed a rapport with his young receivers. Freeman should be even better in 2011, and thanks to his rushing stats, he's a viable starting fantasy quarterback.