Another year of Fantasy Football is rapidly approaching and we’re here to get you up to speed before your draft day. While quarterbacks typically score you the most points in Fantasy Football, there is something to be said for the strategy of waiting to draft your quarterbacks as there are so many solid options, where other positions are more limited. So before you go pulling the trigger on Aaron Rodgers in the first round, realize that you may be able to get a quarterback that scores just a little bit less around the sixth or seventh round.
In this article, we’ll analyze the NFL quarterbacks for the year to come and give you an idea as to where you should draft them in your leagues.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – When it comes to fantasy, Aaron Rodgers has proven himself a stud and stands heads above any other quarterback in the league. When healthy, he has continually led the most prolific passing attack in the NFL, and really, health is the only real concern here, as all of his weapons are not only back, but running back Eddie Lacy started coming into his own as a pass catcher last year as well. The sky’s the limit for Rodgers.
Draft zone: Late first round to mid third round.
Strategy: Rodgers should be gone by the third round in most leagues. Will you sacrifice a lead RB or stud WR to draft him? Someone will. But is he so far ahead of every other QB that he’s worth it? That’s highly debatable. In an 8 or 10 team league, let someone else take him. In a 12 or 14 team league, he might be worth grabbing if he’s on the board.
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – There’s a lot of love for Luck, who adds aging but talented Andre Johnson at WR in place of Reggie Wayne. Luck lit it up in 2014 and there’s no reason to think he won’t do the same this year. His fantasy value is peaking. Still not on par with Rodgers, but not far behind.
Draft zone: Second round to fourth round
Strategy: If Rodgers goes in the second round in your draft, and you have interest in Luck, you’ll want to jump sooner than later. But if people wait on Rodgers, you’d be smart to wait on Luck as well. Odds are good that Luck will go somewhere within 5 to 6 picks after Rodgers is taken.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – Which Peyton will you get in 2015 — the one who tore up the league early in the year or the one who handed the ball off a majority of the time late in the year? Odds are you’ll get someone in between. With a new coach, new offense and another year on his arm, he’s probably not going to put up video games numbers again. But he still has the highly talented Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and an underrated Owen Daniels, as well as backfield threat CJ Anderson. Because he’s Peyton, someone in your league will draft him too high. Don’t be that guy.
Draft zone: Fourth or fifth round
Strategy: After Rodgers and Luck, there will be a lull before someone moves on Peyton. Russell Wilson might even go ahead of him. If someone takes him in the third, it’s a reach. If you get him in the late fifth or sixth, it’s a steal. But given his decline last year and a new offense, let someone else take the risk.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – There’s been a lot of turnover in New Orleans, including the exit of favorite Brees target Jimmy Graham. That being said, the New Orleans coaching staff is still intact and Brees is the same gunslinger that likes to take his shots. And with Mark Ingram improving and CJ Spiller anchoring the backfield, it looks like Brees should have no shortage of weapons.
Draft zone: Fifth or sixth round
Strategy: In the fifth round is likely where you’ll start to see a run of QBs. If you want a top tier guy, in the fifth or sixth round is where you get them. If he’s there for you in the fifth or sixth, take him. He’s due for a rebound. If you’re more interested in building depth elsewhere, there’s a second wave of QBs coming a couple of rounds later.
5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – Everyone is pushing for Wilson to be ranked higher. The big jump for Wilson in 2014 was due in part to a couple of monster games as a rusher. But the problem with that is that teams can adjust and game plan for the run. He won games, but wasn’t a fantasy monster until 2014 and you can argue that part of that was skewed by three or four games. Yes, he has Jimmy Graham, the closest thing the Seahawks have had to a star receiver. But call it a gut feeling that Wilson will come back to earth a little bit this year.
Draft zone: Fourth to sixth round
Strategy: If you buy that Wilson is for real and can improve upon what he did last year, take him in the fourth. But if you’re of the mindset that Marshawn Lynch is still the top weapon on offense, you might want to take Brees ahead of him. Wilson will probably go in the fifth. If he’s there in the sixth, it’s a steal.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – Lots of questions in the backfield combined with some killer wide receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White signifies that Atlanta may be throwing and throwing a lot. However, the health of Jones and White remains an issue as both have missed time over the last couple of years. But even when Ryan was playing with backups last year, he still put up big passing totals.
Draft zone: Sixth to Seventh Round
Strategy: Do not take ahead of Manning, Brees or Wilson. He’s a tier below. But could be a sneaky good seventh round QB.
7. Tom Brady, New England Patriots – He’s only down this far because of the four game suspension. But with Brady slipping in the draft, the Patriots QB could be sneaky good steal if you strategize to take another QB soon after that can get you through the first four weeks. By the way, the Patriots bye-week comes before the QB is scheduled to return to the field. So once he’s back, there’s no breaks to worry about.
