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FANTASY FOOTBALL PRE-SEASON FEATURES

2006 Player Rankings: Quarterbacks
Updated: September 5, 2006
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Tier 1
Peyton Manning - DEN YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 1
TD Only: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction: 16%
2003 IND 16 379 566 4267 29 10 27 29  
2004 IND 16 336 497 4557 49 10 25 38  
2005 IND 16 305 453 3747 28 10 33 45  
Avg   16 340 505 4190 35 10 28 37 0
PROJ DEN       4100 29 10   60 1

After six consecutive seasons over 4000 passing yards, Manning fell back to "just" 3739 yards in 2005 and his "off season" meant that he only ranked fifth in yards and second in touchdowns (28). What 2005 brought was effectively the same numbers from his rookie season without all the interceptions. The improved defense and new focus on the running game led to a very slow start for the year over the initial three weeks but then Manning picked it back up and scored 26 touchdowns over the next 11 games. He seemed to be in decline last year only because 2004 was a record-setting year. Otherwise, last year was pretty close to what we've come to expect from him.

The changes this year in the passing game are really nothing but the loss of Edgerrin James places a whole new spin on this offense. Rather than become involved in those wonderful shoot-outs of the past, the Colts relied heavily on James last year and now the question is if either Dominic Rhodes or Joseph Addai will be able to carry the torch with anywhere near the effectiveness of James.

Manning is always the safest bet at quarterback in a fantasy draft and even a "down" year still is better than what almost all other quarterbacks will manage. In the seasons that James was either absent or returning from injury and limited, Manning had over 4100 passing yards and about 27 touchdowns in both years.

Tom Brady - NEP YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 2
TD Only: 2
Keeper: 3
Auction: 12%
2003 NEP 16 317 528 3620 23 12 42 63 1
2004 NEP 16 288 474 3690 28 14 43 28  
2005 NEP 16 334 530 4110 26 14 27 89 1
Avg   16 313 511 3807 26 13 37 60 1
PROJ NEP       3880 27 14   100 1

Maybe it seemed like a down year for the New England Patriots, but fantasy owners of Tom Brady could not have been happier with the way it ended up - a career best 4110 yards which led the entire league. Brady also placed third in touchdown passes (26) only two short of his high mark from 2004. While Brady has been undervalued in literally every fantasy draft since 2001, that won't likely happen this year.

He merely turned in four efforts over 300 yards and scored in 14 of 16 games. Half of his games had at least two scores in them. He's pretty much been doing this for four years now. Though the Patriots have always lacked that one big receiver, the scheme calls for Brady to spread the wealth so much that the only people getting rich are the ones that drafted Brady.

The Patriots went through their first season without OC Charlie Weis but Brady's numbers say everything is just fine. They also have a slightly easier schedule than they had in 2005. No one is going to unseat Peyton Manning from the top but with the sharp decline in top quarterbacks due to McNabb and Culpepper, it is far easier to explain why Brady should be selected second to Manning than it is to reason why he is not.

Tier 2
Carson Palmer - ARI YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 3
TD Only: 3
Keeper: 2
Auction: 12%
2003                    
2004 CIN 13 263 432 2897 18 18 18 47 1
2005 CIN 16 345 509 3836 32 12 34 41 1
Avg   15 304 471 3367 25 15 26 44 1
PROJ ARI       3740 30 13   30  

(-Risk) After one season as the starter, Carson Palmer broke out last year exactly the way the Bengals had hoped when they spent the first overall pick in the 2003 draft on him. Palmer ended 2005 ranked 4th in passing yards and 1st in touchdown passes with a league leading 32 scores. He did that with barely any play in the final game which meant that not only did he throw a touchdown in every game except one, he opted to have his only rushing score on the year in that one game. Far more impressive than scoring in every game was the fact that he had multiple touchdowns a dozen times and exceeded 270 passing yards in seven games.

His incredible season came to a crashing end when he was sacked in the playoff game against the Steelers and tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee. There was concern that the injury was career threatening but the surgeon was able to replace the ACL and MCL without needing to remove pieces of cartilage or soft tissue. His rehabilitation is said to be going well but until there is definitive word on his mobility, it will be difficult to assess his readiness for the 2006 season. Training camp should give a far better idea of his health though he'll be undoubtedly treated with kid gloves there in the best case scenario. His starting two receivers are both under 30 years of age and just now starting to hit their prime.

The Bengals did allow Jon Kitna to leave via free agency which could be a slightly positive indicator. They signed Anthony Wright in the offseason to provide back-up or even start in the event Palmer is now quite ready when the season opens. This makes Palmer a potentially boom or bust player this season and yet with that a good opportunity in a draft. If he appears to need more time before returning, he will obviously drop in drafts. But it could work out like getting a top 3 quarterback towards the middle of the draft for the weeks he can play. The Bengals return almost every offensive starter, so only his knee stands between him and a repeat of a glorious 2005 season.

08-04-06 Update: Palmer gets bumped up once because he appears to be healing very well from his knee injury last January. A completely healthy Palmer is a lock for being the #2 quarterback but he stands at 4th right now because his risk still exists. If you take Palmer in the 4th or later rounds and he plays even 90% of what he did last year - you got a steal.

08-29-06 Update: Palmer looked very sharp in his first preseason game when he shredded the Packers for 140 yards and three touchdowns in one half of play. It was just the Packers and it is only preseason, but Palmer looked every bit as good as hoped. He moves up into tier one but his knee is still not 100%. But evidently he can play with it.

Eli Manning - NYG YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 4
TD Only: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction: 10%
2003                    
2004 NYG 8 95 197 1043 6 9 6 35  
2005 NYG 16 294 558 3762 24 17 30 80 1
Avg   12 195 378 2403 15 13 18 58 1
PROJ NYG       3840 27 16   80  

(+Upside) While Eli Manning had a rather inauspicious start to his career when seven rookie starts topped out with a 201 yard game and his six scores were amply balanced by nine interceptions. 2005 showed that Manning had been doing his homework in the offseason. Given a new weapon with Plaxico Burress, Manning proceeded to throw for at least one score in all but one game and he had five efforts exceed 290 yards. Ending with 3762 passing yards ranked him 5th in the NFL last year and his 24 touchdowns tied for 4th as well. It was a banner year.

Manning slowed down a bit after midseason though he continued to sling touchdowns at least once a week but Tiki Barber was a major reason why the passing game was not as necessary. When he faced NFC East opponents, he only once had more than that one score in a game and all three defenses could be even better this year - Philly for sure. Still, the passing game in New York will only be one year better.

This is Manning's third season and while he elicited some snickers as a rookie, no one is laughing now but the Eli owners. The Giants schedule should be no worse than 2005 and Manning will be one year more experienced. Look for Peyton's little brother to continue to make a name for himself.

Matt Hasselbeck - IND YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 5
TD Only: 7
Keeper: 5
Auction: 10%
2003 SEA 16 313 513 3844 26 15 36 125 2
2004 SEA 14 279 474 3390 22 15 28 94 1
2005 SEA 16 294 449 3455 24 9 36 124 1
Avg   15 295 479 3563 24 13 33 114 1
PROJ IND       3800 24 14   150 1

For the last three seasons, Matt Hasselbeck has been a good fantasy quarterback that always seemed like he was on the verge of great. He has thrown between 22 and 26 touchdowns each season during that time and he even has a very healthy ratio with interceptions. Hasselbeck scored in all but one game last year so it seems only reasonable to consider him as an elite quarterback.

The problem from last year was that he was a good quarterback in every game but rarely ever had a truly great "win your week" performance. He only recorded one 300 yard game last year against three in 2004 and four in 2005. With the great rushing by Shaun Alexander, Hasselbeck rarely ever gets into any shootout. His numbers from 2005 were boosted with seven scores that came late season against SF and TEN. He had five games where he failed to top 200 yards.

That all said, Hasselbeck at least plays San Francisco twice a season and is in the best division for passing as long as Alexander doesn't take most of the action. Once again, the Seahawks are blessed with one of the best passing schedules in the league. They lost Joe Jurevicius but added Nate Burleson to fill the split end position while Bobby Engram moves back to the slot where he is better suited. For three seasons, Hasselbeck has looked like he will have a really big year but Alexander keeps messing it up. He is as safe as any quarterback to have a good year and that alone makes him a definite starter. He has one other factor this year which is particularly inviting - fantasy playoff week match-ups against ARZ, SF and SD. If Alexander will only let him exploit that.

