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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2008 Player Rankings: Top 10 Quarterbacks
Updated: September 2, 2008
Top 10's:        
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Tier One
Tom Brady - NEP YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 20%
2005 NEP 16 334 530 4110 26 14 27 89 1
2006 NEP 16 320 517 3533 24 12 49 102  
2007 NEP 16 398 578 4806 50 8 37 98 2
Avg   16 351 542 4150 33 11 38 96 1
Proj NEP       4300 31 10   80 1

What's not to like about a quarterback coming off a season in which he set the all-time passing touchdown record (50)? He was also #1 in passing yards (4806) and over half of his games had over 290 passing yards. In 12 different games he threw for three or more touchdowns. He was the golden ticket of 2007 and if by quirk he was paired with LaDainian Tomlinson, all other teams in the league were playing for second place. Adding Randy Moss and Wes Welker finally gave Brady a couple of quality wideouts and he just exploded. He had always been good for around 25 touchdowns each year. Adding real receivers doubled that.

The question now is can he do it again? A bit of history on the others with over 40 touchdowns in a season says that he not only decreases this year, but sharply so. Consider the next season touchdown decreases of Dan Marino (48 to 30, 44 to 26), Peyton Manning (49 to 28) and Warner (41 to 20). No quarterback passing for more than 40 scores in a season has been able to throw more than 30 the following year. Then again, how can Brady not have a great year? He still has all the same offensive players other than Donte Stallworth. Rushing game hasn’t changed.

Also to consider is that Brady played in 19 games last year. The first 13 had him with an average of 315 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. The final six games were just 241 yards and 2.2 scores. What he will produce in 2008 is more likely somewhere between those two numbers.

The question is not if he will decrease since that is certain coming off such a magic year, but rather how much? If he had thrown 13 less scores in 2007 he still would have been the leader. But the Patriots do have one of the toughest passing schedules in the NFL this year. And history says the greatest quarterbacks of all time all suffered a sharp downturn the following year – all of them. But the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and will be hungry and at some point you have to ask yourself which quarterback has the lowest risk of a good season. Brady deserves to be near the top of that list if not at it. He should be the first QB drafted in almost every league and likely taken too early by those who draft like the previous season repeats. Solid? Of course. High scoring? Sure. Another monster year? It would be the first in history.

Tony Romo - DAL YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 16%
2005 DAL 1           2 -2  
2006 DAL 13 220 337 2903 19 13 34 102  
2007 DAL 16 335 520 4211 36 19 31 129 2
Avg   10 185 286 2371 18 11 22 76 1
Proj DAL       4100 33 16   80  

In most years, Romo would have been the ultra-stud QB but thanks to Tom Brady, he was ranked #2 with 36 passing scores and threw for 4211 yards. He also added two rushing touchdowns as well while heading to a record-setting season for a Cowboys quarterback. In 2006, he played ten games and “only” had 19 touchdowns and 2903 yards so his development as the starter has been fast and complete. Of course he sat on the bench for three years, but with new contract in hand he will be the face of the team for many seasons to come.

The only troubling aspect to Romo’s fine season was his decline over the final four games of the season though the same occurred for many if not most other quarterbacks. He threw seven games of over 300 yards and scored at least twice in all but one of the first 12 games. The final stretch only saw him score twice in four games and never pass for more than 257 yards. That phenomenon did not happen in 2006 when he continued to score and still had much higher passing yardage. Overall, Dallas has a decent passing schedule and has several nice games to start the year but during fantasy playoffs, they face @PIT, NYG and BAL.

The offense is largely the same save for the replacing of Julius Jones with the rookie Felix Jones which should not only help the rushing game but also offer a better pass outlet if needed. The biggest concern for the Cowboys offense is the advancing age of Terrell Owens (35 in December) and the chance he could be injured. Owens has missed only one game in each of his years in Dallas but has not played all 16 games since 2001. He will miss at least one – but more than that could potentially crumble the Dallas passing attack. 2007 was a breakthrough year for Romo and much the same players and dynamics remain, so Romo should be a lock for at least a very good season and if everyone remains healthy, he could match last season. Watch out for those playoff weeks though.

