With the NFL lockout nearly over, every fantasy football player can breath a sigh of relief. Football will be played in 2011.
Everybody knows that fantasy football leagues are won and lost depending on your starting quarterback, but can also win with a solid backup.
For instance, back in 2008 Tom Brady was drafted as the No. 1 quarterback and got injured in Week 1. This was following a year when he threw for 4,806 yards, 50 touchdowns (an NFL record) and only eight interceptions.
This was a freak type accident, as Brady was hit in the knee and suffered a torn ACL. There are some signs of those quarterbacks who could have a down year, or miss time with an injury.
Each player's risk is based on where the player is ranked and the likelihood of that player not living up to the ranking. Rankings are provided by espn.com.
6) Jay Cutler: Cutler comes in ranked at No. 18, and rightfully so. Last year Cutler only threw 16 interceptions, but in 2009 Cutler threw for a league-leading 26 interceptions. Cutler has seen his value drop in the past few years based on his poor decision making. Cutler has below-average receivers, although Matt Forte is a solid receiving running back. The thing going for Cutler is Mike Martz's offense and Cutler will throw frequently. Cutler was sacked a league-high 52 times in 2010, which is 12 more than Joe Flacco who came in second.
7) Sam Bradford: Bradford carries the very high ranking of No. 16. After having a breakout 2011, expectations are through the roof for Bradford. Crazy to think that a rookie quarterback would throw the third most times out of all quarterbacks in 2010 with 590 attempts. That trails only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Bradford threw 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was sacked 34 times, good for fifth amongst quarterbacks. Bradford is still only two years removed from a rough shoulder injury and with a poor offensive line, things could be rough for Bradford in 2011.
8) Tim Tebow: Tebow, surprisingly enough, is ranked No. 17 on espn.com. In 2010 Tebow threw for 654 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Tebow only started three games and looked decent. Tebow is very risky in 2011 because of the uncertainty at starting quarterback in Denver. Kyle Orton is still there, and he had a very solid 2010 campaign. New head coach John Fox will have a tough decision in choosing his starting quarterback. You as a fantasy football player have a choice on fantasy quarterbacks. Don't take Tebow.
2010 stats: 535 yards, 6 TD, and 1 INT
2011 ranking: 15
Matthew Stafford has shown glimpses of being a very good quarterback since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. The thing that kills Stafford is the fact the guy is injury prone.
In 2010 Stafford only played in three games because of a nagging shoulder injury. Stafford also missed a handful of games in 2009 due to a knee injury.
Stafford has arguably the best receiver in all of football in Calvin Johnson. The Lions offense is getting much better, but it needs Stafford to stay on the field. The offensive line still has a few question, though.
If Stafford can stay healthy, he may have a big year. Playoffs wouldn't be too crazy of a thought for the Lions who have improved immensely over the past few years.
2010 stats: 3,116 yards, 27 TD and 7 INT
2011 ranking: 14
Does anybody remember that Matt Cassel made the Pro Bowl last season? He made it as a replacement, but Cassel tore it up last season.
The thing that lands Cassel on this list is the main fact that he plays for a team that relies so heavily on the running game.
When you have a guy like Jamaal Charles who averages six yards per carry, then why not hand the ball off a lot?
Cassel is only 29, but expectations for Cassel in 2011 are raised higher than ever for the quarterback. Cassel had an amazing 2008 campaign replacing Tom Brady, but struggled in his first year as a true starting quarterback. He threw for 2,924 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2009 starting for the Chiefs.
Dwayne Bowe had an amazing 2010 season catching 72 balls for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. Bowe has not strung together two solid seasons in a row, and really is the only threat at wide receiver for the Chiefs.
Cassel will not throw for 300-plus yards very often, and that is not desirable as a fantasy quarterback. Cassel only threw for 300-plus yards twice in 2010. Cassel is a large risk even as a backup fantasy quarterback.
2010 stats: 1,605 yards, 11 TD and 7 INT
2011 ranking: 7
The Cowboys have been rewarded with some awesome play from Romo.
Romo has been recovering from a broken left clavicle, and should be fine for the 2011 season. The thing that hurts Romo the most is his offensive line. Romo was sacked seven times in only six games in 2010.
Romo was sacked 34 times in 2009, which was tied for ninth most.
Romo has great weapons in players like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Felix Jones. There is no denying the fact that Romo could be in store for a monstrous 2011 season. The offensive line will be a major question in the success of Romo.
2010 stats: 3,018 passing yards, 676 rushing yards, 30 total TD and 6 INT
2011 ranking: 2
The picture above says it all. A scrambling quarterback can be a good and bad thing. Vick ran it a total of 100 times last season—a little scary.
Vick had a great 2010 season and was in consideration for MVP. Vick is 31 and has had injuries in his past.
Vick missed four games in 2010 because of a rib cartilage injury. Vick missed 11 games in 2003 because of a fractured right fibula.
Vick arguably will be the biggest risk/reward player in fantasy football in 2011. He is a very talented quarterback with great weapons around him.
Vick was sacked a total of 34 times in only 12 games, which raises some concerns for the Eagles offensive line. The Eagles offensive line was so bad last year that Kevin Kolb was injured in the very first game of the season.
2010 stats: 4,700 yards, 33 TD and 17 INT
2011 ranking: 5
A neck injury may keep Mr. Reliable Peyton Manning away from training camp. Any time that you are dealing with a neck injury, it is very serious.
Manning currently is second amongst quarterbacks with 208 regular season starts. He has never been injury prone in his NFL career, although this neck injury could hold him out.
Manning has been a top five quarterback in each of the past five seasons. If you look up consistency in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Peyton Manning.
Hard to believe that Manning would end up No. 1 on the riskiest fantasy quarterbacks list. Think about how the quarterback scans the field, moving his head back and forth across the field.
There are very little questions about Manning's offensive line, as he was only sacked 16 times in 2010.
Dallas Clark has become very injury prone over the past few seasons and Reggie Wayne is getting up there in age at 32.
This season will be the first season that Manning isn't a safe fantasy football pick.