There were plenty of solid fantasy quarterback performances in 2009, and 2010 figures to produce another bountiful crop of studs at the position.
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers proved his monster 2008 was no fluke, moving from fantasy’s second ranked quarterback into the top spot.
Meanwhile, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub showed what he was capable of when healthy for 16 games. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger vaulted into the top 10 as the Steelers offense moved further away from being a running team.
Several veterans enjoyed stellar seasons. Peyton Manning recording his best fantasy stats since 2006; Drew Brees continued his amazing run in New Orleans; Brett Favre had a renaissance season for the Minnesota Vikings, and Tom Brady successfully returned from a knee injury in 2009.
Looking ahead to 2010, there are storm clouds on the horizon for a couple of veteran quarterbacks. A number of teams have major question makes at QB due to young players who vaulted to the top of the depth chart courtesy of retirements and poor play from last year’s starters.
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB—Fantasy football’s top ranked QB from 2009 returns to the top spot for 2010. What propels him to the top of the projections is his rushing ability (304 yards and five TD last year).
3. Peyton Manning, IND—Nice bounce back season for Manning in 2009 after posting the second worst (yet still respectable) fantasy numbers of his career a year earlier. Reggie Wayne is a year older, but Anthony Gonzalez returns to add even more firepower at wide receiver.
4. Drew Brees, NO—The Super Bowl champions figure to be strong again in 2010, and it looks like all of the skill position weapons will return.
5. Donovan McNabb, PHI—We’re assuming McNabb will stay in Philly and gets to enjoy the benefit of perhaps the best young group of offensive skill position players in the league.
7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT—Big Ben had a career year in 2009, and the Steelers have clearly morphed into a passing team. Hines Ward might be a year older, but Santonio Holmes is coming off a career year, and Mike Wallace offers tantalizing speed as the team’s third wideout.
8. Jay Cutler, CHI—The team’s receivers are suspect, but the Mike Martz factor propels Cutler into the top 10. Martz has turned every QB he has worked with into a fantasy stud, and Cutler arguably has more natural ability than any of Martz’ previous pupils (Kurt Warner, Trent Green, Marc Bulger, Jon Kitna and J.T. O’Sullivan).
9. Tony Romo, DAL—Coming off a top fivr fantasy season, it’s easy to argue that Romo should be higher, but expect the Cowboys to revert to a more ground-based attack in 2010.
10. Eli Manning, NYG—Manning creeps into the top 10 and has upside potential based on the team’s three potent wideouts (Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham) and durability concerns at the running back position.
11. Tom Brady, NE—Here’s the first shocker with Brady outside of the top 10. There are red flags everywhere in New England. Randy Moss is whining about this being his last year with the team; Wes Welker is coming off a major knee injury that occurred late in the 2009 season, and tight end Ben Watson doesn’t figure to be back. Buyer beware.
12. Brett Favre, MIN—Coming off a monster season, we’ll lean to Favre returning in 2010. But assuming that prediction is correct, it’s still difficult to forecast that he will duplicate his best fantasy performance since 2001.
13. Joe Flacco, BAL—He’s likely to be ranked higher by most due to the addition of Anquan Boldin, but the Ravens are a run first team. Plus Todd Heap is a year older, and they haven’t groomed anybody to take his place in the offense.
14. Jason Campbell, WAS—For all the criticism Campbell gets, he has increased his yards and TD passes every year he has been in the league. If new head coach Mike Shanahan can get the offensive line straightened out, Campbell should improve again in 2010.
15. Matt Ryan, ATL—Ryan’s a talented player, but the Falcons lean on the run and emphasize avoiding turnovers in the passing game.
16. David Garrard, JAC – In 2008, he passed for 3,620 yards and 15 TDs, while rushing for 322 yards and two TDs. In 2009, it was 3,597 yards passing and 15 TDs, to go along with 323 yards rushing and three TDs. At least he’s consistent.
17. Matthew Stafford, DET—There are some nice young parts in Detroit, but running back Kevin Smith might not be ready to start the season. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is also coming off injury. On the plus side, Nate Burleson adds a nice threat opposite Calvin Johnson.
18. Alex Smith, SF—Smith is at 15 but has some major upside if he can stay healthy and utilize the talented young skill position players that surround him in San Francisco.
19. Vince Young, TEN—Had a nice run of 10 games to end the season. They have the makings of a solid (if unspectacular) group of wideouts in Kenny Britt, Justin Gage and Nate Washington, provided they can stay healthy.
20. Carson Palmer, CIN—At one time, Palmer seemed destined to be a top five fantasy quarterback for years to come. Those days are over. The team hasn’t adequately replaced T.J. Houshmandzadeh and doesn’t seem to have anybody to take over for Chad Ochocinco when he slows down.
22. Matt Cassel, KC—Cassel can’t possibly be any worse than he was last year. Or can he?
23. Josh Freeman, TB—Makes some plays in the running game, which helps pad his fantasy stats, but the team’s crop of wide receivers are not awe inspiring by any stretch.
24. Matt Leinart, ARI—Kurt Warner would be at least 14 spots higher if he were returning. Leinart looked shaky last year. His upside will cause him to get drafted much higher than 24th, although the upside did take a hit with the trade of Boldin.
25. Chad Henne, MIA—Played well as a starter in 2009, but the team’s wide receivers and tight ends offer no proven playmakers and not much upside.
27. Matt Hasselbeck, SEA—He’s old and injury prone. His best receiver, Nate Burleson, left town, and the OL has major question marks. There’s almost no upside to taking Hasselbeck.
28. Brady Quinn, CLE—No guarantee at this point that Quinn is the Browns starter in 2010 since he didn’t do much to distinguish himself in 2009.
29. Matt Moore, CAR—Jake Delhomme’s days in Carolina are over. Unfortunately for Moore, Steve Smith is slowing down; the starting spot opposite him is a black hole, and no receiving tight end has emerged.
30. Marc Bulger, STL—There is almost no chance he returns as the Rams starter, but that’s where he sits on the depth chart at the moment.
31. Trent Edwards, BUF—Amazingly, the signals indicate that the Bills are planning on going with the checkdown king again in 2010. Remarkable.
32. Bruce Gradkowski, OAK—Hey, I’d have him higher, but the Raiders won’t bench JaMarcus Russell until midseason.
33. JaMarcus Russell, OAK—See above.
34. Seneca Wallace, CLE—Former Seahawk head coach Mike Holmgren is now in charge of the Cleveland Browns, and he just traded for backup QB Seneca Wallace from the ‘Hawks. Incumbents Quinn and Derek Anderson (who will likely be released) should consider Wallace a legitimate threat to take the starting job.
35. A.J. Feeley, STL—If Bulger returns, Feeley will be in there at some point.