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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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)
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.
Good luck in your Week 1 matchup(s)!
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