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Regular Season, Updated: 9/9/2011

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 Aaron Rodgers, GB (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1983-12-02   Age: 40
College: California   Draft: 2005 Round 1 (24) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008GB16341 536 4,038 28 13 56 207 4 358.6 22.4
2009GB16350 541 4,434 30 7 59 304 5 402.1 25.1
2010GB15312 475 3,922 28 11 64 356 4 367.7 24.5
2011 (Projected)GB 343 536 4,287 29 12 58 267 3 375.1  

Outlook: In his three years as Green Bay’s starting quarterback, Rodgers has finished second, first, and again second in fantasy points at his position, missing out on repeating as the top-rated passer in 2010 because of a one-and-a-half game absence due to a concussion suffered in Week 14 against Detroit. Despite having starting running back Ryan Grant for just one game, starting tight end Jermichael Finley for only five games, and playing behind an offensive line that struggled in pass protection early last season, Rodgers remained highly productive in leading the Packers to a Super Bowl championship. With the offensive line likely to improve in 2011 and with the return of Grant and Finley as well as a deep, talented group of wide receivers, Rodgers has an opportunity to become the top-rated fantasy passer once again. Deep threat Greg Jennings remains the most underrated wide receiver in the league, and while Donald Driver’s declining skills seem likely to land him in a backup role (or a ceremonial starting position with reduced playing time), Jordy Nelson proved in the playoffs that he is ready to take over Driver’s production. James Jones is a free agent who may not return, but the Packers added another talented receiver in Randall Cobb in the second round of the draft. Since he’s produced both with and without injuries to the team’s other skill position players, Rodgers is as close to a sure thing as there is at fantasy quarterback and is worthy of being taken in the first round in redraft leagues.

 Michael Vick, PHI (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 215   DOB: 1980-06-26   Age: 43
College: Virginia Tech   Draft: 2001 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009PHI126 13 86 1 0 24 95 2 29.8 2.5
2010PHI12233 372 3,018 21 6 100 676 9 356.5 29.7
2011 (Projected)PHI 278 457 3,652 25 13 99 725 7 397.1  

Outlook: Well, what is there to say? If you plucked Vick off the waiver wire in 2010, there’s a strong possibility he carried you to a championship in your fantasy league. Simply put, he was the most dynamic fantasy player last season—averaging a remarkable 29.7 points per game—and the most dynamic fantasy quarterback over the course of a season ever. Consider the highest career PPG totals of the league’s other top fantasy quarterbacks: Tom Brady, 28.9; Peyton Manning, 26.7; Aaron Rodgers, 25.1; Drew Brees, 24.7. Vick came into his own in 2010, displaying an uncanny knack for big plays both with his arm and in the running game, where he rushed 100 times for 676 yards and nine touchdowns. Despite finishing fourth in yards per passing attempt, he completed a career-high 62.6 percent of his passes (his previous high was 54.6) and threw for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions. If you’re looking for a knock on Vick, it’s that his refusal to avoid hits when carrying the ball caused him to miss three games to injury (he also sat out the season finale to rest for the playoffs). Consider Vick a top-five quarterback in redraft formats, although with a qualifier due to his injury risk.

 Drew Brees, NO (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 209   DOB: 1979-01-15   Age: 45
College: Purdue   Draft: 2001 Round 2 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008NO16413 635 5,069 34 17 22 -1 0 389.4 24.3
2009NO15363 514 4,388 34 11 22 33 2 370.7 24.7
2010NO16448 658 4,620 33 22 18 -3 0 362.7 22.7
2011 (Projected)NO 403 630 4,475 33 18 8 21 0 357.9  

Outlook: Last season, Brees wasn’t the same quarterback he was in 2008 and 2009, but he still produced another solid fantasy season, averaging 22.7 fantasy points per game in standard scoring leagues. He wasn’t as impressive in leagues that penalize interceptions, however, as he threw a career-high 22 picks. That can be blamed on two factors: the performance of the team’s receivers, and the situation at running back. Both Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson struggled last season, and injuries decimated the running back depth chart, with an undrafted rookie earning significant playing time. The rushing attack was addressed with the addition of Mark Ingram, and the team’s wide receivers should perform better in 2011, although lead receiver Marques Colston’s recovery from a knee injury remains a concern. No matter, as Brees and the Saints spread the ball around and Brees produces consistently, averaging 4,586 passing yards and 31 touchdown passes over the last five years. Hopefully he can cut down on those drive-killing interceptions in 2011. He’s a top-three fantasy quarterback, and that’s pretty much guaranteed if the past is any indication. He’s finished third, second, first, third, and second over the past five years.

