Apr 8, 2009
It’s already magazine time for us, and while we’re not putting out a ton of content right now, that doesn’t mean we’re sitting around the office watching clips on YouTube or checking our Facebook pages.
Okay, maybe we are a little.
Most of the time, we’re working on content for our 2009 magazine. We’re trying to get as much done as possible before the draft because, once that occurs, we’re in serious Magazine Mode and our deadline comes quickly. This year, we’ll be publishing the magazine a little earlier than usual, so we should have a good amount of 2009 content up in just 4-5 weeks. By the end of May, we’ll have the entire print magazine up on the site, and we’ll be rolling big time with a ton of content.
It’s still a little tough, however, to formulate strong opinions on players and team because the draft is a big part of the puzzle, and teams are still signing free agents (and making trades). We’re not totally clear on things like how the OLs are shaping up, and we don’t know a ton about player roles in those cases in which they’re up in the air. I also haven’t studied the SOS for this season very closely, although you always have a general idea based on divisional opponents.
So it’s still very early, but since I’ve been breaking down the QBs lately for our player previews, I thought I’d throw something out there today people can sink their teeth into: QB rankings.
Overall, this year’s QB group is better going into the season. I see a lot more depth, which is good news. I haven’t yet decided if we’ll strongly advise either way on holding off on the position or targeting a top one somewhat early yet, though. Ideally, I’d like to do a little of both and get an Aaron Rodgers in like the 5th round. We’ll see how things are shaking out ADP-wise and the overall strengths of the other positions later this year.
- Drew Brees, NO – Not much to say here other than you can truly count on this guy playing every game, and putting up huge numbers more often than not.
- Peyton Manning, IND – I’m a little concerned with his thin receiving corps. If a key guy goes down, they don’t have much behind him. Maybe they’ll re-sign Marvin Harrison, but I wouldn’t count on that. On the upside, he’ll have a normal training camp unlike last year when he really didn’t have one, and his OL should be much better off this year with better health. They’ll run the ball more this year, and he’ll be fine.
- Tom Brady, NE – He’s coming off the knee injury and Josh McDaniels is gone, but I still love the offense. Bill Belichick will likely call the plays, and I’m fine with that. He did so in 2005 and Brady was the #2 fantasy QB that year and attempted more passes than only three other QBs. It’s very early, but it looks like Brady is getting drafted very high, like 10-20 overall, so I do think I’d rather take a Brees or Manning over him, based solely on their safeness.
- Kurt Warner, ARI – His numbers across the board were sick last year, but a few that stand out are as follows: 7.7 yards per attempt, and a 67% completion rate. We’ve talked about the correlation between these two numbers relating to fantasy production for a few years, and it really hasn’t let us down yet. One area where he was at his best was avoiding sacks. He maintained the 4.2% rate of getting sacked that he established in 2007 and did it for 16 games instead of 14. So with a late career ability to avoid sacks and stay healthy, and a couple of great WRs as his targets, why wouldn’t Warner keep the production coming? As long as Anquan Boldin stays put, it’s all about staying healthy for Warner. If he is, and if Boldin is in the fold, Warner’s a lock to keep rolling.
- Aaron Rodgers, GB – You can’t ask for much more from Rodgers fantasy-wise than what he gave us last year. He did very well by completing almost 64% of his passes for a solid 7.5 yards per attempt, so the correlation won again with Rodgers in ’08. They will likely run it more this year, but as Greg Jennings told me last summer, throwing the ball is “what they do.” I love the receiving corps.
- Tony Romo, DAL – This is going to be very interesting because there is a definite void in their passing attack with Terrell Owens gone. However, they are loaded in their backfield, so they will have a lot of success running it, and Felix Jones can help them make explosive plays. TE Jason Witten should be a beast this year, and while Roy Williams is far from perfect, he’s an acceptable #1 NFL receiver. Romo should be okay, and no TO may even help him in terms of his chemistry.
- Philip Rivers, SD – I don’t totally trust him, but I don’t think LaDainian Tomlinson is up for carrying the rock 325+ times, either, so Rivers may remain their identity on offense. We’ll see more Darren Sproles, and he’ll take several screen passes a long way. Overall, I LOVE their offense this year, and given how stellar he was all year last year, you have to give him the credit he deserves. I may even move him up over Romo at some point.
- Jay Cutler, CHI – Even on the new team, I still think he’s a solid fantasy starter. Through Week Seven last year, Kyle Orton was 7th in fantasy scoring in this offense, and that’s encouraging for Cutler. Keep in mind Ron Turner’s system has some fantasy appeal, mainly because of the downfield passing. Oh, we’ll see that in Chicago this year, for sure.