Drew Brees - NOS YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 14%
2005 SDC 16 323 500 3576 24 15 21 49 1
2006 NOS 16 357 555 4424 26 11 41 32  
2007 NOS 16 440 652 4423 28 18 23 52 1
Avg   16 373 569 4141 26 15 28 44 1
Proj NOS       4400 30 14   40  

Brees started 2007 on a horrific note for those fantasy owners looking for 2006 to repeat. As of week five – when many fantasy owners had started looking for other options if not traded him – Brees had only passed for one touchdown and averaged only 232 passing yards per game. And then – he was back. In ten of the next twelve games, Brees threw at least two touchdowns and had five 300 yard game including a 445 yard, three touchdown effort against the visiting Jaguars. By the season’s end, he was right back where he left off in 2006. Brees passed for a career high 4423 yards to rank second only to Tom Brady. His 652 passes and 440 completions were an NFL high and he scored 28 touchdowns with one also rushed in. Almost exactly the same fantasy effect as 2006 only it all happened in the final 11 weeks.

The Saints passing schedule is about the same from last year and they return all the same cast of players – hopefully healthier this time. There’s little reason not to expect the same good season from Brees and a chance that he could have more help from Robert Meacham who was the first round pick in 2007 but never played thanks to a knee injury. Regardless, Brees was a master at spreading the ball around and five different wide receivers had at least two touchdowns from him last year. He is a safe pick at quarterback that should turn in around the same numbers from last year. Be aware though that he could have another slow start with the season kicking off against TB, @WAS, @DEN and MIN.

Peyton Manning - IND YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 16%
2005 IND 16 305 453 3747 28 10 33 45  
2006 IND 16 362 557 4397 31 9 23 36 4
2007 IND 16 337 515 4040 31 14 20 -5 3
Avg   16 335 508 4061 30 11 25 25 2
Proj IND       4200 31 10   40  

Just to show how uncharacteristic 2007 was, Manning was only ranked 4th with 31 passing touchdowns but that was the same as 2006 when he was ranked #1 and had three more than any other quarterback. He passed for 4040 yards which now gives him eight 4000 yard seasons in his career. And he excelled last year without Marvin Harrison. He remains the most consistently productive quarterback even if he is eclipsed by whomever the “QB of the year” is that changes annually. He had more interceptions last year but still only threw 14. Manning will fall in drafts this year only because what went on around him.

Another minor change was that Manning was sacked 23 times and the Colts ranked only 7th best in allowing them. Typically, Manning would be near the top if not the #1 quarterback enjoying great pass blocking. Harrison is returning this year and presents a big unknown after 2007 but even without him, Manning still played great. Romo and Brady were on fire last year but Manning has been so good for so long that he will likely fall too far in many drafts merely because what #1 was in 2006 happened again in 2007 for Manning but was eclipsed by an uncharacteristically great year by a few others. Notable too is that during fantasy football playoff weeks, the Colts host CIN and DET before heading to JAX.

08-24-08 Update: Peyton Manning is still bothered by the knee surgery earlier this summer and his lingering time on the sideline is now becoming a cause for concern that he will not be ready in time for the first game of the year. For now he is being dropped to the bottom of tier one which still says he is a great draft pick but that Tony Romo and Drew Brees carry roughly the same reward but lesser risk than Manning currently does. Since the three are so close, taking the safer route with what will be your first or second draft pick should be taken.

Tier Two
Carson Palmer - CIN YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2005 CIN 16 345 509 3836 32 12 34 41 1
2006 CIN 16 324 520 4036 28 13 26 35  
2007 CIN 16 373 575 4131 26 20 24 10  
Avg   16 347 535 4001 29 15 28 29 0
Proj CIN       3860 24 21   40 1

(-Risk) 2008 will not be as prolific for Palmer as we have been used to seeing. He comes off a career high season where he ranked #3 in both pass attempts (575) and completions (373) but came in 5th best with 4131 passing yards. He also threw 20 interceptions against 26 touchdowns to rank #3 in interceptions. Roughly 80% of Carson Palmer's errant throws in 2007 were the result of his receivers running incorrect routes which in turn was credited to the departure of WR’s coach Hue Jackson leaving for Atlanta. Palmer’s touchdowns have decreased slightly for the last two consecutive years but his yardage had been increasing. 2008 stands a very good chance of seeing that progression reverse.