Draft zone: Seventh to ninth round.
Strategy: If you want a steal, take him in the seventh and draft another QB in the eighth or ninth to cover your bases. He will not fall below the ninth round.
8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – Most expected a falloff after Newton lost Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. It didn’t happen. Kelvin Benjamin is a blossoming star. Greg Olsen became the stud TE everyone had always projected and Newton’s rushing made him dangerous as always. Did you realize he was a Top 4 fantasy QB last year?
Draft zone: Sixth to Ninth Round.
Strategy: Carolina’s offense is not flashy, but Cam is at the center of pretty much every play. You can make an argument for taking him ahead of Brady or even Ryan. But how much physical punishment can Cam take from all the running he does? You’re dealing with a potential injury risk, no matter how tough he has shown he can be. Grab him in the sixth if you’re high on him. On average, he’ll probably go in the late sixth / early seventh. If you can grab him in the eighth or ninth, he’s a steal.
9. Eli Manning, New York Giants – In early 2014, Eli was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, learning and struggling with a new offense. But around the time Odell Beckham Jr. hit the field, Manning started to figure things out and he was on fire down the stretch. Welcoming back Victor Cruz from injury should only help the passing attack, which also features the capable WR3 Reuben Randle and a solid receiving option out of the backfield in Rashad Jennings.
Draft zone: Ninth to Eleventh Round
Strategy: After Newton, there’s another drop off until the next run of QBs. I’d let Eli lead this run, especially with Beckham entering his second year and the upside of having Cruz return. He is prone to interceptions, so watch out if your league takes off points for INTs. But with a weak defense, a scary receiving crew and the likelihood that the Giants could be playing from behind, I’d grab Manning in the ninth or tenth round, though he could go late 10th or 11th.
10. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – Year in, year out, Romo puts up passing stats. His biggest issue in recent years has been his health. We know Dez Bryant will be huge, and Jason Witten remains consistent, though he’s declining a bit. More consistency from Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley could help, but how will the loss of DeMarco Murray affect the offense? If the Cowboys can’t run, you could see Romo putting up big passing numbers (including INTs).
Draft zone: Ninth to Eleventh Round
Strategy: Manning, Romo and Ben Roethlisberger are pretty interchangeable depending on who you like more. You can’t go wrong taking Romo in the 10th round and any of the three would be a solid pickup to pair with Brady.
11. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Antonio Brown has become the Top WR in the league, and unlike some of the burners or monster TD targets, Brown is has been more of a possession receiver. Martavius Bryant came out of nowhere last year and is primed for a breakout. And much like the Giants, there’s concern about the defense, which could mean always mobile Roethlisberger could find himself in many a shootout.
Draft zone: Ninth to Eleventh Round
Strategy: As stated, Manning, Romo and Roethlisberger are all interchangeable. Grab the one you like first or wait to take the one remaining. Should be off the board by the tenth round, but if he’s there in the eleventh, pull the trigger.
12. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – Made solid strides in 2014, and the emergence of Jarvis Landry and the trade for star in the making Kenny Stills gives Tannehill some solid targets. Look for the progression to increase. If you’re drafting on potential, he could jump the trio of Manning, Romo and Roethlisberger, but is probably about perfect in this ranking.
Draft zone: Ninth to eleventh round
Strategy: How much stock do you put in potential? If you put a lot into it, take Tannehill ahead of the veteran trio and get the jump on the other teams in your league by taking him in the ninth. But if you think his increase will be gradual, then you can probably wait until the late 10th or early 11th round.
13. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions – Big drop in 2014, due in part to Calvin Johnson‘s absence. He has the potential to be this year’s Jay Cutler. But is that the 2013 Cutler that everyone was surprised by or the 2014 Cutler that drove owners mad? Simply put, the answer is both. This offensive backfield is in a state of flux, the wide receivers have injury concerns and the defense lost a bunch of their key stoppers. That combination means that Stafford could be throwing a lot, and getting picked off a lot.
Draft zone: Eighth to eleventh round
Strategy: Depending on your viewpoint, Stafford could either be the biggest QB sleeper or the biggest goat that will have you teetering on that “drop” button every week. Proceed with caution on this boom or bust QB.
14. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – Simply put, no matter what his weapons, he’s consistently solid. San Diego doesn’t exactly have a flashy passing attack and Antonio Gates‘ suspension will definitely hurt. But no matter who the receivers are, you can typically count on 200 yards passing and a couple of TDs, with a few masterful games each year.
