Fantasy football rankings can only do so much.
When you're in the heated battle of a live draft, it's sometimes difficult to find a glaring difference between, say, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. You could even make that argument for the top three quarterbacks in the league—Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees.
It's not necessarily about "who is better". It's more about the fact that all three are worth a selection in the first two rounds, while no other quarterbacks are.
Next time you're drafting, take a look at these tier rankings, and you'll have a solid understanding of each player's value, as well as where you can expect them to be (or not be).
Tier One (Rounds 1-2)
1. Tom Brady—New England Patriots
He still has Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and the New England offense ran smoothly, even without him. He may not throw 50 touchdowns again, but do you really think someone else will play better?
Why you should draft him: For the possibility of reaching 2007's numbers again.
Why you shouldn't: He could be rusty.
2. Peyton Manning—Indianapolis Colts
He's still a top five quarterback, but there may be too many changes for there to be no drop-off in 2009.
As long as he has Reggie Wayne, Manning is relevant, but losing Tony Dungy, Tom Moore, and Marvin Harrison all in one offseason should affect him.
Why you should draft him: He's as consistent as they come.
Why you shouldn't: Changes around him could impact his game.
3. Drew Brees—New Orleans Saints
Brees is fresh off a 34-touchdown and 5,000-yard season. But is that truly something he can repeat?
Probably not, but that offense sets him up for at least 4,000 yards and 25+ scores.
Why you should draft him: Because right now, he's the hottest signal caller in the league.
Why you shouldn't: 5,000 yards is a rarity. He's unlikely to eclipse that number in back-to-back seasons.
4. Kurt Warner—Arizona Cardinals
He may be old, but Warner still has fresh legs and a lively arm. He's not quite as brittle or injury-prone as advertised, either.
With an exciting offense, featuring a receiving corps that goes four-deep supporting him, another 30+ touchdowns could be in order, as well as 4,000 yards passing.
Why you should draft him: His team is still young and promising, and he still has "it".
Why you shouldn't: At 38, he's a high injury risk.
Tier Two (Rounds 3-6)
5. Aaron Rodgers—Green Bay Packers
While Brett Favre may now again be back in the picture, there is little reason to hate on Rodgers.
He put up 4,000 yards and 31 combined touchdowns in his first season. How scared are you of him once he truly gets comfortable? He could easily finish above Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning in fantasy points, but he can be had for less.
Why you should draft him: He has a good set of receivers and a good offense.
Why you shouldn't: He could be headed for a sophomore slump.
6. Philip Rivers—San Diego Chargers
Rivers came into his own last season, and with the same weapons returning, he should look to possibly even improve on 2008's Pro Bowl numbers.
Rivers isn't a one-year wonder, but you can draft him as if he was.
Why you should draft him: He's maturing into one of the great, young quarterbacks.
Why you shouldn't: With a healthy LT and Darren Sproles, Chargers could rely on ground game more.
7. Tony Romo—Dallas Cowboys
Is there life after T.O.? I believe so.
Romo still has his boy, Jason Witten, as well as one of the best running tandems in the league.
Jason Garrett knows what he's doing, too. Romo will be fine. Get him for dirt cheap.
Why you should draft him: He still has Witten, and that's worked out well.
Why you shouldn't: Dallas should look to run more, and Owens is gone.
8. Donovan McNabb—Philadelphia Eagles
If it wasn't an extreme rarity for McNabb to finish a full season, he'd be listed higher.
His team is back in the pre-season Super Bowl talk, he has an explosive set of receivers, and he's still backed by Brian Westbrook (if he can stay healthy).
Why you should draft him: Their offense is still exciting, and big numbers are possible.
Why you shouldn't: There is some uncertainty surrounding Westbrook, and McNabb's injury history makes him a risk.
9. Carson Palmer—Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer is coming back from a huge surgery, so there's enough questions surrounding his arm that could make you uneasy about drafting him.
Add to it that Chad Ochocino is an unpredictable prim donna, and it's hard to be too sold on Palmer's supporting cast.
Reports from camp have Palmer and co. in good spirits, and predicting big things; however, it should be noted that only two months from the season opener, Palmer's arm still isn't close to 100%.
Why you should draft him: Something tells me Ochocinco is determined to right this ship.
Why you shouldn't: Something tells me Ochocinco isn't determined to right this ship.
10. Matt Schaub—Houston Texans
Anyone who has Andre Johnson as their top receiver is a candidate for a huge season. Throw in Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels, and Kevin Walter, and Matt Schaub is officially on the brink of fantasy greatness.
The rest is on Gary Kubiak.
Why you should draft him: He threw for 3,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in only 10 full games.
