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2009 Player Rankings: Top 10 Quarterbacks
Updated: September 10, 2009
Top 10's:        
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Tier One
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 20%
2006 NOS 16 357 555 4424 26 11 41 32  
2007 NOS 16 440 652 4423 28 18 23 52 1
2008 NOS 16 413 635 5069 34 17 22 -1  
Avg   16 403 614 4639 29 15 29 28 0
Proj NOS       4480 33 15   10 1

Three seasons in New Orleans and Brees just gets better every year. That has to stop this year or once again he’ll just set an all-time record since he passed for a league leading 5069 yards last season along with 34 passing scores. There’s just no reason not to consider Brees as “the new Manning” who offers almost no risk and yet almost certainly a top, if not the top, passing performance. In three seasons in New Orleans, Brees has never thrown for less than 4418 yards or 26 touchdowns.

No real concerns for Brees who returns the same team from 2008. The schedule is roughly about the same as last season and weeks 15 (DAL) and 16 (TB) could be tough but at least will both be at home when you need Brees the most. The only question is when Brees becomes the first quarterback taken in your fantasy league.

Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 18%
2006 NEP 16 320 517 3533 24 12 49 102  
2007 NEP 16 398 578 4806 50 8 37 98 2
2008 NEP 1 7 11 76          
Avg   11 242 369 2805 25 7 29 67 1
Proj NEP       4200 35 8   50  

It did not take long for Tom Brady to fall short of his record breaking performance of 2007. He was injured in week one with tears to his ACL and MCL which required surgery to reconstruct. And the good news – his surgeon says that Brady has exceeded all his expectations during rehabilitation. He returns to the same offense with Randy Moss and Wes Welker and has Joey Galloway manning the slot. The rushing game appears marginally upgraded with the declining Fred Taylor but you can be sure this will remain a passing team. Brady had always been good for 3500 yards and 24 touchdowns each season and once he had actual weapons like Moss and Welker, he shot to 4806 yards and 50 touchdowns. His passing schedule is no worse than it was in 2007 so what Brady will accomplish is mostly about how healthy he really is and how healthy he can stay.

Brady was never a running quarterback but he could get out of situations that he may be a little less mobile with this year. That is about the only true concern about this offense since last year the Patriots were 5th worst in the NFL at allowing sacks (48). The previous year had Brady only taken down 21 times. If the offensive line can hold, we’ll see the same devastating Brady from 2007. He won’t post those same numbers since he had cooled down a bit by the end of that season but in relation to all other quarterbacks, he should be among the best – if not the best. He is expected to be 100% by week one.

Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2006 GBP 1 4 12 32     2 11  
2007 GBP 2 20 28 218 1   7 29  
2008 GBP 16 341 536 4038 28 13 56 207 4
Avg   6 122 192 1429 10 4 22 82 1
Proj GBP       4200 30 12   160 1

How do you replace a legend? It ain’t easy, but throwing for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns—both of which ranked fourth in the NFL—is a pretty good start. And it doesn’t hurt when the legend you’re replacing fades down the stretch and spends the offseason tarnishing his image by flirting with a return to a rival squad. But no matter; on the heels of Rodgers’ impressive production in his first year as the Packers starter, Green Bay is looking forward, not back.

Most of the major components return for a repeat performance from Rodgers. Greg Jennings is emerging as one of the top young wideouts in the game, Donald Driver still has a little something left in the tank, and Jordy Nelson and James Jones are solid secondary receivers. The concern could come at tackle, where Chad Clifton is aging and Mark Tauscher may not return after suffering a torn ACL last year. Rodgers was sacked 34 times last season, the most allowed by Green Bay since 1999. If the Pack are unable to settle on a front line and that number climbs, it could negatively impact Rodgers across the board—from his games played to his yardage totals to his 63.6 completion percentage, 10th in the NFL. Less time to throw would also threaten Rodgers’ deep ball, something he used to great effect last season in leading the league with a 40-yard completion every 34 passes. Still, there’s very little to suggest Rodgers can’t follow up last season’s breakout performance with another effort that should firmly entrench him among the elite fantasy quarterbacks. And a fantasy-friendly finishing schedule that pits him against four soft pass defenses (SF, @DET, @CHI, SEA) over the final six weeks of the season doesn’t hurt.

Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2006 IND 16 362 557 4397 31 9 23 36 4
2007 IND 16 337 515 4040 31 14 20 -5 3
2008 IND 16 371 555 4002 27 12 20 21 1
Avg   16 357 542 4146 30 12 21 17 3
Proj FA       4220 29 13   30 2

The old axiom in business was “no one ever got fired for using IBM.” By the same token, no one ever got burnt drafting Manning. Sure, he may not have lived up to lofty expectations but he’s never had a bad season since joining the league in 1998. Nine of his last ten seasons featured over 4000 yards passing and the one season without (2005) still had 3747 and 28 touchdowns. Last year was just average for Manning who passed for 4002 yards and 27 touchdowns.

The Colts lost both OC Tom Moore and Line coach Howard Mudd due to the NFL pension rules but both have signed back on as “consultants”. Both have been there as long as Manning has so it is at least a minor concern that they are no longer in the same capacity. Then again, the Colts will be running the same offense anyway. Marvin Harrison is gone but the Colts have restocked the offense with a few rookies and the outlook for this year should be no worse than Manning’s standard. The Colts have a passing schedule strength that appears slightly easier than last year and the offense should be more balanced this year with the addition of Donald Brown.

The only caveat with Manning is that he’s not been the #1 quarterback in the league for a few years although he’s never been less than very good. There should be no rush to grab him as in years past but he won’t last beyond the second to fourth quarterback taken. Almost zero risk here and always at least a solid return. Our stock portfolios should take a lesson from Manning.

Tier Two
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 12%
2006 ARI 6 108 168 1377 6 5 13 3  
2007 ARI 14 281 451 3417 27 17 17 15 1
2008 ARI 16 401 598 4583 30 14 18 -2  
Avg   12 263 406 3126 21 12 16 5 0
Proj FA       4300 30 15   20  

It only took seven years, but Kurt Warner served notice to the fantasy world that we cannot write him off. For the first time since 2001 with the Rams, Warner passed for over 4000 yards (4,583 yards to rank #2 in the NFL). He also had 30 passing touchdowns to rank #3 in the league as well. In 2007, he passed for 27 TDs and 3.417 yards in 14 games as a precursor to what became a drive to the Super Bowl in 2008. Matt Leinart is officially now just a footnote and Warner signed a two year contract extension for $23 million with a $15 million signing bonus.

One reality is that Warner turns 38 this summer and after 11 seasons, he only had three where he lasted for all 16 games which include 2008. That brings a little risk at a minimum but he has been reborn in Arizona and has an easier schedule this season. There is still a chance that Anquan Boldin may leave but even if he does, Warner threw for at least two touchdowns and 236 yards in games without him (or a blizzard) last year.

Warner had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip but is expected to be 100% for training camp. If you draft Warner, consider the very late Leinart pick thanks to Warner’s health history. But also realize if you pick Warner that you’ll not only get a highly productive quarterback, but one that plays games @SF, @DET and STL during fantasy playoff weeks 14 to 16. The only potential downside to Warner – besides injury – is if the rookie Chris Wells cuts into his yardage and scores.

Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 10%
2006 PHI 10 180 316 2647 18 6 32 212 3
2007 PHI 14 291 473 3324 19 7 50 236  
2008 PHI 16 345 571 3916 23 11 39 147 2
Avg   13 272 453 3296 20 8 40 198 2
Proj FA       4100 25 13   120 2

McNabb did what many said was impossible and played all 16 games last year. It was the first time in five years but McNabb made it through and passed for 3916 yards and 23 touchdowns along with two more scores via rushing. It was his best passing effort since the one magic year with Terrell Owens in 2004 and finally this season there is no more talk about McNabb being traded or the Eagles being unhappy. In fact McNabb and the Eagles are already discussing a new contract though it may not be done until his final contract year in 2010.

