With the free agency portion of the offseason nearly complete and the NFL rookie draft in the rear view mirror, it’s time to update my 2010 quarterback rankings.
The initial rankings noted the significant number of solid fantasy performances last season and there’s little reason to doubt a repeat in 2010. The biggest developments since my initial rankings, published in early-March, were as follows:
- Ben Roethlisberger’s four to six game suspension,
- Brandon Marshall traded to the Miami Dolphins,
- Donovan McNabb traded to the Washington Redskins,
- Jason Campbell subsequently being traded to the Oakland Raiders,
- St. Louis Rams drafting Sam Bradford, and
- Brett Favre’s recent announcement that he requires ankle surgery.
The only potential major issue to be resolved before training camp is where former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger signs. The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed like a logical destination but they picked up Byron Leftwich from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Teams currently thought to be interested in Bulger include the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals, with the Cardinals an intriguing option given the question marks surrounding Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson.
Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.
1. (1) Aaron Rodgers, GB
Fantasy football’s top ranked QB from 2009 returns to the top spot for 2010. What propels him to the top of the projections is his rushing ability (304 yards and five TD last year).
2. (4) Drew Brees, NO
Moves from four to two. The Saints failed to take a running back in the draft and lost Mike Bell to the Eagles, so they figure to match their passing production from a year ago.
3. (2) Matt Schaub, HOU
4. (3) Peyton Manning, IND
He’s fourth because he usually gets a game or two off at the end of the season. Otherwise, he’d be my second ranked quarterback.
5. (6) Philip Rivers, SD
The drafting of Ryan Mathews causes Rivers’ projected points to drop but he moves up a notch due to the trade of Donovan McNabb, my original fifth ranked QB, to the Redskins.
6. (9) Tony Romo, DAL
Coming off a top 5 fantasy season and moves up two notches due to the addition of a new toy on offense in rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant.
7. (8) Jay Cutler, CHI
He’s going to have to live with the team’s current crop of wide receivers but the Mike Martz factor propels him to the seven spot.
8. (11) Tom Brady, NE
Brady moves back into the top ten with two others falling and the addition of Torry Holt as a decent veteran to play outside with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Still, there are issues at tight end with an aging Alge Crumpler and a pair of rookies.
9. (10) Eli Manning, NYG
No fancy additions in the draft but Eli moves up a spot due to McNabb and Roethlisberger moving down (drops behind Brady). Nice upside at wide receiver in Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham and no additions to the depth chart at running back so there’s little reason to think they will run significantly more in 2010.
10. (NR) Kevin Kolb, PHI
Kolb passed for over 300 yards in both games he started last season and benefits from a solid supporting cast. He is a bit of a risk due to his lack of playing time but also possesses major upside and is a great option for dynasty leagues. Kolb will routinely be compared to Aaron Rodgers in his first year as a starter by fantasy pundits leading up to the start of the season.
11. (13) Joe Flacco, BAL
12. (12) Brett Favre, MIN
Sixth ranked fantasy quarterback last year but hard to believe he can duplicate his performance coming off ankle surgery and being a year older. There’s a risk factor here that’s hard to ignore.
13. (18) Alex Smith, SF
14. (5) Donovan McNabb, WAS
McNabb was ranked fifth previously assuming he would benefit from having perhaps the best young group of offensive skill position players in the league in Philadelphia. There is a big drop off in the talent surrounding him in Washington.
15. (17) Matthew Stafford, DET
Nate Burleson adds a nice deep threat opposite Calvin Johnson and the addition of rookie first round pick Jahvid Best reduces the concerns about the running attack as Kevin Smith fights his way back from injury. Tony Scheffler’s acquisition also provides insurance in case Brandon Pettigrew isn’t 100% at the start of the season.
16. (15) Matt Ryan, ATL
17. (19) Vince Young, TEN
Played well last year but still has to be considered a boom or bust candidate. Damian Williams was added in the draft but the team figures to rely on an out of shape Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Justin Gage once again in 2010.
18. (16) David Garrard, JAC
19. (26) Mark Sanchez, NYJ
20. (25) Chad Henne, MIA
Henne moves up five spots courtesy of the Brandon Marshall trade. The Dolphins will run plenty in 2010 but Marshall will open it up for the team’s other wide receivers as well as provide a deep threat and plenty of yards after the catch.
21. (24) Matt Leinart, ARI
Leinart will likely be drafted before he should be. He loses Boldin and the offense figures to run much more this year than they did in 2009.
22. (20) Carson Palmer, CIN
The Bengals are going to run heavily again in 2010 and Palmer will almost certainly be drafted before he should be based on his name recognition and past fantasy achievements.
23. (14) Jason Campbell, OAK
It’s worth noting that the Raiders passing offense was significantly better last year when JaMarcus Russell was on the bench in favour of Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye. Campbell is much better than either of those two. Unfortunately, there’s no number one wide receiver.
24. (23) Josh Freeman, TB
25. (7) Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
It was a career year for Big Ben in 2009 but he’s facing a four to six game suspension, loses Holmes and the Steelers figure to run more in 2010.
26. (22) Matt Cassel, KC
Unless scatback/slot receiver Dexter McCluster provides a major shot in the arm to the offense, Cassell is destined for fantasy irrelevance. There is little upside here.
27. (27) Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
Hasselbeck is likely keeping the position warm for Charlie Whitehurst.
28. (21) Kyle Orton, DEN
Orton was okay last year but loses Marshall and will likely have to rely on a pair of rookie wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. It will come as no surprise if Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow gets a shot early in 2010.
29. (NR) Sam Bradford, STL
There is no competition in St. Louis but loads of question marks at wide receiver and tight end. There is some upside at receiver but it is difficult to forecast any breakouts in 2010.
30. (29) Matt Moore, CAR
Moore’s prospects got a lot less exciting due to Jimmy Clausen’s presence. Actually, I wasn’t that excited to begin with.
31. (NR) Jake Delhomme, CLE
He’s been horrible for the last season and a half and the Browns depth chart at wide receiver is absolutely scary.
32. (31) Trent Edwards, BUF
Two people in NFL management circles think Edwards is a starting caliber quarterback and they happen to the Bills head coach and general manager. Edwards wins the lottery on that one but he won’t win any fantasy games for you, that’s for sure.
33. (NR) Charlie Whitehurst, SEA
Whitehurst is probably the only player likely to enter the season as a backup but almost certainly guaranteed to be starting by midseason.
The following players dropped off the rankings from last time: