I break them up into tiers for preseason rankings, so where you see a (cliff) is where I think there will be a significant drop off from one player to the next in my rankings. Pay attention to these tiers. Getting Matt Ryan for twice the price of Eli Manning or Joe Flacco isn’t good value. In an auction, I almost never buy the first guy that comes up in a tier.
1. Aaron Rodgers- With the influx of mobile QBs, Rodgers possesses, in my opinion, the perfect 70/30 blend, with 70% of his value coming from his arm. On the edges, Peyton Manning is about 95/5, and Vince Young is about 15/85.
2. Tom Brady- 4000 yards, 30-35 touchdowns in the bank. There is serious value in safety. It was the argument for Peyton for the last decade. Now applies to both.
3. Peyton Manning- see Brady, T.
4. Drew Brees- He has so many weapons and very little consistent running game. There’s lots of backs in New Orleans but don’t expect any of them to take away from Brees’ passing attempts.
5. Phillip Rivers- Rivers blew me away last year when he was using unknown targets and still putting up elite numbers. He benefits greatly from the best tight end in the game in Antonio Gates. And there’s enough of a running game to keep defenses honest.
6. Tony Romo- It seems like every year I expect to be THE year. Last year it was a the collarbone. Dez Bryant is a year older and a year wiser. He still has Miles Austin and Jason Witten. He also has one of the better catching backs in Felix Jones.
7. Matt Ryan- If you read the blog last season, you know Ryan is a bit of a personal favorite. I don’t think he will ever hit 4000 yards or 35 touchdowns because Michael Turner is an excellent running back, and a bulldozer at the goal line. But Ryan will take care of the ball, and I expect numbers around 3500 and 30.
8. Ben Roethlisberger- He’s fun to watch, and terrifying to own because every time he throws with a defender draped on him, you pray for it to not get picked off. But Big Ben does it every year and he’s been pretty good at it. He managed 3200 yards with a four game suspension. He should be around 4000 and 25 this season, and could run for five more. Rashard Mendenhall will vulture touchdowns.
9. Joe Flacco- Baltimore’s running game is too good to let Flacco get the numbers he’s capable of. But 3500 and 25 touchdowns is nothing to sneeze at. Just be patient late in games when its the Ray Rice show.
10. Eli Manning- If he didn’t turn the ball over so much, he’d be in the next tier up. He has shown us 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Now show me less than the 25 interceptions he threw last year.
11. Josh Freeman- Big surprise out of Tampa Bay, the Bucs have a quarterback. Freeman is athletic but has an arm with potential. He ran for a ton of yards, but didnt run into the end zone, so there’s potential for a better 2011.
12. Matt Schaub- Arian Foster is a problem. I still worry about the injury history. But if he plays 16 games, then 4500 yards is still possible. I wouldn’t pay for more than 3500 and 25 touchdowns.
13. Jay Cutler- Talk about a lack of targets. And the team has a fairly solid rushing attack and defense, so Cutler’s numbers could end up stuck around 3000-3500 and 20 touchdowns. Add in the shaky turnover tendency and its just hard to justify him as a top-10 QB he used to be.
14. Matt Cassel- You’ll see in the running back and receiver rankings, I’m low on Dwayne Bowe and high on Jamaal Charles but the Cheifs’ running game will force defenses to move up and Cassel has the arm to burn them for it. Expect 3000 yards and hope for something close to 30 touchdowns.
15. Tim Tebow- I’m not kidding. If Denver is smart enough to hand him the starting job, Tebow can throw for 20-25 touchdowns and run for 10. He’s going to be a bargain.
16. Matthew Stafford- Stafford healthy for 16 games could have top-10 stats, but there just hasn’t been any sign he will ever play 16 games. That being said, we once said that about Schaub, so there is hope.
17. Sam Bradford- I was tempted to rank him 15th, but who is he throwing to? It’s the Steven Jackson show. And I can’t see him getting enough attempts to put up the numbers we’d like to see.
18. Mark Sanchez- He almost made it into the next group up. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 3291 and 17 touchdowns in 2011 just isn’t enough for a starting fantasy quarterback. The Jets are run first, second, and probably third.
19. Michael Vick- I’m telling you, bust of the century here. He’s being drafted by some as the #1 quarterback. I’m not buying.
20. Matt Hasselbeck- There’s something to be said for having a job. He won’t be great, but at this point, he’s better than the alternatives.
21. David Garrard
22. Chad Henne
23. Kyle Orton
24. Donovan McNabb
25. Kevin Kolb
Lots of playing time questions there. Garrard has Blaine Gabbert coming to town. Orton has Tebow. McNabb is simply lost. And Kolb is sitting behind Vick, though he’d be a better long-term choice for the Eagles.
26. Ryan Fitzpatrick
27. Alex Smith
28. Carson Palmer
29. Jason Campbell
Quarterbacks for bad teams are rarely very good. Those are the guys who get more dropped passes, interceptions because of bad routes and get hit a lot more. No rookie QB fell into a definite starting role, and expect Jimmy Clausen to be in the conversation with Cam Newton. I don’t think either are worth owning.
That’s the quarterbacks as I see them right now. But things are bound to change in the month before kickoff.