Drew Bledsoe - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 6
TD Only: 5
Keeper: 6
Auction: 6%
2003 BUF 16 274 471 2860 11 12 23 29 2
2004 BUF 16 256 449 2932 20 16 20 52  
2005 DAL 16 300 499 3639 23 17 34 50 2
Avg   16 277 473 3144 18 15 26 44 1
PROJ FA       3800 27 16   30  

(+Upside) Drew Bledsoe threw 23 touchdowns last season - more than any other Dallas quarterback since Troy Aikman had in 1992. His 3639 passing yards were the most by a Cowboys quarterback since Danny White. Bledsoe ranked eighth in the NFL last year in both passing yards and scores and he threw at least one touchdown in all but one game.

The big story going into this season is the addition of Terrell Owens who has replaced Keyshawn Johnson. The rest of the offense is the same for ball-handlers so the question is how different will last year's offense be with Owens instead of Johnson? Bledsoe has already out-performed (at least statistically) every Dallas quarterback other than White and Aikman. When Owens went to Philadelphia, he raised McNabb's yardage by 600 over the previous season and upped his career best touchdown mark from 25 to 31 in 2004. Owens has always had an effect. A rather good one, at least until he wears out his welcome.

While there were some questions about the offensive line when Larry Allen left, the Cowboys have worked on improving the blocking by acquiring OT Jason Fabini from the Jets and OG Kyle Kosier from the Lions. HC Bill Parcells stated this should be the best O-line since he has been there. The upside on Bledsoe is pretty high if he can just repeat last season and add on additional numbers from Owens' presence. The Cowboys will never be a pass-first team but Bledsoe should have a good year with chance for having one of his best seasons. That makes for a decent starter if you waited too long in the draft and a terrific back-up quarterback for your team that could develop into much more.

Marc Bulger - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 7
TD Only: 6
Keeper: 7
Auction: 8%
2003 STL 15 336 532 3845 22 22 27 78 4
2004 STL 14 321 485 3964 21 14 19 89 3
2005 STL 8 192 287 2297 14 9 9 29  
Avg   12 283 435 3369 19 15 18 65 2
PROJ FA       3740 25 18   60 2

(-Risk) Over the last three seasons, Marc Bulger has averaged around 270 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Pretty impressive numbers until they get multiplied by the number of games he has played each season (which, incidentally, is never "16"). Bulger has manned the high-powered Rams offense very well during his time as a starter but he just has not remained in the game for the entire season. In fact, it's getting worse each year. In 2005, he had a red hot start to the season and then missed two games due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. He later bruised his shoulder and received a concussion in week 11 which sidelined him for the rest of the season.

The Rams new HC Scott Linehan promised to bring in the same offense that made Daunte Culpepper a star in Minnesota and even Gus Frerotte looked good in Miami last year. Linehan wants to keep Bulger in the game and is planning on installing a no-huddle offense option, an audible system for Bulger and fewer seven step drop throws to minimize the exposure for sacks and hits. The only downside to Linehan is that he wants to run the ball more than what Steven Jackson is used to getting.

This will not be the same offense of Mike Martz, but it so far has been just as effective and should help Bulger to stay on the field and remain just as deadly as he has been. The offense may take a bit of time to gel, but there are no new players to mesh with so it will be the entire squad from last year still working together. As usual, the Rams have a nice schedule this year and with the changes being made by Linehan, a chance that Bulger remains a fantasy gem for the entire season. Make sure you grab Gus Frerotte as Bulger's back-up since he has been with Linehan in both MIN and MIA.

Donovan McNabb - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 8
TD Only: 11
Keeper: 8
Auction: 6%
2003 PHI 16 276 479 3223 16 11 70 359 3
2004 PHI 15 300 470 3875 31 8 42 221 3
2005 PHI 9 211 357 2507 16 9 25 55 1
Avg   13 262 435 3202 21 9 46 212 2
PROJ FA       3380 19 9   260 3

(-Risk) Donovan McNabb endured a hellish 2005 when he bruised his chest in the first game of the season but still returned the next week to throw for five touchdowns and 342 yards against the 49ers. Within two weeks, he was diagnosed with a sports hernia. A month later he added bruised ribs. Finally in week ten, he was blocked during an interception return by Roy Williams that further aggravated his hernia and he ended his season. He underwent surgery in late November to correct the hernia and a torn groin muscle.

McNabb had been a "17 TD" sort of quarterback for the two seasons prior to Terrell Owens and then shot up to 31 in 2004. He had 3875 yards with Owens the first year and was on a pace of 4600 yards through the first seven games last year before Owens stopped playing. Of his 15 touchdowns by week seven, six had gone to Owens. Consider that 2003 was his last non-Owens season and he only had two 300 yard games and nine match-ups fell below 200 passing yards that year. With Owens, McNabb had six 300 yards games and only once fell below 200 yards.

McNabb has completely healed from his surgery and has participated in minicamps. What he won't have in 2006 is a premier wideout or even the same offensive coordinator since Brad Childress left for Minnesota. His best wideout now is second-year Reggie Brown. The Eagles schedule starts out lightly with games against HOU, SF and GB. But then in the fantasy playoffs, McNabb battles a schedule quirk that sends him @WAS, @NYG and @DAL just when you would need him most. Considering that and the possible return to pedestrian numbers without Owens means McNabb will likely be drafted too early and even if he comes at a fair price, when you need him the most is when his schedule is the toughest.

Trent Green - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 9
TD Only: 12
Keeper: 13
Auction: 6%
2003 KCC 16 330 523 4039 24 12 26 83 2
2004 KCC 16 369 556 4585 27 17 25 85  
2005 KCC 16 317 507 4014 17 10 35 82  
Avg   16 339 529 4213 23 13 29 83 1
PROJ FA       3700 21 15   100 1

(-Risk) Amazingly enough, Trent Green comes off what some considered being a disappointing season when he only threw 17 touchdowns. And yet, Green also had 4014 passing yards, which was the third consecutive season over the 4000 yard mark. Not unlike Peyton Manning, Green had a slow start to the season but later heated up just fine, notching four different games over 300 passing yards. Unlike Manning, he just did not produce the scores as he did the previous two seasons of 24 and 27 touchdowns.

The biggest factor in the lack of touchdowns was undoubtedly Larry Johnson who became a scoring sponge anytime the Chiefs got near the goal line. The Chiefs also had injuries to the offensive line that required Tony Gonzalez to remain back as a blocker earlier in the season. Green's season actually closely resembled his first year in Kansas City when he had 3783 yards and 17 scores. New HC Herman Edwards promoted up line coach Mike Solari to maintain continuity, but losing Al Saunders won't likely make the team pass any more or any better.

This year Green will face a much easier schedule than in 2005 and the rushing game with Larry Johnson will take plenty of focus off the passing game by the defense. Look for Green to once again turn in a good season but his touchdown totals won't raise quite to the level of 2003 and 2004. His yardage could fall back a bit as well. The offensive line is still intact and primed for a record season for Larry Johnson - that won't make for as many passes.

Kurt Warner - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 10
TD Only: 10
Keeper: 17
Auction: 4%
2003 STL 2 38 65 365 1 1 1    
2004 NYG 10 174 277 2054 6 4 13 30 1
2005 ARI 10 242 375 2713 11 9 13 28  
Avg   7 151 239 1711 6 5 9 19 0
PROJ FA       3740 22 12   40 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Warner's first season in Phoenix went reasonably well. He threw for only 11 touchdowns but had 1711 yards in just ten games played. That makes it three seasons since he has lasted for the full 16 games though in New York he was pulled to allow Eli Manning to start. Warner was hampered last year by a torn groin muscle that forced him to miss four and a half games early in the year and then he missed two and a half more games at the end of the year when he injured his medial collateral ligament. Still, his production was pretty solid in the games that he did play and he ended with five efforts over 300 yards.

With the drafting of Matt Leinart, Warner once again gets to look over his shoulder knowing that his replacement is waiting. The Cardinals are blessed with a relatively light schedule this season which should help Warner to keep the kid on the bench and the addition of Edgerrin James could actually help the passing game since last year the Cardinals ended dead last in the NFL for rushing and every defense simply loaded up against the pass. With James on board, committing the defense to just the pass won't be an option. James could affect the total passing yardage to a degree, but should also help out with making the passing more effective and with more touchdowns - a problem last year.

Taking Warner this season is not a bad idea with the pass happy offense that has added a running game. James could well end up as a favored passing target for Warner as well. But Warner has been less than durable and at the age of 35 is not likely to be any better. If you take Warner, Leinart should be a certain back-up to get before someone steals him.

