Fantasy Football 2011: Ranking the 11 Best Quarterbacks Available
It's that time of year again.
The month of August is in full swing, the NFL Lockout has been over for a few weeks now, and when you can start to smell that Autumn weather outside, you know that one thing is for certain—football season is right around the corner.
The start of football season also brings with it something else that is great—fantasy football. If you're a football fan/nerd, the odds are that you're one of the millions of Americans that play fantasy football.
Just like actual football, the goal of fantasy football is simple—win. If you're reading this right now, the odds are that you're preparing for an upcoming fantasy football draft and don't want to be the laughingstock of your league this year.
Therefore, in order to help you better prepare for your draft, here is my list of the top 10 available quarterbacks for you to select in your draft this year.
Quarterback No. 11: Eli Manning, New York Giants
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2010 Stats: 31 Touchdowns/25 interceptions/4,002 passing yards
Despite throwing a league-leading 25 interceptions last season, Eli Manning still managed to be a viable and productive fantasy quarterback.
Manning threw 31 touchdown passes last season and threw for just over 4,000 yards while having a completion percentage of 62.9 percent. Those numbers are fantastic, and had it not been for the surprising amount of interceptions threw, Manning would have had what most people consider to be a "career year."
Losing WR Steve Smith in the offseason to the rival Eagles certainly won't help anymore than the loss of TE Kevin Boss will, but Manning still has dependable receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham to toss the pigskin too.
If he cuts down on his mistakes, Manning could finish the season as a top five fantasy quarterback.
Quarterback No. 10: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
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2010 Stats: 17 Touchdowns/five interceptions/3,200 passing yards
Big Ben missed some action last year due to injury but still had a solid season for an offense that is known for being run-first.
Roethlisberger isn't exactly the world's best pocket passer, and he won't put up the prettiest stats, but he makes plays with both his legs and his arm that not many quarterbacks can make.
The addition of former Jets WR Jericho Cotchery to the Steelers offense can do nothing but help, as Cotchery will add depth to a Steelers receiving corps that already includes Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller.
Quarterback No. 9: Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
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2010 Stats: 24 Touchdowns/12 interceptions/4,370 passing yards
Schaub is easily one of the most underrated fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL.
When you think of quarterbacks who will put up impressive stats, you think Brady, Manning, Rodgers etc. Rarely though does Schaub get the respect he deserves, perhaps because of the fact he plays for an underachieving Texans team.
Schaub has had so much success largely because of a certain wide receiver who he plays with—Andre Johnson. The Texans have arguably the best fantasy RB (Arian Foster) and the best fantasy WR (Johnson) to partner with Schaub in the Texans high-octane, high-scoring offense that should only continue to improve.
Quarterback No. 8: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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2010 Stats: 25 Touchdowns/6 interceptions/3,451 passing yards
Freeman was catapulted last season from someone who was considered a raw, but talented, prospect to a legitimate starting quarterback (and future star) in the NFL.
Freeman does a lot of things right on the football field, but perhaps, his best attribute is this: he doesn't make mistakes.
Freeman has talent around him on offense (WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow) and should continue to make leaps and bounds in his development towards being an elite NFL quarterback. Definitely grab Freeman in your draft if given the opportunity but don't draft him earlier than you need to.
Quarterback No. 7: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
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2010 Stats: 28 Touchdowns/9 interceptions/3,705 passing yards
Matty Ice! I'm a HUGE fan of Ryan's fantasy potential heading into the 2011 season.
As Matt Ryan heads into his third season in the NFL, it seems as if he's poised to make the jump from above-average quarterback to elite quarterback—and I think he accomplishes that this season.
Ryan will benefit greatly from have WR's Roddy White and Julio Jones to go along with TE Tony Gonzalez to throw to. Not too shabby of a crew to throw the pigskin too, eh?
Like I said, I really, really think Ryan will catch people off guard this year with how well he plays. Definitely someone you should draft with a mid-draft pick in the fourth or fifth round.
Quarterback No. 6: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
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2010 Stats: 21 passing touchdowns/nine rushing touchdowns/six interceptions/3,018 passing yards
Vick caught everyone off guard last season with his outstanding play, especially considering he was the backup for Kevin Kolb heading into the 2010 season. Now though, there's only one question that surrounds Vick—was he a one-year wonder or can he be that efficient and that productive again?
Time will tell, but my bet is that with limitless options on offense (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith, LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown), Vick will once again have major success both through the air and on the ground.
