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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE

2007 Player Rankings: Top 10 Quarterbacks
Updated: September 3, 2007
Top 10's:        
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Tier One
Peyton Manning - DEN YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004 IND 16 336 497 4557 49 10 25 38  
2005 IND 16 305 453 3747 28 10 33 45  
2006 IND 16 362 557 4397 31 9 23 36 4
Avg   16 334 502 4234 36 10 27 40 1
Proj DEN       4300 33 10   40 2

Nothing much to talk about here. Manning is simply the most productive and consistent quarterback over the nine seasons that he's played. His 4397 yards last year were only third best in his career and yet ranked second in the NFL last year. His 31 passing scores ranked #1 in the NFL for 2006 and yet he’s done better in two other seasons including setting the all-time passing touchdown record with 49 in a season. Manning enjoys all his skill position players returning this season with the same coaching staff and scheme and an offensive line that featured two Pro Bowl players.

The worst you get with Manning (who has never missed a game in nine years) is great and the best would just set yet another NFL record. Manning is as "slam dunk" as it gets for NFL quarterbacks. The only question is when your league makes sense to take him as the first quarterback drafted.

Tom Brady - NEP YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 NEP 16 288 474 3690 28 14 43 28  
2005 NEP 16 334 530 4110 26 14 27 89 1
2006 NEP 16 320 517 3533 24 12 49 102  
Avg   16 314 507 3778 26 13 40 73 0
Proj NEP       4280 28 14   80 1

(+Upside) After coming off career high marks in 2005, Tom Brady ended last season with the lowest yardage since becoming a full-year starter in 2002. His "fall" still turned in 3529 yards and 24 touchdowns against only 12 interceptions. His worst year and he still tied for 4th most passing scores on the season. Brady has never had less than those 3529 passing yards last year or worse than 23 scores in a 16 game season.

What this season ushers in is all new optimism that Brady could once again reach a career best mark. He comes off the worst cast of receivers since coming to New England and now has the best of his career. In addition to Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, the Patriots added Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker in the off season. The Patriot scheme was always hard to defend since it never relied on any one wideout. Now it has added Moss and Stallworth who were #1 wideouts on their prior team and Wes Welker. It’s a dangerous looking crew now and since the team opted to not directly replace Corey Dillon, there’s a good chance that those short rushing scores of previous year’s will now turn into passing touchdowns. Ben Watson is another year more experienced. The stage is set for the best passing year ever for Brady and in the past he’s had as many as 4110 yards and 28 touchdowns. And for one of the even more rare times, the Patriots passing schedule is easier than it has been in several seasons.

Carson Palmer - ARI YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 CIN 13 263 432 2897 18 18 18 47 1
2005 CIN 16 345 509 3836 32 12 34 41 1
2006 CIN 16 324 520 4036 28 13 26 35  
Avg   15 311 487 3590 26 14 26 41 1
Proj ARI       3980 30 12   50 1

Despite tearing a couple of ligaments in his knee in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, Palmer was able to start the entire season last year and ended with a career high 4035 passing yards with 28 touchdowns. He never missed any time and ranked 5th best in passing yardage last year and 2nd best in touchdowns. Palmer has only been a starter for three years and has not only been productive, he threw for 60 touchdowns over the last two seasons with only 25 interceptions.

No need to over-analyze here. Palmer has been a top quarterback for the last two years and showed great resiliency in returning from a bad knee injury within seven months so that he never missed a regular season game. This offense is unchanged other than the absence of Chris Henry for the first eight weeks. That isn’t a positive, but with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Palmer will make up the difference in other ways. The Bengals schedule is actually a bit lighter than last year anyway. Notable too is the tasty schedule during fantasy playoffs – STL, @SF and CLE.

Drew Brees - NOS YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 SDC 15 262 400 3159 27 7 53 85 2
2005 SDC 16 323 500 3576 24 15 21 49 1
2006 NOS 16 357 555 4424 26 11 41 32  
Avg   16 314 485 3720 26 11 38 55 1
Proj NOS       4300 28 14   20  

After spending five years in San Diego where Brees had enough success to keep first round pick Philip Rivers on the bench for two seasons, he moved to New Orleans to take over a franchise that had completely imploded in 2005. The Saints brought on new HC Sean Payton and started shaking up the team which included getting rid of Donte Stallworth and keeping the aging Joe Horn. It looked like starting with humble beginnings but by the time it was over, Brees had led the Saints on one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NFL history. In his first season as a Saint with no apparent stars other than Horn, Brees ended the regular season with a career high 4418 passing yards (#1 in the NFL) and 26 touchdowns (#3) and only threw 11 interceptions. He took a bottom dwelling 3-13 team all the way to a 10-6 record and a NFC conference championship game. He topped 300 passing yards eight times and even threw for a head-spinning 510 yards against the Bengals.