Jake Delhomme - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 11
TD Only: 9
Keeper: 10
Auction: 4%
2003 CAR 16 266 449 3219 19 16 42 43 1
2004 CAR 16 310 533 3886 29 15 25 71 1
2005 CAR 16 262 435 3421 24 16 24 31 1
Avg   16 279 472 3509 24 16 30 48 1
PROJ FA       3560 23 14   90 1

Not bad when an undrafted quarterback can parlay almost no playing time in New Orleans for five seasons into a three year span with the Panthers that has included a Super Bowl and playoff games. Jake Delhomme has made superstars of both Muhsin Muhammad and last year Steve Smith. He stepped back a bit from his 3886 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2004 but still managed to turn in 3421 yards and 25 scores last season which tied him for fourth best in touchdowns last year.

While Delhomme has not been an elite quarterback, he has been a very solid contributor with consistent play and multiple touchdown passes in about half of his games. Consider too that his last two big seasons came when he really only had one viable receiving option each year. This season should provide an even better passing offense for the Panthers with Keyshawn Johnson who was acquired in the offseason. One oddity - Delhomme had six games with multiple touchdowns and yet only one came as a visitor.

Delhomme has been a very good fantasy choice the last two seasons, though not a great one. With a viable second receiver and a more consistent ground game with DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams, Delhomme should be a safe bet for a repeat from last year though a better ground game could lower his numbers. Also to consider, the Panthers have a rough passing schedule this season and play NYG, PIT and @ATL during fantasy playoffs.

Tier 3
Steve McNair - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 12
TD Only: 13
Keeper: 18
Auction: 4%
2003 TEN 14 245 393 3184 23 7 37 138 4
2004 TEN 8 129 215 1343 8 9 21 130 1
2005 TEN 14 292 476 3161 16 11 32 139 1
Avg   12 222 361 2563 16 9 30 136 2
PROJ FA       3460 20 15   190 2

(+Upside) Steve McNair agreed to a deal with the Baltimore Ravens that will pay him $11 million in a signing bonus and then $1 million for the 2006 season. Problem is that the Titans would not allow McNair to workout for fear he could injure himself but an arbitrator fixed that at the first of June and McNair was moved in exchange for a fourth round pick next year.

McNair goes to a "run first" team that has struggled mightily with passing for many years. This move will not only give McNair at least one more season in the NFL, but it will reunite him with his long-time #1 wideout Derrick Mason. McNair instantly becomes the best Ravens quarterback in the history of the franchise without having actually worn a uniform.

While it may take a little time for McNair to get comfortable, as a 10 year veteran he'll be able to pick up the offense in quick order. McNair should also help out the production of Todd Heap since his entire career has been heavy on using the tight end. McNair is no long term answer, but he should prove to be the best immediate help they have ever had under center and he will give the Ravens offense the one aspect that they have always lacked - a balanced attack.

08-18-06 Update: McNair takes a healthy bump up to 14th with the rather impressive showing in two preseason games. He's throwing to Mason like they were never apart and showing great chemistry with Todd Heap already.

Michael Vick - NYJ YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 13
TD Only: 20
Keeper: 9
Auction: 2%
2003 ATL 5 50 100 585 4 3 40 255 1
2004 ATL 15 181 321 2313 14 12 121 902 3
2005 ATL 15 214 387 2412 15 13 102 601 6
Avg   12 148 269 1770 11 9 88 586 3
PROJ NYJ       2480 15 16   740 4

(-Risk) (+Upside) After five seasons, there can be no more conjecture about Vick. He is what he is. And that is a supremely gifted running quarterback who has below average passing skills. During his five seasons, he has averaged seven runs for 55 yards per game. He also has only averaged about 14 completions for 170 yards per game with less than one touchdown per game. In his most prolific season (2002), he only had 2936 yards passing and the last two years when there was a stated desire to get him throwing more, he only ended with around 2400 yards per year. He has risen up to a high of 13 passing scores as of last year, but that came at a price of 13 interceptions and five fumbles.

He is what he is. A great running quarterback that is a benefit in leagues where rushing yardage counts more than passing yardage. He did manage to score six times on the ground as well so his value in fantasy terms can be rather high in the right scoring scenario. It can be downright mediocre in others.

Another problem facing Vick this season is that he will be playing against the NFC East and AFC North which has given him one of the very worst schedules of any quarterback this year. He could not pass well last year with a far easier schedule and there is no reason to assume he will magically improve in his sixth season. He is what he is - Michael Vick. A great runner who will miss at least one game or more but who will be fairly consistent with rushing yardage.

Jake Plummer - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 14
TD Only: 14
Keeper: 12
Auction: 2%
2003 DEN 11 189 302 2183 15 7 37 205 3
2004 DEN 16 303 522 4089 27 20 60 215 1
2005 DEN 16 277 456 3366 18 7 45 156 2
Avg   14 256 427 3213 20 11 47 192 2
PROJ FA       3540 21 14   130 1

Though Jake Plummer had a slow start in Denver - he only had 15 scores and 2182 yards with the Broncos thanks to an injury shortened season - he really blossomed in 2004 when he turned in several career high stats. Plummer threw for 27 touchdowns that year, nine more than he ever had. He also threw for 4089 yards for a career best. It appeared that Plummer had found his niche.

Last year Plummer played all 16 games but ended with only 3366 passing yards and a total of 20 touchdowns. His performance was not bad since his 61% completion rate was actually better than his 2004 season. He only threw seven interceptions as well. But during the playoffs, he was vintage Plummer (which means decidedly average). In two games, he never had more than 223 passing yards and scored only twice against three interceptions and two lost fumbles. That was enough to give Shanahan the big eyes when he saw a chance to snag Jay Cutler.

Plummer will be the starter this season and there is little reason to expect he loses any time to Cutler unless it comes late in the season if the games are meaningless. While all parties concerned are saying "the right things", the reality is that Denver has served notice to Plummer that his future lays elsewhere after this year. And that could be a good thing here - this season will serve as Plummer's resume when he hits the open market in 2007 and it better be good.

08-14-06 Update: Plummer falls a bit in the rankings with the very impressive performance of Jay Cutler in the first preseason game. Plummer remains safely the starter, but the door is certainly looking more open to Cutler taking time late in the year right when you would need Plummer most. Due to that, he now makes a more appropriate fantasy back-up instead of a starter.

Aaron Brooks - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 15
TD Only: 24
Keeper: 27
Auction: 2%
2003 NOS 16 306 518 3546 24 8 52 183 2
2004 NOS 16 309 542 3810 21 16 57 199 4
2005 NOS 13 240 431 2882 13 17 45 281 2
Avg   15 285 497 3413 19 14 51 221 3
PROJ FA       3520 17 16   160 1

(+Upside) After six years with the New Orleans Saints, Aaron Brooks was benched at the end of the 2005 season and then released when the team started their rebuilding under HC Sean Payton. One of the very few decent quarterbacks on the free agent wire, Brooks was snapped up by the Oakland Raiders who themselves had just dumped Kerry Collins during their own rebuilding.

Until last year, Brooks had thrown for over 3500 yards in each of the previous four seasons while never falling below 21 touchdowns. His weakness was never production but instead fumbling, interceptions and the occasional bad decision. Along with his cousin Michael Vick, Brooks is very mobile and has scored at least twice while running the ball during the last four seasons. With a big arm and a penchant for the maddening mistake, he is a perfect fit for the Raiders.

Brooks signed a two-year contract worth $8 million and just $3 million is due this year. That means Brooks needs to deliver to reach the bigger payday and to keep both Marques Tuiasosopo and Andrew Walter from taking the job during the open competition in training camp. Brooks should win that as the mobile veteran with a big arm even if he doesn't remain next year. Oakland has one of the easier passing schedules this year and Randy Moss should be healthy and ready to make good on his arrival a year ago. Brooks makes a very nice back-up quarterback for your team and he has the upside to be a fantasy starter. What remains to be seen is if HC Art Shell is dusting off a 12 year old offense or if he will adjust to the 2006 version of the NFL.

08-15-06 Update: After two preseason games, there is just no denying that Brooks looks terrible in the new Oakland offense. It is only preseason and he will have more time to improve. He hasn't played much with Randy Moss as well. But at this point, he certainly does not have the look of a fantasy starter.

08-26-06 Update: Brooks hops up a couple of spots after connecting very well with Randy Moss for two scores in the preseason game against the Lions. While it was just the Lions and only one preseason game, it is the first positive sign we have seen and this offense is going to need to throw this year. He's still too risky to consider as a starter but he makes an intriguing fantasy back-up.

