Make sure to get a stud quarterback in your fantasy football draft. You’ll likely hear that piece of advice a lot this summer. Well, I’m here to tell you to ignore that. Yes, the elite quarterbacks are as good as ever, but the quarterback position is also deeper than ever. There are 13 quarterbacks that I wouldn’t have a problem starting. Also there’s so little separation at the top that the seventh ranked quarterback could easily outperform the first. So unless you’re playing in a league where passing touchdowns count for six points, wait on a quarterback.
1. Aaron Rodgers
The 2011 MVP has been as consistent as it gets the past four seasons though he took his game to another level last season. With the Packers failing to add an impact running back you know it will be an aerial assault when Rodgers and company take the field. His targets (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley) also rank among the best in the league and I like second-year player Randall Cobb to take a big leap this year. Take Rodgers first and do so confidently.
2. Tom Brady
The only man who might have better weapons that Rodgers is Tom Brady, who comes in at number two. Brandon Lloyd gives Brady the downfield threat that he lacked last season, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at his stats. Add Lloyd into the mix with the Wes Welker, the best slot receiver in the game, and two of the top three tight ends and the Patriots passing attack should be potent once again.
3. Drew Brees
The loss of Sean Payton shouldn’t affect Drew Brees too much. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael called the plays for the final 10 games of the season and the Saints went 9-1 and shattered offensive records. And don’t worry about Brees and his contract situation. He will be there Week 1, there’s no doubt about that.
4. Matthew Stafford
While Brees and Brady got all the hype for their remarkable seasons, Stafford was right there with them eclipsing 40 touchdowns and 5,000 yards. While it’s hard to imagine him topping those stats, the former #1 overall pick is still only 24 and plays with the best receiver in the game so there’s reason to believe he can. As long as Calvin Johnson stays healthy, Stafford will be a top 5 option.
5. Cam Newton
The rookie sensation took the league by storm last season, breaking all sorts of records. The dual-threat quarterback will again be among the league’s elite, although I don’t see him leapfrogging over the other big guns. His 14 rushing touchdowns will be nearly impossible to replicate, especially with the arrival of Mike Tolbert. He also won’t be passing as much because the Panthers spent a lot of last season in “catch-up mode” and they should be a better team this season.
6. Michael Vick
Vick disappointed many fantasy owners last season, and that might scare them off so be ready to pounce if Vick starts to fall in your draft. He has enormous upside and you can get him at a discounted rate. Just be prepared for him to miss a few games so take a solid backup.
7. Tony Romo
Romo quietly had a very nice season last year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. Expect much of the same this year, with potential to improve if Dez Bryant develops into a top-flight receiver.
8. Phillip Rivers
Despite having what many considered to be a disaster of a season, River still finished as the ninth highest scoring quarterback. With a healthy Antonio Gates and a revamped receiving corps, I’ll bet that he rebounds.
9. Eli Manning
Eli is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, though he’s not necessarily a great fantasy football quarterback. Be careful not to put too much stock into his postseason performance.
10. Ben Roethlisberger
With Rashard Mendenhall sidelined to start the season and Todd Haley running the offense in Pittsburgh, except the Steelers to be throwing early and often. Couple that with the best group of receivers Roethlisberger has played with and Big Ben is in line to have a nice season.
11. Jay Cutler
Cutler should be back on the starting radar now that he finally has a receiver that defensives actually have to worry about in Brandon Marshall.
12. Peyton Manning
I’d rather let someone else worry about drafting Peyton Manning. I find it hard to trust a guy whose had four surgeries on his neck. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
13. Matt Ryan
Ryan hasn’t quite put up huge stats yet, but if Julio Jones keeps playing like he did down the stretch, it will only be a matter of time.
14. Matt Schuab
This is where I draw the line for starting quarterbacks. Schaub can certainly play like one; though his injury proneness prevents knocks him down a notch as does Andre Johnson’s injury problems.
15. Joe Flacco
He’s not a sexy name and doesn’t have the upside some others possess, but Flacco is in a word, solid. You know your getting a reliable backup who could fill in for a few weeks as a starter if needed.
16. Carson Palmer
He gets heat for the amount the Raiders gave up for him and while even his mother would admit he wasn’t worth it, Palmer is still fantasy relevant. For a guy who was sitting on his couch in October, he didn’t play that bad and with an offseason to get back in shape; I think he will be a solid backup.
17. Andrew Luck
Although he was the #1 pick, I think Luck will surprise people with how well he plays early on. The Colts are sure to be down in most games so you know he will be throwing and I think Reggie Wayne will be rejuvenated with Luck at the helm.
18. Josh Freeman
After a disastrous 2011, Freeman will look to regain his 2010 form. The addition of Vincent Jackson should help. There’s some upside here.
19. Robert Griffin III
The easy comparison to make is Cam Newton, but if you’re expecting production like that out of Griffin he’s not there yet. They key word being yet.
20. Mark Sanchez
Did you know Sanchez was tenth in scoring among quarterbacks last year? Seems crazy, but it’s true. With the Jets reverting to a run based offense, his stats will take a tumble, but you still could do worse for a backup.
21. Ryan Fitzpatrick
The past two seasons Fitzpatrick has put together a stretch of games where he looks like a fantasy starter, and then all of a sudden he looks like waiver wire material. He’s noting more than a spot start option.
22. Andy Dalton
Nothing personal against Dalton here, but I think he, as well as the Bengals as a team, taking a step back this season.
23 Matt Cassel
Cassel is your classic backup quarterback. Not much upside but when your starter is on a bye and he has a nice matchup you can plug him into your lineup.
24. Sam Bradford
I’d love to rank Sam Bradford higher, but the fact that you couldn’t pick his receivers out of a lineup and that Brian Schottenheimer is running the offense are forcing me to rank him here all the way at the bottom.
So remember it’s ok if you don’t get one of the top quarterbacks. There are plenty to go around and there are some nice backups with upside as well. Load up on other positions while your fellow owners take quarterbacks early and you’ll reap the benefits of this fantasy football strategy in the end.