Fantasy Football 2014: QB Rankings, Risers, Fallers, Sleepers and Risks
If the preseason meant something, Teddy Bridgewater would be an NFL MVP candidate after he led the Minnesota Vikings on a last-minute, game-winning drive that culminated in his touchdown pass.
But, he is not even a starter for his team yet.
We are here to reel the hype back in with our updated quarterback rankings, stock watch (risers and fallers) and a review of our sleepers and risks from Bleacher Report's previously published QB blueprint. The quarterback position doesn't tend to change as much as others in fantasy, but this slideshow is still an essential guide to keeping up with the masses.
QB Rankings: Matt Cassel, Chad Henne Clinging to Starting Jobs
Franchises have made countless mistakes in rushing young quarterbacks into manning the helm of complex NFL systems in the past. Sometimes, the play of their rookie quarterbacks forces their hand. The Minnesota Vikings' Matt Cassel and Jacksonville Jaguars' Chad Henne are merely trying to delay the inevitable.
We present the updated 2014 quarterback rankings for fantasy football but remind you there can still be some significant changes in the bottom half of starters, which can impact two-quarterback formats.
Most of the remaining position battles revolve around the rookie quarterbacks.
Cassel has been hot this preseason, going 17-of-22 for 215 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater led a rally this past weekend that "made him the man of the city," as receiver Cordarrelle Patterson told USA Today's Tom Pelissero. The Vikings are going to start Cassel in the full dress rehearsal in Week 3, according to ESPN.com's Ben Goessling. Cassel will play as long as he can hold off Bridgewater.
We will dig into how phenomenal Blake Bortles has looked in a later slide, but we have to mention Henne is still the quarterback the Jags are hoping will keep them from throwing Bortles to the wolves. Henne is still one spot ahead of Cassel in our rankings, only because the Jags are more likely to rely on the quarterback to move the ball, since the Vikings are still all about Adrian Peterson and the running game.
Brian Hoyer left the door open Monday night for Johnny Manziel to walk through as the Week 1 starter. Manziel stepped on the welcome mat and didn't proceed farther. Barring Manziel setting preseason Week 3 ablaze with his play in the second half, Hoyer is going to be the Browns' initial starter. You still don't want Hoyer slotted as a starter even in two-quarterback leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick remains the clear starter here, but only because Case Keenum has struggled throughout training camp and rookie Tom Savage has been kept on a short leash, as Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle writes. The Texans might take some time, but there could eventually be some fantasy value to be gleaned here.
- Oakland Raiders: Matt Schaub is the starter by default. He has been underwhelming this preseason, but so has rookie Derek Carr.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh McCown hasn't been challenged by Mike Glennon, so watch his work this weekend for potential sleeper value in two-quarterback leagues.
- New York Jets: Geno Smith hasn't done anything to force Michael Vick into first-team reps...yet.
Updated Quarterback Rankings
Riser: TE Rob Gronkowski Promising 16 Games for QB Tom Brady
We know what we are going to get from New England Patriots veteran QB Tom Brady. It is what we are going to get out of his targets that impacts Brady's fantasy value.
If Rob Gronkowski makes good on his stated goal of playing all 16 games, as ESPN.com's Mike Reiss tweeted Monday, Brady's production will trump even his elevated draft position. Brady is just 10th among quarterbacks in FantaysPros.com's consensus rankings, but the public ADP slots him seventh.
Consider that a function of certainty. Brady is a sure thing, as opposed to some younger passers, including Nick Foles. We just need some more certainty from Gronk and Brady's other targets.
Faller: Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel Just Doesn't Look Draft-Worthy
Johnny Manziel brings a lot of his criticism on himself with his antics. However, his play is not instilling much confidence in his initial fantasy value right now.
Manziel could very well be an impact fantasy option later this season because of his legs. Right now, you don't have to worry about drafting him.
The pressure is getting to Manziel, who extended his middle finger to the Washington Redskins sideline after an incompletion Monday night. He took responsibility for his irresponsibility when speaking to The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot, at least, saying:
I get words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week. I should have been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game, the cameras were solidly on me, so I need to be smarter about that. ... I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play.
Manziel is a mess right now, and he looks like a waste of a pick in any round.
Riser: Blake Bortles' Play Looks Like It Could Force the Jags' Hand
We don't present this slide because you should be moving Blake Bortles onto your draft board. He is still the backup to Chad Henne. But what we have seen early from Bortles has been promising.
