It’s hard to believe, but fantasy football is already around the corner again! Fantasy football drafts are already being scheduled and players are anxiously putting together their draft cheat sheets! As you prepare yourself for your 2010 NFL fantasy football draft, you need to be very cautious who you select as your starting quarterback. The quarterback is often the core of your fantasy team and you must not fail yourself in this category or it could be a very long and frustrating fantasy football season! To better help you along as you strive to bring home a fantasy football trophy, here is a ranking of the top 15 quarterbacks for 2010.
1. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
Brees wasted no time in giving fantasy owners their money’s worth last year, as he threw for a “measly” SIX touchdowns against the lowly Detroit Lions in week one. He was never able to repeat that feat last year, although, he did have 4- and 5-touchdown performances to add to his highlights in 2009, which isn’t too shabby at all! All of Drew’s weapons are returning and guys like Robert Meachem continue to get more and more dangerous. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in the fact that the Saints are in a division that is severely weak against the pass! Seriously, can you provide a logical explanation as to why Brees will not throw for over 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns? NO?? Didn’t think so!
2. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Despite a somewhat disappointing performance by the team’s #1 receiver, Greg Jennings, last season, Aaron Rodgers was still able to find a way to produce 30 touchdown passes and nearly 4,500 yards passing. Equally as impressive, he only threw 7 interceptions. Rodgers is clearly one of the most consistent performers, as he had only ONE game in which he did not throw a touchdown pass in the 2009 season. Oh, and he also added over 300 yards rushing, with 5 rushing touchdowns, last year! He’s a keeper, folks!
3. Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts
The only thing more dangerous than a sickly talented, all-pro quarterback is a sickly talented, all-pro quarterback that is full of rage! He may not show it, but it is safe to assume that the interception that he threw late in the Super Bowl is driving him crazy! He probably runs that play through his head every day! He is hungry to get back on the field and arguably has the most dangerous receiving group in the NFL, with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and a now-healthy Anthony Gonzalez. In addition, he receives great protection from his offensive line, as he was sacked only 10 times during the regular season last year. Expect another 4,500+ passing yards from Peyton in the 2010 season.
4. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
Some fantasy players may shy away from taking Brady, as they are uncertain of how Wes Welker will return from last year’s ACL injury. It will be unfortunate for Brady and the Patriots if Welker can’t return to his top form, but even so, Brady will still have the services of Randy Moss and newly acquired Torry Holt. Holt is aging, but is still a sound and respectable presence with highly reliable hands. In addition, Julian Edelman revealed that he has Welker-like abilities last season, as was the case in the final game against the Houston Texans, in which he had 10 receptions for 103 yards. Brady surpassed the 300-yard mark on 7 different occasions last season and maintained a highly respectable touchdown-to-interception ratio. If the aforementioned receiving corp. is healthy, Brady should easily repeat that feat.
5. Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
Romo put up sensational numbers last season and proved he can finally be relied on during the crucial month of December-he threw for over 1,200 yards with 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception in December of 2009! Dez Bryant should provide some extra options for Romo this season in addition to his already talented cast comprising of Miles Austin and Jason Witten. The only real concern for Romo will be the left tackle position. Flozell Adams is no longer there . . . sure, that means less “false start” penalties for Dallas, but despite his ability to rack up yellow flags, he will still be missed. He showed his true worth in the playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. After he went out with a calf injury, Jared Allen made mince meat of his replacement, Doug Free. To help resolve this issue, Dallas acquired Alex Barron from the St. Louis Rams during the offseason. Keep tabs on this guy . . . Romo’s fantasy stock could be heavily influenced by how effectively Barron can protect his blind side.
6. Brett Favre – Minnesota Vikings
First off, don’t worry about this guy deciding not to come back. At this point, he’s become very predictable! He is so predictable that his indecisiveness is no longer even talked about on sports shows . . . there is just no need for it, as we all know he will come back! A guy with that much pride would not let his legacy end with a costly interception in a conference championship game! Sidney Rice is an outright stud and Favre should be utilizing his size and talents quite often again. Throw in the return of Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, and Visanthe Shiancoe, and Favre will easily put up huge numbers again. The only downfall for Favre is that he no longer has the services of Chester Taylor, who is now a Chicago Bear. Taylor had 44 catches last season . . . can Toby Gerhart step in and mirror that total? Probably not, but nevertheless, Favre will be a solid fantasy play all season.
7. Matt Schaub – Houston Texans
Slowly, but surely, Matt Schaub gains the credit he rightfully deserves. Schaub had 9 games in which he tossed for over 300 yards last season. Throw in 29 touchdown passes and arguably the best receiver in the game right now (Andre Johnson), and you have yourself a rock solid quarterback who can play a vital role in ensuring that you win that fantasy football championship trophy! His total passing yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes have increased in each of the last three seasons. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues!
8. Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
Rivers found himself on the top 3 of many fantasy quarterback rankings during the 2009 season, but things are considerably different this year. Rivers can get by without L.T., but with Vincent Jackson possibly sitting out the first 10 games of the 2010 season, Rivers immediately loses a couple spots in the rankings! Antonio Gates will continue to be a big and reliable target, but without Jackson, he will have to rely on Malcolm Floyd as the #1 wide receiver on the depth chart. Floyd showed signs of brilliance last season, particularly in his game against the Washington Redskins (9 catches for 140 yards), but that was a “garbage game” and he has not yet proven himself to be considered a consistent threat for Rivers.
9. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Ryan suffered from the infamous sophomore jinx, as his total passing yards went down (3440 to 2916) and his total interceptions went up (11 to 14)! On a bright note, though, his touchdown total went up from 16 to 22! Keep in mind, too, that he missed nearly three full games last year and his Pro Bowl running back, Michael Turner, missed nearly 6 full games. If these two guys can stay healthy and keep defenses honest for the 2010 campaign, Ryan should be good for nearly 30 touchdowns. It’s just too early to give up on a guy with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez catching balls for him!
10. David Garrard – Jacksonville Jaguars
After a reputable 2008 season, many people thought Garrard was in for a huge season in the 2009 season; however, he was not able to build upon his 2008 season (3620 passing yards, 15 TD passes), as his 2009 totals (3597 passing yards, 15 TD passes) ended up being nearly identical to the 2008 totals. It would be nice to see him throw for over 15 touchdowns – if Mike Sims-Walker can improve his maturity level, Garrard may, indeed, increase that number. One saving grace for his lack of touchdown passes is Garrard’s excellent running abilities, which netted him 323 yards with 3 scores.
11. Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
Several fantasy sites and fantasy “experts” refuse to rank Joe Flacco as a top 12 quarterback this season, but don’t believe the hype! (or lack thereof) Aside from his struggles with the Bengals (4 INTs and only 2 TDs in 2 games vs Cincy), Flacco put up very respectable numbers last year. Derrick Mason has been Mr. Reliable for Flacco, but Flacco has been missing a “gamebreaker” type of receiver. He now has that in Anquan Boldin, so his passing yards and touchdowns are sure to increase. And don’t forget Ray Rice . . . he has tremendous hands out of the backfield and has the ability to gain significant yardage on any given down or situation. Another promising sign from last year was that Flacco, during the crucial 4th quarter of the season, only threw 1 interception in the last 4 games, along with 7 touchdowns. On a down note, Flacco’s “bonus rushing” stats for fantasy players has appeared to come to a halt, as he went from 180 yards in 2008 to only 56 yards rushing in 2009; however, his progression in his passing game will surely make up for those lost rushing points! So, assuming Flacco figures out the Cincinnati defense, he should be a very safe and reliable pick for your fantasy team if you choose to wait a little while before selecting your 1st string quarterback.
12. Carson Palmer – Cincinnati Bengals
This isn’t the same Carson Palmer that threw for over 4,000 yards in the ’06 and ’07 seasons, but nevertheless, he still puts up quality numbers. Last season, he threw for nearly 3,100 yards and 21 touchdowns. With a better attitude from Chad Ochocinco, and a great new acquisition in Antonio Bryant, Carson will have plenty of big play opportunities in the 2010 season. Unless the troubled Cedric Benson gets himself in too much legal trouble and gets suspended, defenses should play the Bengals very honest this year and allow Palmer to get to the 3,500-yard marker.
13. Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
It’s hard to put a guy that threw 26 interceptions last year on the top 12, but we’ll do it, anyways! Now that he had a full year under his belt of playing along his new group of receivers, one would have to assume (and hope) that the chemistry will be tighter with his receivers and the interceptions will go down. Also, the possible emergence of Devin Aromashodu could play a vital role in Cutler improving his passing totals. Cutler developed a good click with this guy late in the season last year-22 connections for over 280 yards in the final 4 games. If this click gets even stronger and tighter, Cutler is a good bet to throw for over 30 touchdowns and under 20 interceptions.
14. Kevin Kolb – Philadelphia Eagles
Kolb is certainly a risk, but the Eagles are a team that likes to feature the pass more than most other teams. Kolb has some very dangerous receivers on both ends (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin) and Brent Celek is rapidly making his way toward the top of the tight-end totem pole. The risk of drafting Kolb onto your fantasy football team might not even be his lack of experience . . . the risk is more likely to be Kolb’s offensive line, which allowed Donovan McNabb to get sacked 35 times last year!
15. Chad Henne – Miami Dolphins
He may have only thrown 12 touchdown passes last season, but give the guy a break, it was his first season as a regular starter! Amassing nearly 3,000 yards passing in 14 games is respectable for a first-year starting quarterback. Oh, and the Dolphins picked up some guy named Brandon Marshall, who had over 100 receptions with 1120 yards and 10 touchdowns (in just 14 games) with KYLE ORTON as his quarterback. If Marshall can attain big numbers with a quarterback like Kyle Orton, then he can put up big numbers with anybody! Henne also no longer has the worries of seeing Ted Ginn, Jr. dropping more passes-he is now a 49er! Henne won’t reach the 30-touchdown mark in the 2010 season, but he will come closer than you think!
Quarterbacks to AVOID:
Donovan McNabb – Washington Redskins
This team is too OLD and/or INJURY-PRONE! Clinton Portis, Joey Galloway, Donovan McNabb, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker add up to a lot of years and a lot of missed games!
Jason Campbell – Oakland Raiders
Campbell has never proven himself and he is now an Oakland Raider. Enough said!
Matt Leinart – Arizona Cardinals
He’s got nearly 30 games under his belt in his 4-year career, yet still nothing to show. If a guy can’t put up big numbers with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, then is there really any hope for him? Probably not! Don’t be surprised if Derek Anderson takes over the starting quarterback role in Arizona.
Keep this list handy, folks! Let these quarterback rankings become your fantasy-bible! Study them every night and make yourself sound more intelligent when you debate fantasy sports at the water cooler with your co-workers!