The biggest problem is clearly Chad Johnson who has ranked either #1 or #2 in receiving yards for each of the last three years. Johnson is in a contentious fight with the Bengals to trade him and until that is resolved there will be much risk about relying on Palmer. Granted – T.J. Houshmandzadeh remains regardless and while he has been a true gem the last couple of seasons, the reality is that he has gotten the benefit of playing across from the guy that has ranked #1 or #3 in receiving yardage each year since 2005. Don’t underestimate the importance of that distinction. If Johnson remains, he won’t be happy and likely ensure no one else is either – if he even plays. If he leaves, suddenly it is Houshmandzadeh who gets the constant double and triple teams while the #2 role falls to either Doug Gabriel or one of the rookies Jerome Simpson or Andre Caldwell (none of which played there last year). Or the team opts to pretend that Antonio Chatman is good enough after only 19 catches last year. Chris Henry is gone. Johnson wants to be. This will be a changed passing attack.

HC Marvin Lewis has also said that he wants to focus again on establishing a better rushing attack but all he has is Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry returning from season ending injuries and Kenny Watson. Bottom line, it appears likely that Palmer will potentially go into 2008 without the services of one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL and in that case hopes that somehow Houshmandzadeh can continue to excel despite being the sole focus of every secondary. Palmer is as talented as any quarterback but his situation this year is changing. Just to make things even worse, Houshmandzadeh is in a contract year and the Bengals are not certain they will be able to re-sign him. This could be a vastly different Bengals team by 2009. The Bengals answer was to draft three wideouts this year.

Johnson’s projections reflect the scenario of Johnson returning disgruntled but on the field this year. Updates as the situation dictates.

Donovan McNabb - PHI YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 6%
2005 PHI 9 211 357 2507 16 9 25 55 1
2006 PHI 10 180 316 2647 18 6 32 212 3
2007 PHI 14 291 473 3324 19 7 50 236  
Avg   11 227 382 2826 18 7 36 168 1
Proj PHI       3700 20 10   210 2

(-Risk) McNabb remains for his tenth season in Philadelphia despite persistent rumors in the offseason and there could be reason for optimism. McNabb was a fantasy stud while Terrell Owens was there and after he left, McNabb continued racking up impressive games. But he was injured and then missed the final six games of the season. In his first nine healthy games, McNabb had scored 20 touchdowns. He had averaged 280 passing yards per game. But a torn ACL sent him to the sidelines and when he returned in 2007, he only averaged 237 passing yards each week and only scored a total of 19 touchdowns. McNabb missed two games last year with a sprained ankle and thumb.

McNabb also ranked 3rd worse in the NFL by being sacked 44 times. He did throw three games over 300 yards and had three games with three or more touchdowns but in others he struggled. But McNabb was still rehabbing his torn ACL and that affected his level of play. OC Marty Morinwheg said that there is no comparison to how McNabb looked during this offseason compared to 2007.

The Eagles have one of the better passing schedules this season and returns all the same starting receivers. He is healthier now than he was a year ago. But the question is always going to be – can he stay healthy? He hasn’t played a full 16 game season in the last four years and after ten seasons is he going to be any more durable on those knees and ankles? McNabb has the potential to turn in at least some monster games and if he could stay healthy he can be a difference maker. But drafting him means taking the risk that you lose him to injury right when you need him the most. The back-up spot is not yet concrete, but appears that Kevin Kolb is the prudent insurance to have if you draft McNabb.

