“Words of Ingram”: Quarterback Rankings 1-16 (Part 1 of 2) 2014
Over the next 5 weeks, my articles will consist of position rankings for the quarterback and running back positions. These rankings will be broken down as QB1-16, QB17-32, RB1-20, RB21-40 and RB41-60. They will predominantly focus on MLFS scoring, which awards more points to the QB for touchdowns, while penalizing them an even greater number for interceptions (as well as some other differences). Despite these rankings being focused on that system, the information on each player will be pertinent to your leagues scoring system. Please keep in mind projections are being created in July and in most cases, potential for injury will not factor in to these rankings. Exceptions to this rule do exist (Mr. Vick), however for the most part we assume a healthy QB for the year. I welcome any comments or criticisms in the comments or through whichever medium you prefer. These next five weeks represent the most enjoyable part of being a fantasy football prognosticator. I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Hopefully, come seasons end, you’ll find that my rankings were spot on.
- Peyton Manning – There is a piece of me that worries Manning has the potential to dramatically regress, but common sense kicks in and I relent from such thoughts. The simple fact is Peyton Manning is never unimpressive in the world of fantasy football. This is a player who, in 16 years, has only recorded 2 seasons below 4000 yards (1998 and 2005). This is a QB whom, at the end of his career, will be considered one of the top 3 of all time. In the off-season, Manning lost Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno, while gaining Emmanuel Sanders. Decker may have stung a bit, but Manning has always excelled regardless of his options. Manning will face the Fab 4 Defense of the NFC West, however he is still a front-runner to repeat as top player in all of fantasy. Projection: 5167 yards, 48 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 440/620.
- Drew Brees – My love affair with Drew is well-known, so it should come as no surprise that I rank him at #2. In fact, there was a part of me which wanted to rank him at number one. However, when doing rankings for a website as esteemed as this, I have to allow my brain to trump my heart. Brees is a player who does not need an all-star, and has yet to have a season with less than 4400 yards in New Orleans. The loss of Lance Moore will mean absolutely nothing in New Orleans, as he was simply a pawn on the offensive chess board in NOLA. Rookie Brandin Cook, 2nd year Kenny Stills, and always stable Marques Colston will continue to add value to this team. The contract issue with Jimmy Graham won’t be a problem as he will continue to be the best TE in all of fantasy sports. Brees has the potential to be #1 this season, so don’t feel bad reaching for this stud. Projection: 5200 Yards, 47 Touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 423/604
- Aaron Rodgers – The injury to Rodgers may cause some drafters to feel leery of this elite talent. Do not be that person. Rodgers may not be the “bad man” that Stephen A Smith likes to boast, but he is still one of the best QBs in the game. Rodgers has an incredible football IQ and a very large chip on his shoulder. There has been too much talk about Rodgers being unable to win the big game when it matters, but how in the world does that impact the fantasy world? He has two amazing receivers in Randall Cobb (healthy) and Jordy Nelson (incredibly consistent). In the past, Rodgers had enhanced value based on his running abilities, which should not be discounted; but the emergence of Eddie Lacy will certainly continue to decrease the red zone opportunities for this elite QB. Rodgers, as with two other QB’s in the top 10, benefit from having to play the NFC North multiple times; a division not very known for their pass defense. While not a top 10 player, you will always feel comfortable having Aaron Rodgers leading your team. Projection: 4565 Yards, 38 Touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 330/550. 300 rushing yards, 2 RuTD.
- Andrew Luck – In my 2nd article, I wrote extensively on Andrew Luck and my belief that he’s easily capable of finishing in the top 3 of quarterbacks. However, he’s a year or two away from making this a very likely scenario. Luck finished fourth in standard fantasy leagues, and 10th in MLFF leagues in 2013 despite losing his primary option (Reggie Wayne) for 9 games. This year, he benefits from an improved offensive line as well as the signing of fantasy zombie Hakeem Nicks. A WR core of Wayne, Hilton and Hicks will create unbelievable match-ups against any team he’s likely to face. Lastly, I’d be remiss to not mention Cody Fleener and Dwayne Allen who offer more options from the TE spot. Luck is also a QB known for running the ball, so you’ll net additional value from his legs. Luck will be an elite fantasy QB and this will be the season that solidifies this prediction. Projection: 4100 Yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 350/568. 350 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns.