 Tom Brady, NE (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1977-08-03   Age: 46
College: Michigan   Draft: 2000 Round 6 (33) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008NE17 11 76 0 0 0 0 0 3.8 3.8
2009NE16371 565 4,398 28 13 29 44 1 342.3 21.4
2010NE16324 492 3,900 36 4 31 30 1 348.0 21.8
2011 (Projected)NE 369 577 4,268 32 10 24 47 1 352.1  

Outlook: Outside of his magical 2007 season when he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, Brady was never better than he was in 2010. Despite losing the team’s projected top receiver and only true deep threat, Randy Moss, in an early-season trade and being left with a group of merely average receivers, Brady threw for 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns with a career-low four interceptions. He easily adapted to Moss’ departure, with the offense moving from an air-it-out to more of a dink-and-dunk approach. Considering what he accomplished last year with a lackluster receiving corps, Brady is essentially a guarantee to produce at quarterback. With talented tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez entering their second seasons and with the team hopeful that either Brandon Tate or Taylor Price can scare defenses a little on the outside, Brady should at least match his strong season from a year ago.

 Philip Rivers, SD (Bye: 6)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1981-12-08   Age: 42
College: North Carolina State   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008SD16312 478 4,004 34 11 31 84 0 344.6 21.5
2009SD16317 486 4,254 28 9 26 50 1 335.7 21.0
2010SD16357 541 4,710 30 13 29 52 0 360.7 22.5
2011 (Projected)SD 346 541 4,436 29 14 33 46 0 342.4  

Outlook: How do you know when a quarterback has made it to the elite level? There are many ways to measure that, but I consider a quarterback elite when he can still produce while key receivers are out of the lineup. That’s what Rivers did last season. Despite having the league’s top tight end Antonio Gates for only ten games, his top wide receiver Vincent Jackson for just five games, and Malcom Floyd for 11 games, Rivers enjoyed a career year throwing to the likes of Legedu Naanee, Buster Davis, Seyi Ajirotutu, and Patrick Crayton. He topped 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns for the third consecutive season, throwing for 4,710 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. Imagine what’s in store if the he can get full seasons out of Jackson, Floyd, and Gates. With running back Ryan Mathews showing up out of shape, there certainly isn’t much worry of the Chargers running it more in 2011. All signs are pointing up for Rivers heading into 2011, and that’s saying something considering that he has finished as the fourth-, ninth-, and fifth-ranked fantasy quarterback over the past three seasons. He’s definitely in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks.

 Tony Romo, DAL (Bye: 5)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1980-04-21   Age: 44
College: Eastern Illinois   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008DAL13276 451 3,448 26 14 28 41 0 280.5 21.6
2009DAL16347 550 4,483 26 9 35 105 1 344.7 21.5
2010DAL6148 213 1,605 11 7 6 38 0 128.1 21.3
2011 (Projected)DAL 344 546 4,260 26 13 21 86 1 331.6  

Outlook: After finishing as a top-five fantasy quarterback in 2009, Romo gave his owners high expectations entering 2010 that were dashed with a broken clavicle that ended his season in Week 6 and also put the team’s playoffs hopes to bed. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Romo was having a solid campaign before he was injured, averaging 21.3 points per game, a very slight decline from the 22.3 points per game he averaged from 2007 through 2009. Although there are questions along the offensive line, the Cowboys figure to return all of their key passing weapons from a year ago and are expecting major improvement from 2009 first-round pick Dez Bryant. Add it all up and Romo is a solid bet to finish with 4,200 yards and close to 30 touchdowns. That should be enough to finish just outside of the big six at quarterback.