- Carson Palmer, CIN – He’s obviously far from perfect, and if they lose Chad Johnson that hurts Palmer considerably. But as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be okay because Cedric Benson of all people gives them a sustainer in the backfield, and that balance is needed. Palmer’s still one of the five best passers in the NFL, and Laveranues Coles was a nice pickup.
- Matt Cassel, KC – I like Todd Haley a lot and think he could be the next great offensive mind in the league. He sure as heck did a great job in the playoffs. So I believe in him, and I believe in the foundation of what they’re going to do on offense resulting in good fantasy production, assuming Tony Gonzalez sticks. Larry Johnson’s a dog, but if he’s back this offense should be very interesting.
- Donovan McNabb, PHI – He probably deserves to be two spots higher, but he’s due for an injury, isn’t he? And I don’t see their offense as getting measurably better in the off-season, not even close. He’ll be productive when he plays, but I no longer see the upside, and at his age the injuries give him definite downside.
- Matt Schaub, HOU – It’s dangerous to consider him as your starter, but if the guy can somehow manage to stay healthy, you’re good to go with Schaub. If they can add a bigger back in the draft and continue to shore up their OL, we may see the best he has to offer in 2009. One of these years he’s going to stay healthy and account for 30 TD passes. On the chance this is it, I think he deserves to crack the top-12. He was, after all, 7th in PPG in 2008.
- Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – If he’s shown fantasy owners one thing the last three years it’s that he should be considered a fantasy backup. You can’t really trust him on a weekly basis. A damn good backup, though, with plenty of weapons to work with.
- Matt Ryan, ATL – I may move him up a tad if they drafted a top TE, but while he’s tremendous and all, their diverse running game is still the foundation of their offense. An excellent backup, however.
- Joe Flacco, BAL – He needs help, but the offense will expand for him, and he can boost his fantasy production with his rushing, believe it or not. This guy is totally for real and will prove it in 2009.
- David Garrard, JAC – I’m predicting an opening day receiving corps of Mike Walker and Jeremy Maclin starting, with Dennis Northcutt in the slot, and that’s an improvement for Garrard. Still, that would be a very inexperienced receiving corps. A pretty safe and reliable backup, though.
- Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – We were down on him last year, and we were right. But things should be better this year. The receiving corps is decent, and if the veteran can stay healthy he’ll be a top-15 fantasy QB.
- Trent Edwards, BUF – He wasn’t the same after that concussion, but he took a couple of big steps forward, increasing his completion percentage from 56% to 66% and his yards per attempt from 6.1 to 7.2, in both cases from below average to above average. And now he has Terrell Owens. Not too shabby, actually. I still like Edwards and think he’ll surprise people this year.
- Kyle Orton, DEN – It may come as a surprise, but if the Broncos don’t draft one of the top two QBs (Stafford or Sanchez) later this month, Orton’s a legit sleeper. As mentioned above he was 7th in PPG before suffering that ankle injury last year. He was never the same after that, but if he regains his early form from 2008, he’ll move the ball in Denver, and he’ll probably do so consistently. I actually think he’s looking like a really nice backup. He could be moving up the list as we get into the summer months.
- Eli Manning, NYG – He actually took a couple of big steps forward last year, increasing his completion percentage from 56% to 66% and his yards per attempt from 6.1 to 7.2, in both cases from below average to above average. Those are two signs that he’s still improving as a passer. The problem right now is that his receiving corps stinks.
- Sage Rosenfels, MIN – He’ll make some plays throwing deep to Bernard Berrian and down the seam to Vishante Shiancoe, but unless Sidney Rice exceeds expectations, his receiving corps is average, and this is still a run-heavy team. I do like Rice, but he’s far from special. Neither is Rosenfels, so they will manage him more than open things up for him.
- Jason Campbell, WAS – He desperately needs at least one of his young wideouts to step up this year to have a chance to make a fantasy splash. That should be Devin Thomas. If he can take a major jump in his second season, Campbell may surprise in his second season in this offense. Just not having to learn another system this off-season helps.
- Jake Delhomme, CAR – A low-end starter who simply can’t trust anymore. Pretty lame receiving corps, too, and an incredible rushing attack. So they’ll be running the ball a ton.
- Shaun Hill, SF – I’m not totally ruling Alex Smith out just yet because he’s more talented than Hill. Hill’s better, of course, so he should start. There are some decent receivers here with Ike Bruce back and Josh Morgan a potential breakout guy, but at the end of the day Hill’s in a conservative offense, and he has very limited arm strength.