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Fantasy QB rankings by Sheil Kapadia

Posted by zewkey on August 10, 2007

The Baltimore Sun’s Sheil Kapadia looks at this year’s Fantasy Quarterbacks.

This is an interesting year at quarterback for fantasy owners. There are six signal-callers who I believe are capable of being the top-ranked fantasy QB at the end of the season. After that, there’s a whole lot of mediocrity. So what does that mean for draft strategy? Try to grab one of the top six. I usually wait on quarterbacks, but this year, I don’t want to take a chance with a mid-level player. If you don’t get one of the top six, you should wait and try to stack talent at running back and wide receiver.

Without further ado, the 2007 fantasy quarterback rankings:

1. Peyton Manning, Colts

Good news: He was tremendous last season, throwing for 4,397 yards, 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Manning is not a lock to be the No. 1 quarterback this year, but he’s a lock to be among the top three or four. How many other players can you say that about? He’s got great weapons on offense and has surpassed the 4,000-yard mark in seven of nine NFL seasons. Manning should be drafted in the first round. And don’t worry about a backup. He’s never missed a game.

Bad news: Manning lost left tackle Tarik Glenn to retirement. Glenn had protected Manning’s blind side, and now the Colts will likely rely on Tony Ugoh. This shouldn’t scare fantasy owners. Manning is a master at releasing the ball at the right moment and still should have plenty of time to find open receivers.

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2. Carson Palmer, Bengals

Good news: He came off a serious knee injury and put up great numbers, throwing for 4,035 yards and 28 touchdowns in ’06. It wouldn’t surprise me if Palmer ended up as the No. 1 QB when all is said and done. He’s thrown 60 touchdowns over the past two seasons, has a great set of receivers and has the best mechanics of any quarterback in the league — according to Ron Jaworski. And if Jaws says it, then it’s true. No questions asked.

Bad news: Palmer was sacked 36 times last season and lost seven fumbles; Cincinnati lost guard Eric Steinbach in the offseason. No worries. The line is still ranked No. 5 by Scouts, Inc. Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without suspended wide receiver Chris Henry for half the season. Henry caught nine touchdowns in 13 games in ’06.


3. Tom Brady, Patriots

Good news: With Reche Caldwell as his biggest weapon, Brady threw for 3,529 yards and 24 touchdowns in ’06. Now the Patriots have added Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker. Brady has never had more weapons and will be hungry to show he’s the best in the league after New England’s loss to the Colts in the AFC Championship last season. If he gets to hoist the Lombardi trophy in Arizona, he might just name his kids Randy and Donte. Who knows?

Bad news: Unlike Palmer and Manning, Brady has never thrown for more than 28 touchdowns in a season. He’s surpassed the 4,000-yard mark just once. Brady is steady and poised for a monster year, but he doesn’t have the upside of the top-two guys.

4. Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Good news: Before getting injured last year, McNabb was having a monster season, having thrown for 2,647 yards, 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 10 games. He had four 300-yard games and ran for three TDs. McNabb appears to be healthy in training camp and should be among the top-five fantasy quarterbacks, given Andy Reid’s pass-happy offense.

Bad news: McNabb’s season has ended in November in each of the past two seasons. If healthy, he’s one of the best, but injury is a big concern. Look no further than the Eagles’ decision to draft Houston QB Kevin Kolb in the second round. Also, the Eagles succeeded last year with Jeff Garcia because the offense was balanced. This could mean fewer passing opportunities for McNabb in ’07. And finally, the Eagles let Stallworth go and signed Kevin Curtis in the offseason. Time will tell if they made the right decision.

5. Drew Brees, Saints

Good news: He led the NFL with 4,418 passing yards last season and has thrown at least 24 touchdowns in three straight seasons. Not bad. Brees has good weapons in Reggie Bush (88 catches last season) and Marques Colston (1,038 yards last season). He could easily be ranked as high as No. 3 and is a great option for ’07.

Bad news: There’s not much here. Brees has never thrown 30 touchdowns, but he made up for it last year with eight 300-yard games. If Colston slumps in his sophomore season, Brees could be without a go-to receiver, but Devery Henderson had 745 yards and five TDs last year, and the Saints drafted Robert Meachem out of Tennessee.