The Eagles have pretty much the same schedule strength as 2008 and the only two notable changes are the addition of rookie Jeremy Maclin (a good thing) and the injury already suffered by the aging Brian Westbrook (a bad thing). The Eagles did draft LeSean McCoy to backup Westbrook but a drop-off would still be significant. This year DeSean Jackson has a year of experience under his belt and Maclin brings in the most optimism since Terrell Owens. Bottom line here – McNabb should be no worse than last year, may be better and still needs to prove he can remain healthy. Something else to enjoy – while week 15 is in New York, McNabb finishes the fantasy playoff weeks at home against the 49ers and Broncos. That sounds rather profitable.

Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 10%
2006 SDC 16 284 460 3387 22 9 47 53  
2007 SDC 16 277 460 3152 21 15 29 33 1
2008 SDC 16 312 478 4009 34 11 31 84  
Avg   16 291 466 3516 26 12 36 57 0
Proj LAC       3590 26 10   50 1

Rivers was already good but in 2008 he took it up a notch to greatness. He tied with Drew Brees with 34 passing touchdowns and was #1 in the NFL with one score every 14 completions. Rivers ended with 4009 passing yards which was a leap from his previous best 3388 yards. Then again, Rivers headed up an offense that had been #1 in most rushing categories for two years before 2008 saw them freefall to just 18th in rushing yards and 14th in rushing touchdowns from the running backs. Rivers had to step up and did both in yardage and touchdowns. How that may affect this year depends on what to expect from the rushing game. The strength of schedule remains almost the same from 2008 to 2009 and while the Chargers will face the NFC East and AFC North, the AFC West is disintegrating around them. Rivers will have a few tough games (BAL, @PIT, @NYG and @DAL) but most games will be much easier and includes six against the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos.

Rivers still made great use of the running backs as receivers and the team ranked 1st or 2nd in targets, completions, yards and touchdowns to the running backs which was much higher than in recent years. All combined, he threw for 1030 yards (#1) and eight touchdowns (#2) to the backs in 2008 and yet the three previous years with Rivers playing never had more than 637 yards or four touchdowns to the position. That is critical to consider because it was the source of Rivers going from good to great in fantasy terms. The Chargers prefer to run and were challenged last year with LaDainian Tomlinson banged up. Chances are good that Tomlinson (and Darren Sproles) will produce better rushing totals in 2009 and thereby lower Rivers numbers. Tomlinson’s healthy is the only difference between this year and last year as the rest of the team is virtually unchanged. That means either the Chargers run only as well as last year and Rivers is an elite fantasy quarterback out of need or the Chargers see Tomlinson and/or Sproles run better and take up yards and scores that went to Rivers passing last year.

By all accounts, Tomlinson is healthy again this year and though he is 30 years old this summer and has a lot of wear and tear, most elite running backs like him last for another year or so before surrendering to the ravages of age. Rivers is going high this year and you’ll need to believe in a repeat of 2007 in order to reach him.

Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2006 DAL 13 220 337 2903 19 13 34 102  
2007 DAL 16 335 520 4211 36 19 31 129 2
2008 DAL 13 276 450 3448 26 14 28 41  
Avg   14 277 436 3521 27 15 31 91 1
Proj FA       3680 23 16   100 1

Romo was red hot in 2007 when he passed for 4211 yards and 36 touchdowns but was considered a disappointment in 2008 when he missed three games and only threw for 3448 yards and 26 touchdowns. That still left him ranked about 10th in most leagues even with only 13 games played. This year the big change is the departure of Terrell Owens and how that will affect the offense. Not to diminish either is the Cowboys stated intentions to run the ball more in 2009. Many of the last season problems were related to relying too much on the pass instead of rushing. The Cowboys also had several key injuries to the rushing game which allowed them to see just how deep they are on quality backs.