Daunte Culpepper - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 16
TD Only: 15
Keeper: 11
Auction: 2%
2003 MIN 14 295 454 3479 25 11 72 422 4
2004 MIN 16 379 549 4717 39 11 89 406 2
2005 MIN 7 139 216 1564 6 12 23 148 1
Avg   12 271 406 3253 23 11 61 325 2
PROJ FA       3360 20 17   90 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) After five seasons atop the rankings in every fantasy football draft, Daunte Culpepper took a nosedive last year when he only threw for six scores in his first seven games against 12 interceptions. While a downturn was expected after losing Randy Moss and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, such a free fall was far worse than anyone imagined. To make the season a complete and utter waste, Culpepper suffered the trifecta of knee injuries when he tore his ACL, MCL and PCL. He underwent surgery during November once the swelling had subsided. By January, he had lost 25 pounds from his 265 pound frame to help lessen the pressure on his knee and aid the healing process.

Culpepper was later traded to the Miami Dolphins in March in exchange for a second round pick. His recovery is said to be going well but the surgeon originally said that such injuries typically require nine to twelve months to heal. That would put Culpepper ready just in time for the season opener in the best case scenario. Should he follow a normal recovery time, he will not be playing until perhaps mid-season. And that all assumes he has no setbacks.

Culpepper still does not have Moss but Chris Chambers will be his new preferred target. Linehan was the offensive coordinator in Miami last year with very good results but has since left for St. Louis. Ex-Bills HC Mike Mularkey has replaced him in Miami and the plan is to continue the same offense that Linehan left behind. That all spells major risk for Culpepper this year from returning from a catastrophic knee injury, changing teams, learning a new offense, being unable to fully practice with the team and above all - Culpepper was far different without Randy Moss. His name will see him drafted too early in likely every redraft league and even his long-term outlook cannot be considered the same with so many variables yet to be known.

08-04-06 Update: Culpepper gets a move up into fantasy backup territory since he is tracking fairly well on his rehab. While others have him ranked much higher than this, Culpepper is still coming off a bad knee injury, going to a new team with a new coordinator and has to gain chemistry with new players. He's been a great one in the past and he may again be in the future, but considering him as a fantasy starter this year seems a very optimistic move.

08-25-06 Update: Culpepper moves up again with a nice showing in the only preseason game that counts (#3) when he had 14 of 19 for 130 yards and even ran twice for 11 yards. Hard to believe this is the same guy that tore three ligaments less than a year ago. It is still rather optimistic to consider him a fantasy starter given his recuperation and having to learn a new offense and mesh with new team mates, but he's given enough signs that he should be considered a fairly desireable back-up for your team and he could end up posting decent numbers in the latter half of the season all going well with his knee.

Philip Rivers - SDC YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 17
TD Only: 16
Keeper: 14
Auction: 2%
2003                    
2004 SDC 1 5 8 33 1   2 -1  
2005 SDC 2 12 22 115   1 1 -1  
Avg   2 9 15 74 1 1 2 0 0
PROJ SDC       3280 20 15   120 1

(+Upside) The Chargers drafted Eli Manning with the first pick in the 2004 draft and then traded him to the Giants in exchange for Phillip Rivers, the fourth overall selection that year. Since the Chargers had soured on Drew Brees, they took Rivers with the intention of making him a starter sooner than later. What they did not count on was that Brees suddenly blossomed that year and threw for 27 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. That was good enough to make Rivers sit out a second season while Brees increased to a career high 3576 yards with 24 scores. By this spring, the Chargers could no longer afford to keep their $40 million quarterback as a clipboard holder.

Rivers starts this season but he has only thrown a total of 30 passes in the NFL with just 17 completions. He's only appeared in three games and threw a pass in just two. What Rivers can do is largely speculation from a lack of playing time to consider. He was taken between Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, but that alone is meaningless other to suggest perceived potential.

The Chargers have an above average ease of schedule which will help Rivers. So will having the premier tight end and running back in the NFL. But his passing numbers in the first year could be limited largely to those two players with only the aging Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker as other options. Until more can be seen from Rivers, he cannot be considered more than a very deep back-up in a large league but he's had two years to learn the playbook and brings in a skill set that has already earned him tens of millions of dollars for holding a clipboard.

08-04-06 Update: Rivers has been wowing the coaching staff in training camp and it should not be a shock. Granted, Rivers has rode the pine for two years and little has been seen of him. Then again, he was considered one of the elite quarterbacks coming out of the NFL draft in 2004 and he has been in the same system for two past seasons. it is always a leap of faith to take a relatively unseen quarterback but Rivers is one who could surprise this year

Byron Leftwich - PIT YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 18
TD Only: 17
Keeper: 16
Auction: 1%
2003 JAC 15 239 419 2819 14 17 25 108 2
2004 JAC 14 267 441 2941 15 10 39 148 2
2005 JAC 11 175 302 2123 15 5 31 67 2
Avg   13 227 387 2628 15 11 32 108 2
PROJ PIT       3300 20 16   100 1

Byron Leftwich was the second quarterback taken in the 2003 NFL draft behind only Carson Palmer. He entered the league with lofty expectations and after three seasons, we are still waiting. 2005 proved to be his worst season thanks to a broken bone in his ankle in week 13 which forced him to miss the final five games of the regular season and he ended with only 2123 passing yards. Had he continued his season, he was on a pace to gain only 3088 passing yards and about 21 scores. Slightly better than average. If in fact he had actually remained healthy.

Such is the problem with Leftwich who still has yet to last for an entire season. His best showing so far came during the early part of 2004 when he had four straight games over 298 passing yards with six total scores. Of course that string ended when, again, he was injured and missed two games. His numbers became pedestrian again and lasted throughout 2005 when he never threw for more than 258 yards and had four of ten games remain below 200 passing yards. Good news though - the Jaguars will be entering the second season of Carl Smith's USC imported offense and should be better. The bad news - Jimmy "The Crutch" Smith has retired.

This year Leftwich has a decent schedule but Jimmy Smith has retired and the team is back to looking at Reggie Williams. Until Leftwich can put together a full season and show more consistency, he remains nothing more than a decent fantasy back-up.

Brett Favre - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 19
TD Only: 25
Keeper: 21
Auction: 1%
2003 GBP 16 308 472 3361 32 21 18 15  
2004 GBP 16 346 541 4086 30 17 16 36  
2005 GBP 16 372 607 3881 20 29 18 62  
Avg   16 342 540 3776 27 22 17 38 0
PROJ FA       3500 18 25   30  

Brett Favre has returned for his 16th season in the NFL possibly in part to leave on better terms than his 2005 season ended. Favre had his touchdown total fall below 27 for the first time since 2000. The Packers suffered through a horrific season thanks to injuries and the loss of several Pro Bowl players to free agency. The season did provide some career marks for Favre though, with 607 passes thrown and 29 of them intercepted in a single season.

After declining to state his intentions until April, Favre finally re-upped for this season despite the team rebuilding under new head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jogodzinski. The scheme is not really new since the west coast style will merely be tweaked a bit and has some new terminology to learn. The team is also largely unchanged other than the departure of Javon Walker who missed almost all of last year anyway. Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport are back from injury, hopefully, and the Packers elected to acquire no new offensive linemen.

The outlook for Favre still is not as good as in recent years. There will be concerns about the rushing game health until the starting duo proves they are healthy. And Javon Walker's absence has not been compensated for beyond drafting a second round rookie in Greg Jennings. But the Packer schedule is relatively light this year and one major bonus awaits - fantasy playoff weeks will have the Packers going against SF, DET and MIN. Reason enough to take Favre.

08-29-06 Update: Favre looked almost lost against the Bengals in the Monday night game and the Packers offense using their first stringers looked nothing short of abysmal. He falls in the rankings from a lethargic looking offense and from a fear that he won't last the entire season behind that offensive line.

Jon Kitna - DAL YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 20
TD Only: 18
Keeper: 19
Auction: 1%
2003 CIN 16 325 521 3605 26 15 38 117  
2004 CIN 4 61 104 623 5 4 10 42  
2005 CIN 3 17 29 99   2 2 14  
Avg   8 134 218 1442 10 7 17 58 0
PROJ DAL       3300 20 17   40  

(+Upside) After five seasons as the starting quarterback in Seattle and Cincinnati, Jon Kitna has spent the last two seasons watching Carson Palmer while waiting for his next chance. This season he gets it - picked up by the Detroit Lions who signed him to a four-year deal worth $11.5 million with a $3.5 million signing bonus. Kitna has been a very effective quarterback in the past but he just has a knack for playing for teams that have someone else they want to move into the starting spot (Hasselbeck and Palmer). In his last season as the starter, Kitna threw for 3591 yards and 26 touchdowns. He only had 15 interceptions that season though in most years he had the standard ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.

