Fantasy Football: Early Ranking of Top 12 Quarterbacks for 2014-15
Super Bowl XLVIII featured two of the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks for the 2014-15 NFL season. Peyton Manning is clearly the top fantasy quarterback after his monster, record-breaking season. Russell Wilson will be in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing yards while his legs make him a fantasy stalwart.
The quarterbacks that are just on the outside of the top 12 are Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and Andy Dalton.
The rookie signal-callers with the best chance to make a fantasy impact are Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
Now, let's look at the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks for the upcoming season.
12. Tom Brady
Tom Brady passed for 4,343 yards in 2013 despite having a collection of average-to-subpar receivers and Rob Gronkowski for only seven games.
Will New England be successful in adding weapons to its offense?
Brady will quickly climb the fantasy ladder with the right receivers.
Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman? I say pass. I'm not counting on Gronkowski either.
Turning 37 in August, Brady needs more for a top-10 fantasy campaign.
11. Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick ranked 20th in the league with 3,197 passing yards in 2013 but was fourth in rushing with 524 yards. After a shaky start, San Francisco's field general finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
Kaepernick is a playmaker, but he falls into the Robert Griffin III category of an injury risk. The Nevada product must run to be successful, and he is one vicious defender away from a lost season. A Kaepernick forced to stay in the pocket is ugly. See RG III.
On the bright side, Kaepernick can be a top-five fantasy quarterback if he carries his late-season momentum into 2014 and the 49ers avoid major injuries.
10. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl champion, and while he showed us glimpses of stardom, he mainly succeeded behind a legendary defense and a stout running game.
Wilson's supporters give him too much credit for Seattle's victories, and his detractors unfairly argue that Seattle could have won with any quarterback. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
In 2013, Wilson was 16th in the league with 3,357 passing yards, but the Wisconsin standout added 539 rushing yards. Wilson is a dual threat, and with Percy Harvin in the fold, Seattle's quarterback can have a phenomenal 2014 fantasy campaign.
9. Nick Foles
In 2013, Nick Foles passed for 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns while only playing significantly in 11 games. The Philadelphia offense took off under Chip Kelly, and Foles may be the steal of the 2012 NFL draft.
There is enormous potential here, but does anyone remember Kevin Kolb?
To be fair, Foles showed us much more than Kolb did in 2010. The question is whether defensive coordinators will be more prepared for the Kelly offense in 2014.
Is Foles a flash in the pan? I don't believe so, but I'm not betting the house on him either.
8. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan had a disappointing fantasy campaign in 2013 mainly because of injuries to Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Ryan still passed for 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Is White on a steep decline, and will Jones be healthy in 2014? If the tandem returns to form, the Boston College product could be a midround steal. Ryan's fantasy status could rise further if Atlanta finds a suitable replacement for Tony Gonzalez and a running back more reliable than Steven Jackson.
7. Tony Romo
Tony Romo passed for 4,903 yards in 2012 but disappointed fantasy owners with only 3,828 passing yards in 2013. Romo continues to be underrated in fantasy and in real life. If there's a fantasy bargain to be had in 2014, it will be the Dallas signal-caller.
Terrance Williams may be the answer opposite Dez Bryant, but the Cowboys still need to add another high-caliber receiver. With that, Romo will have the opportunity to be a top-five fantasy quarterback.
6. Matthew Stafford
Clearly, the best thing about Matthew Stafford is Calvin Johnson. With Megatron, Stafford passed for 4,650 yards in 2013. Impressively, this was the Georgia standout's third consecutive season with at least 4650 passing yards, peaking with 5,038 in 2011.
Even with the firing of Jim Schwartz, expect little change from the Lions offense as it is their strength. Detroit will likely find more toys for Stafford and another stellar fantasy campaign can be expected. The Detroit quarterback is only 26 years old.
5. Cam Newton
Cam Newton led all quarterbacks with 585 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. While his passing and rushing yards compare to Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, Newton separates himself from this group because of his 6'5", 245-pound frame.
In goal-line situations, he is a fullback whose number is often called.
Newton also showed tremendous growth as a passer in 2013. The Auburn product is a top-five fantasy quarterback with plenty of upside.
4. Andrew Luck
After a slow fantasy start in 2013, Andrew Luck finished as the fourth-best fantasy quarterback in standard-scoring leagues behind Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Cam Newton. With a very weak running game to support him, Luck passed for 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns.
What is often overlooked is Luck's athleticism. In the NFL combine, Luck's numbers were comparable to those of Carolina's Newton. The Stanford star actually rushed for 377 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
There is also no question that Luck is a more polished passer than Newton.
3. Aaron Rodgers
Don't forget Aaron Rodgers. In 2013, a collarbone injury forced him to miss seven games in the final stretch of the fantasy season. This can only help to make him a potential fantasy bargain.
In the previous five seasons, Rodgers has surpassed 4,000 passing yards in every season but one and has not thrown for less than 28 touchdowns in any of those seasons. Green Bay's quarterback is arguably the finest passer in the league, and with Eddie Lacy in his backfield, he can return to glory in 2014.
2. Drew Brees
Drew Brees is a phenomenal passer who is very comfortable in Sean Payton's offense. Brees has surpassed 5,000 passing yards in three consecutive seasons (including 2013) and has not thrown for less than 39 touchdowns in each of those campaigns.
It is scary to think that his offensive weapons are average except for Jimmy Graham. With a big-time wide receiver, there's no telling what this Boilermaker could do. No one would laugh at you for making Brees the top quarterback taken in your 2014 fantasy draft.
1. Peyton Manning
In 2014, Peyton Manning will be a year removed from the best statistical season for any quarterback in the NFL history. Manning's 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns single-handedly won championships for many of his fantasy owners.
On the down side, Manning will be 38 years old when the 2014 season kicks off.
I made the mistake of doubting him in 2013, and I will not make that error again. While a repeat of 2013 is unlikely, Manning will lead all fantasy quarterbacks again. Manning still has a lot to prove, and this will serve as strong motivation in 2014.
All statistical information via NFL.com.