6. Marc Bulger, Rams

Good news: He had a career year in ’06, throwing for 4,301 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Bulger has tremendous weapons in Torry Holt and Steven Jackson (90 catches last season). He also has a fat wallet after signing a six-year, $66 million deal in the offseason. Now it’s time to prove he’s worth it.

Bad news: Bulger played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last season. Before ’06, he was a threat to turn the ball over too much. In ’05, Bulger was intercepted nine times in eight games, and in ’04, he was picked off 14 times in 14 games. As long as those woes don’t return, he’ll be among the elite fantasy quarterbacks.

7. Tony Romo, Cowboys

Good news: The Cowboys’ signal-caller is first in line among the mediocre options. What’s there to like about Romo? Although he lacked consistency, Romo’s overall numbers in ’06 were pretty good as he threw for 225 yards or more in nine of 10 starts and accounted for 19 touchdowns. Romo also has some nice targets in Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn.

Bad news: Can Romo recover mentally from Dallas’ playoff loss to the Seahawks where he botched the snap to end the game? That is the big question. But there are others. Romo threw 13 interceptions last season in 10 starts. Eight of those picks came in the Cowboys’ final five games. Hopefully he won’t pick up where he left off and will start anew in ’07.

8. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks

Good news: I’m willing to chalk up his terrible year in ’06 to injury and expect him to bounce back. Now that doesn’t mean you should expect big things. Even in his good fantasy seasons, Hasselbeck was simply a solid, safe option. He’s never thrown more than 24 touchdowns. I like his matchups within the division, and at least he’s comfortable within his offensive system. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I know.

Bad news: Hasselbeck was terrible last year even when he was healthy. He threw 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 12 games. The Seahawks lost Darrell Jackson, and if Shaun Alexander is back to his old self, he’ll get the ball in the red zone, limiting Hasselbeck’s scoring chances.

9. Jon Kitna, Lions

Good news: Don’t laugh. Only three quarterbacks had more passing yards than Kitna last year — Brees, Manning and Bulger. Kitna plays in a pass-happy offense (only Brett Favre had more attempts last season) and has legitimate weapons at wide receiver with Roy Williams, Mike Furrey and first-round pick Calvin Johnson.

Bad news: Kitna was a turnover machine last season, with 22 interceptions and nine lost fumbles. He was also sacked a league-leading 63 times. In the offseason, after predicting the Lions would win at least 10 games, Kitna joked he could throw 50 touchdown passes. If he reaches half that number, he’ll leave fantasy owners smiling.

10. Philip Rivers, Chargers

Good news: Rivers was solid in his first year as a starter, tossing 22 touchdowns to go along with nine interceptions. Troy Aikman credited much of his development to new Chargers coach and former Cowboys coordinator Norv Turner. If Turner can work his magic with Rivers, fantasy owners can expect big things.

Bad news: Rivers didn’t throw a touchdown pass to either one of San Diego’s starting wide receivers last year. That’s pretty remarkable. This year, the Chargers will rely on Vincent Jackson to be their No. 1 receiver. Not exactly Marvin Harrison. That being said, Rivers has an all-world tight end in Antonio Gates and a great pass-catching back in LaDainian Tomlinson.

11. Vince Young, Titans

Good news: All Young has done so far in the NFL is win football games. He led the Titans to victories in six of their last seven games in ’06 and an impressive 8-8 overall record. His legs were a serious weapon as Young rushed for 552 yards and seven touchdowns. According to RotoWorld.com, he was the second-highest scoring fantasy QB in the second half of the season.

Bad news: Young has a long way to go as a passer, and Tennessee did nothing to get him help on the offensive side of the ball. He completed less than 52 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns last season while being picked off 13 times. I’m not sure that ratio will get much better in ’07 as Tennessee boasts one of the league’s least-talented receiving corps.

12. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Good news: Roethlisberger had a rough go last year after an offseason motorcycle accident followed by an appendectomy. He still put up good yardage numbers — 3,513 total and over 234 per game. Now Roethlisberger will work with a new coaching staff in an effort to rebound from ’06.

Bad news: Roethlisberger was picked off 23 times last season, an alarming number. His high-yardage games last year came when Pittsburgh was playing from behind. The Steelers will still emphasize the run and are at their best when the ground game is clicking. Remember, Roethlisberger didn’t put up great fantasy numbers when the Steelers were winning games a couple years ago.

13. Eli Manning, Giants

Good news: If you look at his overall numbers, Manning’s been OK over the past two seasons. In ’06, he threw 24 touchdowns for the second straight year and showed flashes of brilliance early in the season (371 yards, three TDs in Week 2 against the Eagles). Giants fans are relying on new offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to help the offense, which will be without Tiki Barber.

Bad news: Manning was horrendous at the end of last season. In New York’s final two regular season games, he went 21-for-51 for 175 yards. He’s been picked off 35 times in the last two seasons and has been one of the league’s most inconsistent signal-callers. The pressure will be on without Barber. Manning is a high-risk, high-reward pick.

14. Brett Favre, Packers

Good news: Even when Favre struggles, he’s a yardage machine. He threw for more than 3,800 yards for the third straight season in ’06 and had a league-high 613 attempts. He’s as durable as they get, and Favre should have a decent crop of receivers if they can stay healthy.

Bad news: He had a career-low 18 TD passes in ’06 to go along with 18 interceptions. Favre also set career-lows with a 56 percent completion percentage and an average of 6.3 yards per attempt. Favre can’t be counted on as an every-week starter but can have value when paired with another middle-tier quarterback.

15. Matt Leinart, Cardinals

Good news: He’s got one of the league’s best pair of receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Leinart put up solid numbers after taking over the starting job last season, and the Cardinals brought in a new coach in Ken Whisenhunt and a new offensive tackle in first-round pick Levi Brown.

Bad news: Leinart was picked off 12 times in 12 starts last season. Also, Whisenhunt comes from Pittsburgh where running the football was the main priority. Can the offensive line protect Leinart? And will Whisenhunt be comfortable taking chances in the passing game? Those are the questions fantasy owners need to answer when deciding on the Cardinals QB.

16. Jay Cutler, Broncos

Good news: He flashed serious potential in ’06, averaging over 200 yards per game and tossing nine touchdowns in five starts. Cutler is the unquestioned starter this season and has a big-play target in Javon Walker. He’s a great sleeper option.

Bad news: He only has five starts under his belt, less than other second-year quarterbacks Leinart and Young. Other than Walker, Cutler will be relying on 37 year old Rod Smith and unproven 23 year old Brandon Marshall.

17. J.P. Losman, Bills

Good news: He tossed 12 touchdowns over the final seven weeks last season and has a major weapon at wide receiver in Lee Evans.

Bad news: Losman was sacked 47 times in ’06. He had 14 interceptions and lost seven fumbles. If Buffalo’s offensive line upgrades work out, Losman has upside. Otherwise, he’ll be a disaster. The Bills’ difficult schedule could make life rough for Losman.

18. Jake Delhomme, Panthers

Good news: He struggled last year, but Delhomme had a combined 53 TDs in ’04 and ’05. He also has one of the league’s most explosive wide receivers at his disposal in Steve Smith.

Bad news: Delhomme was bad last season, throwing 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 13 games. He now has newly acquired David Carr breathing down his neck. If that fires him up, maybe Delhomme can return to being a productive fantasy QB. On the flip side, a poor start could put him on the bench.

19. Rex Grossman, Bears

Good news: In his five best games last year, Grossman tossed 14 touchdowns and just one interception. To say he was inconsistent would be putting it kindly. Still, Grossman has a solid offensive line, and you could do worse in terms of weapons at wide receiver and tight end.

Bad news: In his five worst games last year, Grossman had one touchdown and 16 interceptions. Simply mind-boggling. He can’t be trusted to be a fantasy starter and probably isn’t worth the risk as a late-round pick.

20. Alex Smith, 49ers

Good news: He made tremendous strides in his second season, accounting for 18 touchdowns, including two on the ground. The addition of Darrell Jackson in the offseason and a healthy Vernon Davis should help Smith take another step forward in ’07.

Bad news: Smith turned the ball over 21 times and topped 200 yards just once in the season’s final 10 weeks. He’s still a work-in-progress at 23 years old.

And the rest…

21. Steve McNair, Ravens

22. Chad Pennington, Jets

23. Byron Leftwich, Jaguars

24. Trent Green, Dolphins

25. Matt Schaub, Texans

26. Jason Campbell, Redskins

27. Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers

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Posted in Alex Smith, Ben Rothlisberger, Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, Donavan McNabb, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme, Jay Cutler, John Kitna, JP Losman, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Leinart, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, QB rankings, Rex Grossman, Tom Brady, Tono Romo, Vince Young | 2 Comments »