In Detroit, Kitna becomes part of a new offensive scheme being installed by the new offensive coordinator Mike Martz whom no one has questioned as a coordinator. With Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Charles Rogers as wideouts, the offense has the potential to become another great passing attack in the NFL, particularly with Martz running the offense. Kitna has nine years of veteran experience to bring to the table, along with having started 79 games in his career having thrown 108 touchdowns.

While the training camp is claimed to be an "open competition" between Kitna and Josh McCown, head coach Rod Marinelli has already said that Kitna will be first on the depth chart. Unless McCown comes on very strong this summer, Kitna will be running the next Martz offense in the NFL and those are always attractive in fantasy terms. Kitna doesn't warrant being drafted as a starter for you team, but he makes a great back-up that could end up surprising.

David Carr - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 21
TD Only: 21
Keeper: 15
Auction: 1%
2003 HOU 12 167 295 2013 9 13 27 151 2
2004 HOU 16 286 467 3539 16 14 72 303  
2005 HOU 16 256 423 2488 14 11 56 308 1
Avg   15 236 395 2680 13 13 52 254 1
PROJ FA       3460 18 13   250 1

After failing to deliver on his potential for four seasons, there was speculation that the Texans would release David Carr in light of the new coaching staff coming to Houston. As it ends up, HC Gary Kubiak actually likes Carr. Enough to sign off on an extension to Carr's contract that netted him $8 million this season and around $5 million for the two next years.

Since 2002, Carr has never thrown more than 16 touchdowns in season or exceeded 3531 passing yards. Last year was a step backwards for him when he only managed to throw 14 scores and a mere 2488 yards. The introduction of Kubiak and offensive coordinator Troy Calhoun should be a big benefit to Carr this season as it was when Jake Plummer left Arizona for Denver. Perhaps the most significant change will be to the offensive line. While Carr has been battered about since he arrived in Houston, Kubiak comes from the best offensive line for the last decade. This should prove to be the best situation that Carr could ever hope for.

In addition to that good news is the acquisition of Eric Moulds in the off-season to give Carr a legitimate (and accomplished) wideout besides Andre Johnson. Moulds should help free Johnson from the suffocating coverage he has been getting as well. It all spells a better season for Carr who has more upside than any time in his career. And an excellent chance he won't finish most pass plays with a defender sitting on his chest.

Charlie Frye - OAK YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 22
TD Only: 26
Keeper: 22
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005 CLE 7 98 165 1002 4 6 17 53 1
Avg   7 98 165 1002 4 6 17 53 1
PROJ OAK       3100 16 18   160 2

(+Upside) Charlie Frye was selected in the third round last season by the Cleveland Browns with the intention that he would learn the system for a season before competing for the starting job this year. Then Trent Dilfer developed tendonitis that dragged on until finally the Browns were safely out of playoff contention and Frye was given the starting job. Considering how lackluster most rookie quarterbacks play, Frye's five-game stretch to end the year was pretty good. He ended with four touchdowns against four interceptions and that included two road trips in CIN and OAK and later two home games against PIT and BAL. His completion percentage was worsening as the year went on in fairness his schedule was as much to blame.

The Browns traded away Trent Dilfer in May and now Ken Dorsey will provide back-up duties - far less chance there that Frye has a few bad games and gets replaced. His fortunes this season may be improved with Kellen Winslow once again healthy (as of this writing anyway) and ready to deliver on his high draft selection two years ago. Since Antonio Bryant was allowed to go to San Francisco, Frye will need more help. Braylon Edwards was impressive in his abbreviated season but he is returning from a knee injury. The only addition was Joe Jurevicius which should help at least the short passing game.

Frye is still too inexperienced to be considered a fantasy starter but the early returns on him have made his future value seem promising. In a keeper league, this is the year to watch his progress. The Browns have a fairly brutal schedule for Frye to navigate and if you remember only one thing about him, make it this - during traditional fantasy playoffs he will be facing games of @PIT, @BAL and TB. That would be unattractive for any quarterback, let alone a second year player that has only started five games.

Drew Brees - NOS YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 23
TD Only: 22
Keeper: 25
Auction: 1%
2003 SDC 11 205 356 2108 11 15 21 84  
2004 SDC 15 262 400 3159 27 7 53 85 2
2005 SDC 16 323 500 3576 24 15 21 49 1
Avg   14 263 419 2948 21 12 32 73 1
PROJ NOS       3300 19 15   60  

When the Saints brought in Sean Payton as their head coach, it was certain that things were going to change. One of the biggest movements that the team made was releasing Aaron Brooks and obtaining Drew Brees from San Diego. The Chargers had been sitting on Phillip Rivers for two years and his time finally came. That should prove a windfall for the rebuilding Saints by obtaining a five year veteran who has thrown 51 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Brees signed a six-year, $60 million contract in March.

Brees suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in the season finale against the Broncos and underwent corrective surgery. The best case prognosis was that he would be ready in time for training camp and by all reports he has been ahead of schedule during the offseason. Brees is firm in saying he will be ready for training camp and learning a new offense and gaining chemistry with new teammates. The Saints will return the same cast of receivers from 2005 but the addition of Reggie Bush and the return of Deuce McAllister alone make this offense look better than it looked at the end of last year. Notable too is that Brees no longer will have the premier tight end in the NFL.

If Brees cannot play to start the season, Todd Bouman will be the likely replacement though the addition of Jamie Martin could change the depth chart with an impressive training camp. Brees is a risk returning from injury and joining a new team that itself is installing a new offense. Until Brees gets several games under his belt, he is too risky to consider a fantasy starter and if you must rely on him, make sure you take his back-up Bouman. One brutal reality here - his fantasy playoff weeks are @DAL, WAS and @NYG.

Ben Roethlisberger - PIT YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 24
TD Only: 19
Keeper: 26
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003                    
2004 PIT 14 196 295 2621 17 11 56 144 1
2005 PIT 12 168 268 2385 17 9 31 69 3
Avg   13 182 282 2503 17 10 44 107 2
PROJ PIT       3000 19 13   80 1

(-Risk) After two seasons as the starter in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is getting harder to figure out instead of easier. While he ended his second regular season with almost identical numbers from 2004, he started the year by having a terrible training camp and a 32.8 passer rating in preseason games. Then he threw for two scores in each of his first thee games. He had a hyper-extended knee and a bone bruise in week five and missed the next game only to return for two more scores - but only 93 passing yards. Same story the next week. Then he re-injured his knee and needed arthroscopic knee surgery which made him miss three more games.

When he returned, he had a monster 386 yard, three touchdown game in week 13 but otherwise had only average games with little yardage and just one score. He played his best during the playoffs when his three games served up seven touchdowns against only one interception with an average of 230 passing yards per game.

On June 12th, Roethlisberger was in a well publicized motorcycle accident that fractured his nose, jaws and other facial bones with a deep laceration to the back of his head. He was released by the hospital four days later with reports that he may only miss a week or so of training camp but that he could be good to go for the start of the season. Obviously take that all with a grain of salt and wait for late word from camp about how well he is healing. He wasn't worth much more than a fantasy back-up prior to the accident and unless he clearly shows that all is well, best to avoid Big Ben.

08-04-06 Update: Big Ben may have done a face plant into a windshield in June but he looks amazingly recovered. His accident is evidently becoming a mere footnote in his career.

09-04-06 Update: If nothing else, this will be a memorable summer for Big Ben who had to undergo emergency surgery on his appendix. He'll miss at least one game but if a face plant into a windshield doesn't hold him back, an appendix shouldn't be an issue for too long.

Tier 4
Chris Simms - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 25
TD Only: 27
Keeper: 30
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004 TBB 4 42 73 467 1 3 7 14  
2005 TBB 11 191 313 2035 10 7 19 31  
Avg   8 117 193 1251 6 5 13 23 0
PROJ FA       2980 17 14   70 1

Chris Simms took over last year when Brian Griese was injured and played out the final ten games of the season. Already a favorite of HC Jon Gruden, Simms once again is the starter without question since Brian Griese went to Chicago in the offseason.

Simms only averaged around 200 yards per game last year and he had an average of 1.6 touchdowns per start but those numbers came about in a feast or famine sort of way. By week 16, he had only scored in four of eight games but then finished strong with two touchdown efforts in each of the final games. Of his ten scores last year, only two went to someone other than the 35-year old Joey Galloway.