The key for Vick, however, will be staying healthy. If you're going to draft Vick as you're starting fantasy quarterback, you better make sure you have a dependable quarterback to back him up.
Quarterback No. 5: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
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2010 Stats: 33 Touchdowns/22 interceptions/4,620 passing yards
Brees has long been one of the most consistent and dependable fantasy quarterbacks available, but at the age of 32, he could be on the down side of his NFL career.
Brees has flourished in Sean Payton's offensive system in past years, and there's no reason to think that Brees won't have another successful season.
The loss of Reggie Bush in the offseason will hurt the Saints offense more than most think, but the addition of rookie RB Mark Ingram should help improve the running game, allowing Brees to find more openings in the passing game.
Draft Brees with no worries.
Quarterback No. 4: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
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2010 Stats: 30 Touchdowns/13 interceptions/4,710 passing yards
Everyone knows Philip Rivers is good. Really good. Like, really good. But I still think Rivers is in a similar situation as Matt Schaub.
Like Schaub, Rivers doesn't get as much credit or publicity that he should because he not only plays on an underachieving Chargers team, but he quarterbacks them.
Rivers is definitely in the class of elite NFL passers though and should once again put up monster numbers. Rivers has never had a real problem with staying healthy, but the key to his success is whether TE Antonio Gates can stay healthy.
Rivers will also have WR Vincent Jackson to throw to again this season, as Jackson missed much playing time last year, hurting River's fantasy numbers somewhat. Skies are blue in San Diego though as the Chargers expect to win the AFC West behind the arm of Rivers.
Quarterback No. 3: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
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2010 Stats: 33 Touchdowns/17 interceptions/4,700 passing yards
This is odd. Something's not right here. Peyton Manning is ranked third in something? When's the last time that happened? It doesn't often. But here's why Manning is ranked third on my list—his health.
Manning will likely miss most, if not all, of the preseason action due to an offseason neck surgery he had. Manning has been down this road of heading into a season still recovering from surgery before, but he always returns to true Manning form and becomes the dominant, game-changing quarterback that he is.
We likely won't see Manning play before the regular season, but betting on Manning having another successful season is about as safe as betting goes.
Quarterback No. 2: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
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2010 Stats: 28 Touchdowns/11 interceptions/3,922 passing yards
Coming off of his first Super Bowl win, you can bet that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers would love to add another Super Bowl ring to the collection this season.
Green Bay didn't make any major moves in the offseason, and that's not a bad thing. Their offense is still loaded with talent (WR's Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley) and even returns RB Ryan Grant, who was injured last season after just eight carries.
With a ton of returning talent, it's safe to expect Rodgers to have another stellar season. I have him ahead of Manning due to Peyton's offseason neck surgery, and Rodgers has all of the momentum from last season.
Quarterback No. 1: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
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2010 Stats: 36 Touchdowns/four interceptions/3,900 passing yards
Do I even really need to justify this? Ok, but I will anyways. Brady had 492 passing attempts last year, and you know how many times he threw an interception? Four. Just four. That. Is. Ridiculous.
Brady is not only the leagues best overall quarterback, but he's also the leagues best fantasy football quarterback. The addition of former Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco will only help Brady, as if he needs it.
Sleeper Pick: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
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2010 Stats: six Touchdowns/one interception/535 passing yards
Despite missing much of his first two seasons in the NFL due to injury, Stafford has shown at times (when healthy) that he can be the franchise quarterback that the Lions desperately need.
People in Detroit are expecting a big year from Stafford, and having Calvin Johnson at wide receiver will only make his job easier.
In his first preseason outing, Stafford completed 6-of-7 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
Could it be a sign of things to come? Lions fans hope so.
Don't Forget About..
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Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Cutler led the Bears to the NFC Championship game last year behind a strong Bears defense, but it's clear Cutler is a strong-armed, talented quarterback. Despite being very turnover-prone (25 total turnovers in 2010, 30 in 2009) and playing behind a shaky offensive line, Cutler still manages to put up dependable stats. He's a solid backup choice for your team.
Matt Cassell, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassell had a stellar 2010 season as he threw 27 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. Another year of learning from Chiefs head and offensive specialist coach Todd Haley could lead to an even bigger year from Cassell, who will attempt to lead the Chiefs back to the AFC playoffs.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Flacco is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. His ratio of 25 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last season is a commendable one, and the former Delaware QB could continue to build on those numbers.
Losing WR Derrick Mason to the Jets and TE Todd Heap to the Cardinals won't help, but Flacco still has a strong receiving corps (highlighted by Anquan Boldin) to throw to.