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2009 Player Rankings: Quarterbacks
Updated: September 10, 2009
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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 DEN       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 SDC       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 DAL       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 ARI       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 OAK       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.

Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 ATL 16 265 434 3440 16 11 55 104 1
Avg   16 265 434 3440 16 11 55 104 1
Proj ATL       3800 19 9   100 2

(+Upside) The third overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft proved a shrewd choice – Offensive Rookie of the Year and a complete overhaul of the offense in only one season. Oh yes, and a playoff game no less. His passing numbers – 3440 yards and 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions – were only average in the league but for a rookie taking over a team that was in a shambles after 2007, Ryan had success that far exceeded all expectations.

One of the concerns last year was that he would depress the fantasy value of Roddy White. Instead, White had a breakout season with 1,382 receiving yards that ranked #4 in the entire NFL. As if that isn’t enough, the Falcons feature one of the better rushing attacks in the league and have added Tony Gonzalez to the fold for yet another great weapon for Ryan to use. Michael Jenkins was coming on later in the 2008 season and now Gonzo can pump that up to three viable passing outlets.

Ryan will have one year under his belt now and an expanded arsenal to use. His schedule is no worse than last year so there’s good reason to expect Ryan to show another step up this year. With a big time rushing game from Michael Turner, it is unlikely that Ryan is going to become worthy of being an every week fantasy start but his progress is undeniable and the Falcons rushing schedule is much more daunting this season. Ryan will likely have more reason to throw. Worth noting – Ryan has a freakish schedule since the Falcons play in four home games during weeks 12 through 16 but the week 15 meeting is in New York against the Jets. Ryan may be a decent fallback quarterback later in the season other than the one week.

Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 3%
2006 DEN 5 81 137 1001 9 5 12 18  
2007 DEN 16 297 467 3497 20 14 44 205 1
2008 DEN 16 384 616 4526 25 18 57 200 2
Avg   12 254 407 3008 18 12 38 141 1
Proj CHI       3600 22 16   100 1

The Bears passing attack has been below average for many, many years and ending with 3229 passing yards last year as only 25th best in the league. For a team that has long been predicated on rushing offense and top notch defense, it was a minor surprise that the Bears would bother with taking Jay Cutler from the Broncos. He ranked #3 in passing yards (4526) last year. Cutler is considered one of the best up and coming quarterbacks and has already proven himself in fantasy circles.

How he fits into the Chicago offense remains to be seen. While Cutler is an obvious upgrade to the passing attack, OC Ron Turner has already said that the Bears remain a run-first team and that Cutler merely adds to the scheme already in place. It is a certainty that Cutler will throw less this year. It is also a certainty that he will throw better than anyone else in Chicago for a very long time. Whether anyone will be there to catch it will be another matter.

The Bears schedule is better than many but Cutler leaves Brandon Marshall (104-1265, 6 TD) and Eddie Royal (91-980, 5 TD) for Devin Hester (51-665, 3 TD) and maybe Earl Bennett (no catches) or Rashied Davis (35-445, 2 TD)> That’s called a step down. Hester is the only certainty here but the Bears continue without a decent possession receiver since Muhsin Muhammad left (though he was hardly that productive). Cutler’s name is now bigger than his game but how much he will drop in productivity depends on how well the Bears wideouts can come together. It’s a largely inexperienced or unproductive group and Cutler will earn his money making them into anything that a secondary will fear.

Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 JAC 10 145 241 1735 10 9 47 250  
2007 JAC 12 208 325 2509 18 3 49 185 1
2008 JAC 16 335 535 3620 15 13 73 322 2
Avg   13 229 367 2621 14 8 56 252 1
Proj NYJ       3370 16 15   370 2

Garrard made it past the NFL draft without the Jaguars taking a quarterback so he’ll enter his eighth season in the league and second has an unquestioned starter. Garrard finally played a full 16 game slate last year but ended with just 3620 passing yards and 15 scores. A disappointment coming on the heels of 2007 when he only played in 12 games and yet threw 18 touchdowns. His mediocre numbers are not helped with the Jaguars insistence to constantly change the starting wide receivers each season. Garrard is more likely to run than most quarterbacks and rolled up 322 yards and two more scores last year. It’s all just average numbers for the NFL and outside the lines of what fantasy starters need to produce.

Garrard has dropped almost 20 pounds in the offseason which could help his rushing ability but he’ll remain a mediocre quarterback who was given a new toy this year in the declining Tory Holt to pair with Mike Walker who never remains healthy. Just smacks of another year you need to check matchups before you even consider Garrard for filling in a bye week.

Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 SEA 12 210 371 2442 18 15 18 110  
2007 SEA 16 352 562 3966 28 12 39 89  
2008 SEA 7 109 209 1216 5 10 11 69  
Avg   12 224 381 2541 17 12 23 89 0
Proj IND       3500 24 16   100  

The new regime in Seattle has Hasselbeck working with OC Greg Knapp who comes from Oakland and who was with the Falcons and Vick before that. Long ago he worked with Jeff Garcia in San Francisco but it has been a long time since Knapp has been given a typical pocket passer. Hasselbeck comes off his worst season since becoming a starter thanks to a back injury that limited him to only five games last season. But Hasselbeck has never had less than 3450 yards and 24 touchdowns in a season when he played all 16 games. Oddly enough, he has lasted an entire season only in odd-numbered years since 2002 and he’s due for a full year again.