Draft zone: Tenth to Twelfth Round
Strategy: He’s either a low-end starter or a high-end No. 2 fantasy QB. If you’re drafting him to be your No. 1 QB, you better have stocked up in depth at all the other key offensive positions. He will not kill you on bye weeks and would be good in a QB tandem where you determine each week’s starter by matchup.
15. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals – If he stays healthy, you’ve got a sneakily good QB. And with Arizona’s receiving corps and backfield issues you can see why. But given his age and injury history, you better have a good secondary option.
Draft Zone: Eleventh to Thirteenth Round
Strategy: A good pairing with Brady or someone to use in a QB tandem. Given his injury history, you’re likely to use him more early in the season, but at this point in his career, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks he can last the full season.
16. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings – Came on late in his rookie year and looks like the real deal. Adding burner Mike Wallace to a receiving crew that includes Charles Johnson and Cordarelle Patterson should make the passing attack quite formidable. Great get for a keeper league.
Draft Zone: Eleventh to Thirteenth Round
Strategy: Based on potential alone, Bridgewater land just outside the Top 10 among QBs. But more sample size needs to be seen. Here’s my sleeper pick at QB. Great in QB tandem and the first QB to take in the keeper rounds if you’re in a league that has keepers.
17. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers – There may be no more frustrating QB to own. He’s capable of putting up huge numbers, largely based on his running ability, but he’s also just as capable of putting up a single digit total at just the wrong time. Perhaps a fresh start with a new coach and a new No. 1 WR in Torrey Smith will change his fate. But he’s a wait-and-see option.
Draft zone: Twelfth to Fourteenth Round
Strategy: Full-on backup. And check closely to see what his matchup is on the week your other QB plays. If it looks favorable, draft him. Because of his name, someone will likely take him in the 11th or 12th, but in a smart league, he should go in the 13th or 14th.
18. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – Hear me out. I almost won a league with Andy Dalton as my primary starting QB last year. Dalton will not look pretty and he may not always win games, but he was pretty consistent in putting up double digit totals and with a team that is stacked at all the other scoring positions, you could do worse than Dalton. Plus, with AJ Green, a returning Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert, Mohammed Sanu and some decent pass catching options out of the backfield, he has some solid targets.
Draft zone: Thirteenth to Sixteenth Round
Strategy: Nobody will be rushing to claim Dalton, but if you have a QB go down or need a bye week guy, you could do worse.
19. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – Much like Dalton, nobody’s rushing out to get Cutler. But he still has big receiving targets Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, a stud rookie in Kevin White and big time backfield target Matt Forte. He’ll throw picks, he’ll kill drives, and he doesn’t have the confidence of his coaching staff, but he’s also capable of putting up big passing numbers. At this point, why not.
Draft zone: Thirteenth to Sixteenth Round
Strategy: If INTs don’t hurt you, take a chance. Look at those targets.
20. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles – It’s the Chip Kelly offense, and when healthy Bradford has show he can put up some numbers. But when is he ever healthy? Another potential Brady handcuff as he’s someone who may be more bankable in the early weeks of the season. The longer he goes into the season, the bigger steal this becomes.
Draft Zone: Thirteenth to Undrafted
Strategy: The injury history will scare people off, but if he’s on the field, he could put up some big numbers in that offense. This late, why not take a chance.
The best of the rest:
21. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs – Not flashy, but consistently will get you around 13 to 16 points a week. He’s usually ranked this low, but typically ends up among the Top 15 QBs.
22. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucs – He’s got the receivers, but is the rook ready? Give it a shot, especially if he’s there this late and you’re drafting in a keeper league.
23. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Steve Smith is retiring, Torrey Smith is gone. Yes, he’ll throw, but to who?
24. Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams – Sneaky good WR corps, but his passing success is built on the league’s youngest offensive line.
25. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders – I believe in this youngster, who is adding some weapons. Worth a flier late.
26. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – Such a young team, but there’s a lot of young talent for Bortles to grow with.
27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets – It’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s the Jets. Yes, they now have real wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but there’s still a lot of issues.
28. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins – No confidence by the coach, but DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are solid WRs if he can stay on the field.
29. Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans – He has to win the QB battle with Ryan Mallet first, but there are some intriguing young WRs there and a void in the Arian Foster-less backfield, so he may be throwing a lot.
30. Matt Cassell, Buffalo Bills – Good young WRs, but with Matt Cassell at QB, they may run a lot.
31. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – They’re not a big time throwing team regardless of the fact that Mariota is a rookie.
32. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns – Bridge QB, no real targets… Run Browns Run.
Backup handcuffs to keep an eye on:
1. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles
2. Geno Smith, New York Jets
3. Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
4. Ryan Mallet, Houston Texans
5. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
6. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers
7. Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins
8. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Bucs
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