2016 Fantasy Football Rankings – Quarterbacks

Not sure if you noticed, but the quarterback position in 2015 across the league got thin in a hurry. The fact that Brian Hoyer and Matt Hasselbeck were relevant was a HUGE problem.

Most of the quarterbacks below got the job done in 2015 and should be poised to do the same or more in 2016. Some, like Andrew Luck and Tony Romo, are looking for a healthy comeback.

(You’ll notice that Joe Flacco isn’t one of them. Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s play-calling and a lack of talent at wide receiver keeps him out of the Top 20)

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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I’ve harped on it here enough in the past 4 months, but Cam Newton was winning you multiple weeks in fantasy by himself in 2015. His 35 touchdown passes were tied for 2nd in the league…and then he added 10 more rushing. Newton also gets at least one more weapon next season with Kelvin Benjamin returning.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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Tom Brady is just a year younger than Peyton Manning, yet led the league in touchdown passes a year ago. Brady also chipped in nearly 300 yards per game, and made the most out of depleted receiving group. Heck, he even made Scott Chandler relevant for a week or two.

3. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers

Almost as reliable as Brady was Carson Palmer. He didn’t look great in the post season, but his loaded offense allowed him to average 291 yards and at least 2 touchdowns per game. Another healthy year like 2015 would warrant a much higher pick than where he was drafted on average a year ago.

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson is weird. Yes for those reasons you just thought of, but also because of his streaky production. Through the first 10 weeks of the season in 2015, Wilson had just one game of multiple touchdown passes. Then he gave you 5 straight weeks of no less than 3 TDs per game. As the Seahawks look to probably move past Marshawn Lynch, it would be much more beneficial for them to let Wilson throw it and have Thomas Rawls compliment him.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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There are a lot of people who probably don’t like me having Aaron Rodgers this far down the list, but the truth is that the discount-double check got checked down last season. Rodgers was a different player without his old-reliable Jordy Nelson and his running game wasn’t bailing him out either when he needed it. Yes, the 2 Hail Mary’s proved he can still do whatever he wants when it matters most, but you should be able to get him with better value in the 3rd or 4th round…as of now.

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Blake Bortles jumped from throwing just 11 touchdown passes his rookie season to 35 in his sophomore year. #BortlesKombat has some room to grow, and probably will with a pair of very consistent scoring receivers like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars are a team that plays in a lot of comeback situations and shootouts that make Bortles excellent for Fantasy garbage points.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams

Ben Roethlisberger led the league with 328 pass yards per game, and you’d think it’s hard not to replicate that kind of production when you have Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to work with. The only question is whether or not he can stay in one piece.

 

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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I’m always skeptic about Eli Manning, as he seems to regularly fold in high pressure situations during the regular season. His 35 touchdown passes were no joke though, and having Odell Beckham Jr. there to make him look better is also hard to argue with. As his offensive coordinator from the past 2 years takes over the reigns as head coach, the offense shouldn’t look terribly different.

9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Dalton was as good as anyone in the first half of the season last year. He likely went undrafted in most leagues and became the hottest free agent in a hurry in yours. He went from throwing 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2014 to 25/7 in 2015. Had he been healthy down the stretch for the Bengals, there’s a good chance they would have beaten the Steelers over Wild Card weekend. His offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, might be elsewhere but it’s hard to imagine he’ll take a step back with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert still there to throw to.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees paired with Sean Payton as head coach will always get you the yardage. “Breesus” averaged 324 yards per game. The crazy numbers don’t kick in until around mid-season though, like ya know…7 touchdowns and 505 yards in Week 8. The fact Luke McCown made an appearance makes you nervous though and wonder if he can keep it up (NOT LIKE THAT, YA JERKS).

11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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Derek Carr made solid strides in 2015, throwing multiple TDs in 11 of the 16 games he started. Throwing 32 touchdowns after 21 in his rookie season and growing with Amari Cooper makes his projection in 2016 even more exciting.

12. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I don’t know which Kirk Cousins you’re going to get in 2016. The one that was just okay through Week 14, or the one that tossed 11 touchdowns in 3 games to will Washington to an NFC East title and will get him paid big time for it. The upside with a healthy Jordan Reed, and that 158.3 QB rating game in Week 10, has him ranked higher than he probably is….for now.

13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

I don’t think there was a quarterback who did more with less than Jay Cutler.

  • No 1st Round draft pick Kevin White
  • Only 8 games with Alshon Jeffery, 9 games with Eddie Royal
  • Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, and Cameron Meredith as a his only WRs multiple games

Yet he still played one of his best seasons as a Chicago Bear. Having continuity in playcalling next year and healthy receivers makes me feel better about Cutler than most next season.

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Luck lives

Andrew Luck probably went in the first or 2nd round in most leagues last year. Those who drafted him that high got 7 games, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to show for it. As of this moment, I’m not sure if you’re going to get the 40 touchdown guy from 2014 or the injury plagued/turnover happy QB of 2016. His talent and ability will keep him higher though.

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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For the first 8 games of the season, Philip Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then he lost Keenan Allen for the year and it was 254 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game the rest of the year. Rivers still got paid big money and his head coach Mike McCoy was extended through 2017, so the organization seems to be banking on next year looking like the first half of 2015.

16. Tony Romo

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

There’s been more talk about who will replace Tony Romo than his potential production when he returns in 2016. If you draft Romo next season, it’s to backup your #1 guy and the possibility he stays upright for 34 touchdowns like he did in 2014. If the Cowboys pick up a DeMarco Murray-like running back, maybe he will.

17. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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I don’t know how you can trust Matt Ryan anymore, coming off the worst statistical year of his career since his rookie season. However, he does have arguably the best wide receiver in football, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman can set him up better if his offensive coordinator can figure out how to use play-action.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill

Before last season, Ryan Tannehill was improving every season. Then his coaches forgot how to coach. It’s cliche now, but Adam Gase worked wonders with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. So you can hold onto hope one more year with Ryan Tannehill as a backup.

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucanneers

Jameis

I get a feeling Jameis Winston is going to jump up this list a bit, and could very well be a starter for you if Mike Evans can avoid dropping the ball. What’s going to be key is seeing how his newly elevated head coach, Dirk Koetter, does handling the personnel after getting Lovie Smith launched.

20. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the “Fitzmagic” last season, throwing more than 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career. The Jets utilized their running game to set him up greatly in the red zone, and the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker combo ate because of it. Can you bank on Fitzpatrick doing it again though when couldn’t any of the 10 years before?

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

For more position rankings:

Quarterbacks / Running Backs / Wide Receivers

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NFL Week 7 Fantasy Mailbag

Before we get into the meaningful and important information you are dying for in order to set your lineup, can we enjoy the worst play call in the history of football once more?

Colts Fake Punt

The Colts have become an easy target as of late, especially on this site, but you can’t help but ask “How did you think this was going to go?”. Fortunately, the internet blessed us with a fantastic TECMO reenactment for us to watch over and over again.

Of course Bill Belichick’s Patriots are no stranger to teams acting a fool against them. For #ThrowBackThursday, they recalled another great football folly that their opponent this weekend (and Mark Sanchez) will never forget.

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Quick Hits

  • This year’s “Hard Knocks” team is on the struggle bus, as the Houston Texans are just 2-4 on the season so far and Bill O’Brien’s seat is rising in temperature by the week. Fantasy owners with DeAndre Hopkins on their roster aren’t mad though. Hopkins is riding a 4-game streak of 100+ yards (148 or more in his last 3), has only caught less than 8 passes once this season, and is on pace to top 190 targets this season. Since 2007, only Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson have accomplished that.

DeHop

  • If you kept Todd Gurley stashed on your bench after drafting him, you’re reaping all the benefits now. In just the last two games, Gurley has run for more than 300 yards and has accumulated more 20+ yard runs than Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, and Devonta Freeman have all season. Gurley also has a plum matchup this weekend against a Browns team that has given up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

Gurley

  • Do they even run the ball in San Diego anymore? Philip Rivers (Batman Woo!) threw 65 passes last week against the Packers, completing 43 for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rivers has thrown for 350+ yards in each of his last 3 games, 4 of his 6 games this season, and you can’t expect him to slow down against a Raiders secondary that’s allowing 308 yards per game passing this season. The fact Rivers leads the league in pass attempts this season, 42 per game, is encouraging for Rivers owners…Not so much if you have Melvin Gordon, but very much so for Keenan Allen.

Mail Time!

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I included both your questions together for one reason and one reason only…

#BORTLEKOMBAT!

I plan to rock that hashtag throughout the Jaguars/Bills games in London this weekend, but that’s not why you called…

#BortleKombat has been on full assault the past two weeks as Blake has thrown 7 touchdowns and 4 picks in that time. His matchup this weekend is pretty sexy this week as he takes on Rexy (see what I did there) and his Bills defense. The Allens (Robinson and Hurns) are are licking their chops over facing a secondary that has given up the 3rd most passing touchdowns this season…However, everything is coming up Breesus as the King of the Drews is finding comfort in tight end Ben Watson and the downfield tandem of Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks. What’s worse than the Bills pass defense? The Colts pass defense. They have given up 300+ pass yards for the past 4 weeks and Vontae Davis can’t cover everyone.

Two answer both questions I’m going Breesus > #BortleKombat > Eli’s Face.

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When Andre Johnson went to Indy, I was pumped to see how he would with a real quarterback. Unfortunately, he looks like an old school tight-end in an Andre Johnson jersey. Unless you can handcuff him in a trade, Johnson’s value is simply for dropping in order to pickup a more useful player.

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I am assuming you are the one picking up Forte and Lewis, and if that’s the case…DO IT! People have stashed Dez Bryant hoping he’ll come back and tear things up again. I doubt Bryant returns this week, but he isn’t too far away. Until Tony Romo returns, I’m concerned about who is throwing him the ball. Dez will catch anything that’s thrown within 5 feet of him though…Matt Forte and Dion Lewis down the stretch are a hell of a starting RB combo. If Team 1 has Marshawn Lynch and Chris Ivory already, I understand them making the deal. I don’t see a loser, but Team 2 is getting the better value heads-up.

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Anyone who asks me about starting Antonio Brown will get this from me.

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Big Ben is practicing and his status is questionable. Yes, I’m saying there’s a chance…Regardless though, Landry Jones proved he can sling it last week. Brown is arguably the best football playing in the sport. Despite some weird weeks lacking targets, you have to play him. Both Roethlisberger and Jones will target him and should do so.

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I like Dion Lewis a lot, but not this week against the Jets. On the other sideline, I love Chris Ivory. His aggressive running has helped set up the surprisingly efficient passing game for New York. He also has the 3rd most rushing yards in the league at this point.

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Stefon Diggs has been a sexy waiver name this week and rightfully so. Finally, someone not named Adrian Peterson is producing for the Vikings and he has a nice matchup going against a Lions defense that even let Marquise Wilson of the Bears blow by them last week. I like Robert Woods, but I’m very skeptical of EJ Manuel throwing as opposed to him running. Prioritize Diggs > Woods.

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This is now a weekly question with you, and I’m okay with that…Anywho, you have one more week with Pierre Garcon as a #1 wideout, as it looks like DeSean Jackson is a week away from returning. Go ahead and start Garcon as Jordan Matthews has a rough matchup against Carolina this week.

