Having written nothing but baseball related articles to this point as a member of Bleacher Report, I decided it was time to branch out into my other favorite sport, football. Or more specifically, fantasy football.
I have decided to do my own preseason rankings, and I started with the quarterback position. My rankings will be based on a standard scoring, two-quarterback league. I will also break quarterbacks into tiers, grouping players with similar expectations together.
Brees is in a league of his own, and is the only quarterback worth drafting in the first round.
1. Drew Brees, Saints
As impressive as his 5,069 yard, 34 TD performance was last season, there is not reason to believe he won't approach those numbers again, especially with a healthy Marques Colston. Brees also has not missed a game since 2004, and is about as safe of a pick as there is at this position.
These next three guys are a notch down from Brees, but are still more or less sure things. Expect all three of these guys to be gone by the end of round four.
2. Peyton Manning, Colts
While you hate to lose a guy like Marvin Harrison, he had lost a step and the passing game may actually be better with Anthony Gonzalez in a starting role. Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne remian among the best at their positions, and the coaching change will have little effect on Manning as he basically calls his own plays anyway. Expect the usual 4,000 yards and 30 TD's.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Common sense tells you that he should only get better with another year under his belt. As he and Greg Jennings continue to build a rapport, they will become one of the most dangerous QB-WR duos in the game. His scrambling ability also helps here, as he tallied 207 yards and 4 TDs on the ground last season.
4. Philip Rivers, Chargers
Rivers has become one of the most reliable passers in the game, despite lacking a big name target at the wide receiver position. What he does have at his disposal is one of the games top recieveing tight ends in Antonio Gates, and two great pass-catching backs in Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. Expect 3,800 yards and 28 TD's at least.
Once you get into Tier 3, you are no longer dealing with a sure thing. Either injury concerns, change of scenery, or loss of key a WR bump these guys down a level. Still, they are worth a starting spot.
5. Tom Brady, Patriots
All signs point to Brady being healthy to start the season. The receiving corps is more or less unchanged from the group he threw 50 TD's to, with Joey Galloway taking Dante Stallworth's spot. The addition of Fred Taylor should also help open up the passing game a little.
6. Kurt Warner, Cardinals
After having Warner on my fantasy team last season, it is hard to rank him this low. However, with his injury history and the fact that he is now 38 years old, the odds are stacked against him that he will duplicate last seasons 4,583 yard, 30 TD season. Still, if he can stay healthy, expect 3,800 yards and 25 TDs.
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons
I would have loved to see the look on Ryan's face when he first heard the news that the Falcons had acquired Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons already had the up-and-coming duo of Roddy White and Michael Jenkins at reciever, and a sound running game. I would not be suprised to see Ryan put up 4,000 yards and 25 TD's as they continue to open up the playbook for him.
8. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
After finally playing a full 16 games last season, McNabb will look to stay healthy once again. If he can, he has an impressive stable of recievers to throw to. The duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin may be the best pair of young receivers in the game.
9. Jay Cutler, Bears
As much as everyone talks about how terrible the Bears receiving corps is, Cutler is still a great quarterback with a big-time arm. The tight end combo of Greg Olson and Desmond Clark are stellar, as is Matt Forte out of the backfield. Also, look for Cutler to hook up with former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett, who is slated as the No. 2 wide receiver, on a regular basis. Not as valuable as he was in Denver, but still worthy of starting.
Now down into Tier 4, if you have waited this long to grab a QB, you would be wise to grab a couple from Tier 4 and play the matchups on a weekly basis.
10. Carson Palmer, Bengals
There are a lot of question marks surrounding Palmer, but I like him to bounce back this season. Any team with Cedric Benson as the unquestioned starting running back is going to be throwing a lot. A healthy Chad Ochocinco as well as the addition of Laveranues Coles should push Palmer back into the upper tiers by season's end.
11. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Cassel would be higher after last season, but with only one year under his belt, it will be interesting to see how he responds to being "the man" after signing a huge contract with the Chiefs. He performed well with limited expectations, but now that expectations are high, he will have to respond or Tyler Thigpen is waiting in the wings.
12. Tony Romo, Cowboys
The loss of Owens obviously hurts here, but Romo still has Jason Witten, arguably the game's best recieving tight end. Still, with a healthy Felix Jones, and the lack of a go to receiver, the Cowboys will no doubt be running more.
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
The Steelers commitment to the run inside the red zone, as well as the loss of Nate Washington who was one of the better slot receivers in the game, limit Roethlisberger's fantasy value. His ability to get 2-4 rushing touchdowns, as well as the continued improvement of Santonio Holmes gives him some upside though.
14. Matt Schaub, Texans
Sure he has had some injury problems, and some inconsistency, but he has Andre Johnson to throw to. That alone makes him a high end backup capable of a big week against the right defense.
-For the record, should Brett Favre sign with the Vikings, this is where he would fall in my rankings
15. Trent Edwards, Bills
With the addition of Terrel Owens, and the incumbent Lee Evans providing solid numbers, Edwards should see an improvement on last years 2,699 yards and 11 TDs to around 3,200 yards and 18 TDs. He's got the weapons, and he could be a sleeper this year if everything goes right.
These guys are best used as backups to the guys from one of the first two tiers. Ideally, you would only have to start them once during the season.
16. Matt Hasselbeck
Injuries, and poor receiver play are always an issue with Hasselbeck. However, playing in the same division as the Cardinals, Niners, and Rams will give Hasselbeck plenty of good matchups throughout the season.
17. Eli Manning
Without a real replacement for Plaxico Burress, Manning will be throwing to a largely unproven group of receivers, headlined by the second best Steve Smith in the league. Rookie Hakeem Nicks is a wild card here, as he could develop into a top tier reciever.
18. Kyle Orton
His good winning percentage means little in fantasy football. Still, with Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to thorw to, he should post better numbers than he did in Chicago.
19. Chad Pennington
Chad Henne is being groomed as the starter in Miami, and if Pennington struggles his job could be in jeopardy. Even if he does not struggle, he puts up average numbers at best.
20. Jeff Garcia
This one is a bit of a stretch, but if he can take the job from JaMarcus Russel, which should not be too hard to do, Garcia will be a valuable backup.
21. Jason Campbell, Redskins
22. Joe Flacco, Ravens
23. Mark Sanchez, Jets
24. Brady Quinn, Browns
25. Jake Delhomme, Panthers
26. Marc Bulger, Rams
27. Sage Rosenfels, Vikings
28. David Garrard, Jaguars
29. Shaun Hill, 49ers
30. Luke McCown, Buccaneers