Ben Roethlisberger - PIT YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 6%
2005 PIT 12 168 268 2385 17 9 31 69 3
2006 PIT 15 281 470 3528 18 23 32 98 2
2007 PIT 15 264 404 3154 32 11 35 204 2
Avg   14 238 381 3022 22 14 33 124 2
Proj PIT       3550 24 17   90 2

Roethlisberger signed an eight-year contract extension worth $102 million with $36 million guaranteed during the offseason. That rewarded him for a big turnaround season that saw him throw 32 touchdowns to rank 3rd best in the NFL. In Bruce Arian’s new offense, Big Ben amazingly fell to only 3154 yards after passing for 3513 in 2006 but the other huge positive was that he went from leading the league with 23 interceptions in 2006 to only throwing 11. 2006 was a nightmare season for the Steelers in general and Roethlisberger in particular but the new offense came together quickly and efficiently. Forget that he threw 65 less passes, he had 14 more touchdowns and 12 less interceptions. That is $102 million worth of improvement.

It wasn’t all rosy for Roethlisberger who was the #2 sacked quarterback with 47 after getting blasted 46 times in 2006. The offensive line improved in the rushing game but still hasn’t been able to keep Big Ben from getting sacked far too often. He has missed just one game in each of the last two years and that is a testament to how big and strong he is in the pocket. He has to be – he’s going to get sacked almost three times every game.

On the positive side, the Steelers are returning the same receivers (at least the good ones) and have added rookie Limas Sweed. Both Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes should be healthy again and the passing game will click. But the schedule will be tougher this season and the Steelers drafted Rashard Mendenhall. That means that Willie Parker’s inability to get the tough yards near the goal line will be compensated for with the powerful rookie. The Steelers only had seven touchdowns from their running backs in 2007 and Roethlisberger rose from 18 to 32 passing scores. In 2006, when Big Ben only had those 18, the running backs supplied 14 rushing scores. The addition of OC Bruce Arians has a lot to do with the split in scoring but it is likely that Mendenhall will be able to score touchdowns that were passing scores in 2007.

Roethlisberger has a tough schedule and will likely see a decrease in passing scores but he still remains a solid choice for a fantasy quarterback. Probably not the difference maker that his 2007 touchdown stats suggest, but he won’t hurt your fantasy team. At least not until the end of the season when he has a four game stretch starting in week 14 playing @NE, DAL, @BAL and @TEN.

Matt Hasselbeck - SEA YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 SEA 16 294 449 3455 24 9 36 124 1
2006 SEA 12 210 371 2442 18 15 18 110  
2007 SEA 16 352 562 3966 28 12 39 89  
Avg   15 285 461 3288 23 12 31 108 0
Proj SEA       3720 23 15   100 1

The serious decline in the rushing game last year allowed Hasselbeck to throw for a career marks in attempts (562), completions (352), yards (3966) and touchdowns (28). All that and he still only had 12 interceptions. He also played with a sore wrist in several games but did not miss any time. Last year was the fourth time in five years that he passed for more than 22 touchdowns. Hasselbeck has always been above average and 2008 landed him well within the top ten of most every fantasy league.

The loss of Darrell Jackson did not hurt the Seahawks and this year Hasselbeck is heading into a Brady-esque year. Not in the sense that he will throw 50 scores but in the way that Hasselbeck now has a smattering of average at best receivers who will come together to post nice stats but individually won’t have any fantasy stars. Like Brady before Moss. Other than Bobby Engram, no wideout had more than 700 yards or 50 catches last year and Engram is unhappy with his contract and already 35 years old. Alexander is gone and Julius Jones is in place. This is a changed team that offers Hasselbeck as the only certain fantasy star.

The Seahawks are improving their line and hoping to return to a better rushing game but adding castoffs Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett is an optimistic ploy to get back to running the ball well. Seattle is also facing a much more daunting schedule this year than most thanks to matching up with the AFC East and NFC East. SF, ARZ and STL are not likely to be top-drawer this year but should be improved. This will be a challenging year for Hasselbeck but one that could yet again force him to throw a lot of passes and generate fantasy points. He’s not a difference maker for a fantasy team but he never kills you either. He will need his young wideout crew to step up this year to win games.