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Melvin Gordon is such a tough read because you don’t know if the Chargers even want to run at this time with their banged up offensive line. At least I know he’s getting the ball. If it was a PPR league, I would recommend The Duke, but he’s only used in passing down situations and is now sharing a backfield with not only Isaiah Crowell but Robert Turbin as well. The only thing I trust from the Browns against the Rams offense is Gary Barnidge in the end zone. Go with Gordon.

I, like you, also picked up Christine Michael to have stashed and I’m also going to wait a week to see how the Cowboys use him. A young athletic back behind that Cowboys offensive line should be great, but your combo of Bell and Murray makes him more of a luxury than a necessity. He’s too unknown on the field to confidently trot him out. Going against the Giants is a nice measuring stick though.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 6 Fantasy Mailbag

The Arizona Cardinals are playing like a Madden team on Easy Mode right now. If you started a whole lineup of Cardinals players last weekend, I have a feeling you would have done pretty well…

QB – Carson Palmer: 11/14, 161 pass yards, 3 TD

RB – Chris Johnson: 103 yards

RB – Andre Ellington: 63 yards, 1 TD

WR – Larry Fitzgerald: 5 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD

WR – John Brown: 4 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD

TE – Darren Fells: 2 catches, 25 yards, 1 TD

Flex – David Johnson: 3 carries, 6 yards, 2 TD

DEF – 2 Forced Fumbles, 4 INT, 1 Sack

K – Chandler Catanzaro – 6/6 PAT

I don’t know if the Cardinals will sustain these video game numbers all season, but I don’t see it slowing down this weekend in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the worst pass defense in the league at this point, so Carson Palmer owners should be pumped. St. Louis boasted the only viable defense Arizona faced and beat them at home, however…

Quick Hits

  • Tonight the Atlanta Falcons take their 5-0 record to the Super Dome, and hope to stay undefeated with the help of Devonta Freeman. In Freeman’s last 3 games, he’s averaging 179.6 yards from scrimmage per game (539 total). He’s also leading the league in touchdowns with 8, 7 over those last 3 games, all on the ground. Freeman faces a Saints defense that is allowing the 3rd most rush yards in the league.

Freeman Week 6

  • In the last 3 weeks, Browns TE Gary Barnidge has recorded 20 receptions for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. His pass catching total in that time is HALF of his entire career total, and he’s 30. Barnidge’s production has attributed to his quarterback’s incredible run as well. Josh McCown is averaging 384 yards and 2 touchdowns over his last 3 games, but now runs into a buzz saw with Denver coming to town. The Broncos pass defense is tops in the league with the kind of pass rushers that always seem to bring McCown back to Earth. Barnidge will be his best option to survive as the Broncos allowed 60+ receiving yards to Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce and Clive Walford.

Barnidge Week 6

  • The #TomBradyRevengeTour heads to where it all started this weekend. I imagine the Colts had this game circled on their calendar in the preseason, expected it to be Brady’s first game after a 4-game suspension, and would try to settle whatever score they had over a football they thought wasn’t inflated enough…In reality, the Colts are dealing with Wyatt Earp on his rampage in Tombstone. They’ve only won when their franchise quarterback has sat out and Brady is throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions coming in with fully inflated footballs. Brady is also throwing to two matchup nightmares in Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Edelman is averaging 99.75 yards per game, 8.5 catches, and has 3 touchdowns as well. 

Mail Time!

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I start with Duke Johnson Jr, especially in PPR. Denver is very good against the run, yes, but they are susceptible to pass catching backs. Isaiah Crowell got his numbers last week against Baltimore, but Johnson had as many touches and was the feature back down the stretch. I expect Cleveland to be trailing and throwing. The Duke is their man in that scenario.

Next I lean toward Ronnie Hillman, partially because Ameer Abdullah is in the winless Jim Caldwell’s doghouse for fumble issues. Hillman goes against a horrendous Browns run-defense that is allowing 5 yards per carry. If neither Hillman or CJ Anderson can get it going against Cleveland, I would then recommend looking elsewhere.

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When the Chargers are trailing, Danny Woodhead is getting a majority of the workload from Melvin Gordon. I know you’re fully aware of what the Packers are capable of scoring-wise, so you should expect Woodhead to get plenty of work. I don’t trust Abdullah’s usage at this point in the season like I do Theo Riddick’s.

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As I pointed out earlier, the McCown thing has been fun but he’s in for a rude awakening this weekend. While the Falcons defense is improved, the only decent quarterback they’ve faced is Eli Manning (that was a struggle for me to type). Drew Brees has thrown 335+ yards in 3 of his 4 games and seems to have figured something out with Willie Snead and Ben Watson downfield. Go with the proven player in a better matchup this weekend, Breesus. If McCown can match his production from the past 3 weeks against Denver, then I’ll start to believe in his hype.

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Really aren’t making this easy, are ya?

Hillman is your best option against a bad Cleveland run defense. Already said why I don’t like Abdullah. Golden Tate could burn the Bears secondary, which has improved in coverage recently, but I don’t like Stafford against their pass rush. And Pierre Garcon has a one-way ticket to Revis Island.

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QB: Is Blake Bortles available? He’s probably better than all four in a spot start going up against Houston. Out of the 4 though, at least McCown done something worth writing home about in recent weeks. Tyrod looks doubtful this week, so I would prioritize McCown (1) then Mariota (2).

WR: Already mentioned why I don’t like Pierre this week, and really it’s now or never for Jordan Matthews. In their first meeting, Matthews had 8 catches, 105 yards and 1 TD against Philly. I don’t know if he’ll get the same numbers, but the gameplan is there…as opposed to Garcon vs. a stellar Jets pass D.

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(1) – Breesus.