Along the way, Brees connected with Marques Colston to create perhaps the greatest 7th round wideout in the history of the NFL. Drafting Reggie Bush game him yet another outlet and yet Brees had great games using so many different receivers that it’s impossible to argue that he alone was not the central key to the dramatic turnaround. He could have done more but the Saints clinched the division three weeks out and Brees only had 385 total yards over those final three games. He was on pace for a 4960 yard season.

Joe Horn has left but the Saints drafted Robert Meacham with their first pick in the draft to help replace him and kept all other receivers from 2006. The schedule is no more difficult than it was last year and likely will prove easier. This year everyone will see Brees coming, but how many will be able to stop him anyway?

Tier Two
Jon Kitna - DAL YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2004 CIN 4 61 104 623 5 4 10 42  
2005 CIN 3 17 29 99   2 2 14  
2006 DET 16 372 596 4208 21 22 34 156 2
Avg   8 150 243 1643 9 9 15 71 1
Proj DAL       4280 27 20   50  

Kitna’s first season with the Lions resulted in a mere 372 completions (#1 in the NFL) on 596 attempts (#2 in the NFL) for 4208 passing yards (#4 in the NFL). All this in his first season in the new offense while throwing every pass in every game for Detroit. He even added 156 yards and two rushing scores to add to his 21 passing touchdowns. Kitna threw 22 interceptions, but his ratio was only 27:1 for passes thrown – no difference than what any Martz offense produces. Bulger’s final two years in that system produced 32:1 and 34:1 with a far better offense around him. Kitna set a career high for passing yardage and turned in four 300 yard games in 2006.

2007 will include the ever-hyped Calvin Johnson to add to Roy Williams and Mike Furrey which can only improve the passing. Kevin Jones is still recovering from his foot injury last year but at least the Lions went out and picked up Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett as replacements as needed – bit of an upgrade from Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason. The only question revolving around Kitna was the drafting of Drew Stanton with the 2.11 pick as the 5th quarterback taken in April. Stanton was a local favorite of sorts coming from Michigan State but the complicated offense is far better off this year with Kitna rather than dumping the year’s fortunes with a rookie quarterback. The Lions are in a good spot to improve and starting a rookie QB makes no sense for this year. Barring an amazing training camp, Stanton won’t be a factor for 2007 in this pass-happy offense. Kitna gets head up what should be one of the best passing attacks in the league this year – just expect a few interceptions along the way.

Marc Bulger - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 6%
2004 STL 14 321 485 3964 21 14 19 89 3
2005 STL 8 192 287 2297 14 9 9 29  
2006 STL 16 370 588 4301 24 8 18 44  
Avg   13 294 453 3521 20 10 15 54 1
Proj FA       4340 25 9   30  

The first year in Scott Linehan’s offense and Bulger’s level of play did change from his old Martz-days. He got better. In fact, he had career highs in completions (370), yards (4301) and touchdowns (24). Bulger ranked #2 in completions last year, #3 in passing yardage and #4 in passing touchdowns. All this and only eight interceptions. Yes, the change did not hurt him at all.

While Bulger had a few uncharacteristic clunkers in 2006 (142 yards in CAR and 137 yards in OAK without any scores), he still posted eight games over 300 yards – half the time he played. He also had seven efforts with two or more touchdown passes. What has made Bulger even better is using Steven Jackson as a receiver and finally having a dominating rushing game that must be respected. The Rams have also acquired Drew Bennett to replace the departed Kevin Curtis so there should be no reason for Bulger to have a lack of targets this season. Even Randy McMichael comes over to shore up the tight end spot. Not only does he have all this going for him, he also has the softest passing schedule in the league this year. Consider Bulger a very safe and productive pick at quarterback this season.

Donovan McNabb - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 6%
2004 PHI 15 300 470 3875 31 8 42 221 3
2005 PHI 9 211 357 2507 16 9 25 55 1
2006 PHI 10 180 316 2647 18 6 32 212 3
Avg   11 230 381 3010 22 8 33 163 2
Proj FA       3780 25 8   170 3

(-Risk) (+Upside) Donovan McNabb was having a career best season in 2006 when he had had averaged 307 passing yards and almost three touchdowns per week through the first seven games. After two uncharacteristically low games, he tore his ACL against the Titans in week 11 and was lost for the season. That makes three of the last five years with him getting injured and missing the rest of the season. He had surgery on the injury at the end of November and at the time; it was described as an "eight to twelve month" recovery time. That span puts him ready either at the start of training camp all the way until after mid-season. McNabb has been throwing the ball in the off-season and rehabbing the knee. The expectations according to HC Andy Reid is for him to be ready by the start of training camp.

The 31-year old quarterback has missed 13 games over the last two years and hasn’t started all 16 games since 2003. Prior to the addition of Terrell Owens, McNabb had been turning in around 3200 passing yards and 17 passing scores per year but shot up to 3875 in his career best with 31 touchdowns (2004). But he surprised in 2006 when Owens was gone and yet McNabb was every bit as effective as he had ever been – if not better. And once again, he suffered a major injury and missed the rest of the season. That no doubt was a factor when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb with their 2.04 draft pick. The move shocked McNabb and he publicly speculated as to what the team was doing but has since made nice with Reid. McNabb has a very nice passing schedule this year and the Eagles picked up Kevin Curtis so the receiving crew is improved from last year. No one questions if McNabb has the talent and ability to be a top quarterback, the question is if he’ll be there for you when you need him most. If you draft McNabb, expect to get excellent results from him. And then spend your next pick on the guy you want to fall back on when McNabb gets hurt. Just to make it more complicated, the addition of Kolb makes getting the back-up in Philadelphia even harder since A.J. Feeley should remain the #2 for at least the early part of the season but at some point in the future, Kolb will be given a chance as well.

08-17-07 Update: McNabb jumps up one spot with reports that he is going to play in the preseason game tonight and is very near 100%. That is no guarantee that he won't get hurt again but at least he looks good to go until that happens.

Tony Romo - DAL YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 4%
2004                    
2005 DAL 1           2 -2  
2006 DAL 13 220 337 2903 19 13 34 102  
Avg   7 110 169 1452 10 7 18 50 0
Proj DAL       3840 25 14   50 1

(+Upside) After a rather inglorious end to last season, Romo will be the week one starter for the first time in his five years in the NFL. On the plus side, he is dating Carrie Underwood. On the down side, the last time anyone saw him play was when he bobbled a simple field goal snap and Dallas lost their only game in the playoffs. That last play bobble shouldn’t obscure what Romo did accomplish last year.

Romo was the starter in Dallas for only the final 11 weeks and yet posted 2903 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. Extrapolate that over a 16 game season and it equates to 4222 yards (which would have ranked 4th best in the NFL) and 27 touchdowns (3rd best in the NFL). In the span of those 11 games, he had three 300 yard games and six games with at least two scores. His three principle receivers are back again this year and while Owens and Glenn are aging, they combined for 2227 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2007 with the help of Romo. The Cowboys will have a new head coach in Wade Phillips but his interest will remain more on the defensive side. A new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett is a wildcard of sorts, but the team added no new offensive skill players and will return the exact same cast from 2006. It’s a risk to assume Romo will be just as effective in 2007 since the offense will undergo scheme change of unknown proportions, but he has even more upside for fantasy drafters since his totals from last year were only 11 games and many will last remember “the bobble" instead of just what he accomplished in his first season as a Cowboys starter. Nice upside here and should be a bit undervalued in many drafts.

Philip Rivers - SDC YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 SDC 1 5 8 33 1   2 -1  
2005 SDC 2 12 22 115   1 1 -1  
2006 SDC 16 284 460 3387 22 9 47 53  
Avg   6 100 163 1178 8 3 17 17 0
Proj SDC       3580 24 12   50 1

(+Upside) After sitting on his hands for two years, Rivers finally took the reins last season and turned in an impressive 3388 yards with 22 touchdowns against only nine interceptions. This was made even more impressive since it happened while LaDainian Tomlinson was setting all-time NFL records for rushing touchdowns. The Chargers not only had the highest scoring offense in the NFL for 2006, they were 65 points ahead of the #2 team. While any team owning the record holder for rushing scores will have an easier time throwing the ball, Rivers made good on his debut with a nice ratio of passes to touchdowns and one of the lowest interception rates in the league last year.

Rivers should improve at least incrementally this year as well unless Tomlinson goes completely nuts again with the rushing scores and yards. Norv Turner replaces Marty Schottenheimer and while that has never been a boon for a team’s defense, Turner knows offenses as well as anyone and promoted running backs coach Clarence Selmon to offensive coordinator to help keep the continuity of the league’s premier offense from last year. Keenan McCardell is gone but not much was lost since Vincent Jackson is stepping up and the team is already excited about their first round pick Craig Davis. Eric Parker remains and of course, Antonio Gates can be relied on to easily take the #1 tight end in the league. The biggest problem for Rivers will be a very tough schedule that matches against not only the AFC West with Denver and Oakland, but also with the AFC East and NFC Central with Chicago.

Matt Leinart - FA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                    
2005                    
2006 ARI 12 213 376 2542 11 12 23 44 2
Avg   12 213 376 2542 11 12 23 44 2
Proj FA       3640 22 16   70 1

Leinart enters his second year and, yet again, has to learn a new offense. Gone is pass-happy Denny Green and now the team falls under new head coach Ken Whisenhunt from the Steelers. That will signal a toning down of the passing game to some degree but Whisenhunt is not likely to ignore it either. The Cards were already transitioning last year with Edgerrin James and that focus on the rushing game will continue to increase.

Leinart was given 11 starts last season with good results for a rookie. But even in that system he only had two efforts that exceeded 235 yards and he passed for around one score per game. Leinart will be able to run the Cards new offense but it may take some time to once again get and the rushing game is going to get more focus. Expect a better, more effective and experienced Leinart but that likely won’t equate into many more fantasy points.

   
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