Why you shouldn't: Has yet to play more than 11 games in a season as the starter.
11. Jay Cutler—Chicago Bears
On pure talent alone, Cutler is easily in the top ten, and regardless of popular opinion, he very well may finish the season among the league's best.
However, adjusting to a new offense, city, and teammates should never be overlooked.
But if Kyle Orton could throw 18 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards with the same talent, what can Cutler accomplish?
Why you should draft him: He's Jay Cutler, and he really is this good.
Why you shouldn't: New weapons are less potent.
12. Ben Roethlisberger—Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben hasn't been the "ideal" fantasy option at quarterback, but he's proven to be more than serviceable on a consistent basis.
The loss of Nate Washington will force Limas Sweed into being a go-to man, but could also hinder Roethlisberger in the long run. With Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes still around, though, the future is bright for Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
Why you should draft him: Because 2007 is still possible.
Why you shouldn't: Because 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008 are more likely.
13. Matt Ryan—Atlanta Falcons
It's a big jump to go from solid "game-manager" as a rookie, to elite quarterback as a sophomore. With Ryan, I see it happening.
Michael Turner is still backing him with one of the league's most effective ground games, and now Ryan has Tony Gonzalez to team with the explosive Roddy White and serviceable Michael Jenkins.
Teams will focus on the run against Atlanta. Ryan could have a huge year.
Why you should draft him: His offense breathes "Super Bowl contender", and he showed us a lot late in the season.
Why you shouldn't: Atlanta is still a run-first team.
14. Eli Manning—New York Giants
Yes, he's won a Super Bowl, and yes, he's even thrown for over 20 touchdowns in four straight years, but has never thrown for more than 24 touchdowns or 3,800 yards. In fact, he hasn't thrown for more than 3,400 yards since 2005.
Factor in a completely new set of receivers and no Plaxico Burress, and his projected numbers don't look too sexy.
Why you should take him: He's a Manning.
Why you shouldn't: He had 11 games with one or zero passing touchdowns in 2008.
15. Matt Hasselbeck—Seattle Seahawks
Hasselbeck's back appears to be aligned and working, so a return to his 2007 form isn't out of the question.
His running game is still mush, but with new additions (and health) to his receiving corps, his prospects for 2009 are looking far brighter than they were at the beginning og last year.
Seattle may not be a Super Bowl contender anymore, but Hasselbeck could surprise some people.
Why you should draft him: Someone has to throw T.J. Houshmandzadeh the ball.
Why you shouldn't: He's playing his first year without his mentor, Mike Holmgren.
Tier Three (Rounds 7-14)
16. Matt Cassel—Kansas City Chiefs
If Cassel was preparing for year two in New England as the starter, his stock would be extremely high.
However, with a new coach, system, and a huge drop-off in offensive weapons, he's starting all over again.
Why you should draft him: He's as good as advertised.
Why you shouldn't: The change of scenery could hold him back.
17. Brett Favre—Minnesota Vikings
If Favre signs, he's backed by the league's best running back, and he's back in his old division.
The only knock on him is his age and interceptions. With AP leading the way, will it matter?
Why you should take him: Sure, he's pushing 40, but like him or not, he's still got it.
Why you shouldn't: Last year's late slide is still scary.
18. Trent Edwards—Buffalo Bills
Edwards had the makings of a solid NFL signal caller, with or without the addition of Terrell Owens in the offseason. But with T.O., Edwards could see an accelerated jump to the elite—that is, if the chemistry is there, and Edwards' long ball can be consistent.
Why you should draft him: T.O. rarely disappoints in his first year.
Why you shouldn't: In 24 games, he has 18 touchdowns. Not exactly electric.
19. Kyle Orton—Denver Broncos
Orton put up decent numbers in his final season with Chicago, and he didn't even have a true No. 1 receiver on his team.
If he can inherit Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, he could thrive.
Why you should draft him: His new weapons could catapult him into the top 10.
Why you shouldn't: Brandon Marshall's future is in limbo.
20. David Garrard—Jacksonville Jaguars
Garrard grew as a passer last season, but more because his offensive line was horrendous, and less because he had good options to throw to.
With Matt Jones and Dennis Northcutt gone, and only an aging Torry Holt around to take their place, Jacksonville will likely lean hard on the ground game.
Why you should draft him: If he throws less than 400 balls again, he can be extremely efficient.
Why you shouldn't: His weapons aren't exciting.
21. Chad Pennington—Miami Dolphins
Pennington won the Comeback Player of the Year award last season—which is both good and bad.
It shows he has a ton of dedication, and can play through adversity. But how long can it last?
Why you should draft him: Like it or not, he's what makes Miami go.