- Matthew Stafford – Stafford may not be considered “elite”, but he is one of the most consistent QB’s in all of fantasy sports. While we shouldn’t expect to see the types of numbers he put up in 2011 (5000 yards, 41 td); we have no reason to expect Stafford to not throw for over 4000 yards. His yardage will be more aligned with 2013 than any other year, and we expect the addition of Golden Tate to provide Stafford with a true number 2 talent at WR. Tate rarely drops passes, and was one of the top vertical threats in the NFL. Stafford will also have a multitude of options at the TE position, as well as two high-profile running backs. Stafford is always going to be a top 5 QB. Projection: 4200 yards, 32 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 340/598.
- Robert Griffin III – RG3 may have had a down season last year, but so many factors contributed to his “regression” from a monumental rookie outing. The ‘Skins ranked 31st in downfield passing, he was hampered by a knee brace, lacked a solid #2 option at WR, had a coach whom he despised and had a mediocre offensive line. This year the Skins have repaired their offensive line, signed an absolute elite talent at WR2, have a running back who will dramatically exceed expectations, and one of the best young tight ends in the NFL who is now healthy. The removal of the knee brace, as well as a coaching tandem who RG3 likes will all result in a huge net improvement. Oh, did I forget to mention Jay Gruden. Why is this important? Take a look at what Andy Dalton did the past 3 years with Jay Gruden as an OC. This is going to make a dramatic impact on the offense in Washington. RG3 will eliminate any doubts of his abilities in what will be a breakout season. Projection: 3684 yards, 25 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 282/489. 500 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns.
- Matt Ryan – While personally not the biggest fan of Matt Ryan, I have to imagine last year was a fluke for the young QB. The Falcons lost Julio Jones and Roddy White for multiple games in 2013; as well as having a depleted and embarrassing offensive line. The Falcons addressed their offensive needs in draft, as well as signed a new right guard and center. The retirement of HOF Tony Gonzalez should represent an issue on the surface, but in reality it won’t prove to be a factor provided the starting WR’s stay healthy. With Harry Douglas proving he has what it takes when being thrust into a starting role; the sky is the limit for the Dirty Birds. Projections: 4213 yards, 31 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 431/642.
- Jay Cutler – This will certainly be considered a controversial ranking, however I strongly believe this will be Cutler’s best season to date. As a quick note, please remember that Cutler and McCown combined to be the #3 QB in all of fantasy last season. That isn’t exactly to say that Cutler would have had the exact same output as McCown, but simply that Cutler was on pace to be a stud in 2013. This year, he’ll be flanked by arguably the two best receivers in the NFL as well as one of the best running backs. This will be the year Bears fans finally reclaim the division and have a 4000 yard quarterback. Projection: 4092 yards, 31 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 310/497.
- Andy Dalton – I must commit to my early prediction. Dalton has shown progression in the past three years, will utilize Giovanni Bernard in the passing game more, and will benefit greatly from the involvement of Marvin Jones. Many are opposed to Dalton based on the love of running from new coach Hue Jackson. Regardless, a strong running game will allow the passing game to flourish and Dalton has been a top 10 fantasy QB consistently. Yards will decrease slightly, as will interceptions, but touchdowns will assuredly increase. Don’t feel bad with Dalton as your number one QB as years end could see him higher than 10. Projection: 4423 yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 389/620
- Colin Kaepernick – Kaepernick was a very good QB last season, but suffered from a pedestrian output in weeks 2, 3, 5 and 10. If he would have had similar output in those games, you’re looking at a top 5 quarterback. It’s hard to project based on the previous statement; however we have to assume that Kaepernick had some early struggles that he will not face in 2014 as the sophomore slump is over and he’ll have all his starting receivers. The young QB will benefit immensely from having a healthy Michael Crabtree and a Vernon Davis who seems to be at his absolute peak. Finally, Stevie Johnson is a legit threat and is now on a team which has the Quarterback to allow him to thrive; as well as an offense in which he is not the soul option. Projection: 3210 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 250/430. 500 rushing yards, 4 ruTD.