 Matt Schaub, HOU (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 239   DOB: 1981-06-25   Age: 42
College: Virginia   Draft: 2004 Round 3 (27) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008HOU11251 380 3,043 15 10 31 68 2 231.0 21.0
2009HOU16396 583 4,770 29 15 48 57 0 360.2 22.5
2010HOU16365 574 4,369 24 12 22 28 0 317.3 19.8
2011 (Projected)HOU 361 564 4,288 25 15 18 46 0 319.0  

Outlook: After posting a career year in 2009, Schaub was subpar in 2010 as he suffered with Andre Johnson missing time, tight end Owen Daniels struggling to recover from a torn ACL, and the team’s rushing attack improving dramatically with the emergence of Arian Foster. Schaub’s passing stats dropped by 401 yards and he threw for five fewer touchdowns, going from 29 to 24. On the plus side, he remained healthy for the second year in a row, once again starting all 16 games for the Texans. In 2011, Daniels figures to be much improved, and Schaub should benefit if he and Johnson can avoid the injury bug. While a return to his 2009 form seems unlikely with Foster playing a major role, Schaub remains a solid fantasy starter. Consider him a notch below the big seven at quarterback and a good bet to repeat his 2010 production, with an outside chance to match his outstanding 2009 season.

 Eli Manning, NYG (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 218   DOB: 1981-01-03   Age: 43
College: -   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008NYG16289 479 3,238 21 10 20 10 1 252.9 15.8
2009NYG16317 509 4,021 27 14 17 65 0 315.6 19.7
2010NYG16339 539 4,002 31 25 32 70 0 331.1 20.7
2011 (Projected)NYG 340 575 3,913 28 18 24 53 0 313.0  

Outlook: Do you get the feeling that Eli is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy quarterbacks? Rodney couldn’t get any respect and neither can Eli. After his breakout campaign in 2005 when he finished as the fourth-ranked fantasy quarterback (albeit in a soft year for production at the position), he fell to 11th, 13th, and 15th over the next three years. However, over the last two seasons, Manning has made it into the top ten, finishing seventh this past season and 10th in 2009. Yet despite his two consecutive 4,000-yard seasons and 58 touchdowns over that period, look for Eli to be rated as a bottom-tier starter in 12-team leagues heading into 2011. “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” might best sum up the respect Eli gets in fantasy circles. Clearly Manning’s production is due in part to his solid supporting cast, including one of the league’s best trios of wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, and Mario Manningham—along with a solid pass-catching running back in Ahmad Bradshaw and a serviceable tight end in Kevin Boss. Look for the Giants to bring back that same supporting cast on offense, although Smith is a question mark because of the microfracture surgery he needed to repair the knee injury he suffered midway through last season. Considering his propensity for giving the ball away (25 interceptions and five fumbles in 2010), move Manning down in leagues that penalize turnovers, but consider him a decent option just outside the big six at quarterback.

 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 241   DOB: 1982-03-02   Age: 42
College: -   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008PIT16282 470 3,314 17 15 34 101 2 255.8 16.0
2009PIT15337 506 4,328 26 12 40 80 2 340.4 22.7
2010PIT12240 389 3,200 17 5 33 176 2 257.6 21.5
2011 (Projected)PIT 284 451 3,562 23 15 49 142 2 296.3  

Outlook: Roethlisberger entered last year coming off his best season as a pro when he finished as the eighth-ranked fantasy quarterback. Despite having to serve a four-game suspension to start the 2010 season, he proved that his fantasy production in 2009 wasn’t a fluke, throwing for 3,200 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games. He also chipped in 176 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, helping to pad his fantasy point total. The Steelers are clearly a pass-based offense when Roethlisberger is in the lineup, and his projections for 2011 remain solid with Mike Wallace entering his third season and second-year receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown coming off impressive rookie campaigns. Throw in the reliable Hines Ward along with Heath Miller at tight end, and Roethlisberger could have six quality receiving options in 2011. Roethlisberger will be drafted after the big six at quarterback and ranks in the second tier with Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, and Josh Freeman.