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has even softened his stance on keeping 2014's third overall pick on the bench behind Henne for the whole year, telling Peter King of MMQB.com:
This fan base saw a quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) get thrown to the wolves. We don't need to force it. We never thought when we drafted (Bortles) we were taking him to play now. But nothing is set in stone. We're giving Blake every chance to make the decision super-hard for us.
Not only will Bortles play this year and show some flashes in two-quarterback leagues, but he might play right away and be a must-draft option in those formats.
Faller: Eli Manning Hasn't Looked Comfortable in New West Coast Scheme
Fantasy owners might have been hopeful to see Eli Manning take to new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense right away. That just hasn't been in the case.
Manning went 1-of-7 for six yards Saturday and is a combined 7-of-16 for 49 yards through three preseason games. Ouch.
It is an understatement this might take time, perhaps through the early part of the season, as Tom Coughlin told the New York Daily News' Ebenezer Samuel. Manning has the look of a quarterback drafted in a standard league who winds up on the waiver wire in September.
He looks like a low-end No. 2 fantasy quarterback right now.
Sleepers: Super Bowl Hype Hasn't Overrated Russell Wilson in Fantasy
- Russell Wilson (No. 14 QB)
- Matt Ryan (No. 10)
- Robert Griffin III (No. 8)
- Tony Romo (No. 12)
- Ryan Tannehill (No. 23)
A quarterback winning the Super Bowl tends to bring expectations, hype and risk of being a fantasy bust. This does not apply to Russell Wilson.
In the Fantasy Leagues of Experts (FLEX) draft this past weekend in New York City, I was able to secure Wilson as my backup to Peyton Manning in the 12th round. This is a great example of how productive fantasy quarterbacks can fall to you in drafts.
All quarterbacks are potential sleepers because you can wait on them a long time, particularly since there isn't much to choose from between the No. 4 passer Andrew Luck and the first backup, No. 13 Colin Kaepernick, on our board—as we previously analyzed in Bleacher Report's comprehensive QB blueprint.
Wilson is just the 14th quarterback off the board in FantasyPros.com's ADP right now. That is 26 passing touchdowns and 500-plus rushing yards available from a backup quarterback. Toss in the health this preseason of Percy Harvin (for now), and Wilson should remain a top-10 fantasy quarterback and steady starter like he was last year.
Here are our top five quarterback sleepers relative to draft position right now (using the FantasyPros.com ADP data):
Risks: Nick Foles' Draft Value Coming Down to Reasonable Level
- Peyton Manning (38 years old)
- Drew Brees (35)
- Tom Brady (37)
- Tony Romo (34)
- Eli Manning (33)
Fantasy analysts hate picking quarterbacks. They love Nick Foles.
After Foles threw for 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions in his first partial season as his team's clear No. 1 quarterback, there potentially is a lot to love. We thought that love would lead to excessive expectations and risk of fantasy disappointment.
Thankfully, the fantasy public is bringing some much-needed perspective to Foles' draft value.
Foles is No. 6 in the FantasyPros.com consensus rankings. He is ranked ahead of steady, accomplished veterans Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. Also, high-ceiling, mobile quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick are looking up at Foles in those rankings, despite the fact Foles still hasn't been a full-year starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Foles is just No. 9 in FantasyPro.com's ADP, which is far more reasonable relative to the other intriguing options on that board. We listed Foles as the bust in B/R's QB blueprint earlier this month, but if he falls to the 10th round like he did in Saturday's FLEX draft in NYC, forget about the bust talk.
There is no such thing as a late-round bust. Those guys are value picks. It is the early round quarterbacks you have to worry about going bust.
Potential Age-Related Busts
The old quarterbacks are the ones we tend to draft sooner. They are also a greater risk for injury and likelier to need more time to recover. Here are the top busts relative to draft position and age:
Potential Injury Concerns
You don't have to be older to be an injury risk, though. The following are the quarterbacks for whom you will need to accept some risk when picking and likely lock up a solid backup as insurance:
- Cam Newton (ankle): Also dealing with a revamped receiving corps.
- Robert Griffin III (knee): Slight stature (6'2", 222 pounds) and his style also put him at risk.
- Jay Cutler (various): Hasn't played a 16-game season since 2009.
- Sam Bradford (shoulder/knee): He's healthy now, but injury history suggests that won't last.
- EJ Manuel (knee): He hasn't been impressive in training camp.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.