Over the next 5 weeks, this column will consist of position rankings for the quarterback and running backs. 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.
This week, we will look at QB 17-32. For Dynasty and Keeper leagues, QB17-32 is extremely important as you’ll be potentially building your future roster from this pool of players. These positions are immensely valuable if you’re the type of owner who likes to keep a #2 QB on the bench, or if you’re playing in a two QB league and looking to bolster you’re already potent offense. Yes, I am assuming your offense is already potent. I assume this as you’ve been reading phenomenal analysis from the writers at this site, which means you have an awesome team and will be winning like Sheen. Is that joke still viable? Either way, poor yourself a snifter of tiger blood and enjoy the ranks.
17. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben had the 2nd best year of his career in 2013, so it may come as a surprise that I have him ranked outside the top 16. Last season, his stats were elevated by the amazing performance of Antonio Brown, strong support from Emmanuel Sanders and (surprisingly) Jericho Cotchery. 2013 was also the first time the talented signal caller was able to play all 16 games since 2008. My concern with Roethlisberger lies specifically on the “parting of ways” with Sanders and Cotchery; as well as the emergence of stud RB Le’veon Bell. Bells’ emergence, coupled with the desire for Pittsburgh to re-establish the run game, is an early signal for a decline in fantasy production for Roethlisberger. A fine #2, but nothing more than that.
Projection: 3850 Yards, 24 Touchdowns, 13 Interceptions, 302/520)
18. Josh McCown – If you read this site, you will know that I am a huge advocate for Josh McCown. McCown, combined with Cutler, would have stats equivalent to the #3 QB in fantasy in 2013. McCown had crazy numbers (1829 yards, 149 completions, 13/1 TD-INT ratio) in the small sampling size he had. He surpassed Cutler in vertical yards per attempt, completion percentage and winning percentage. He had the league’s second highest total QBR on vertical throws (Thanks ESPN). McCown goes from one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, to a team which is only a small step below the potency level of ‘Da Bears. I don’t believe it’s in jest to draw parallels between the Bears trio (Marshall/Jefferies/Forte) to the Bucs (Jackson/Evans/Martin). Yes, it’s a step down, but one that still allows us to expect big things from McCown. McCown has top 13 upside.
Projection: 4101 Yards, 26 TD’s, 10 Int. 310/520
19. Eli Manning – It pains me, absolutely pains me, to rank Eli Manning so high. After all, in 2013 Eli had a league high 27 interceptions. He was also behind a 31st ranked offensive line (in terms of pass protection) and was constantly throwing under pressure. All signs point to Manning having another bad year, which begs the question, “Why do I have him inside my top 20.” Well, Manning seemingly rebounds from bad years with decent years. The offensive line should be healthy and more aligned this season, and a stabilized running back should provide him with a bit more time. Manning is likely to throw a few picks, but it will be nothing like 2013. Also, I have huge beliefs in Cruz/Beckham giving defenses fits. This is a risky pick, and also one whom could quite possibly drop to the sub 25 area. If you’re drafting Manning, make sure you have a very solid #1.
Projection: 3898 Yards, 24 TD’s, 14 INTs, 328/530
20. Carson Palmer – It seems like Palmer has been around forever doesn’t it? Truth is, Palmer came into the season only 1 year before the likes of Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger to name a few. Palmer was the number 1 pick in 2003, which included other standouts, at the QB position, such as: Seneca Wallace, Chris “Ouch my appendix” Simms, and Kyle Boller. Palmer is a very reliable second option as the position, and plays for a coach, Bruce Arians, who loves to go deep. Palmer still has Larry Fitzgerald and the much underrated Michael Floyd. This duo will represent one of the top 10 threats at the WR position. Palmer’s only negative factor is an arm which seems losing the battle with Father Time. My firm belief is the emergence of Floyd and greater utilization of RB Andre Ellington will give Palmer a bit more time in the pocket, thus allowing him to cut down on his interceptions. You could certainly do worse than Palmer, but he will be good for 20+ TD’s and 4000+ yards. Also know that his 22 interceptions from 2013 will be the outlier and not the standard.