(2) – Sammy Watkins says he’s planning to return, and I believe him. I would also go with him over Martavis. Shaky quarterback situation, but at least he’s the #1 pass option. Both he and Bryant are taking on tough pass defenses, and Bryant has to work his way into a WR group with Antonio Brown and Michael Vick’s new favorite target, Darius Heyward-Bey.

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Alshon Jeffery is FINALLY getting work in practice, which is encouraging to me. If he plays, he’s a must-start with the way Jay Cutler is playing as of late…If he doesn’t go, Rueben Randle (if healthy) is your next best option. Stevie Johnson becomes even less valuable with Antonio Gates back (and Philip Rivers’ obsession with Gates). And Torrey Smith is currently stuck in the worst offensive dumpster fire in the league.

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Not a great passing matchup for either quarterback at all. I see both quarterbacks having to make more plays with their feet than their arms, but I also see Russell Wilson benefitting more from Marshawn Lynch returning for play-action. That, plus the defensive backs that Cam will be throwing against, gives Cam the slight edge.

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There really isn’t a team in the league who doesn’t have viable fantasy options. I mentioned San Francisco being a dumpster fire, but they do have Carlos Hyde finding life again against a tough Giants defense.

Bad teams also always adjust their identity as the season continues, which allows the emergence of diamonds in the rough. As the Jaguars went on their slow death march a year ago, they committed to running the ball and Denard Robinson became a consistent 100 yard rusher for at least a month. And as team’s with bad defenses consistently have to play from behind, there’s always a wide receiver benefitting from the “catchup” mentality with garbage time targets and yardage.

Players individually are a different story. I gave up on Jonathan Stewart after 3 weeks of no production, and I don’t blame other owners for doing the same with CJ Anderson. When a top half draft pick doesn’t give you much return after the first quarter, you either try to flip him, or relegate him to your bench and wait for him to turn it around.

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RB: Crowell’s game against Denver is way less effective than the Duke’s. That alone has me leaning toward Miller, and I like your thinking. New play-calling and a new attitude can’t hurt Lamar Miller’s usage.

WR/T: I am no longer a James Jones hater like I was for the first 3 weeks of the season. His 5 touchdowns with Rodgers tossing them makes him WR2 value for anyone. Then I go with Tyler Eifert against a Buffalo defense that his given up too much against tight ends this season…If your league gives points for returning yards, Jarvis Landry shoots the top of your group.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 5 Fantasy Mailbag

We’re now a quarter of the way into the season but for most of you, we’re actually 30% of the way there as your Fantasy league’s regular season probably goes through Week 13.

In no way am I adding any pressure on you to turn things around or anything. Relax.

Bailey sleep gif

Here are your best performers so far at each position so far. 

Quarterbacks

5. Tyrod Taylor (BUF) – 988 pass yards, 8 TD / 4 INT, 111 rush yards

4. Carson Palmer (AZ) – 1,155 pass yards, 10 TD / 3 INT

3. Andy Dalton (CIN) – 1,187 pass yards, 9 TD / 1 INT

2. Tom Brady (NE) – (Week 4 Bye) 1,112 pass yards, 9 TD / 0 INT

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – 995 pass yards, 11 TD / 0 INT, 107 rush yards

Rodgers Week 4

Running Backs

5. Matt Forte (CHI) – 367 rush yards, 1 TD, 133 rec. yards, 13 catches

4. Mark Ingram (NO) – 204 rush yards, 2 TD, 203 rec. yards, 22 catches

3. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – 372 rush yards, 3 TD, 92 rec. yards, 9 catches

2. Jamaal Charles (KC) – 306 rush yards, 4 TD, 151 rec. yards, 20 catches, 1 TD

1. Devonta Freeman (ATL) – 252 rush yards, 7 TD, 196 rec. yards, 17 catches 

Devonta Week 4

Wide Receivers 

5. DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – 31 catches, 409 rec. yards, 3 TD

4. Antonio Brown (PIT) – 34 catches, 478 rec. yards, 2 TD, 70 return yards

3. Travis Benjamin (CLE) – 16 catches, 328 rec. yards, 4 TD, 214 return yards, 1 TD

2. Larry Fitzgerald (AZ) – 30 catches, 432 rec. yards, 5 TD

1. Julio Jones (ATL) – 38 catches, 478 rec. yards, 4 TD

Julio Jones Week 4

Tight Ends

5. Charles Clay (BUF) – 21 catches, 255 yards, 2 TD

4. Tyler Eifert (CIN) – 16 catches, 222 yards, 3 TD

3. Jason Witten (DAL) – 25 catches, 238 yards, 2 TD

2. Travis Kelce (KC) – 21 catches, 293 yards, 2 TD

1. Rob Gronkowski (NE) – 16 catches, 308 yards, 4 TD

Gronk Week 4

Mail Time!

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Starting with your WRs…

Sammy Watkins is still listed as Questionable and being considered day-to-day. I wouldn’t bank on him going this weekend, nor do I like Michael Crabtree against the Broncos defense. Denver’s pass defense is currently tops in the NFL…Eddie Royal, on the other hand, goes against the league’s worst pass defense when it comes to allowing WR touchdowns. The Bears also appear to be getting Alshon Jeffery back, which will only soften the coverage on Royal. So yeah, Royal.

While I don’t love starting anyone against the Seahawks defense, Andy Dalton (aka “ADalt” in my Fantasy world) has been too good to sit this season. Dalton is throwing 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns in all of his games so far, and Seattle has faced only 1 decent quarterback so far.