Why you shouldn't: A return to 2007 is more likely than a repeat of 2008.
22. Joe Flacco—Baltimore Ravens
Flacco has great size and arm strength, and should have much more confidence heading into his second season; however, he ended the season on a sour note, and still has mediocre weapons.
The Ravens have a solid RBBC approach, and it appears they are, once again, an offense that's tied to the success of their rush attack.
Why you should draft him: His chemistry with his receivers is improving.
Why you shouldn't: Even if he progresses, the Ravens won't throw much.
23. Jason Campbell—Washington Redskins
Campbell got off to a hot start in 2008, throwing for eight scores, up against zero interceptions in the Redskins' first eight games.
However, Campbell and the rest of Washington's offense fell apart after that, dropping to 8-8, after starting the season at 6-2.
Why you should draft him: This could be his break-out year.
Why you shouldn't: Last season was as good as it gets.
24. Jake Delhomme—Carolina Panthers
Delhomme ended a less-than-spectacular 2008 with five interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals. While most took this as a sign that Carolina needed to move on and draft a franchise quarterback, Jon Fox and co. apparently looked at it as simply a "bad game".
The truth is, in six seasons as the Panthers' starter, Delhomme has produced one "elite" season, while only tossing for more than 3,400 yards or 20 touchdowns one other time.
Why you should draft him: Steve Smith keeps Delhomme relevant.
Why you shouldn't: He simply isn't a good fantasy quarterback anymore.
25. Marc Bulger—St. Louis Rams
A new regime seems to have the right frame of mind, and the Rams are going to try their hand at being a run-first offense.
I'm not sure how Bulger will handle that, but with limited offensive weapons, he may not have a choice.
Why you should draft him: Because someone grabbed Brett Favre way too early.
Why you shouldn't: Because there's another starter available.
Tier Four (Bottom of the Barrel)
26. Kerry Collins—Tennessee Titans
Collins is 36 and hasn't thrown for more than 12 touchdowns in nearly four years. However, if the passing game opens up a bit, it isn't ridiculous to think that Collins could get back to the form he has in Oakland, where he was tossing 20 touchdowns a year, along with at least 3,400 yards.
The Titans will undoubtedly still lean heavily on the ground game, but Collins is a lot more serviceable than people think.
Why you should draft him: Just for pure depth.
Why you shouldn't: You were smart enough to draft quarterbacks early.
27. Brady Quinn—Cleveland Browns
Quinn appears to be the "drug of choice" for Eric Mangini, and the Browns front office will find out, one way or another, exactly what they have in their golden boy.
Why you should draft him: Braylon Edwards is still dangerous, and Quinn can play.
Why you shouldn't: Outside of Edwards, Quinn has almost no weapons.
28. Shaun Hill—San Francisco 49ers
Hill is the front-runner for the starting job, but the idea is for Alex Smith to win his job back.
Hill is incredibly efficient and wins games, but he's no fantasy star.
Why you should draft him: Frank Gore and the rest of the offense should be better.
Why you shouldn't: Outside of the aging Isaac Bruce, his receivers are unproven.
29. Mark Sanchez—New York Jets
If the Plaxico Burress talk comes to life, Sanchez could be looking at a very interesting (and possibly successful) rookie season.
Sanchez has all the tools, as well as the moxie, to do some damage in year one, but expecting a Matt Ryan-repeat is a bit much.
Why you should draft him: If they land Burress, the offense is solid.
Why you shouldn't: If it's just Cotchery, Sanchez will struggle.
30. Daunte Culpepper—Detroit Lions
Culpepper may not be anywhere close to where he was when he was in Minnesota, but as long as Calvin Johnson is running routes, whoever is quarterback in Detroit could put up serviceable numbers, at worst.
The Lions don't want to put Matthew Stafford behind a sketchy offensive line so soon, so we'll get to see Culpepper take a beating, instead.
Why you should draft him: He has solid chemistry with Calvin Johnson.
Why you shouldn't: He's no lock to start.
31. Jeff Garcia—Oakland Raiders
Garcia is already out-performing Jamarcus Russell, and if Russell falters early, Garcia could easily step in and put up better numbers.
That is, if he doesn't win the job in pre-season.
Why you should draft him: Only in deep leagues with two quarterback rosters.
Why you shouldn't: He's not the starter, yet.
32. Luke McCown—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron Leftwich is currently listed as the projected starter, but McCown has better moxie, and is passionate in the huddle.
While McCown isn't the best option out there, he still provides better fantasy value than Leftwich, while either are better than rookie Josh Freeman right now.
Why you should draft him: Only if he's the starter.
Why you shouldn't: He threw one pass in all of 2008.
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