 Josh Freeman, TB (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 248   DOB: 1988-01-13   Age: 36
College: Kansas State   Draft: 2009 Round 1 (17) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009TB10159 291 1,857 10 18 30 161 0 149.0 14.9
2010TB16291 474 3,451 25 6 68 364 0 309.0 19.3
2011 (Projected)TB 299 482 3,329 23 12 66 342 2 304.7  

Outlook: The fantasy world seems to be banking on Matt Ryan as the next stud quarterback, but the smart money is riding on the Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman. While Ryan’s Falcons may have better overall talent at the skill positions, Freeman’s Bucs use a more pass-based offense and Freeman is a far more capable rusher. He made huge strides in his second season in the league, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. In addition, he finished second to Michael Vick in rushing yards for quarterbacks with 364, but he inexplicably failed to find the end zone. Expect even more improvement in 2011, and if you’re still not convinced of Freeman’s fantasy potential, consider that he has stayed healthy (25 consecutive starts) and is a remarkably consistent fantasy producer for such a young player (only one sub-14-point game in 2010). Don’t be late to the Freeman parade. This guy’s going to be value on draft day—bank on it.

 Jay Cutler, CHI (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1983-04-29   Age: 41
College: Vanderbilt   Draft: 2006 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008DEN16384 616 4,525 25 18 57 200 2 358.3 22.4
2009CHI16336 555 3,666 27 26 40 173 1 314.6 19.7
2010CHI15261 432 3,274 23 16 51 232 1 284.9 19.0
2011 (Projected)CHI 299 482 3,567 24 17 46 195 1 299.9  

Outlook: After struggling in 2009 during his first year with the Bears, Cutler was expected to improve with the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz last season. Unfortunately for both men, Cutler failed to ignite the Bears passing game, although more than a little of the blame can be placed on the team’s porous offensive line and its mediocre crop of wide receivers. Cutler ended up as the 11th-ranked fantasy quarterback, courtesy of his 3,274 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Interestingly enough, his passing yardage total dropped and he reduced his interception total by 10 from 2009, with his touchdown passes also decreasing by three—not exactly the result you would expect with Martz at the helm. The Bears offense actually came around when Martz eschewed his normal reliance on long passes in favor of more runs and a short passing attack. Heading into 2011, the Bears have improved the offensive line, but their wide receivers figure to once again put a restriction on just how effective their passing game can be. Basically, not much has changed in Chicago, and you shouldn’t expect much to change with Cutler. He’s a low-tier fantasy starter or a backup with upside. Drop him down a couple of notches in leagues that penalize for interceptions.

 Matt Ryan, ATL (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1985-05-17   Age: 39
College: Boston College   Draft: 2008 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2008ATL16265 434 3,440 16 11 55 104 1 252.4 15.8
2009ATL14263 451 2,916 22 14 30 49 1 244.7 17.5
2010ATL16357 571 3,706 28 9 46 122 0 309.5 19.3
2011 (Projected)ATL 318 530 3,765 25 14 19 62 0 294.5  

Outlook: Is this the year Ryan realizes his potential and becomes the top-notch starting quarterback many anticipated when he was taken with the third overall pick in 2008? Well, top-notch fantasy starting quarterback, I should say. As a starting NFL quarterback, Ryan has been nothing short of magnificent, turning the moribund Falcons into a perennial winner during his three-year stay in Atlanta, which included last year’s conference-leading 14-2 record. As a fantasy starter, he’s left something to be desired, however, with the Falcons’ conservative approach holding him back. At the 2011 draft, the team traded multiple picks to move up to the sixth spot so they could grab wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones should provide the Falcons with a nice compliment to Roddy White after the underperforming Michael Jenkins was shipped out. That bodes well for Ryan, as does the return of tight end Tony Gonzalez and the situation at running back—where the team has lost depth with the departure of Jerious Norwood. The question is whether Ryan and the Falcons will change their stripes. Head coach Mike Smith prefers a conservative offensive game plan, and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey doesn’t abandon the run quickly. In addition, Ryan hasn’t taken many risks downfield. Ryan ranks as a top-quality QB2 with upside if the chains come off, but that isn’t as likely as some believe.