I know Bruce Arians is dubbing Chris Johnson as the #1 running back in Arizona, but I’m not sure how much weight that holds when he has Andre Ellington back. Detroit’s run defense has only given up more than 50 yards once, and that was to Adrian peterson…With Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick out, I think the Cowboys are in big trouble going against New England. The #BradyRevengeTour is going call for a lot of scoring and a lot of red zone opportunities for the Patriots running backs again. If his usage in the 2nd half of Week 3 is any indication, LeGarrette Blount is going to get his.

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If Andy Reid’s play calling wasn’t so conservative, I would lean toward Alex Smith. But Andy Dalton hasn’t done anything to warrant benching him yet, and I’m very eager to see what he can do against the Legion of Boom. The Bears have also somehow figured out how to get to quarterbacks after cutting ties with Jared Allen (weird).

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RB: Ronnie Hillman – He’s basically a co-starter with CJ Anderson getting the same amount of touches and more production. And he’s actually reached the end zone…Tevin Coleman’s taking a backseat to Devonta Freeman and his Jim Brown-like numbers. And just no on Ryan Matthews. No.

WR: Emmanuel Sanders – If the Bears weren’t enough proof, that Raiders secondary is BAD. Sanders is also getting ALL the Peyton Manning passes, and you’re not going to get that kind of production with your other options. Then I go with Kendall Wright. The Bills have an incredible front 7 but are incredibly susceptible to the pass. Wright’s averaging 10.5 yards per target too.

I’m not an odds maker, but I would keep betting on Todd Gurley while he’s healthy.

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Two reasons I like Pierre Garcon the most. (1) Even if Desean Jackson comes back this weekend, he’s not going to be 100% and only takes pressure off Garcon. (2) Kirk Cousins loves throwing to Garcon and you have to think Washington will be playing catchup against the high power Falcons offense.

I like Sproles in the flex if you get return yard points. If you have better running back options, play them…but you get the feeling he’s going to get as many chances as possible to make the team that let him go pay for it.

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(1) Derek Carr is either going to show us all how good he can be, or he’s going to get his ass kicked by the best pass defense in the league. If Alex Smith is your best available option, you can try him…however, I like Jay Cutler even better in his game against the KC D that’s giving up the most passing TDs in the league.

(2) The upside is higher with Latavius Murray. He may have been put in timeout but if the Raiders want to have a chance against the Broncos D, I think he’s learned his lesson. Cardinals front 7 is too good for me to feel comfortable starting Abdullah ahead of him, despite the strong showing he had against the Seahawks.

(3). If I’m picking 3, I’m not playing Carlos Hyde. The Giants run defense is one of the best in the NFL and this is what the 49ers offense looks like:

Tire Fire

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I know Breesus, King of the Drews, just threw his 400th touchdown but Carson Palmer is far more trustworthy this season at this point.

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TJ Yeldon finally eclipsed 100 yards and his next matchup should make Fantasy owners hungry. The Bucs are giving up the 3rd most rushing yards and a touchdown to running backs in 3 of their first 4 games. Given the matchups and Jack Del Rio’s benching trigger finger, I feel much better about Yeldon.

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I would go with neither of the Kearses. Seattle WRs are more unpredictable than Belichick running backs and retired defensive players are retired defensive players…Snead got more snaps than any Saints WR last week and I say roll with the Waiver Flavor of the Week.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag

My favorite ongoing social media sports joke may in fact be the Andrew Luck “Civil War Era” Letters when things go wrong…

Andrew Luck Civil War

“My Dearest Abigail,

It is with much regret I must report our efforts to protect the homefront against the Jet brigade of New York were for nought. General Pagano was displeased with my inability to conquer the Isle of Revis. We lost our position upon the field on at least three occasions and despite the valiance of Private Moncrief, our company was forced into retreat. We will regroup and look to return to prominence as we move toward Nashville, led by the youthful Colonel Mariota.

Your beloved,

Andrew”

Be better, Andrew. 

Quick Hits

  • In better quarterback news, the Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls after he completely destroyed what would probably be his toughest matchup all year. Brady dropped 3 touchdowns and 466 yards against Rex Ryan’s Bills defense in Buffalo. For the 15th time, an NFL record, the Patriots won after Brady throws 50+ passes. In perspective, Peyton Manning has 17 games throwing 50 or more passes and has a 4-13 record doing so. Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Warren Moon are tied for second in wins throwing that many passes…just 5 each. 

Brady vs Bills

  • If you drafted Le’Veon Bell and had him stashed until this week, it’s time to unleash the beast. In 15 of the 16 games he played in 2014, Bell recorded 100+ total yards and/or scored a touchdown. He also was the league’s 40th leading receiver in terms of yards, and had the most among all running backs. Ben Roethlisberger owners should really like that as well. Bell will lace’em up against a Rams defense that allowed 6.5 yards per carry to Washington rookie running back Matt Jones a week ago. Welcome back, Le’Veon. 

Bell Week 3

  • If you were on the “Odell Beckham Jr’s overrated” bandwagon, get the hell off it. ODB (as I refer to him) came back in a hurry last week against the Falcons, catching 7 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown that looked like he ran threw a Super Mario star. This weekend, Beckham lines up opposite from a Washington defense that gave up the most touchdowns to wide receivers a year ago (23). In his only game against them, ODB caught 12 passes for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

Mail Time!

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The universe is testing you Jason, and I know…It’s not fair. This coming from someone who started Peyton Manning in Week 1 and Tony Romo in Week 2. The WR1 epidemic is awful and hamstrings are a bitch, but I’m hoping you either drafted well or went hard on your waiver wire. There are a few adds I would recommend if you haven’t yet though:

Travis Benjamin helped Johnny Football out a lot last weekend, recording 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 3 catches. Won’t light it up PPR wise, but he has that “go-up-and-get-it” ability that got Josh McCown paid after his stint in Chicago. If you get return points in your league, Benjamin becomes all the more attractive against the Raiders.

