#1. There is NO quarterback worth taking in the first round of a 12-person draft.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady could have a kid (much to the further dismay of Bridget Moynahan), and I STILL wouldn’t draft him before 12. Don’t be “that guy” who winds up starting Edgerrin James or Jamal Lewis as his #1 RB.
#2. Accuracy rarely matters in fantasy leagues, but interceptions make a difference.
If a guy goes 22/25 with two picks, you can be pretty sure those two interceptions weren't his fault, or were flukes if they were. This doesn't mean it's okay to draft Favre.
#3. These are MY picks, not Fantasy Magazine picks.
If you want what the magazine will tell you to do, go get the magazine. If you want to win, listen up.
#1. Carson Palmer
Simply the best this year. Palmer threw up stats second only to Manning in 2006, and that was because he was babied by the coaching staff. I mean, hey—the guy kinda had his leg snapped in half, so I understand. Fully healthy (and with a good chunk of the Bengals on parole), Palmer will be looking to do some serious damage. Add in a (finally) healthy Chad Johnson, and you’re looking at 30+ TDs.
#2. Peyton Manning
Go on. Sue me. He’s not my #1. Manning didn’t get any worse, and neither did his receiving corps. So why the drop? Simple: When you lose someone like Tarik Glenn on your blindside, you expect the team to get someone good to protect you—not an unproven second-year player like Charlie Johnson. With less time in the pocket comes more sacks and interceptions. Welcome to pressure, Peyton.
#3. Tom Brady
Just when you thought Brady was done talking about babies, the Patriots go out of their way to bring in Randy Moss. The upside is huge—with speedsters like Moss and Stallworth, Brady could run up stats similar to Palmer's...unless Moss turns out to be a bust and Stallworth gets hurt. It doesn’t help that 2006’s leading receiver, Reche Caldwell, was also cut. Then again—it’s Brady. If he can make a Fantasy threat out of David Givens, he can manage for himself.
#4. Drew Brees
Not under the radar this year. After yet another dominant season (post-surgery, too), Brees will be very much noticed. With almost 4,500 yards and 26 TDs last year, he was better than Tom Brady in every way. My only reason for dropping him to 4 is that people will be watching Reggie Bush on the pass this year, and letting Deuce do the running. Against a zone defense, Brees takes a huge stat hit.
#5. Marc Bulger
Barely missed the cutoff for Tier 1, and not because he doesn’t deserve it. Bulger has some great options in Holt, Bennett, and Stephen Jackson (not to mention Randy McMichael). So what’s the problem? Aside from Bulger’s injury history, Holt is hurt. When Holt is hurt, the passing game suffers. I’d rather let someone else take the risk.
#6. Donovan McNabb
He’s so good...and so injury-prone! All that Chunky® soup must be good for something, though: When McNabb plays, he’s unstoppable. Multi-TD games with midrange receivers, and running yards aplenty. If he’s available in the third round, you need to take him.
#7. Tony Romo
Romo has some serious talent: He can run, he can pass, and he can deal with T.O. And yet he can also melt down (see: 2006 playoffs). He could be great, or mediocre. He was on pace to have a fantastic season last year. Which Romo will return in 2007?
#8. Jon Kitna
Kitna was a yardage monster, but was unable to get those red zone scores—frankly because they’re the Lions, and the red zone doesn’t come often. Still, getting some help for Roy Williams will make all the difference (see: Calvin Johnson, Mike Furrey), and the addition of Tatum Bell should take some pressure off the passing game. If the interceptions go away, Kitna moves to the top of Tier 2. I’m serious.
#9. Philip Rivers
How good he is, we’ll never know. He’s on the Chargers—he either passes it to LT, hands it off to LT, hikes it to LT, or throws to Gates. That’s it. He had a fantastic rookie season, with great accuracy, but his total numbers suffered thanks to the LT show. He’ll get a few more chances this year, but don’t expect more than 25 TDs.
#10. Vince Young
Madden Curse Alert! Vince may have the wheels (which is why he’s on this list), but he has no one to pass to. The best option, Bennett, went to the Rams, and the running game won’t do much. If you need a Vick replacement in your league, this is your best bet. If rushing isn’t worth squat, you’d do well to stay away.
#11. Matt Hasselbeck
I just don’t like him. Seneca Wallace is waiting in the wings, Hasselbeck's coming off an injury, his best receiver is Deion Branch (ugh!), and the line is still suspect. Let someone else make him a fourth-rounder. You can wait.
#12. Eli Manning
Tiki is gone, and so are the quick passes. You think Brandon Jacobs can catch? Ha! Throw in Burress’ nagging ailments and a short leash, and Elisha is in for a bumpy ride.