- Tom Brady – Brady had a tremendous finale to his season in 2013, outside of a dreadful week 17, once Gronkowski returned from injury. He’ll enter the season with his star tight end again questionable, but Gronk has stated he expects to be available week one. Brady also has another year of working with his young receiving core and is joined by the somewhat reliable Brandon LaFell. Despite a down year last season, Brady is still the greatest quarterback to ever play at the position, and I expect a fairly impressive rebound statistically for the Best in the World. Brady will represent a huge value this season, as most people will avoid him after less than impressive numbers from 2014; which will allow you to steal this player late in your draft. Projection: 4310 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions 399/616
- Russell Wilson – Although Wilson plays for a team who runs dramatically more than they pass (1,045 rushing plays vs. 825 passing); Wilson still represents an incredible option at quarterback. Most prognosticators will rank Wilson in the top 10, but not here…not MFLF. Wilson will be expected to throw the ball a bit more as the Seahawks will be looking to balance their offensive, so you should expect a higher output than his previous two outings. Despite the loss of Golden Tate, I strongly believe Doug Baldwin will prove to be a breakout receiver and the ‘Hawks will not regress in the passing game. Wilson is also a threat to run the ball at any time, as he has deceptive evasiveness and speed. Wilson is a player who could dramatically exceed his #12 ranking in 2014. Projection: 3310 Yards, 26 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 273/410. 457 rushing yards, 4 RuTd
- Cam Newton – Remember you heard it here first, Newton will not make the top 10 this season. Cam Newton lost every wide receiver, and in their stead, was “gifted” Jericho Cotchery and rookie Kelvin Benjamin. The only going for Newton is his rushing ability, as he has been the top rushing quarterback since he entered the league. Expect to see Newton running more than ever before, but also look to see a big increase in interceptions and incomplete passes. There are too many question marks surrounding the Panthers offense and as such, I would stay far, far from Newton. Projection: 3103 yards, 20 touchdowns, 16 interceptions 268/469. 689 Ruyards, 7 RuTD
- Philip Rivers – Rivers was the NFL’s comeback player last season as he improved dramatically and finished as the #3 QB in MLFF scoring and 6th in standard leagues. Rivers saw double-digit points in every game, outside of a pedestrian effort against the Raiders in week 16, and benefited greatly from breakout star Keenen Allen. A healthier Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal and young TE Ladarius Green offer Rivers plenty of opportunities to score. While I don’t expect a performance quite like last season, Rivers will be a very reliable QB. Projection: 4317 yards, 29 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 369/550.
- Nick Foles – I am incredibly aware that this will be an unpopular pick, but I expect to see a huge regression in the Eagles starting QB. Foles fantasy numbers were heavily weighted by his unnatural TD-INT ratio (27-2) and there is no way that trend will continue, as teams will be very prepared for what Foles has to offer. Add this to the departure of Desean Jackson and Jason Avant, and you’re looking at a QB who will see a dramatic decline in production. The return of Jeremy Maclin offers some value, but I don’t think he’ll be the threat that D-Jax was. With Deasean now residing in the Nation’s Capital, Riley Cooper will also see a reduction as defenses will be able to key on the controversial WR. Foles very much must prove his worth to me, as well as the fantasy nation. All eyes are on this young player. Projection: 3810 Yards, 24 TD’s, 12 Int, 289/452
- Tony Romo – We have to rank assuming a player stays healthy (except Michael Vick) and Tony Romo has only missed 4 games since 2010. Romo is always good for over 4000 yards, but a banged up offensive line will put this player at high risk coming off major back surgery. He has a top 5 WR in Dez Bryant, a potential sleeper in Terrance Williams and the always sure handed Jason Witten. Personally, I would want nothing to do with Romo as back injuries are generally the death knell for a QB, however taking him along with another sub 10 QB will allow you to play matchups with value. Don’t put all your eggs in the Romo basket, but you should feel confident his consistency. Projection: 4243 Yards, 27 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 399/620.