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Phantom’s Fantasy Rankings –  QUARTERBACKS

Fantasy drafts are slowly approaching and with it come the slew of insight all over the internet. There are great resources out there and we all have our own thoughts about how well certain players will perform. Well, here are my insights on the quarterback situation.

My QB strategy is very basic. I’ve adopted the same principle in drafting a QB for years and it works extremely well. I have one rule – DON’T go after a QB; let one come to you. Basically, I never go out targeting particular QBs. I rank them, set up my tiers carefully, and then wait for a good value to fall in my lap. It always does. In fact, there are a great many of good value QBs that slide down the draft every year. As better as people have gotten at fantasy football there still are quite a bit that fall in love with the big names or panic and reach because they don’t want to be left out in the cold. My advice is to put on your long johns and weather the storm because there are still some bright picks ahead.

Here are my top 25 QBs for the 2013 fantasy season. I’ve also included their average draft position in parenthesis according to fantasypro.com.

TIER 1

1 - Aaron Rodgers (13) He's great even when he's not great.
2 - Drew Brees (16) Consistently airing it out. Yardage monster.

AARON RODGERS
I never open the pot with the first QB and I don’t see myself doing it this year either. That being said, if elite RBs are taken before my first pick and I like the talent bubble at my position over the next several rounds, I might pull the trigger on Rodgers. He’s a "no worries" QB and always delivers.

TIER 2

3 - Tom Brady (36) Extremely efficient. Top scoring offense in 2012.
4 - Peyton Manning (24) Lots of weapons.
5 - Cam Newton (38) Deceptively valuable because of rushing.

TOM BRADY
This year’s standard rankings have Brady sliding down a bit. I think people are reacting to the loss of a couple strong weapons, including the well-publicized dismissal of one of their extremely talented TEs, Aaron Hernandez. I think that reaction is a mistake. How many times have the Patriots remodeled their receiving group only to have Brady make stars out of the new faces? Answer = many. The fact is New England’s offense is built for Tom Brady. The Patriots were best in the league last season with an average of 34 points scored per game. He has one of the best offensive lines in the league. The Patriots air it out the 4th most in the league, yet Brady is one of the least sacked players in the league (ranked 7th fewest for all QB with at least 12 starts). He’ll find people to catch his passes. He always does. If you see Brady sliding, he could be a great value as he’s been a top 3 QB for three straight years.

CAM NEWTON
On the surface the thought of drafting Newton has no appeal to me. But when I take a close look at the numbers, there is no getting around the fact that he is a strong contributor. His rushing contributions are significant. To put it in perspective, his rushing yards are the equivalent of an extra 190 passing yards per game (if your league awards 1pt per 10 yards rushing and 25 yards passing). That’s pretty meaningful. I’m usually not big on rushing QBs because of their unlikeliness of sustaining that type of play, but Cam has the physical build and arm strength to manage himself without putting himself in too much of harm’s way. And he’s a red zone TD magnet. Draft him, put him out of site out of mind, and let him do his thing..

TIER 3

6 - Matt Ryan (41) Learned how to sustain drives with short game. Lots of weapons.
7 - Tony Romo (74) Lots of weapons. Constantly undervalued.
8 - Matthew Stafford (60) Pass heavy offense. Led the league in passing attempts last season.

There are five guys that eclipsed 4,500 yards passing last year and they include Brees, Brady, and the three guys in this tier. You don’t always know which QBs will do well, but you do know which ones will air it out. While many people are intrigued by the read option guys, these guys are heavy passers and there is a lot of fantasy value in that.

TONY ROMO
I am real good at separating my personal love of my team and fantasy sports. In fact, when I do select a player from the Cowboys I am not particularly happy about it because I find that it interferes with how I root for my team. Once the game is on, I want everyone wearing a helmet with a star on it to do well, not just certain ones. But no matter how unbiased I am Tony Romo always seems to find him on my team. Thanks to the media, Romo is viewed as an underperforming QB. While I know better, it’s subjective so people can think whatever they want to think. What are not subjective are his fantasy stats. Romo is a very good fantasy producing QB. When you look at all his weapons, including one of the best WRs in the league – Romo again, looks very promising. If you factor in a little more success in the red zone, Romo could see a bump in TD totals. Regardless of where Dallas finishes in reality football, Tony is going to be a strong fantasy QB and he’ll almost certainly be available at a discount value.

TIER 4

9 - Colin Kaepernick (50) Big playmaker, but limited weapons may cause him to rely on his legs too much.
10 - Andrew Luck (66) Good skills. Decent weapons.
11 - Russell Wilson (53) Safe pick. Won't hurt you. Should see an increase in passing game. Solid weapons.
12 - Robert Griffen III (58) Loses rushing value as he cautiously shifts towards more passing.
13 - Eli Manning (96) Good group of receivers. Pieces are in place to be decent.

COLIN KAEPERNICK
Read option QBs are all the rage these days and they have catapulted up the fantasy boards. I am skeptical that a lack of productivity may surface as a result of either injury or an adjustment of how they play in order to preserve their health throughout the season. Kaepernick is my favorite of the group as his athleticism is remarkable, but I still have him lower than the standard rankings. His lanky stature and flailing legs reminds me of a Nutcracker dancer and those guys freak me out. If you do roll the dice on one of these QBs, I’d spring for another quality passer a few rounds later as an insurance policy.

ELI MANNING
Many columns on the fantasy press have the younger Manning as a potential sleeper pick. There are some good arguments that support such. If his weapons stay healthy, he should be able to spread the ball around. While I wouldn’t want to rely on Eli as my primary QB, he’d be a quality backup. I look at him as one of the last decent QBs before things start to get ugly. He’s the last one left that I think has a chance to have 30+ TDs and 4,000 yards passing.

TIER 5

14 - Matt Schaub (160) Texans run too much, but he's solid at worst.
15 - Phillip Rivers (131) Airs it out a lot. The potential to have value is there.
16 - Josh Freeman (141) Good receiving core.
17 - Joe Flacco (121) Bye week filler. He won't hurt you.

This group contains some signal callers that are just a few years removed from being in the top 10. They’d be serviceable bye week fillers, but I wouldn’t want to roll with them on a regular basis.

JOSH FREEMAN
He threw for over 4,000 yards last season and his offense is steadily improving. He’s got two big targets in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Plus, Doug Martin could turn a screen play into a big passing play.

TIER 6

18 - Michael Vick (136) Risk/reward. Chip Kelly could make things interesting.
19 - Andy Dalton (107) Not impressive, arm strength hurts his value.
20 - Carson Palmer (142) NFC West has some of the best coverage guys in the league. Could mean trouble.
21 - Sam Bradford (154) See above comment.
22 - Jay Cutler (145) Improved line, but can be damaging at times.

This group can be very costly.

MICHAEL VICK
If I am taking a QB in the group, I am going to look for someone who can be taken as a flyer. Vick is the only one who I can imagine being fantasy relevant (albeit, I have to be rather imaginative). Chip Kelly’s offense may open up some doors and Vick has made noise on the fantasy scene before.

TIER 7

23 - Ben Roethlisberger (119) Offensive line issues, no RB, and limited weapons.
24 - Ryan Tannehill (143) Added a deep threat. Slight improvement expected.
25 - EJ Manuel (239) Cam Newton in 2011. RG3 in 2012. Is 2013 the year for EJ?

EJ MANUEL
If there stands any possibility of someone hitting on the "rookie fantasy QB star" it’s probably going to come in the form of this guy. Geno Smith is higher on the standard rankings, but Manuel has the size and a better offense to work with in Buffalo.



Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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