Friday, July 26, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football 2013 Pre-Season Ranks - QB

Joe Flacco proved himself to be an elite QB in reality, but in fantasy, much remains the same. (msn.foxsports.com)

I like having a steady QB situation on my fantasy teams. I'm not one to try to piecemeal together my imaginary team's signal caller. No position has a higher floor on a week to week basis than QB, so why wouldn't I want to pencil in 20-25 points every week and just focus on everything else?

If you do a snake draft, well, the picks may not always break in your favor. You might have to build around two mid-range guys and hope one breaks out, or if it's last year just grab a rookie QB that's the age a rookie qb should be.

This year, you won't be so lucky as to nab a rookie QB that can lead your team to a fantasy title, but the good news is that these now second-year QBs have added immense depth to the fantasy QB pool. All 4 of 2012's breakout stars are in the Top 11 of my rankings, and all of them have the potential to do even more damage this year.

In my rankings, I suppose I tend to lean a bit more on QB's that are secure in their position. Not only job-wise, obviously, but also the protection and skill weapons they have around them. Since I tend to put a higher value on QB than most, I want to make sure the guy I take is as sure-fire as can be. That's a little easier to gauge near the bottom portion of the rankings, but once you get near the top, it's when some of this picking nits really shows itself. So let's run through the tiers together, shall we.

TIER FANTASY BACK-UPS

25. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

24. Matt Schaub, HOU

23. Alex Smith, KC

22. Carson Palmer, ARZ

You always like to have 2 QBs in your 1 QB league for insurance purposes? Don't want to go dig up Christian Ponder off waivers during a bye week? Here are your guys. People that given a match-up and a situation can certainly be a worthwhile sub to your elite QB.

The surprising pick in this tier might be Schaub, but I'm not nervous about dropping him. Schaub has decent numbers at the end of every year, but there isn't a QB more likely to give you 0 TDs than Schaub (did it 5 times last year). He did have a 4 TD and 5 TD game, so like I said, match-ups.

TIER WILL THEY-WON'T THEY

21. Sam Bradford, STL

20. Josh Freeman, TB

19. Philip Rivers, SD

18. Andy Dalton, CIN

17. Jay Cutler, CHI

All of these QBs are at a point in their career where we really need to see something out of them this year to dictate where their fantasy future lies. There have been flashes of greatness from these players, but there has also been an inability to keep that level of perfomance up for a full season.

It's sad to see Rivers here. He looked to be every bit the QB his fellow draft classmates Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger were, and for fantasy purposes he looked to be even better. But perhaps it's injuries, attitude and team that have dragged him down.

Bradford is the guy that is the least accomplished of this group. The benefactor of the no rookie draft slot era, Bradford hasn't come close to paying back the $50M in guaranteed money he signed for after he was drafted #1 overall from Oklahoma. I do feel like it's between him and Freeman in this tier for who has the most upside to offer. Bradford has an improved offensive line and some legit speed and athleticism lining up along side him. It'll be up to him to gel this unit together and do what great quarterbacks do ... elevate his team to a new level.

TIER FLEAS

16. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

15. Michael Vick, PHI

14. Joe Flacco, BAL

13. Tony Romo, DAL

12. Eli Manning, NYG

We know these players. We know what they can do, we know what they can't do. We know their strengths, but ultimately we know their weaknesses that befall them. Whether it's injuries, inconsistency, or just steady play none of these guys have high ceilings or low floors.

The first two on this list, Big Ben and Vick, I have some serious questions about. Roethlisberger's injuries are mounting and this Steelers team looks to be the weakest in a long-time. Roethlisberger has never been an elite fantasy player so those strikes against him threaten to drop him significantly.

Someone that was once a valuable fantasy commodity in Michael Vick may not even have the job out of training camp. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has preached an open competition for running out of the big inflatable helmet priviledges. Insiders and/or Vick haters already have to job going to Nick Foles, but we shall see. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Vick doesn't get the job. Regardless of what Kelly's NFL offense looks like, the number one skill needed will be making quick reads and decisions. Not read-option, not the ability to scramble, but knowing the defenses and how to audible appropriately. Two things that Vick is abhorrent at. However, in this tier, his ability to potentially thrive in the offense along with his running ability gives him some bonus points.

TIER JUMP STREET

11. Andrew Luck, IND

10. Colin Kaepernick, SF

9. Matthew Stafford, DET

8. Tom Brady, NE

All of these guys could easily overthrow the next tier. A couple may even be knocking on the doors of the top tier come the end of the 2013-2014 season. Right now though, there are some minor questions as a side dish to their major upside entree.

Andrew Luck is, skill wise, one of the best QBs in football. He had a fantastic rookie year, but let's be honest, he had an easy schedule and to his credit was able to put his team in a position to win a lot of games. But comfort wise you have to wonder how new offensive coordinator's Pep Hamilton will use the Stanford offense Luck commanded in the NFL (can we please call Hamilton the Director of Offense, please? If not, can we make this Luck's official nickname?) and if Luck's lack of offensive talent around him will start to show.

A lot has happened to Tom Brady in the off-season. The short of it is he lost 2 of his top 3 passing targets, and the third has had more surgeries in the past year than Brady has played in Super Bowls. When you get yourself purposefully removed from Madden, you know you've done gone done something bad. It is hard to tell if Brady will be able to overcome all of this. While effecient as ever running the Pats high-octane offense, you have to have doubts as to who is going to come through on offense. This can either break with Brady making stars out of Danny Amendola and Daniel Fells or them dragging him down.

TIER WORTHY OF THE HYPE

7. Robert Griffin III, WAS

6. Russell Wilson, SEA

5. Matt Ryan, ATL

4. Cam Newton, CAR

Sure RG3 and Wilson have some questions around them, but last year they had a lot of great answers. RG3 obviously has the injury to deal with. He appears to be getting back to full strength, and barring a setback he will be ready to go Week 1. Even if he's limited on his feet, RG3 is an extremely accurate passer on short, medium, and deep throws. The guy is a weapon.

The addition of Percy Harvin isn't the only reason to look forward to a greater year out of Wilson, but Harvin's hip injury and migraine history leads me to think he might not be as big an impact player as we all want him to be.

I was really looking forward to banking on the Matt Ryan last year of his contract bandwagon. Thanks for nothing, Atlanta.

Killa Cam is a guy that is going to make me or break me this year. In this ranking, I'm at my most optimistic about him, but I can't say there aren't concerns. Last year was a marginal improvement or step down for Cam depending on what you're looking at. His sophomore year was overshadowed by the new crop of rookie QBs and attitude issues continued to follow Cam as his Panthers finished 7-9 and were completely average.

The Panthers focused on defense in the draft, which shoudn't be followed with an eye roll. If the Panthers can get more turnovers, stop more drives from developing, then that means Newton gets back on the field sooner and more often. However, the front office did nothing in free agency to help Newton out. Fringe players like Ted Ginn might amount to one spectacular play, but that's about it. The short of it is, this team isn't much different from last year. So what I'm basically relying on is his inability to get hurt because he's gigantic, an uptick in his passing efficiency, his run game, and Carolina utilizing the read-option better this year with his bloated RB corps. If he can take large strides in his pass game, then #1 overall player is a possibility.

TIER DISCO

3. Peyton Manning, DEN

2. Drew Brees, NO

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB

There aren't many concers about these three. If you're particularly nervous about any of them, then you probaby do mock drafts in your reinforced bomb shelter.

Manning has somethings like age and injuries to underline, but that's why he's third on the list. He has the most elite group of wide receivers in the league who all perfectly fit what he wants to do. If Manning takes futher control of the offense this year, I don't see why they couldn't run more plays per game and really pile up the offensive numbers.

Brees throws and he throws a lot. His interceptions went up a tick in 2012, but when you throw as often has he does, they will tend to happen. So long as the TD passes don't drop 15-18 INTs are palatable.

Rodgers is again the best fantasy QB in the game. He passes, he runs effectively, he does everything you could want out of a high pick. He may never hit the heights of his ridiculous 2011 season, but his ability to perform at an elite level, consistently week in and week out with a group of skilled players around him at minimum injury risk makes him the best pick you can make at QB.

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