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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Top 10 Dropouts - Quarterbacks
Which QBs will fall from the fantasy top ten in 2015?
8/3/15
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers

It’s over 100 air conditioner-less degrees in Rip City as I type this column up and the New Yorker recently warned we stand a pretty decent chance of suffering a region-devastating earthquake in my lifetime. In other words, I’m a little bit cranky. On the bright side, NFL training camps are opening up for business and that means real, live football is only a month or so away. What better way to ignore biting real world realities and improve one’s attitude than by contemplating the upcoming football season? I’ll admit this year sneaked up on me a bit, but that won’t stop me from carrying on an annual tradition, identifying the top 10 quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers I think might drop from the ranks of the elite this coming season.

Ready or not, let’s take a look at last year’s leaders, along with those 2013 stars who fell by the wayside, and see if we can pinpoint potential underachievers for this upcoming season.

Note: All rankings are based on FFToday’s default standard scoring.

  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2013
Rank Player
1 Peyton Manning
2 Drew Brees
3 Andy Dalton
4 Matthew Stafford
5 Cam Newton
6 Philip Rivers
7 Andrew Luck
8 Ben Roethlisberger
9 Matt Ryan
10 Russell Wilson
  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2014
Rank Player
1 Andrew Luck
2 Aaron Rodgers
3 Drew Brees
4 Peyton Manning
5 Ben Roethlisberger
6 Russell Wilson
7 Matt Ryan
8 Eli Manning
9 Philip Rivers
10 Ryan Tannehill


Who Missed the Cut in 2014 (3/10): Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton

Steeee-rike three! For the first time since I started writing this column back in 2011, I managed to identify exactly none of the Top 10 QB dropouts in 2014. My money was on Philip Rivers (close), Russell Wilson (not so close), and Ben Roethlisberger (getting colder). On the bright side, I was much more accurate with the running backs and receivers so if you’re already questioning my shot-calling credentials, please keep reading.

Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford slumped for similar reasons last year. They both started over with new offensive coordinators, a tough transition in today’s ultra-sophisticated game. Then, they lost their respective security blankets – A.J. Green and Megatron – for significant stretches. When the smoke had finally cleared, they’d combined to tally 1298 fewer yards and a whopping 21 fewer touchdown tosses than the year prior. Guess that explains why they dropped from top 5 status to the mid-teens, huh? At least Stafford merely looked like a less productive version of himself most of the way. Dalton looked like a completely different (and completely terrible) quarterback. He scored more points in his best performance (31.3) than he did in his four worst performances COMBINED (26.4), bottoming out with a 10-for-33, 86-yard, three-pick fiasco against archrival Cleveland.

Newton didn’t dip into single digits even one time in 2014, preserving a three-years-and-change streak of double-digit or better performances. Moreover, his 22.3 FPts/G, though a career low, was plenty robust enough to keep him in the Top 10. Just one problem, though: He missed two starts. Newton’s greatest assets, his huge frame and powerful legs, are also what continually put him in harm’s way. Nevertheless, the Panthers rewarded him with a lucrative new contract this summer. Let’s hope for his sake and theirs he delivers more punishment than he receives in 2015.

Most Likely Candidates to Fall from the Top 10 This Year:

Peyton Manning

A run-first approach may push No.18 out of the top 10.

Peyton Manning, DEN: I took the collar last year so, naturally, Iím coming out swinging for the fences this season. I couldnít be any less accurate, could I? It basically came down to Manning or Drew Brees for this first dropout spot as Iím convinced someone major is going to fall hard in 2015. And, by the slightest of margins, I went with Manning as the most likely candidate to suffer a big tumble. Yeah, THAT Manning, not his chronically wobblier younger brother. Though Brees is also likely to descend now that New Orleans has parted ways with Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, Iím not buying speculation heíll be commanding a run-oriented, ball-control outfit. Thatís just not how that other Payton (Sean) rolls.

It is, however, how Gary Kubiak, rolls and he just so happens to be the new head man in the Mile High City. The long-time Broncos backup-turned-ball coach is pretty much the premiere purveyor of the zone-blocking scheme. What does that mean for Peytonís prospects in 2015? Letís just say Iíd be a more excited to draft C.J. Anderson than the surefire Hall of Famer who will be handing him pigskins this fall. During Kubiakís Houston heyday from 2010 through 2012, the Texans finished no worse than seventh in rushing yards and fourth in rushing TDs. You canít do that if youíre not committed to the ground game.

Itís also hard to ignore how feeble Manning looked during the back half of 2014. He was really banged up, sure, but heís also one year shy of the over-40 club. To borrow a famous Groucho Marx zinger, he shouldnít want to belong to any club that would accept him as one of its members. Hereís how many 39-year olds, let alone 40-year olds, have played in Super Bowls: zero.

Russell Wilson, SEA: Yes, I realize how vindictive this looks. In just three short years, Wilson has somehow managed to orchestrate two of the most soul-pummeling defeats in this Packer fanís 30-plus years of support, the most recent one despite laughably long odds. I have no axes to grind, however, because the football gods already administered his comeuppance (the last 45 seconds of Super Bowl XLIX). What makes me question Wilsonís ability to hang in the top 10 is, rather, his uncanny knack for being a difference-maker, both good and bad. Even in those aforementioned victories against the Pack, he was brutal only up until he wasnít, saving days that wouldnít have needed saving had he just played better to begin with.

Wilsonís unevenness as a passer is often concealed because the Seahawks run the ball really well (himself included) and play spectacular defense. For instance, in a Week 10 win over the G-Men, he managed to score 25.3 points despite completing just 10-of-17 passes for 172 yards, no scores, and two picks. Howíd he do it? Try 14 rushing attempts for 107 yards and a TD. Heck, he somehow tallied 23 points in that NFC Championship/debacle despite completing fewer than 50 percentof his passes and tossing four INTs. Again, a rushing score had plenty to do with that.

Can Wilson continue to merit Top 10 status with his legs alone? It looks like he might have to if he continues to throw such a paltry amount of passes. His 452 attempts were, by far, the fewest of any Top 10 signal caller. The next closest was Aaron Rodgers with 520. Iíd add that Rodgers parlayed those attempts into almost twice as many touchdowns (38 to 20) and two fewer picks, butÖOK, now I really am just being vindictive.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA: We’d like Russell Wilson to become more of a balanced threat (especially if he intends to earn that top four ADP rating). The same can be said of Tannehill, only in reverse. If Wilson runs too much and throws too little, Tannehill runs too little and throws too much. This is baffling when you consider he played receiver most of his career at Texas A&M and that his 40-yard dash time at the combine was only .03 slower than…Russell Wilson’s. He’s more of a straight-line speed guy, I’m aware, and probably isn’t as shifty as the Seahawks’ dual threat, but we’re not talking apples and oranges here. Speed is speed, no matter how you package it up, and it still kills.

Even if Tannehill comes into his own as a legit running threat, there are reasons to be skeptical of his so-called breakout season in 2014. For starters, he only threw for about 100 more yards than he did in 2013 despite completing almost 40 more passes. That would explain why his yards-per-attempt average was a disappointing 28th out of 33 qualified QBs. The guys right above him and right below him were Geno Smith and Jay Cutler for a little perspective. Unsurprisingly, his longest completion of the season went for just 50 yards, the shortest home run of any regular starter last season.

This last fact should alarm you, especially when you consider the Fish employed probably the game’s most dangerous home-run hitter at wide receiver, Mike Wallace, who’s now playing in Minneapolis. Tannehill never developed chemistry with Wallace because he physically couldn’t get his star wideout the ball downfield. So what did Miami do? They went out and got Kenny Stills, a less talented carbon copy. If you’re bullish on Tannehill or Stills this year, beware.

Next: Running Backs