Fantasy Football 101: 2010 Quarterback Rankings #1 - 20
As the NFL continues to add more and more elements of the spread to their offensive schemes the value of quarterbacks (and wide receivers) has soared in recent seasons. Prior to last season quarterbacks had thrown for 4,200 yards in a season just 42 times. In 2009 alone, nine quarterbacks accomplished the feat. All nine of those quarterbacks threw for 26 or more touchdowns. Beyond that group just two other players surpassed 3,800 yards passing and only two threw for more than 21 touchdowns. That is a gap of at least 400+ yards and five touchdowns per quarterback.
Due to the widening gap in performance expect quarterbacks to be selected earlier than usual on draft day. The evolution of passing offenses coupled with a good crop of young signal callers looking to take the next step in their development means 2010 will likely result in at least one and possibly two breakout quarterback performances.
NFLDraft101 Quarterback Rankings:
Tier One: The Elite Eight (all had 4,200+ yards and 26+ touchdowns in 2009)
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay - In just two years, Rodgers has arrived among the elite signal callers. While his passing stats the past two years are similar but slightly behind Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, he earns the top spot on upside (26 years old) and his superior rushing ability (316 rushing yards and 5 TDs in 2009). Imagine what he could do if the Packers protected him better (sacked 50 times last season).
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis - Mr Consistency has thrown for 4,000+ yards in 10 of the last 11 seasons and 26+ TDs his entire career (including 30+ 3 of the last 4 years). Also threw 200+ in all 14 games he played the entire game and a TD pass in 13 of 14. His only weakness appears to be shutting it down once his team clinches its playoff seed which can hinder him in playoff matchups.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans - A gunslinger in a free wheeling passing offense, Brees has thrown for 4,388 or more yards and 28 or more TDs each of the past three seasons including a 5,000 yard/ 34 TD season in 2008. Has a few more peaks and valleys during the season than Manning (3 games under 200 yards passing and 15 of his 34 TDs came in three games).
4. Philip Rivers, San Diego - The most efficient quarterback in the league, Rivers is the only member of the elite eight never to have attempted 500 passes in a season. Throws down-field as much if not more than any quarterback as he has averaged 8.4 and 8.8 yards per attempt the past two seasons. On the negative side, #1 receiver Vincent Jackson is suspended for 3 games and the addition of RB Ryan Mathews may lead to a more balanced attack.
5. Matt Schaub, Houston - After battling injuries his first two seasons in Houston, Schaub put it altogether in 2009 leading the league in passing with 4,770 yards in 2009. His injury history remains a concern but he leads a prolific offense on the rise.
6. Tom Brady, New England - Wes Welker is injured and Randy Moss is aging but the Patriots still don't have a run game and an aging Moss is still one of the top 5 receivers in the league. Believe it or not but Brady has only surpassed 28 TD passes once (the famous 50 in 2007). The emergence of youngsters Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Taylor Price and Aaron Hernandez could ultimately determine whether he has a good or great season.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas - Bounced back from a difficult 2008 season by throwing for a career best 4,483 yards in 2009. He has also thrown for 26 or more TDs each of the past three seasons. The emergence of Miles Austin and addition of Dez Bryant positions Romo for his best season yet.
8. Brett Favre, Minnesota - Assuming Favre comes back expect Favre to throw 500+ passes and throw in the ballpark of 4,000 yards. The biggest concern with Favre is he has a tendency to fade in December when fantasy games count most.
Tier Two: Have the Chance to Join the Elite
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta - Did not progress as expected in 2009 failing to throw for 3,000 yards but did increase his TD/GM from 1.0 to 1.6. Expect him to improve in his third season but temper expectations slightly due to the team's balanced attack.
10. Joe Flacco, Baltimore - The addition of Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth and two rookie tight ends has improved Flacco's arsenal and has many predicting a breakout season. While a 4,000 yard season is possible, the team's balanced attack will probably cause him to finish a tad shy.
11. Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia - His critics point to his inexperience. His supporters reference two 300 yard games in two starts. Both are valid points but if you are a risk taker, Kolb has the highest upside of any quarterback ranked outside the elite 8 thanks to the Eagles QB friendly, pass happy offense which includes four emerging young talents in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy.
12. Donovan McNabb, Washington - A motivated McNabb moves to Washington but Shanahan will look for him to manage games and not carry the team in an effort to keep him healthy (only played all 16 games once since 2004). Has only thrown more than 23 TDs just once in his career. Expect a solid season in the 3,500 yard and 20 TD range if he can stay healthy.
13. Jay Cutler, Chicago - The addition of Mike Martz makes Cutler a possible top 5 candidate but his 26 interceptions and shaky offensive line are cause for concern. A bounce back season is a 50-50 proposition.
14. Eli Manning, NY Giants - Manning remains an underrated fantasy option, while far from great he has thrown for 21 or more TDs for 5 straight years and is coming off his first 4,000 yard season.
Tier Three: Upstarts, an Old Standby and a Suspension
15. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati - At age 30 and battling injuries the past two seasons, Palmer is no longer considered a top fantasy option. The additions of WR Antonio Bryant and TE Jermaine Gresham make a bounce-back season in the realm of 3,500 yards and 25 TDs possible but the team's conservative attack limits his upside.
16. Matthew Stafford, Detroit - Stafford showed flashes as a rookie and will look to take a step up in 2010. The Lions have a good young core of skill players including WR Calvin Johnson. The big step up is likely still a year away but look for Stafford to challenge for 3,500 yards and 20 TDs this season.
17. Mark Sanchez, NY Jets - The addition of Santonio Holmes has some drinking the Sanchize Kool-Aid and expecting a breakout season. The Jets strong defense and run-oriented attack likely limit his upside to the 3,250 yards and 18 TD range.
18. Chad Henne, Miami - The addition of WR Brandon Marshall provides Henne stock a boost as he enters his second season as the Dolphins signal caller. Henne threw for 300 yards in 3 of the final five games last season but also had a TD:INT ratio of 5:9 in those five games. Henne has upside but the Dolphins run-oriented attack should temper expectations.
19. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh - A top eight fantasy quarterback whose 4 game suspension and week 5 bye will cause him to miss 38% of fantasy regular season (13 games) before taking his first snap. The loss of Santonio Holmes could also hinder the Steelers passing attack. One of the hardest players to rank but if a team can hold up until he returns he could be a great value.
20. Alex Smith, San Francisco - After loading up on offensive linemen in the draft, the 49ers are better equipped for the smash mouth style Mike Singletary prefers. However, with good young receivers Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, Smith will look to balance the attack and open it up on occasion. Smith is hardly a sure thing but could throw in the low 3,000s with 18-22 TDs.
Note: NFLDraft101 rankings are based on: 1 point per 25 yards passing, 1 point for per 10 yards rushing, 6 points per TD (passing, rushing or receiving), and -2 per interception or lost fumble.
Rankings were done by using the averaging of our staff's individual rankings and were based on a single season not a dynasty league.