Michael Crabtree is averaging 12 targets per game after his first two starts in Raider black and silver. Not a great matchup going against Cleveland, but you would think Amari Cooper will draw the Joe Haden coverage more. Cooper getting the majority of opposing secondary attention helps Crabtree’s production, as does a healthy Derek Carr that will be playing more catchup in ballgames than not.

Leonard Hankerson is doing what many Roddy White and Julio Jones owners in the past have become familiar with from Harry Douglas. When either of the Top 2 Falcons WRs were injured (or going ghost like White has a tendency to do), Douglas was a PPR machine. Hankerson had 6 catches and a touchdown on 11 targets last week. The Dallas defense may sober his admirers this weekend, but he has two great matchups afterwards against Houston and Washington.

Nate Washington is a notorious spot-start guy in Fantasy and that may be the case here whether DeAndre Hopkins goes against Tampa or doesn’t. Ryan Mallett threw 58 passes a week ago and Washington is averaging over 18 yards per reception. Probably a sleeper play, but it makes a lot of sense if you’re desperate.

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There’s an interesting conundrum with Alfred Morris and Matt Jones in the backfield for Washington. The running attack appears to be their offense’s bread and butter and Jones became the flavor of the week out-carrying Morris last week 19-18. What’s worse for Morris is that Jones actually catches passes and was trusted more late in the game last week against the Rams…I would go with with Pierre Garcon based on the targets he gets on short yardage downs, Morris’s role being diminished, the Giants being competent against the run, and Duke Johnson still being the #2 man in Cleveland.

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Glad you were able to walk threw #1…I know you’re probably frustrated with the guys who are likely your Top 2 drafted RBs, but this may be the week to reap the benefits of taking them. Latavius Murray has a plumb rushing matchup against a Browns defense that let Dexter F’ing McCluster run for nearly 100 against them and has allowed 300+ rush yards in 2 weeks. The Raiders should be feeding Murray until he pukes…Because the Lions have no clue how to use obviously their best back in Ameer Abdullah, I lean toward Justin Forsett in your flex. He’s the second most targeted receiver for the Ravens and 2nd on the team in catches too going up against a Bengals defense that has allowed the most running back touchdown receptions so far in this young season.

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I would start Forsett exactly for reasons I listed above…and then I look to Dion Lewis. The Imitation Game that is Bill Belichick’s running back strategy may have been cracked. Even after a fumble (GASP), Lewis was still getting love in the Patriot’s offense. He has over 100 combo yards in each of his first two games, and at least 5 touches of 10 or more yards in both as well. Lamar Miller just isn’t getting enough usage for me to feel comfortable playing him yet, which is super unfortunate.

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Among the two WRs, I lean toward Terrance Williams. After Romo went down last week, Williams looked like the Cowboys’ best offensive weapon. Brandon Weedon is pretty gross, but he will at least be held upright behind the Dallas OL. The Falcons secondary is also allowing the third highest passing percentage to quarterbacks so far this season…Now you can comfortably wait and see if Eddie Lacy can go Monday night against the Chiefs. If he does, you definitely start James Jones. If not, then there’s an argument to be had. The KC front 7 is better at rushing the quarterback than they are stopping the run, and James Starks would get plenty of work against them. Jones doesn’t get enough targets (just 7 in 2 games) for me to feel comfortable playing him over someone who is guaranteed touches. Go with Starks if he’s the #1 running back on Monday.

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I am assuming you meant John Brown and if so, you should start him. I know Larry Fitzgerald had a resurrection game, but consider who it was against. The 49ers are ripe for the taking when it comes to #1 WRs and John Brown has taken most of his reps in the X spot. Expect Carson Palmer to keep tossing bombs and for Brown to be at the end of quite a few…Now for your flex. The reasons above are why I don’t trust James Jones as much as many. Todd Gurley is finally ready to go and appears nowhere on the injury report. Gurley is part of a committee but I believe he has the highest ceiling among any of your options. If return points count in your league, go with Benjamin. He has the same number of targets as Jones, but more big play ability. If not, take a chance on Gurley. It’s early enough in the season where taking chances is fun and not terrifying.

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It’s #TyrodTime, my friend. We saw Drew Brees’s decline begin a year ago, and he overcompensated by throwing more than any quarterback in the league. Until he can do more than 1 TD and 1 INT in a game, can you trust him?…Let Taylor do his thing until the league figures him out.

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I won’t argue against Crowell in this situation. In a standard league, which I assume doesn’t count return yard points, James Jones does have a leg up on Travis Benjamin given the quarterbacks throwing to them. However if Vontae Davis is out this weekend for Indy, start Kendall Wright. As we saw last Monday, that Colts secondary is horrendous and it doesn’t get any better with Davis out. Marcus Mariota could potentially be having a field day this weekend.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 2 Fantasy Mailbag

Week 1 is in the books, and we’re off and running! 

Tyler Lockett return TD

The return of the NFL to your Sundays, and big return touchdowns from Tyler Lockett (SEA), Jarvis Landry (MIA) and Tavon Austin (STL), had everyone buzzing after the weekend. Top receivers like T.Y. Hilton (IND) and DeSean Jackson (WSH) had Fantasy managers all over the waiver wire for suitable replacements. If you had Peyton Manning, have you already tried handcuffing him in a trade for someone who you feel confident about throwing further than 10 yards?…I did. 

Quick Hits 

  • If you haven’t traded Peyton yet, because you couldn’t or you want to hold out hope, picking up Marcus Mariota certainly seemed like the sexy move after his NFL debut with the Titans. Mariota became the first rookie to post a perfect passer rating (158.3) and the second to throw 4 touchdowns in his debut. Fran Tarkenton was the first in 1961, but Mariota accomplished the feat in just the first half…I wouldn’t expect the the same dominance against the likes of Joe Haden and the Browns defense this week, but Super Mariota is worth having on your bench. 

  • Hard not to feel good about the offense that takes on that Buccaneers defense after you saw what a rookie quarterback and Bishop Sankey did to them. At home, Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, and maybe even Brandon Coleman will eat the Tampa secondary alive. Mark Ingram owners should also be excited for the matchup after seeing his usage in the passing game last week. CJ Spiller is set to return, but Ingram shouldn’t lose too many snaps after leading all running backs in receiving yards with 98 on 8 catches. 
  • It’s scary to think Julio Jones is getting better, right? The Falcons WR, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash on a broken foot in his draft combine, proved Monday Night how essential he is to the new Atlanta offense with 9 catches on 11 targets for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones would have been closer to 200 yards had two of his big plays not been called back on holding calls. Expect another big week out of him against the Giants after they allowed the 2nd most pass yards in their season opener. 

Mail Time

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I know Donte Moncrief became a favorite pickup for many after Hilton went down in Week 1, and I get it. Moncrief has all the measurables, the speed, and the quarterback that make him viable as Hilton’s replacement. However, I don’t love him against the Jets and Darrelle Revis. In two games against Revis, Hilton recorded just 4 catches for 60 yards. That doesn’t spark much excitement from me for Moncrief…While the Rams defensive line is indeed terrifying, their secondary allowed the 3rd most catches to wide receivers last week and that bodes well for Washington’s new #1 WR Pierre Garcon. During his string of starts in 2013, Kirk Cousins targeted Garcon an averaged of 12.2 times over 5 games. Moncrief still has to share balls with Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Rashad Jennings made things murkier after throwing his quarterback under the bus, while also losing touches to Andrew Williams and Shane Vereen. I like Tevin Coleman most longterm, as he separated himself as the more reliable back from Devonta Freeman. For Week 2, Garcon is your best option.

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To answer your first question, go Matt Ryan for sure. I know the Bears secondary looks very tempting, but the Giants look even worse with their unit. If the Tony Romo was able to shred them without Dez Bryant, imagine what Ryan will do with both Jones and Roddy White healthy….

Your first option at running back should be Latavius Murray. The Ravens defense got worse against the run losing Terrell Suggs, and Murray was used like an every-down back and useful in PPR catching 7 passes against a better Bengals D….Sankey looked great last week, but when has he proven that he can be consistent on the pro level? CJ Anderson is banged up and Ronnie Hillman certainly emerged as a threat to take touches away. Joique Bell also didn’t do anything to quiet the Ameer Abdullah fan club…Only because the matchup isn’t great for Anderson do I recommend Sankey over him, but it’s very begrudgingly. The Browns may be harshing his mellow very quickly.

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See my previous answer about the latter 2 and just go with TJ Yeldon. The Jaguars offensive line graded out in the Top 3 for run blocking last week and Alfred Morris burned the Dolphins defense for 125 yards.

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One can assume LeGarrette Blount is going to get feature back duties this weekend returning from suspension, but when could you ever assume anything with Bill Belichick running backs? Blount also comes back against a scary Buffalo front 7…Danny Woodhead, on the other hand, took more than half of the Chargers snaps last weekend, scored 2 touchdowns, and was the second most targeted player for Philip Rivers. Rookie Melvin Gordon may get more work in his second start, but I trust Woodhead’s opportunities over Blount’s…especially in the red zone.

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The most reliable player in this scenario is CJ Anderson, and that’s scary. With talks that both Todd Gurley and Tre Mason being ready to go this weekend makes Benny Cunningham a lot less valuable. I would recommend Lockett if you got return points for him, but he still needs to grow in the Seattle passing attack with Doug Baldwin and Jermain Kearse well ahead of him.

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After taking more snaps than Joique Bell and proving he’s a much better home run threat, Ameer Abdullah made a lot of people right about him. He also has a better matchup going against the Vikings than Woodhead does against the Bengals. I would like to see Abdullah pickup where Carlos Hyde left off last Monday Night.

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The one person benefiting from Peyton Manning’s short pass strategy is Emmanuelle Sanders. Especially in PPR, he’s a must play. Second, I trust John Brown against the Bears secondary. Larry Fitzgerald will get most of the attention leaving not much to take on Brown’s speed downfield.

In regards to James Jones, he caught 4 passes and scored 2 touchdowns last week against Alan F’ing Ball (who wanted know part of covering inside the end zone) and a struggling Kyle Fuller. There’s a reason Jones was available for the Packers to pick him up before the season started, and I don’t think his skills are suddenly back to 2012 quality. Rodgers makes him a better player, but Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery are younger…and possibly more viable.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Quarterbacks

If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to start preparing for your upcoming Fantasy Football Draft. 

Whether you’re playing in Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, or some other website, you don’t necessarily want to base your picks off of their pre-draft rankings. That’s why I write up a CHEAT SHEET with players I prefer, based on their production last season, their team’s recent acquisitions, schemes/sytems, and injuries. 

Here are my Top-20 quarterbacks and where I would prioritize drafting them round-by-round. 

1. Andrew Luck, IND

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

2014: 40 TD/ 16 INT, 4,761 yards

Throws the ball A LOT. Just added Andre Johnson and a legit running back in Frank Gore to keep defensive backs honest. 5 Good WRs, 2 decent TEs…Yeah. The Beard’s ceiling has been raised.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd round

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Rodgers

2014: 38 TD / 5 INT, 4,381 yards

Doesn’t turn it over often and plays better down the stretch. Rodgers is missing his #1 receiver, but could make someone else into a star very quickly. Also scary in the red zone on the ground.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd

3. Drew Brees, NO

Buffalo Bills v New Orleans Saints

2014: 33 TD / 17 INT, 4,952 yards

Brees can be great or he can kill you. If Brandin Cooks stays healthy, he’ll bounce back and tear it up. May not throw as many TDs but he’ll pick up plenty of yardage and completions. Led the league in both last year.