The Cowboys did not look to replace Owens though the move means that Roy Williams will actually get more work. Jason Witten also remains one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL. It is safe enough to assume the Cowboys will pass less but how much less depends on the success of the running backs. Apparently someone in the Cowboy’s organization realized that all their Super Bowl wins were when they had a dominating ground game instead of a prima donna wideout and so the offense is changed this year. Romo will likely go a little early in most leagues because of his name but he’s still worthy of being a top ten quarterback – just not in the front half of that top ten.

Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2006 CIN 16 324 520 4036 28 13 26 35  
2007 CIN 16 373 575 4131 26 20 24 10  
2008 CIN 4 75 129 731 3 4 6 38  
Avg   12 257 408 2966 19 12 19 28 0
Proj FA       3860 24 20   20  

(+Upside) Palmer is expected to be 100% recovered from his elbow injury and has looked sharp in mini-camps and he has already said it was completely healed. The elbow was feared to need Tommy John surgery but he avoided it when the tear in the ulna collateral ligament healed itself enough. Palmer remains as immobile as any quarterback but at least he should throw without any problems.

There are two interesting facets to Palmer this year. One is that he has been very undervalued in many drafts since he only lasted four games in 2008. But this is a quarterback who threw for over 4000 yards in each of the previous two seasons even though he was coming off ACL surgery in 2007. In 2005, he had 3836 yards and a career best 34 passing scores. You will not get any rushing yards from Palmer. You may get a lot of passing yards though. The other facet to this year is the absence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Bengals acquired Laveranues Coles as a replacement though. Chad Whatever-you-want remains at least for now as does Chris Henry. Make no mistake – Palmer was one of the most productive quarterbacks for three straight seasons until injury in 2008.

Palmer is a risk but there is a lot of upside with him this season since he is being downgraded in many leagues. If you think he is an injury waiting to happen and will not be able to compensate for Houshmandzadeh leaving, then he should be drafted later and maybe not as a starter. But if he still has the ability he showed 2005-2007 and can make do with Coles while not letting Johnson be an issue, then Palmer will be an absolute steal in drafts. The Bengals schedule is tougher than many (thanks to division mates PIT and BAL) but it is better than it was in 2008. His fantasy playoff weeks are @MIN, @SD and KC which start tough but get better.

07-20-09 Update: Palmer claims that his elbow is fully healed here on the cusp of training camp. That's a good sign for a quarterback who had been one of the best until the injury last year.

Tier Three
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 4%
2006 ATL 3 18 26 208 1 2 3 21  
2007 HOU 11 192 289 2241 9 9 17 52  
2008 HOU 11 251 380 3043 15 10 31 68 2
Avg   8 154 232 1831 8 7 17 47 1
Proj ATL       3900 22 16   70  

Could this be the year that Schaub finally puts it all together and remains healthy? In 2008, Schaub threw for 3043 yards and 15 scores over 11 games played and the Texans ended the year ranked #4 in the league with 4474 passing yards. With Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, this is an offense that can move the ball through the air and Steve Slaton has added enough rushing ability that defenses cannot just load up against the pass. But – Schaub has to remain healthy. His knee sprain of last year is healed and he has remained healthy for the entire offseason.

Schaub makes an outstanding fantasy back-up quarterback since he is available later in most drafts thanks to his injury history. But he was on a pace to throw for 4425 yards last year (which would have been 4th best in the league) and would have scored about 25 touchdowns. Add in that Schaub faces an average passing schedule and that is more attractive than 2008 when it was was one of the league’s toughest. Schaub is a gamble worth taking to be sure and should you get caught waiting too long to take your starting quarterback, definitely give Schaub a consideration. But grab Dan Orlovsky as well just to be sure.

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