Projections: 4290 Yards, 25 TD’s, 15 INT, 350/560
21. Ryan Tannehill – Despite my own feelings about Mike Wallace (DEAD TO ME), I cannot ignore the quietly awesome season that Ryan Tannehill had in 2013. Tannehill has always been a little disrespected, or should I say underappreciated, and I’m here to tell you 2014 will begin to change that mentality. Tannehill is often forgotten as he’s stuck on a team that cannot seem to find a winning formula. To his credit, he has had a very good year without many weapons or options. Mike Wallace has proven to be a massive bust, as well as a giant waste of money. Breakout star Brian Hartline will continue to excel and maintain the title of most forgotten receiver, while putting up over 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. Mike Wallace, shudder, has one shot to make an impact; and new OC Bill Lazor should allow him to flourish. Finally, Charles Clay is an absolute monster and could be poised to make a lot of noise in 2014.
Projection: 4010 Yards, 26 TD’s, 14 INT, 379/559
22. Johnny Manziel – Mike Pettine be damned, when September 7th rolls around, Johnny Football will be behind center and NOT Brian Hoyer. Hey, I like Hoyer as much as the next guy (how much is that actually?), but Manziel is the future in Cleveland. Opinions on Manziel are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum. Some believe he’ll be a complete bust, others think he’ll be the NBT. Since I’m a Paul Heyman guy, I think he’ll be the Next Big Thing. Manziel represents a rare talent in the NFL, and has the potential to change the scope of the game. The last time the NFL saw a player like Manziel, it was Michael Vick. I’m not comparing the two, as Manziel has a much better football IQ; but they both are uniquely talented athletes who present a problem for the opposing defenses. Manziel has a few things going against him: No Josh Gordon (idiot), not being defined as the starting QB (Coach should just name him and move on), a sketchy supporting cast of receivers (Miles Austin, Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins) and finally his size is working against him (5’11ish). However, much like Tim Tebow with 5 minutes left in a game; Manziel finds a way to make things happen. His respectable arm, evasion and decision-making abilities will allow him to thrive this season. This guy has top 15 (easily) upside, but he’s a huge gamble in year 1.
Projection: 3210 Yards, 18 TD’s, 8 Int, 240/390. 600 rushing yards, 6 TD’s.
23. Ryan Fitzpatrick – My wife is a big believer in Fitzpatrick, so that could be something slightly swaying me and ranking Fitz higher than he should be. Fitz has never been a bad QB, but he’s been injury plagued and saddled with a bad team for his entire career. He has had output that’s consistent, when healthy and playing, and really only had a bad year in 2011 when he threw 23 interceptions. Otherwise, you can expect over 3000 yards and 20 TD’s. Fitzpatrick also benefits strongly from an incredibly underrated ability to run the ball. He’s had his moderate success with the Bills, whom have always lacked a serious threat at the WR position and never had the offensive line surrounding him that he needed to flourish. His move to Houston will mark a dramatic shift in output, as he’ll now be throwing to one of the best and most consistent WR’s in the game (Andre Johnson), as well as soon to be break-out stud DeAndre Hopkins. Oh, and then there’s that guy Arian Foster whom is a perennial top 10 RB. Finally, new head coach Bill O’Brien is an absolute genius when it comes to developing quarterbacks. He will turn Fitzpatrick into something special this season. Fitz has top 17 upside.
Projection: 3680 Yards, 19 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 272/439. 279 RuYard, 2 RuTD
24. Joe Flacco – I want to believe in Flacco, I really do. If only Flacco performed as well as his clay trap destroying, commercialized self; he wouldn’t be placed so low in the rankings. Flacco has a decent enough receiving core (Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Steve Smith) and two very high level tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels). It seems that all signs should be pointing up for Mr. Flacco. However, a questionable running game, as well as an offensive line which continues to deteriorate and is the noted weak point for the offense; all point to Joe Money (I just made that up) having another questionable year. This is the year Flacco has to show it wasn’t all about the money, that he still has something left in the tank, and that he will not be relegated to being a mid-tier QB for the remainder of his career.