#13. Matt Leinart
Leinart needs to be better this year. With Boldin, Fitzgerald, and Edgerrin James (all soft hands), how can you have a 1:1 TD:INT ratio? That’s just unacceptable. Look for the TDs to come with Fitzgerald feeling healthier.
#14. Jay Cutler
Good quarterback on a team that runs the ball all day. Result? Minimum attempts, minimum scores. He’s good, but he’ll never have the chance to show it. I’ll honestly be stunned if he has 20 TDs this season.
#15. J.P. Losman
My sleeper pick. He gets better every year, and having Lee Evans show up with his A-game always helps. The Bills may not have bolstered their receiving corps much, but Losman'll definitely surprise some people.
#16. Jason Campbell
Not given enough love. If anyone is going to make Santana Moss and Chris Cooley relevant again, it’s this guy. However, unless Moss decides to show up for the other 13 weeks of the season, it’s going to be a long year for Campbell. Hopefully the running duo of Portis/Betts sees some extra red zone snaps.
#17. David Garrard
Leftwich: Out. Garrard: In. Garrard is an able passer, and also has some good wheels...it’s just too bad there isn’t a single receiver on the Jags worth looking at. Don’t expect anything too glamorous, other than some yards on the ground.
#18. Jake Delhomme
Talk about being on a short leash. With Carr in the wings, Delhomme is under more pressure than ever. He has no receivers other than Smith (who is nursing a hamstring again), and is an injury risk. Next.
#19. Rex Grossman
A boom-or-bust pick. 23 TDs looks great, and Grossman improved his footwork and looks to run the ball a lot this year. Then again, the Sex Cannon had a few games with a passer rating under 50. Keep that in mind. Also, if anyone is an injury risk, it’s this guy. I would honestly suggest handcuffing Griese.
#20. Alex Smith
Darrell Jackson can’t save you. Until the 49ers establish an offense outside of Frank Gore, pass on Smith.
#21. Chad Pennington
Now here’s a strange pick. Why would I drop a 3,500 yard QB so far down? 17 TDs in an entire year, with 16 picks. Not only that, but there’s now a rushing game in town (Thomas Jones), which means even fewer passing attempts for Mr. Injury Risk. Am I the only one who remembers that he was supposed to retire last year?
#22. Steve McNair
He’s older, slower, and less accurate than ever. If the pass isn’t to Heap in the end zone, he isn’t going to complete it. If you’re desperate, he could work on a bye week...but no one on the Ravens is going to be doing much scoring.
#23. Whoever winds up starting for the Falcons (Harrington, Redman, Leftwich)
Whoever fills in here isn't going to be up to speed on the playbook. Likewise, no one in Atlanta is an established receiver—they’re all used to Vick running the ball himself. I would expect numbers similar to Leinart's last year from the starter...but no one knows who it is yet.
#24. Whoever winds up starting for the Raiders (Culpepper, McCown, Russell)
See Atlanta, minus the established ground game. Unlike the Falcons, the guys on the Raiders HAVE been seeing the pass...and dropping it. Choosing between the cripple and the perpetual backup doesn’t seem like a good idea, does it?
#25. Matt Schaub
Speaking of perpetual backups, Schaub is actually a talented guy. He likes to stay in the pocket. Problem is, he’s on Houston now. Mr. Cement Legs will get obliterated as long as the offensive line continues to struggle. Add in the lack of receiving options not named André Johnson, and you have a serious problem.
#26. Jeff Garcia
Finally gets a starting gig...with no one to throw to. Seriously. His best (and only) option is Joey Galloway. For someone like Garcia, who's very conservative, this is a bad sign. Avoid.
#27. Trent Green
Scrambled eggs are good, scrambled brains are not. If he can throw, Miami is a good match. I can hear Green trying to sound optimistic in a press conference: This is the year, baby! We’ve got Chambers and, uh, Chambers. You know, that guy who was top five in dropped passes last year? Yeah...well, we still have a great running game to rely on, right? Ronnie Brown!? WHAT!? Well, what about that guy who did well last year? Wes Welker? Oh...I see. What about Randy McMichael, the best offensive weapon? Him too? Wow. We’re gonna suck.
#28. Brett Favre
Brett may not have brain damage, but he has something worse—an ego. Favre becomes more of a gunslinger every year, taking his interceptions along for the ride. Given a depleted roster, a chance that he'll play no matter WHAT happens to him (he could go 8/23 with five picks with a broken thumb—remember that), and the fact Rodgers is waiting to play, the old man isn't worth the effort.