Don’t look now, but fantasy football season is right around the corner. Over the next week, we’ll be previewing the four major positions in fantasy football. Top it off with a list of sleepers at every position on Friday and you’ll be ready to go for your draft. We use standard non-PPR scoring for all our rankings.
The quarterback position is an overvalued one in most fantasy football league. The difference between QB3 and QB12 last year was 3.65 points a game. That’s a very small amount and if you’re starting QBs based on matchups, you can make that margin even smaller. Think about it for a second. There are 32 starting QBs in the NFL but most leagues only start one per team. That equates to 12 QBs in a standard 12-team league or 37.5% of the starting pool. Compare that to running backs, where you start at least two per team, potentially three if you play one at a flex position. Let’s say half of the teams in the league use an RB at flex. That means 30 RBs are started every week. That’s 93.75% of starting running backs and even if some are splitting carries in a time share, that’s nowhere near the percentage of QBs.
It’s simple math. QBs are just not as valuable as RBs because of the position scarcity, so there’s no reason to spend early picks on them. The situation changes slightly in leagues with six points for passing touchdowns (the variance between QB and RB points grows dramatically) and leagues that start two QBs (you’re now using 75% of the starting QB pool). Otherwise you wait, wait, wait on QBs…
1. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
It should be no surprise to anyone that Aaron Rodgers tops the list of fantasy QBs coming into the 2015 NFL season. With the resigning of Randall Cobb, the Packers have their full complement of weapons back for another season. Jordy Nelson will continue to serve as Rodgers’ home run threat and whoever emerges at the third receiver spot between Davante Adams and improving second year player Jeff Janis will help move the chains. Even if Green Bay’s offensive line gets a little best up, Rodgers’ ability to move around will keep him ahead of the pack. Just think about the fact that he’s been in the top two in QB fantasy points in six of the last seven seasons. That consistency is ridiculous. Only three times all season did he score less than 14.7 points in a game.
2. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
Continuing with QBs who have a full complement of weapons, Andrew Luck comes into his third season in the league looking to enjoy some new toys the franchise has provided for him. The addition of Andre Johnson will be an upgrade on the outside from Reggie Wayne and Luck still has T.Y. Hilton on the other side. The Colts spoiled themselves when they drafted speedster Phillip Dorsett in the first round in the draft. Donte Moncrief may be the forgotten man, but the second year man from Ole Miss has many people believing he’ll eventually be a star in this league. That’s not bad for a third receiver. The lack of a great running game mean Luck will continue to throw heavily all season. He was right behind Rodgers in scoring last season and he could potentially move ahead if he cuts down the interceptions.
3. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
We weren’t sure weather Wilson was capable of being as success in his second year after his tremendous rookie season, but he showed that wasn’t a problem. Now he comes into his third campaign with one of the game’s two great tight ends. Jimmy Graham will immensely help Russell Wilson throw the seam route and get passing touchdowns in the red zone. Wilson wasn’t doing too bad without Graham, so he addition will take him to the next level. His running ability means he very rarely has a bad game. He scored in double digits in every game he played last year’s 16-week fantasy season.
4. Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos
Which Peyton are we going to get this year? Are we going to get the one who put up 24 points per game in the first 11 of the NFL season or the one who averaged less than ten over the last five weeks? Reports surfaced that Manning had a torn quad and that could potentially be the reason for the issues, but Manning is getting older and it’s been harder for him to stay healthy. Besides age, Manning also has the loss of Julius Thomas to account for. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and the young Cody Latimer are great weapons to have, but Thomas’ departure will negatively impact Manning even if Thomas was hurt often. Owen Daniels is good, but he’s not the same physical presence.
5.Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Picking the next man up is a tough decision. All the options have flaws so I’m pushing Cam forward. He was banged up throughout last year yet still 16th in QB points including averaging 22.14 in his last five starts of the regular season. Kevin Benjamin proved to be a great threat in his rookie season and now has a year of experience under his belt. Greg Olsen is the veteran who does the dirty work over the middle on his way to #4 ranking at tight end last year. Rookie Devin Funchess provides another tall target for Newton, who clearly enjoyed that with Benjamin. Add what Cam can do with his legs and a solid running game to keep things honest and you’re looking at another successful campaign.
6. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
For years Drew Brees has had a weapon he can count on. First it was Antonio Gates. Then in New Orleans it started with Marques Colson before transitioning over to Jimmy Graham. Can Brandon Cooks fill the void left by Graham this season? Brees stats in general tailed off last year as he didn’t reach 5,000 passing yards for the first time in four years and threw his fewest touchdowns in five years. There aren’t that many great weapons around Brees anymore and the Saints seemed focused on improving their running game more than their passing game this off-season. You’ll likely look for better alternatives.
7. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
This came down to a battle between Big Ben and Matt Ryan. Ben’s receivers are increasing in productivity while Ryan’s are going in the other direction. We know Antonio Brown is nice and Martavis Bryant emerged last year as a serious threat, but Ben called out Marcus Wheaton as a potential breakout player this season. Heath Miller will continue to take the big hits to make plays. Although Le’Veon Bell will miss two games due to suspension, he’ll certainly be around the help Roethlisberger succeed the rest of the season. The Steelers defense is still in flux, so the potential for them to get in shootouts and increase Ben’s passing numbers is very likely.