Jake Delhomme - CAR YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 CAR 16 262 435 3421 24 16 24 31 1
2006 CAR 13 263 431 2805 17 11 18 12  
2007 CAR 3 55 86 624 8 1 6 26  
Avg   11 193 317 2283 16 9 16 23 0
Proj CAR       3750 25 11   50  

Delhomme suffered ligament damage to his right elbow and underwent “Tommy John” surgery where cartilage from elsewhere is used to replace the ulnar collateral ligament. The initial prognosis was that he would need 7-9 months of rehab which should get him healthy sometime between May and the start of training camp. His recovery has gone well and he had no setbacks. But similar injuries have ended some players careers and until he goes through the rigors of an NFL week, his status cannot be 100% certain. That all said, Delhomme has been making great strides throughout the offseason and threw at least some passes as far back as last February. He threw 34 passes at the Panthers opening minicamp so the news on him is as good as could be hoped.

The ironic part of his injury was that Delhomme got off to one of the best statistical starts of his career in new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's offense last season. In just three games, he had already thrown for eight touchdowns and never less than two in a game. That allowed Steve Smith to have 271 yards and four scores in just his first two weeks. The Panthers floundered without Delhomme so his return is greatly anticipated.

Initial rankings and projections will assume a fully healthy Delhomme but he’ll be a major training camp watch to ensure he will be back to his old ways. According to Delhomme, his elbow could actually come back stronger than it was before the injury and his elbow had been a nagging issue for a few seasons. This should either clear that up or cause a problem for his career effectiveness. The Panthers have an average passing schedule this year and the addition of Jonathan Stewart, D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad will pay major dividends to the offense. Delhomme should be no worse than in the past and likely a good bit better – if he truly is healthy.

David Garrard - JAC YEAR TM GMS CMP ATT PYD PTD INT CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 JAC 7 98 168 1117 4 1 31 172 3
2006 JAC 10 145 241 1735 10 9 47 250  
2007 JAC 12 208 325 2509 18 3 49 185 1
Avg   10 150 245 1787 11 4 42 202 1
Proj JAC       3400 26 6   175  

(+Upside) Garrard was the surprise starter last year when the Jaguars finally gave up on Byron Leftwich and handed the reins. In the same vein as Tony Romo, Garrard had been with the Jags since being drafted in 2002 and while he had at least minimal play in each of his six seasons, it wasn’t until 2006 before he subbed for the ever-injured Leftwich for ten weeks and turned in a decent 1735 yards and ten scores in between lots of hand-offs to Fred Taylor and the hot rookie Maurice Jones-Drew. His practice and play inspired the confidence in the coaches to make the change last year. It was a dramatically more effective Garrard in 2008. He played in only 12 games (really just 11) thanks to a high ankle sprain but managed to pass for 2509 yards for 18 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He added 49 runs for 185 yards and a score as well. The Jags rewarded him with six-year contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

Garrard is an interesting one to watch this year and could end up undervalued in many leagues because he missed all or part of five games. His 11 full games had a pace that would have produced 3550 passing yards and 27 touchdowns over a full season. And unlike Romo, he did not have Terrell Owens or even Jason Witten. He had … well … four different wideouts that ended with between 317 and 629 yards on the season. Reggie Williams caught ten touchdowns but the other twelve were spread out among the other three wideouts. They used five different tight ends in 2007. Garrard only threw for around 220 yards per game but had 1.7 touchdowns and almost no interceptions. Using a rather lackluster set of receivers.

This season Garrard has an easier schedule and Jerry Porter has been added as the #1 wideout. His week 16 game is against IND and he threw for 257 yards and two scores in Indianapolis last year. Garrard should do no worse than be an average fantasy quarterback but has some upside this year with a lighter schedule and better receivers. Let Fred Taylor break down and it could be even better for Garrard. He makes a great #2 fantasy quarterback who could become your #1.

   
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