Unless Joey Galloway can repeat his freakishly high year or Michael Clayton can rebound from his nightmarish 2005, Simms won't rank much more than an average NFL quarterback and a fairly deep fantasy back-up.

Mark Brunell - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 26
TD Only: 23
Keeper: 33
Auction: 1%
2003 JAC 3 54 82 484 2   8 19 1
2004 WAS 9 118 237 1194 7 6 19 62  
2005 WAS 16 262 454 3050 23 10 42 111  
Avg   9 145 258 1576 11 5 23 64 0
PROJ FA       2900 19 9   80  

Mark Brunell comes off a career high for touchdowns passes (23) and his 3050 passing yards was his best effort since 2001 in Jacksonville. Patrick Ramsey didn't last one full game as the starter in Washington last year before Brunell won the starting job back. He cemented that role when he ripped off a stretch of 12 touchdowns in the next five games that each had at least two scores. Brunell started the year red hot with three games over 290 yards in his first four starts but cooled sharply from mid-season onward. His effectiveness was related solely to connecting with Santana Moss on deep passes. Once that was taken away, he became much more average.

Brunell is 36 years old and the Redskins traded away three draft picks last year to grab Jason Campbell as the future heir. While there is no doubt that Brunell be the starter to open the year, it is much less certain that he will be the starter by the end of the year.

Brunell should benefit from the Redskins bringing in Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El and the new OC Al Saunders from Kansas City promised to make this offense much more potent than the 2005 version. Saunders had great luck transforming Trent Green into a top quarterback but Brunell is too old to expect any major turnaround as his career winds down. The future lies with Jason Campbell eventually. Consider Brunell as a decent back-up quarterback that may only last part of the year. Taking Brunell means considering a handcuff with Jason Campbell - and who wants to back-up their back-up quarterback?

Brad Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 27
TD Only: 28
Keeper: 29
Auction: 1%
2003 TBB 16 354 570 3821 26 21 25 33  
2004 TBB 4 65 103 674 3 3 5 23  
2005 MIN 10 183 293 1885 12 4 18 53  
Avg   10 201 322 2127 14 9 16 36 0
PROJ FA       3020 18 14   30  

At the age of 37 last year, most figured Brad Johnson to be playing out the twilight of his career behind one of the most dynamic fantasy quarterbacks in the league - Daunte Culpepper. By the end of the season, not only had Brad Johnson resurrected his career, he also sent Culpepper packing to Miami. After Culpepper suffered a devastating knee injury in week eight, Johnson stepped in to win six straight games and helped raise the Vikings to a 9-7 record after a brutal 3-5 start to the season.

Had Johnson's nine games as a starter been stretched out to a 16 game season, he would have ended with about 3000 yards and about 19 touchdowns - the definition of average. In fantasy terms, the problem with that is Johnson had four of nine games without any touchdowns and threw less than 200 yards five times. He never threw for more than 248 yards. All very "un-Viking" like given the past few years but Culpepper was already on that stumbling pace anyway.

The Vikings have brought over HC Brad Childress from the Eagles and he'll be working with OC Darrell Bevell to install a "Philly-style" scheme that will likely see similar passing numbers from last season. Johnson still has a big arm but almost no mobility and at the age of 38, he's unlikely to play more than this season and next at the most. The Vikings drafted Tavaris Jackson as a possible replacement but he is so raw that Johnson will carry the full load this season. Expect enough production to warrant making Johnson your back-up quarterback but nothing more. Johnson also has a horrific start to the season - @WAS, CAR and CHI.

J.P. Losman - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 28
TD Only: 29
Keeper: 31
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004 BUF 3 3 5 32   1 2 15  
2005 BUF 9 114 229 1340 8 8 31 154  
Avg   6 59 117 686 4 5 17 85 0
PROJ FA       3000 16 16   60  

After a rather shaky start to his career, J.P. Losman should be happy that the Bills traded three picks to acquire him in 2004. His cost alone has been a reason to give him another chance. Losman started the season with a decent game but quickly became so ineffective that he was yanked by then Bills HC Mike Mularkey by week five. Kelly Holcomb played better but suffered a severe concussion and Losman got another chance. He played well enough to be given the green light for the rest of the season until he injured his right shoulder in week 14 and missed the rest of the season.

Losman's performance in weeks ten through fourteen were nothing to crow about but he also played against some top defenses during that stretch and did reasonably well. Enough that the coaching staff is giving him the start this season though not quite good enough to keep them from acquiring Craig Nall from Green Bay "just in case". In his favor, the new offensive coordinator is Steve Fairchild from the Rams. A new offense takes time to install though.

The Bills actually have one of the better schedules this season which should help but the departure of Eric Moulds leaves him without an established possession receiver to use. Lee Evans will assume the #1 spot but he's a speedster who is not going to be the man on third down over the middle. Peerless Price has returned but he more closely resembles Evans than Moulds. Josh Reed becomes the de facto #2 wideout but that seems a miscast as well. Look for an inconsistent year from Losman who will need to play well enough to keep Nall on the bench.

Alex Smith - KCC YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 29
TD Only: 30
Keeper: 28
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005 SFO 9 84 165 875 1 11 30 103  
Avg   9 84 165 875 1 11 30 103 0
PROJ KCC       2650 14 19   200 1

(+Upside) For those Alex Smith owners still smarting from last season's rookie performance, go look at how well Eli Manning did in his first five starts… No! I said "Eli", not "Peyton"! Smith came up with only 675 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions in the final five games of 2005. Manning only had 632 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. And he had Shockey, Toomer, Hilliard and Barber instead of Terry Jones, Lloyd, Battle and BarlowGoreHicks.

That is not to suggest that Smith will follow Manning's footsteps in breaking out his sophomore year, but that almost all rookie quarterbacks play badly. With the cast of characters that Smith had last year, it was hardly a surprise but the bad news here is that it may actually be worse this season. Lloyd has left for the Skins and has been replaced by Antonio Bryant. The team has drafted Vernon Davis as the next super freak tight end but all things take time even on a good offense which the 49ers have yet to see wearing the garnet and gold. The addition of new OC Norv Turner can only help this situation but he cannot produce star players around Smith.

Expect another stumbling showing by Smith thanks in large part to the offense around him. He will play better this year and the need to throw will be no less than last year, but Smith still has a fantasy ranking similar to what his entire offense has - pretty near the bottom if not there all year. If Smith shows progress during the season and Davis can learn quickly, there is a chance that some fantasy value is here later in the season. The 49ers have a fairly kind schedule this year and Smith will need all the help he can get.

Chad Pennington - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 30
TD Only: 34
Keeper: 34
Auction: 1%
2003 NYJ 10 189 297 2139 13 12 21 42 2
2004 NYJ 13 242 370 2673 16 9 34 126 1
2005 NYJ 3 49 83 530 2 3 6 27  
Avg   9 160 250 1781 10 8 20 65 1
PROJ FA       1680 8 9   30  

Chad Pennington signed a seven-year, $64 million contract extension through 2011 back in 2004 and while that wrapped up his services, the Jets have hardly gotten back what they paid for. In 2004, Pennington only lasted 13 games before tearing the rotator cuff in his shoulder though that was better than the nine games he lasted in 2003. Last season, Pennington only made it through two full games before he re-injured his right rotator cuff again and missed the rest of the schedule. His injury was only the first domino that was going to fall on the depth chart in 2005.

Now the Jets have a new offense being installed by HC Eric Mangini and OC Brian Schottenheimer and Pennington's availability this season is unknown and inevitably completely unreliable. Were he healthy it would be hard to consider him a good fantasy risk on a team that fell apart last year and only now is starting to put the pieces back together.

Avoid Penning in your drafts if at all possible, and if you have to take him, he is a handcuff with Patrick Ramsey with a smaller shackle to Kellen Clemens. Make it easy on yourself and ignore the risk and uncertainty here.

Brian Griese - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 31
TD Only: 32
Keeper: 32
Auction: 1%
2003 MIA 5 74 130 813 5 6 3 17  
2004 TBB 11 233 336 2632 20 12 30 17  
2005 TBB 6 112 174 1136 7 7 13 12  
Avg   7 140 213 1527 11 8 15 15 0
PROJ FA       1380 11 8   60  

(+Upside) Back in 2001, Brian Griese had a career best season when he threw for 23 touchdowns for the Broncos but he only managed 15 scores along with 15 interceptions the next year and was shipped out to Miami in 2003 where he rarely played. His career came back to life in Tampa Bay where he had 2632 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2004 but then he only played for six games last season before tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the season. Once again, he was replaced and lands now in Chicago.

Griese has far more experience than any other Chicago quarterback but his one failing has been making mistakes. Last year in six games, he did throw seven touchdowns but had seven interceptions. In most seasons, he has roughly equaled every score with another interception. With a great defense and a run-oriented offense, the biggest demand on a quarterback here is to not lose the ball.

That all said, Rex Grossman has hardly been a model of efficiency so far and that is only when he actually plays. Early indications are that Grossman will once again take the starting role and that Griese will provide back-up duty. Even if Griese is unable to unseat Grossman in training camp, that hardly ends his potential behind a quarterback who has never played more than three games in a season. Griese has no real fantasy value in a draft, but it is almost certain that at some point in the year he'll be under center as the starter.

Kerry Collins - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 32
TD Only: 31
Keeper: 35
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 NYG 13 284 500 3110 13 16 17 49  
2004 OAK 14 289 513 3495 21 20 17 35  
2005 OAK 15 302 565 3759 20 12 18 38 1
Avg   14 292 526 3455 18 16 17 41 0
PROJ FA       1360 12 12   20  

Collins was finally signed by the Titans after a poor showing by Billy Volek. Safest bet here is that Collins gets playing time and will be the best bet at quarterback for the Titans this year but that doesn't neccessarily mean he will have significant fantasy value and he'll still likely give way to Vince Young at some point.

Patrick Ramsey - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 33
TD Only: 35
Keeper: 36
Auction: 1%
2003 WAS 11 180 338 2169 14 9 15 62 1
2004 WAS 9 169 272 1665 10 11 10 19  
2005 WAS 4 15 25 279 1 1 7 3  
Avg   8 121 212 1371 8 7 11 28 0
PROJ FA       1450 7 8   60  

Patrick Ramsey was drafted during Steve Spurrier's first season in Washington but he never managed to seal the deal as a starter and after two seasons with HC Joe Gibbs, Ramsey was sent packing. He started the season in 2005 as the starting quarterback despite playing poorly during training camp. In week one, Ramsey sprained his neck thanks to a clothesline tackle and Gibbs named Mark Brunell the starter for what ended up to be the rest of the season.

Ramsey has never started more than 11 games in a season during his four year career without being injured or replaced. While Ramsey has a spotty career with injury and performance, he ironically goes to the Jets to back-up Chad Pennington who also has never lasted a full 16 game season. Pennington no longer has the original coaching staff that drafted him and he could end up replaced by Ramsey for a variety of reasons during the season.

Ramsey is a must to acquire if you plan on relying on Pennington (which ideally you should not do). The Jets are in a major rebuilding year under first-year head coach Eric Mangini so no position is beyond review and potential replacement but Ramsey's past suggests he'll only be a back-up until Pennington, of course, is injured again. Even then, the rookie Kellen Clemens could get a look as early as the end of this year.

Vince Young - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 34
TD Only: 33
Keeper: 23
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005                    
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA       760 9 12   100 2

(+Upside) The Titans opted to use their 1.03 pick on one of the most exciting players in the 2006 NFL draft - Vince Young. After attending the Pro Days for Matt Leinart and Young and having both throw passes to a trio of Titan wideouts, Young became the pick. Young is a supreme athlete who makes plays - often very big plays - with both his arm and his legs. He literally took over the Rose Bowl last January and won the dramatic National Championship almost single-handedly. His negatives are his side-armed throwing motion that coaches have tried to correct until finally giving up last year (with rather good results). He also has been considered less adept at reading defenses than what Leinart is credited though some of that stems from the offensive system at Texas which was not the Pro-style that USC employed. On the bad side, Young could prove to be yet another college phenom that could struggle with reading defenses, and have problems with batted passes from his side-armed delivery.

To prevent using him too early, the plan is similar to what they did with Steve McNair when he was selected with the 1.03 pick in 1995. McNair only started two games as a rookie and then only four more in his second season before taking over as the full-time starter. That will be a challenge for the Titans to resist the urge to use a player they considered as a "supreme playmaker".

Young has obvious value in keeper/dynasty leagues but he belongs to a team with a sub-standard group of receivers and he may not play much at all this season. Not unlike HC Jeff Fisher, you'll see him in your draft and want to take the plunge on raw potential alone. But like Fisher, realize that Young's impact in 2006 is not why he was drafted.

Matt Leinart - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 35
TD Only: 36
Keeper: 24
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005                    
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA       700 6 2   70  

(+Upside) The consensus best quarterback had he come out in 2005 waited a year and fell nine spots to the 10th overall when the Cardinals swooped down and grabbed him. Leinart is 6'5" and weighs 224 so he fills the prototypical size of a quarterback. He is actually as prototypical as they come in all facets of being a pocket passer but he won't run much. His highest marks come in those intangible areas that can elevate him into a stud if he continues to be known for his leadership, poise, ability to work under pressure and avoiding errors.

While he may have tumbled in the draft, it could be a blessing. Playing for Denny Green in Arizona means plenty of passing opportunities and Leinart inherits a fantastic wide receiver crew of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson. Unlike every other past Arizona quarterbacks, Leinart will eventually be handing off to a four-time Pro Bowler in Edgerrin James which should do wonders in keeping the defense from only loading up against the pass.

There is no conjecture that Leinart will do anything more than watch this season with Kurt Warner having signed a three-year contract in January but his time could come as early as 2007. Warner now becomes the mentor and tutor before handing the reins to Leinart. In a keeper league, Leinart holds tremendous promise but in a redraft league, he only has real value to the team that already owns Warner and wants to back him up.

08-26-06 Update: Leinart moves up a bit with his impressive showing against the Bears when he completed 12 passes in a row and ended 15 of 21 for 144 yards and a score. Make no mistake - Warner is the starter but Leinart is a must handcuff if you get Warner and is rising sharply in keeper leagues.

Rex Grossman - WAS YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 36
TD Only: 40
Keeper: 37
Auction: 1%
2003 CHI 3 38 72 437 2 1 3 -1  
2004 CHI 3 47 84 607 1 3 11 48 1
2005 CHI 2 20 39 259 1 2      
Avg   3 35 65 434 1 2 5 16 0
PROJ WAS       900 3 3   50  

(-Risk) (+Upside) Rex Grossman has once again been given the early nod to start this season and if he cannot get something done this year, then he has the proverbial three strikes. Grossman has been in the NFL for three years and yet only has a total of four touchdown passes thanks to only playing in a total of seven games. He tore an ACL in 2004 and last year broke his ankle during the preseason. He makes ex-QB Chris Chandler look like Superman by comparison.

There is nothing in Grossman's resume' that speaks of his credentials to be a starting quarterback other than a great career back at the University of Florida and some good vibes from practices (albeit so few of them). The Bears have not thrown more than a dozen touchdowns in a season for many years now and the great defense and solid rushing game should only continue that style of play.

As fragile as Grossman has been and knowing that the Bears rarely throw anyway, he's an untouchable in a fantasy draft and his back-up Brian Griese actually has more potential if there actually is any to exploit in this offense. Admire the defense. Admire the running game. But stay away from Chicago quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler - CHI YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 37
TD Only: 37
Keeper: 20
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005                    
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CHI       460 4 1   40  

(+Upside) The Broncos pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the draft when they moved up to grab Jay Cutler. No one was aware they were in the QB market by design, a deception taken so far that HC Mike Shanahan made a trade with the Rams to move up to 11th spot in the first round despite never having actually met Jay Cutler. This Vanderbilt quarterback attracted considerable attention this spring even though the two quarterbacks taken immediately before him were both in the National Championship game. Cutler did not even have a winning season. But he is considered one of those quarterbacks who was better than the team surrounding him in college. Described as a "flamethrower", Cutler is an accurate passer both short and deep and more importantly, he has been tagged as having those intangibles that make a great quarterback.

Cutler helped his stock greatly with great showings in the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine. The biggest surprise in the selection by Denver was that they already had a quarterback who brought them to the AFC Championship game. Then again, there are those who say Jake Plummer also lost that game. In politically correct terms, Shanahan explained his decision by saying that Jake Plummer was a good quarterback but Jay Cutler has the chance to become a great one.

Unless Plummer is injured during the year, there is no expectation that the Broncos are going to throw Cutler into the fire this season unless it comes at the end of the year in meaningless portions of games. Beyond 2006, there is little doubt that Cutler will be competing for the starting role in 2007 if in fact he is just not handed it. Great pick in a keeper league but likely worthless in a redraft league this year.