Pick: 3rd or 4th round

4. Tony Romo, DAL

Sports Day

2014: 34 TD / 9 INT, 3,705 yards

Expect Romo to throw it more with DeMarco Murray gone. Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league and give him plenty of time to find an open man, and has sure hands in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Pick 4th Round

5. Peyton Manning, DEN

P Manning

2014: 39 TD / 15, 4,761 yards

I don’t believe Manning would have come back if he wasn’t healthy. He will still throw a ton. Plus Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are great after the catch.

Pick: 4th Round

6. Russell Wilson, SEA

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

2014: 20 TD/7 INT, 3,475 yards

Doesn’t get a ton of passing points but makes up for it with rushing yards and TDs on the ground. Also just added Jimmy Graham, so passing points should go up.

Pick 4th Round

7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

Roethlisberger

2014: 32 TD / 9 INT, 4,952 yards

Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell definitely help Ben get his points. He’ll throw 5 TDs one day, but none another. 

Pick 5th Round

8. Matt Ryan, ATL

Ryan

2014: 28 TD / 14 INT, 4,694 yards

New coach and OC, super young RBs, and healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White…Matty Ice is going to let it fly. 

Pick: 5th Round

9. Eli Manning, NYG

New York Giants

2014: 30 TD / 14 INT, 4,410 yards

Eli doesn’t have an excuse not to produce big time in year two of Odell Beckham Jr and having a healthy Victror Cruz back. Rashad Jennings provides solid relief in the run game when he isn’t sidelined, and Tom Brady could tell Manning how good Shane Vereen is on passing downs. 

Pick 6th Round

10. Tom Brady, NE

AP PATRIOTS RAVENS FOOTBALL S FBN USA MD

2014: 33 TD / 9 INT, 4,109 yards

This obviously can change if his suspension goes away, but Brady can be your first pick after most of the Top 10 go. Next couple QBs can bridge you to after he returns and he’ll be a boss when he does.

Pick 6th Round or a few after you pick your first QB

11. Phillip Rivers, SD

NFL: New York Giants at San Diego Chargers

2014: 31 TD / 18 INT, 4,286 yards

First half of last year, was Top 3 among QBS. Rivers just got paid too, which should motivate him to earn his keep. He also gets Danny Woodhead back to throw to and Keenan Allen should be better as well.

Pick 7th Round and beyond

12. Matthew Stafford, DET

Stafford

2014: 22 TD / 12 INT, 4,247 yards

This really depends on how healthy Calvin Johnson is. Megatron at his best is devastating and would make Stafford an awesome backup or even starter. Golden Tate proved to help him out too in Johnson’s absence. Theo Riddick and Joique Bell are proven to be solid pass catchers out of the backfield too.

Pick 7th Round

13. Jay Cutler, CHI

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears

2014: 28 TD / 18 INT, 3,812 yards

Jay is poised for a bounce back year and not just because #CuttyDoesIt. Former Peyton Manning OC Adam Gase has emphasized utilizing Cutler’s strengths throwing on the run and play-action. He’ll be missing Kevin White for at least the first half of the season, but finally has a true slot receiver in Eddie Royal. Also expect Martellus Bennett to be big when spread out, like Julius Thomas in past years. 

Pick 8th Round and beyond

14. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

Ryan Tannehill

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 4,045 yards

Gets better every year. Added proven veteran receivers, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, who can also play in uptempo offenses. Jarvis Landry will be Tannehill’s best weapon to stretch the field though.

Pick 8th Round and beyond

15. Cam Newton, CAR

Newton

2014: 18 TD / 12 INT, 3,127 yards

Newton is sliding in most drafts after losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season to injury. Rookie Devin Funchess isn’t as depended on as advertised with veterans like Jericho Cotchery and Ted Gin Jr. in the mix, but can put up Benjamin-like production. Ability to run for TDs makes up for lack of passing points too. 

Pick 8th Round

16. Joe Flacco, BAL

Flacco

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 3,986 yards

Lost Torrey Smith and his replacement, Breshad Perriman, is questionable. Flacco will be throwing a lot though with Marc Trestman as OC. Could be either really good or really meh.

Pick 9th round and beyond

17. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN

Bridgewater

2014: 14 TD / 12 INT 2,919 yards

The Vikings are a run heavy team, without question. Teddy has looked excellent in preseason though, and he has Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson to throw to. The training wheels are off in year two and you can expect Kyle Rudolph to provide a nice security blanket in the Norv Turner system

Pick 10th Round and beyond

18. Andy Dalton, CIN

Dalton

2014: 19 TD / 17 INT, 3,398 yards

Dalton’s last season was thrown off with AJ Green getting injured. The Bengals added Denarius Moore to go with Marvin Jones and Sanu. Don’t bank on him but he’s a nice backup with nice options.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

Colin Kaepernick, SF

Kaepernick

2014: 19 TD / 10 INT, 2,369 yards

The 49ers could potentially be the worst team in the NFL, but Kaepernick can still take over a game in desperate times. He still has Anquan Boldin, plus Torrey Smith and Reggie Bush who are both helpful in the passing. Kaepernick does run better than anyone on the team too. The defense will be awful so he’ll have to score plenty to stay in games.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

20. Derek Carr, OAK

Carr

2014: 21 TD / 12 INT, 3,270 yards

Carr showed flashes of the quarterback the Raiders need him to be last season. Drafting Amari Cooper helps along with a receiving group that also includes Michael Crabtree, Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes

Pick 12th Round and beyond

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet 

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet