2011 NFL Fantasy Football: Initial Week 1 Quarterback Rankings

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2011 NFL Fantasy Football: Initial Week 1 Quarterback Rankings
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Over Labor Day weekend, we updated our full-season rankings for those of you that still have your fantasy draft(s) coming up. If you have a draft tonight, this is for you.

For most of us, however, it's time to shift our focus from drafting our teams and perhaps tweaking them with some free-agent pickups, to setting our Week 1 lineup.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are roughly 24 hours from the start of the 2011 NFL season.

Not only will Brett Favre not be in the field this weekend, neither will Peyton Manning who had played in 208 consecutive regular-season games.

Manning, the league's four-time MVP, has been shut down from practicing and there is no timetable on his return, which is obviously a much bigger concern than missing only one game. And, of course, Manning's absence will have a trickle-down effect on the Colts receivers, running back Joseph Addai and tight end Dallas Clark.

Here are our top 30 fantasy quarterbacks for Week 1 (opponents in parentheses):

1. Michael Vick, Eagles (at STL): Not counting passing stats (for Vick) or receiving stats (for running backs), Vick finished 23rd overall in fantasy points from rushing stats alone compared to running backs. In other words, he's a low-end RB2 in a 12-team league if he didn't throw any passes. But he does.

2. Philip Rivers, Chargers (vs MIN): Rivers threw for a league-high 4,710 yards with a bunch of waiver-wire guys plus Antonio Gates last year. With Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd all in the lineup, the sky's the limit.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (vs NO): Rodgers, my top-rated fantasy quarterback for 2011, is a must-start every week. That said, the Saints allowed only two 300-yard passing games and only three quarterbacks threw multiple touchdowns against them last year.

4. Tom Brady, Patriots (at MIA): Surprisingly, Brady threw for less than 200 yards in both of his starts against the Dolphins last year. That streak ends here.

5. Drew Brees, Saints (at GB): In his 79 regular-season starts as the Saints quarterback, Brees has thrown for 300-plus yards 37 times. Brees has thrown for 250-plus yards in 56 of 79 starts. Brees will be without receiver Lance Moore, who has been ruled out for Thursday night.

6. Matt Schaub, Texans (vs IND): Only one quarterback has more passing yards than Schaub in the past two years combined: Drew Brees. Let's just hope he does better than last year's opening week matchup against the Colts: 9-for-17 passing for 107 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

7. Josh Freeman, Bucs (vs DET): Provided Tampa's line keeps Ndamukong Suh from bodyslamming Freeman, he should be able to pick apart the Lions secondary, which is still the defense's weakness.

8. Matt Stafford, Lions (at TB): The Lions like to air it out, Stafford can sling it and MegaTron is a physical freak. And Stafford is healthy. For now, at least.

9. Matt Ryan, Falcons (at CHI): With the addition of Julio Jones through the draft and expected emergence of Harry Douglas in the slot to go along with Roddy White, Ryan is poised for a big year.

10. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (at BAL): In the past three years (four matchups), Roethlisberger has thrown exactly one touchdown against the Ravens each game.

11. Tony Romo, Cowboys (at NYJ): Loaded with weapons, Romo should have a big year. However, the good times might not start rolling until Week 2. The Jets have the league's best cornerback in Darrelle Revis and arguably the best tandem with Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

12. Eli Manning, Giants (at WAS): Although he completed less than half of his pass attempts in the pre-season, Manning is coming off back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons and has two standout receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.

13. Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs PIT): Flacco played o.k. against the Steelers last year: 250-plus yards and one touchdown in each regular-season game. That's similar to what I expect in Week 1.

14. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals (vs CAR): The Panthers allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, which is partly due to the fact that they allowed the fourth-most to running backs (And why I like Beanie Wells this week).

15. Jay Cutler, Bears (vs ATL): It's hit-or-miss with Cutler (and that's not a reference to his 52 sacks last year). Cutler threw three (or more) touchdowns five times last year. Cutler threw zero touchdowns five times. In other words, he will either play great, badly or somewhere in between.

16. Kyle Orton, Broncos (vs OAK): Although I expect the Broncos to run more under John Fox, I like the matchup against the Nnamdi Asomugha-led Raiders.

17. Sam Bradford, Rams (vs PHI): Coming into 2011, Bradford was hyped up (and rightfully so). Unfortunately, Bradford gets Asomugha plus two other Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks in Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Well, there is always next week.

18. Kerry Collins, Colts (at HOU): Interestingly enough, Collins played well in his last game, which was against the Colts (28-39 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions). In fact, he threw for 1,016 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions in final four games. Maybe we are worried for nothing. Nah, who am I kidding?

19. Colt McCoy, Browns (vs CIN): McCoy has one career multi-touchdown game. Want to guess against which team?

20. Matt Cassel, Chiefs (vs BUF): Cassel is questionable due to a rib injury suffered in the fourth preseason game. Provided he remains a full participant later in the week at practice, he'll be bumped up a couple of spots when we update our rankings.

The rest of our top 30 fantasy quarterbacks for Week 1:

21. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (at KC)
22. Mark Sanchez, Jets (vs DAL)
23. Alex Smith, 49ers (vs SEA)
24. Cam Newton, Panthers (at ARI)
25. Jason Campbell, Raiders (at DEN)
26. Matt Hasselbeck, Titans (at JAX)
27. Donovan McNabb, Vikings (at SD)
28. Chad Henne, Dolphins (vs NE)
29. Tarvaris Jackson, Seahawks (at SF)
30. Rex Grossman, Redskins (vs NYG)

More Week 1 rankings: Running Backs - Wide Receivers - Tight Ends - Kickers - Team Defenses

If you have a question (trade proposal, lineup decision, etc.), feel free to post it in our free fantasy football forum. Also, you'll find our free fantasy football contest for Week 1 in our forums.

If you're looking for some last-minute fantasy advice, tune in to our Week 1 fantasy football podcast on Sunday, September 11th at 10:00 a.m. ET on Blog Talk Radio.

In addition, you can keep track of our content updates by: (1) following us on Twitter @EDSFootball and/or (2) "liking" us on Facebook.

Good luck in your Week 1 matchup(s)!

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