Matt Schaub - OAK YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 38
TD Only: 38
Keeper: 39
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004 ATL 6 33 70 329 1 4 8 26  
2005 ATL 6 33 64 495 4   9 76  
Avg   6 33 67 412 3 2 9 51 0
PROJ OAK       450 4 2   20  

(+Upside) While Schaub has only played in 12 games during his two year career, he was one of the hotter properties this spring before the Falcons reeled him back in after other teams did not see him worth more than the asking price that was mentioned as being "more than a first round pick". That indicates just how valuable he is to the Falcons who have had to rely on him in the not unusual case that Michael Vick is injured.

When Schaub does play, the passing game comes to life. He was never more impressive than last year when he burned the Patriots for 298 yards and three scores. But as long as Big Ticket Vick is around, Schaub will continue to be little more than a prudent back-up for those drafting Vick or a calculated hold pick in a very deep dynasty league. He has the talent and will conclude his rookie contract this season. 2006 will be more of the same - waiting for Vick to fall. But in 2007, the Falcons are going to have to reach into their wallets to continue that set-up or Schaub will likely be gone.

Jason Campbell - CIN YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 39
TD Only: 39
Keeper: 40
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004                    
2005                    
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CIN       380 4 4   30  

(+Upside) Jason Campbell was drafted with the 1.24 pick by the Redskins in 2005 after they made a trade that gave up three picks including their first in order to move up and grab the ex-Auburn star. Campbell is a hand-picked choice to become the Redskin's quarterback of the future and was the first selection during the Joe Gibbs era (Part II).

Campbell never played a down last year but spent time learning the game. With the new OC Al Saunders installing a new offense, Campbell is yet again learning a new offense but has been hard at work with new QB coach Bill Lazor in almost daily sessions to understand the plays and refine his skills. This makes it the sixth straight season that Campbell has needed to learn a new offense dating back to his freshman year in college.

Until the coaching staff feels comfortable that Campbell is ready, Mark Brunell will continue to be the starter but expectations are that Campbell will be the back-up this year and only one injury away from being the starter. Campbell could end up spending the year in the learning mode and not play once again and yet he could replace or supplant Brunell at any time as well. Campbell is the future in Washington - the only question is when that begins.

Josh McCown - TBB YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 40
TD Only: 41
Keeper: 41
Auction: 1%
2003 ARI 7 95 165 1018 5 6 29 164 1
2004 ARI 14 233 408 2511 11 10 36 112 2
2005 ARI 9 163 270 1832 9 11 29 139  
Avg   10 164 281 1787 8 9 31 138 1
PROJ TBB       320 2 1   60 1

(+Upside) Josh McCown established himself in 2004 when he was given 13 starts and ended with 2511 passing yards and 11 touchdowns, adding another two scores rushing 36 times for 112 yards. That wasn't good enough to keep the Cardinals from acquiring Kurt Warner last season but McCown was called on again when Warner became unavailable.

McCown had six starts last season and included four games with more than 290 passing yards. While the match-up against the Panthers was a nice surprise, the games against the 49ers were not. Nor were the last two games of the year against the "White flag" Eagles or the Colts who rested players for the playoffs. As a near-full year starter in 2004, McCown only managed one game over 300 yards (SF again) and only threw 11 touchdowns that year and all but two came against NFC West opponents of SF, STL and SEA.

Now that McCown is with the Lions, he will compete with veteran Jon Kitna for the starting role though Kitna already has a lead on him going into training camp. The new system being installed by Mike Martz has some similarities to Arizona (throw the ball! Again!), but McCown will need to bring his "A" game to camp in order to unseat Kitna. The starter from this team will have fantasy value and by next year, it could be considerable.

Billy Volek - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 41
TD Only: 42
Keeper: 44
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 TEN 6 44 69 545 4 1 11 4 1
2004 TEN 10 218 357 2485 18 10 11 50 1
2005 TEN 5 50 88 474 4 2 1 3  
Avg   7 104 171 1168 9 4 8 19 1
PROJ FA       300 2 4   40  

(-Risk) With the Titans almost certain to lose Steve McNair this season, Billy Volek gets the starting call this year unless another quarterback (like Kerry Collins) is brought on board. That is looking less likely with every passing week.

Volek had only minimal play in 2005 with Steve McNair lasting almost the entire season but his claim to fame comes from 2004 when he had 426 yards and four scores against the Chiefs in week 13 and then 492 yards and four more scores against the Raiders the following week. It ranked as the greatest production in consecutive weeks in the history of the NFL. Volek played very well in 2004 when he had eight starts and threw for 18 touchdowns. The reality to that season was that not only did Volek also have Derrick Mason there, but that he managed to play against some of the most soft defenses in the NFL that year - MIN, IND, KC and OAK. He also went 2-6 as a starter that year.

While Volek now looks like a crafty sleeper to those remembering his 2004 fireworks, take into consideration that this is a different team with a new offense, a chance of an improved running game and without Derrick Mason. Perhaps most important of all, Vince Young will be standing on the sideline smiling and just waiting for the eventual nod that will come sometime between the start of this season and 2007. The Titans do not intend on using Young until he is ready, but with such a high draft pick and the need to keep the seats filled in The Coliseum, it will be hard for HC Jeff Fisher not to be tempted every week. Expect Volek to start at least half the season if not the entire year. This will be a tough draft pick unless both Volek and Young are taken and that makes the most sense in keeper leagues.

08-29-06 Update: With the signing of Collins, Volek becomes a risk to get any playing time. Forget about him this year as have the Titans evidently.

Joey Harrington - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 42
TD Only: 43
Keeper: 38
Auction: 1%
2003 DET 16 309 554 2880 17 22 28 98  
2004 DET 16 274 489 3047 19 12 49 175  
2005 DET 12 189 331 2021 12 12 25 80  
Avg   15 257 458 2649 16 15 34 118 0
PROJ FA       340 2 2   20  

Joey Harrington finally gets a do-over for his career after four seasons in Detroit, though curiously he went to the one team least likely to name him as a permanent starter. After acquiring Daunte Culpepper in March, Harrington pulled a fast one on Detroit who was trying to shop him around the league by saying he would only sign with Miami. That only cost the Dolphins a sixth round pick in 2007 while netting them the second quarterback drafted in 2002. With Culpepper possibly missing time to start 2006, Harrington oddly desired to be a part of a team that may only use him briefly before benching him. Perhaps that is because he is most familiar with that experience.

Harrington was saddled with a sub-average offense for most of his time in Detroit though many detractors would point at him as the reason. His best season in the NFL was 2004 when he had 3047 yards and 19 touchdowns but he still has never had a year where he finished with more than a 57% completion rate. Only once in his career did he finish a season with more scores than interceptions.

Harrington only has true fantasy value to the person who already has Culpepper. Until the season draws near and Culpepper shows that he will in fact beat conservative prognosis, the safest assumption is that Harrington will get upwards of a month to six weeks of playing time. But the risk involved makes him unworthy of being drafted by anyone but the Culpepper owner.

08-04-06 Update: Harrington moves down a bit since it seems more likely that Culpepper will be starting this year and perhaps by the first week.

Anthony Wright - NYG YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 43
TD Only: 44
Keeper: 42
Auction: 1%
2003 BAL 7 94 177 1199 9 8 27 75  
2004                    
2005 BAL 8 164 266 1582 6 9 18 68  
Avg   8 129 222 1391 8 9 23 72 0
PROJ NYG       260 2 1   20  

After losing Jon Kitna to the Detroit Lions due to free agency, the Bengals initially considered Jamie Martin as a potential replacement before opting for the ex-Baltimore back-up Anthony Wright. That decision was an interesting one since Martin hailed from a similar offensive scheme while Wright comes over from one of the historically worst passing attacks in the NFL thanks to defense and a run-first mentality.

Wright has a total of 19 starts in seven years and has only thrown a total of 20 touchdowns against 25 interceptions. His completion percentage had always remained around 50% or worse until last season when he had a respectable 62%. But he comes from a very short passing scheme and he has never thrown to wideouts like Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

If you draft Palmer, and he will come cheaper than he should likely, then it is prudent to own Anthony Wright. The best case you can have is to take both Palmer and Wright, and then a third quarterback as well that you can rely on in the early weeks in case Wright once again plays only moderately well.

Craig Nall - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 44
TD Only: 45
Keeper: 43
Auction: 1%
2003                    
2004 GBP 4 23 33 314 4   1 9  
2005                    
Avg   4 23 33 314 4 0 1 9 0
PROJ FA       250 2 1   10  

No analysis available.

   
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