'Tis a great season for quarterbacks in the world of fantasy football; within my rankings this season are 16 players whom I consider to be QB1-worthy and an additional 12 whom I've deemed QB2-worthy.
These are very impressive numbers and a good bit higher than those from last season, when I had just 12 QB1s on my board and the same number of QB2s.
I've broken up the quarterbacks into six tiers based on the order in which they should come off your draft board, taking into consideration the upside and risk that comes along with each.
I emphasize the word "should" because they won't come off your board in this order, which is why I've included an assessment of the value you'll get out of each player based on his projected draft position versus his ranking on my board.
Scroll down to take a look at my rankings and analysis for the top 30 fantasy football quarterbacks of 2014.
|Tier 6 Quarterbacks (Low-End QB2s)|
|HM||Teddy Bridgewater||Minnesota Vikings||4/10||5/10||Good|
|30||Johnny Manziel||Cleveland Browns||6/10||6/10||Marginal|
|29||Jake Locker||Tennessee Titans||6/10||9/10||Good|
Honorable Mention: Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
The rankings begin with the rookie Bridgewater. He's perhaps the most NFL-ready of this draft's rookie quarterbacks, but he doesn't have much of a receiving corps, and the team should rely heavily on the legs of running back Adrian Peterson.
30. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Headlining Tier 6 is Cleveland's Johnny Manziel. The franchise took a chance on the rookie in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, and he'll compete with Brian Hoyer in minicamp for the starting job. If he doesn't win it out of camp, I'm confident he'll eventually start, as the Browns risk developing a Tim Tebow-type distraction if they leave him on the bench for too long.
Once he's on the field, though, don't expect him to post big fantasy numbers. Sure, he was an elite playmaker in college, but he'll have limited weapons at his disposal without Josh Gordon for the season. He's also likely to be way overdrafted in your league, so don't expect him to last until the final rounds.
29. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Locker played well last season—at least he did when he wasn't injured, which he was more often than not. He's a solid QB2 if he can stay healthy, but you can't count on that at this point.
|Tier 5 Quarterbacks (Average QB2s)|
|28||Matt Schaub||Oakland Raiders||7/10||6/10||Great|
|27||Joe Flacco||Baltimore Ravens||5/10||2/10||Good|
|26||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Houston Texans||6/10||3/10||Great|
|25||Alex Smith||Kansas City Chiefs||6/10||5/10||Very Poor|
|24||Carson Palmer||Arizona Cardinals||7/10||6/10||Poor|
|23||Eli Manning||New York Giants||7/10||3/10||Poor|
|22||EJ Manuel||Buffalo Bills||7/10||7/10||Excellent|
|21||Michael Vick||New York Jets||8/10||9/10||Good|
28. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders should have a formidable offense in 2014. They solidified their offensive line with the signings of Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard, while the addition of receiver James Jones gives Schaub a nice group of receivers.
The backfield now includes two versatile, albeit injury-prone, running backs in Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Schaub has had his ups and downs but could be a smart sleeper pick in 12- and 14-team leagues.
27. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco hit a wall last season, a year after winning the Super Bowl. He posted career-worst numbers, and don't figure on him turning everything around in 2014. The Ravens failed to improve a poor offensive line, and their touted offseason acquisition, receiver Steve Smith, is now 35, and his play is steadily deteriorating.
26. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
Journeyman Fitzpatrick has now been picked up by a fifth NFL team, and his stay should be short again. However, he's a solid QB2 option with Arian Foster, one of the league's elite receiving backs, coming back to health. And remember, the Texans still have star receiver Andre Johnson, so they should air it out often when nearing the end zone.
25. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith was solid but not spectacular last season; he wasn't asked to stretch the field, and his numbers heavily relied on Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster's after-the-catch abilities.
However, McCluster is now gone and the Chiefs lost several starting offensive linemen, including elite left tackle Branden Albert. Expect Smith's production to dip as the Chiefs rely more heavily on their potent rushing attack.
24. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Not much has changed for Arizona's offense besides the departure of receiver Andre Roberts. Palmer's 2014 production should be comparable to what it was in 2013, but he remains a moderately high-risk option, as he is now 34 and has a long history of injuries.
23. Eli Manning, New York Giants
I'd advise you to stay away from drafting Eli as long as his last name is Manning; he remains a prime example of overdrafting due to name recognition.
I doubt his luck will be as bad as it was in 2013, but he loses Hakeem Nicks, so it's tough for me to imagine a big production jump in 2014, even with the drafting of receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
22. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Manuel was solid in his rookie season and now has the star rookie receiver out of Clemson, Sammy Watkins, to throw to. If he remains healthy, he's a high-upside QB2.
21. Michael Vick, New York Jets
Vick should win the quarterback competition over Geno Smith and could be on his way to a Comeback Player of the Year performance. Maybe that's a bit unlikely, but he should have some big-time games along the way, even if he'll be maddeningly inconsistent and injured for half the season.
|Tier 4 Quarterbacks (High-End QB2s)|
|20||Josh McCown||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7/10||5/10||Average|
|19||Sam Bradford||St. Louis Rams||8/10||7/10||Excellent|
|18||Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers||7/10||3/10||Average|
|17||Ryan Tannehill||Miami Dolphins||8/10||5/10||Excellent|
20. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McCown comes over to Tampa Bay from Chicago, where he posted gaudily efficient numbers in 2013 as he continuously heaved deep touchdowns to the city's twin towers, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
He'll have another large group of receivers with the Bucs, as the franchise added receiver Mike Evans (6'5") and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6'6") through the draft, while Vincent Jackson (6'5") returns as the team's leading receiver.
I don't trust that McCown will lead quite as prolific of a passing attack in 2014, but he should be a highly consistent QB2 behind a fine offensive line.
19. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Sam continued to tease us with glimpses of his fantasy potential in 2013 before losing the season to another knee injury. However, I'm optimistic in his outlook for this season.
Bradford has proven he has the ability to produce in spite of little surrounding talent. He has an improved offensive line in front of him now, and if free-agent signee Kenny Britt can stay on the field, Bradford will actually have a decent group of receivers.
18. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben completed just his second injury-free season in 2013, but I'm not ready to count on his ability to stay healthy until he changes his style of play.
The Steelers didn't do much to upgrade his supporting cast, either, allowing his top red-zone target, Jerricho Cotchery, and slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders to leave through free agency. The addition of Lance Moore softens the blow, but I can't see Roethlisberger coming near his 2013 numbers this season.
17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
I was a detractor of Tannehill when he was entering the NFL, but I've since developed a liking for the receiver-turned-quarterback. He's proven his toughness, withstanding a franchise-record 58 sacks in 2013, and his ability to progress as a quarterback, falling just short of 4,000 yards in his sophomore season.
Miami rewarded the young gunslinger with a franchise left tackle, Branden Albert, and rookies Ja'Wuan James (tackle) and Jarvis Landry (receiver). Add on better timing on the deep ball with speedster Mike Wallace, and 2014 could be a breakout season for Tannehill.
|Tier 3 Quarterbacks (Low-End QB1s)|
|16||Jay Cutler||Chicago Bears||8/10||6/10||Average|
|15||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||8/10||4/10||Marginal|
|14||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||9/10||6/10||Marginal|
|13||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||7/10||2/10||Good|
|12||Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||8/10||5/10||Great|
|11||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||7/10||1/10||Very Poor|
|10||Robert Griffin III||Washington Redskins||9/10||7/10||Very Poor|
|9||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||9/10||4/10||Good|
16. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
As long as Cutler is throwing to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, he is a serviceable QB1. However, his inability to stay in the lineup will prevent me from trusting him with my QB1 slot. He's an inconsistent producer even when healthy so I'd take him on as a high-end QB2.
15. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Many fans will be overdrafting Matt Ryan this year because the media has largely exaggerated the injury troubles the Falcons faced in 2013, therefore justifying his so-so fantasy numbers. But I don't buy it, and neither should you.
Julio Jones did miss the final 11 games of the season, a stretch in which Ryan's numbers did slide from where they were when Jones was healthy, but chalk a large portion of the difference to Atlanta facing a much tougher group of defenses (Seattle, Carolina twice, Arizona, San Francisco) once Jones was out of the lineup.
All the while, Matty Ice still had future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez in the lineup, whom he'll be without in 2014. The return of Jones is certainly a big positive, but the loss of Gonzalez cannot be overstated.
14. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles had a breakout season in 2013, and I was the last to be surprised; he clearly possessed the talent to excel in the NFL, and a combination of offensive scheme and complementary talent was the catalyst for his rapid ascension to elite fantasy status.
But NFL defenses almost always catch up to new offensive schemes and breakout quarterbacks in their second season, so I'm going to stay away from Foles until he proves he can overcome not only that obstacle, but also the loss of his favorite target, DeSean Jackson.
13. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was a steady QB1 option last year despite his team's tendency to break open big leads and turn to the running game to waste clock late in games. He'll likely post similar numbers this season, as the blow of Golden Tate's departure is softened by a hopefully healthful return of Percy Harvin.
12. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals gave Dalton a big bump in passing attempts last season, and he made the most of them, finishing 2013 as the fifth-ranked fantasy quarterback.
However, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is now in Washington, and throughout the offseason, rumblings of the franchise's reluctance to hand Dalton a big contract have been heard loud and clear, a potential distraction if it's not addressed before the season.
The biggest strike against his outlook for 2014 is a much tougher slate of defenses; his 2013 schedule included a number of cupcake secondaries.
11. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
There's always one New England fan in each of my fantasy leagues who will reach for Brady in the first or second round, and it usually works out for him—except last season.
Brady suffered through his worst statistical season since 2003 due in large part to a horrendous supporting cast. His group of no-name receivers remains largely unchanged for 2014, with the only notable addition being Brandon LaFell, whose ongoing case of the drops may only frustrate Brady more.
Despite the down season, Brady is likely to be overdrafted again this season, so I'd steer clear of him unless he experiences a severe slide in your league's draft.
10. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
With the offseason for his knee to finally recover, Griffin should be back to his old form in 2014. The addition of DeSean Jackson also could spell something special for RG3's fantasy numbers.
He could be a top-five performer this season, but concerns about his health will persist, and I'll have to see him regain confidence in his body before I trust him as the only QB1 on my roster.
9. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Kaepernick was the quintessential low-end QB1 last season, delivering consistently solid output but very few notable performances—only twice did he throw three touchdown passes in a single game.
What was even more maddening for owners was Kaepernick's decision to finally use his legs and pick up the easy fantasy points in the actual NFL playoffs. Some will hold out hope that that tendency carries into the 2014 season, but I wouldn't count on it; the 49ers added rookie running back Carlos Hyde to bolster their running game without further contributions from their quarterback.
|Tier 2 Quarterbacks (Average QB1s)|
|8||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||9/10||3/10||Great|
|7||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||9/10||2/10||Poor|
|6||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||9/10||2/10||Excellent|
|5||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||9/10||2/10||Great|
8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Surprisingly, Romo was one of the most consistent fantasy producers in 2013. Only twice did he produce less than 10 points (eight versus Washington and nine versus New Orleans), and he finished the season as a top-10 quarterback despite not playing in Week 17.
Romo became an even more attractive QB1 option with the hiring of passing game coordinator Scott Linehan and a significant loss of talent on the defensive side of the ball, which should mean more high-scoring affairs in 2014.
Better chemistry with second-year receiver Terrance Williams should also boost Romo's numbers, while the drafting of tackle Zach Martin should keep him on his feet more often.
Also keep in mind that Romo, despite quarterbacking America's team, is one of the most oft-overlooked fantasy QBs each season.
7. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck will benefit from the addition of receiver Hakeem Nicks, but it remains to be seen how Reggie Wayne will bounce back from an ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2013 campaign.
The Colts also have some question marks on their offensive line, so those expecting Luck to ascend to elite fantasy status may be jumping the gun. He's a surefire high-end QB1, but he has a ways to go before he can hang with the week-in, week-out studs from Tier 1.
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Why is everyone overlooking Rivers this season? He only managed the sixth-best fantasy season among quarterbacks in 2013 without the help of starting receiver Malcolm Floyd and loses no talent heading into 2014.
Rivers is my sleeper pick for this season, but he shouldn't be. There's no reason he should fall past any of those Tier 3 players, so be smart and grab this surefire QB1 before your fellow owners know what hit them. He's also the only Tier 2 quarterback whom I can see making the jump to Tier 1 this year.
5. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton also provides great value for fantasy owners in 2014. Many are overlooking him because the Panthers receiving corps has been laughed at in the media this offseason for no good reason.
Carolina's receivers, Steve Smith included, dropped an excessive amount of passes last season, so the additions of Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant will be very welcome to Newton. Also new is 6'5" rookie Kelvin Benjamin, who has the potential to be an elite receiver combined with Cam Newton.
Newton's recovery from ankle surgery is going well, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio, which should make him even more effective when he tucks and runs in 2014. Remember, this ankle issue has been nagging him since his college days at Auburn, so I see it as a positive that he's finally addressed it.
|Tier 1 Quarterbacks (High-End QB1s)|
|4||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||10/10||1/10||Poor|
|3||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||10/10||3/10||Good|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||10/10||3/10||Average|
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||10.5/10||1/10||Average|
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees was the No. 2 fantasy quarterback in the NFL last season, and his drop to No. 4 is the result of several problems I have with the roster heading into 2014.
The first of which is the loss of yards-after-catch (YAC) demon Darren Sproles, who has been a matchup nightmare at the Saints' disposal for years now. It's difficult to think of this offense in the same light without him.
The second is what the Saints have done with their offensive line this offseason. They let Brian de la Puente, one of the league's best centers, walk, and Terron Armstead, who struggled mightily in 2013, is slated to start at left tackle at a time when pass-rushers are abundant in this league.
I also think that the departure of Lance Moore has been understated, but rookie Brandin Cooks should make Brees forget about Moore in no time. Cooks is an elite athlete who draws an accurate comparison to Steve Smith, and had the Saints not drafted him, I would have contemplated dropping Brees to Tier 2.
3. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
The Lions' focus this offseason has been on surrounding Stafford with more weapons. This is bad news for the team's deteriorating defense, but great news for fantasy owners.
Free-agent receiver Golden Tate and elite rookie tight end Eric Ebron have been brought in, and with a healthier Calvin Johnson, another 5,000-yard, 40-touchdown season could be in Stafford's future.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers was cruising to a top-three fantasy season in 2013 before he was struck with a broken collarbone. Expect him to pick right up where he left off this season with a very solid supporting cast around him.
Receiver James Jones is out, but rookie receiver Davante Adams is in, and a healthy Randall Cobb will be a huge help to Rodgers. Also on the list of positives is the continued development of Jarrett Boykin, who had a stellar sophomore season in spite of subpar quarterback play.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
I shouldn't have to justify this one, but I will because I love talking about this guy.
Manning made shattering NFL records look easy in 2013, throwing for an NFL-record 55 touchdowns and 5,447 yards. In other words, if you had him on your fantasy team and didn't compete for your league's championship, you did something very wrong.
All the while, Manning battled a nagging neck injury and Father Time. He's now 38, but he's proven that he can compensate mentally for what his body is beginning to lack.
With a tougher schedule and the loss of Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno, I don't expect another 50-touchdown season from Manning, but 40 touchdowns appears likely, as the additions of Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Cody Latimer make his receiving corps even deeper for 2014.
2013 rankings were based on ESPN.com's standard scoring leaders.
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