Projection: 3845 yards, 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 320/568.
25. Alex Smith – Smith was a bit of an anomaly last season, as the historically weak-armed QB ended up being 15th in QB rankings at season’s end. Smith wasn’t asked to go deep with the ball, but instead to play smart and excel in the short game. He had a really good touchdown to interception ratio (23-7) as well as a career high in yardage (3313). Smith doesn’t have weapons, outside of Jamaal Charles, but he’s proving that you don’t need a big arm to be a threat. As well as his tremendous decision-making, he also proved to the serious ability to run as he amassed 431 yards on the ground. It would be nice to imagine Smith repeated his amazing 2013, but we assume he will see some regression. Smith does have some viable upside, but again you’re looking at a number 2 QB. Don’t reach for Smith too much, as others less read will draft early hoping for a repeat performance.
Projection: 3028 Yards, 21 Touchdowns, 8 Interceptions, 300/491. 374 RuYard, 1 RuTD.
26. Sam Bradford – I understand and recognize that Sam Bradford is truly a talent at the position, but he’s done nothing to prove that to me. Over the course of 7 games, Bradford had 1687 yards, 14-4 TD/INT ratio and a 60% completion percentage. He did this despite having a subpar receiving core (Sorry boss, I don’t buy the Tavon Austin hype), and a TE who proved to be a complete bust. This will be his (rumored) final season in St. Louis, unless he’s able to put together a very impressive season. They invested heavily in 2010 when they drafted Bradford, but he’s yet to produce a winning record. Not all of that is on him, but he is considered the general and leader of the team. He’ll be throwing to a hodge-podge core of Tavon Austin (still waiting), Chris Givens (still waiting), Kenny Britt (I don’t even know which joke to insert here) and Austin Pettis. None of these receivers evoke fear in opposing teams, so it’s a huge uphill battle. Hopefully, Zac Stacy will be solid enough to allow Bradford time to throw. If Bradford can slightly mirror Alex Smith, he could have a really good year. For now, I remain filled with trepidations.
Projection: 3190 yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 299/5506
27. Matt Schaub – It is stunning the fall from grace Matt Schaub experienced in 2013. Prior to his abysmal 2013, he was fairly reliable for 20+ touchdowns and 4000 yards. Schaub had given some hope to the city of Houston and, along with two elite level talents (Andre Johnson and Arian Foster), the Texans offense began putting up numbers. In 2013, however, Schaub seemed to do everything wrong. He started the season throwing pick sixes in four straight games (an NFL record I see) and had one of the worst interception rates in the league. In 2014, Schaub takes his talent (stop laughing, I’m serious) to Oakland in hopes of revitalizing his career. Oakland, unfortunately, seems to be where veteran players go to fade off into the sunset. The only hope Schaub has is James Jones, realizing his true potential as number one receiver, and Rod Streater (no comment). Schaub may come to form, but I would stay away from him this season.
Projection: 2875 Yards, 17 Touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 268/420
28. EJ Manuel – I’m told I should believe in this young player, but last season gave me no reason to feel optimistic. Manuel is a very talented player, but 2013 was so uneventful. One must take into account him missing six games, but even when playing he didn’t show the “it” factor. In conversations with others, I’m told that he is really a very good player. He is saddled with a horrid Buffalo team, though they did add rookie Sammy Watkins who has exceptional speed and ability, and is expected to struggle somewhat. He is surrounded by a very solid run game and should be able to make plays while on the move. If there is one thing noted about Manuel, it’s his great decision-making ability and propensity to successfully scramble when needed. Manuel has a great upside, but it is very possible for him to bomb. However, he’s worth a roll in deep leagues or dynasty leagues.
Projection: 2610 Yards, 16 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 240/390. 390 RuYD, 4 RuTD
29. Jake Locker – Locker represents broken potential to its fullest. It seems that the young quarterback was highly touted coming out of Washington, but has yet to complete an entire NFL season. Even his best season only saw him throw 2100 yards, and 10/11 (td-int) over the course of 11 games. As with a few other QB’s, this will be a career defining season for Jake Locker. Should he fail to produce, he’ll most likely be relegated to 2nd or 3rd string; or cut all together. Locker will have an uphill battle as the team is without multiple threats on offense, outside of Kendall Wright, and will be pressured by rookie Zach Mettenberger who was drafted out of LSU to be the future of the
Oilers Titans. Steer clear of Locker unless you’re completely desperate, but even in a case of desperation; I’d advise rolling the dice on one of the other young QB’s fighting for a starting role.
Projection: 2480 yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 200/373
30. Teddy Bridgewater – As a diehard Vikings fan, it’s hard for me to remain objective when talking about the QB of our future. If Bridgewater were announced as the starting QB before the season began, you’re looking at a top 20 player. He has weapons in the passing game (Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph) and he has the greatest RB in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. He’ll benefit from having a very solid offensive line, and the great Norv Turner calling the offensive plays. Bridgewater was one of the best talents coming out of the draft, and most likely the most “NFL Ready” of the group. However, the word in Minnesota is that Bridgewater will not be starting, but could see games this season. As such, he’s only worth a pick in a dynasty league or a deep league where you have the roster spot. When he does become the starter, grab him immediately as he will have tremendous value towards the end of your season.
Projection: (8 games) 2450 Yards, 16 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 235/439.
31. Michael Vick – To those who think Geno Smith is the starter, I have to ask, “Why?” Why in the world would you think the J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS, would start a guy who threw 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions? Sure, he’s the QB of the future (so they say) for your New York Fighting Jets; but he proved only to be a spotty player in 2013.
The Jets, in a response to this horrid first year showing, went out to sign professional injury risk Michael Vick. Say what you will about Vick on a personal level, but professionally he is always a threat on offense. Prior to his injury, Vick was having a very respectable first 5 games. In addition to having a huge arm, Vick is also (arguably) the most threatening running QB in the history of the NFL. His move to New York, which is almost as loving to its players as Philadelphia, comes as the Jets look to re-invigorate their team with off-season signings of Eric Decker, Jacoby Ford, David Nelson and Chris Johnson. Hell, you could even look at the addition of Daryl Richardson as a sign the Jets are willing to make every effort to fill in the empty puzzle pieces. If you draft Vick, know that you’ll get elite fantasy value for as long as he stays healthy. Just know that he will get injured and you must be able to slot someone else into the QB spot on your team.
Projection: (9 games) 2019 yards, 11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 97/184. 410 RuYds, 3 RuTD
32. Chad Henne – Though they say Bortles will sit on the sidelines, I imagine the leash will decrease in length with each negative performance. I have never been a fan of Henne, nor do I believe he has much to offer Jacksonville. He’s on, arguably, the worst offense in the NFL with a very underwhelming line. Even in the deepest of leagues, I couldn’t suggest investing in Henne. I would much rather roll the dice on a player like Michael Vick, Brian Hoyer, or even Matt Cassel. Henne offers absolutely no upside and should be avoided at all costs. He is only ranked 32 over Bortles, as the head coach insists Bortles will be holding a clipboard for the entire season.
Projection: (6 games played) 1100 yards, 6 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 120/241
Major League Fantasy Football Radio kicks off tomorrow, Sunday July 13th from 11:30am-12:30pm EST brought to you by our friends at Sports Palooza Radio Network. Our featured guest is Jeff Nelson a high school defensive coach in PA. We will discuss Corners and how their teams scheme will effect their numbers. Also how to properly draft these players. Chase Jacobs will also be a guest and we will be discussing the Wide Receiver position in depth. Click the link or call in (646) 915-8596. You can also listen to the podcast if you can not make the show live. We will have a football show every Sunday until the season is over from 11:30am-12:30pm EST. Also tune in for Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio every Monday from 1pm-2pm EST