There will be a new offensive system for all to learn and the rushing game is easily questioned with just Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett around. But Hasselbeck was given T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a new target and John Carlson has a year of experience in addition to the gaggle of other mediocre wideouts on the team. The passing schedule is roughly average so it all depends on Hasselbeck staying healthy. He does that in odd-numbered years but there is a risk in relying on him for anything more than a backup quarterback. He’s healthy now but that may not last.

Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 CAR 13 263 431 2805 17 11 18 12  
2007 CAR 3 55 86 624 8 1 6 26  
2008 CAR 16 246 414 3288 15 12 20 21 2
Avg   11 188 310 2239 13 8 15 20 1
Proj FA       3600 21 13   40 1

Delhomme enters his 12th season and of the six years with the Panthers, he comes off his worst year ever in which he remained healthy. He set career low marks (as a starter) with just 3288 yards and 15 passing scores. After an injury-marred 2007 when he missed 13 games, most expected him to roar back to at least his standard 24 scores per season. Did not happen. Did not need to happen. The Panthers enjoyed what was one of the lightest rushing schedules in the NFL and ended up ranked #1 in rushing touchdowns (28) and #2 in rushing yards.

But Delhomme is of no less value to the team as shown when he signed a five-year contract extension worth $42.5 million and that had $20 million in guaranteed money. Delhomme is going nowhere else in the near future to be sure. The only question to answer is if it will just be more handing off this year or if Delhomme regains at least some of his better stats of previous seasons. Chances are pretty good that he will throw more in 2009. It will likely happen. It will need to happen. The Panthers no longer have a cakewalk schedule. Last year they watched DeAngelo Williams traipse through the AFC West and the NFC North. This year the Panthers go against the NFC East and the AFC East.

Last season no team threw fewer passes than Carolina did (414) but that will not be the case in 2009. Expect more passing from Delhomme this year but a tougher schedule could hold his numbers down. Realize as well that should you need to rely on Delhomme during the fantasy playoff weeks, that he’ll be facing games @NE, MIN and @NYG.

Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 NEP 3 5 8 32     1 5  
2007 NEP 6 4 7 38   1 4 12 1
2008 NEP 16 327 516 3693 21 11 73 270 2
Avg   8 112 177 1254 7 4 26 96 1
Proj MIN       3300 17 16   240 2

There’s a whole new offense in Kansas City and HC Todd Haley and OC Chan Gailey start at the top by bringing in one-year wonder Matt Cassel who went from unknown to Patriot fantasy star thanks to the injury to Tom Brady. After three seasons of holding a clipboard, Cassel ended 2008 with 3693 passing yards and 21 touchdown throws along with two more scores rushed in. His 273 rushing yards were fourth best among quarterbacks. Cassel stepped into a recognized top offensive system and played well after watching for three years. Enough so that the Chiefs acquired him as the new starter for the Haley regime.

It will be an entirely new look with Casell in charge and Tony Gonzalez gone and any similarity between this offense and the old one is entirely coincidental. Gonzalez is gone but so is using a tight end. Gailey’s offense does not use one. It likes power runners. When he was the offensive coordinator in Miami, his offenses, his quarterbacks never threw for more than 3400 yards or 20 touchdowns. As the head coach in Dallas for two seasons, his quarterbacks did even less.

Cassel was chosen in part because he should blend into the system that has similarities to the shotgun-heavy style he was using last year but it has to be a big concern that Cassel took an NFL-high 47 sacks last year with a far better offensive line. This is a rebuilding year and a learning year. Hold your expectations down for Cassel.

Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 BUF 10 151 269 1630 7 8 14 49  
2008 BUF 14 245 374 2699 11 10 36 117 3
Avg   12 198 322 2165 9 9 25 83 2
Proj OAK       3420 18 16   120 2

(+Upside) The Bills ranked only 22nd in passing yardage last year and tied for 29th with just 13 passing touchdowns. Edwards entered his second season and while he only produced 11 passing scored in ten games, he had only ten interceptions and that wasn’t bad considering the Bills gave up 38 sacks last year. Edwards goes into what should be his best season yet with two years of experience under his belt and playing for one of the rare teams this year which had no change in coaches. That all said, the Bills do intend on using a no-huddle offense at least partially this year and OC Turk Schonert’s intent is playing to the strengths of Edwards while minimizing the effect of what has been a problematic offensive line.

Of course, the Bills quarterback would normally attractive little fantasy attention since the days of Jim Kelly but that all changes in 2009. Normally, Edwards would be little more than a bye week filler and even then for a team that waited too long for a backup quarterback. But now the Terrell Owens Variety Show is in town and he alone has scored more touchdowns in the last two seasons than the Bills entire offense has. Owens brings an entirely new facet to the offense and a chance for Edwards to play with one of the best wideouts over the last decade. Does that mean he’s suddenly worthy of being taken as a fantasy starter? Probably not. Owens has really just been rented for one year and the rushing game has not yet produced well enough to help the passing attack. The offensive line has been a big issue and Edwards has never thrown a 300 yard game and only three times managed more than one passing touchdown in a game.

Edwards is young and improving and the Bills have obtained a new weapon for him. Expect him to improve yet again and still not manage to become fantasy starter worthy. The Bills schedule is slightly tougher than last year. It’s all worth watching to be sure and you could do much worse with your backup quarterback.

Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 PIT 15 281 470 3528 18 23 32 98 2
2007 PIT 15 264 404 3154 32 11 35 204 2
2008 PIT 16 281 469 3301 17 15 34 101 2
Avg   15 275 448 3328 22 16 34 134 2
Proj PIT       3500 17 8   100 2

No question that Roethlisberger has been an integral part of the Steeler’s success since he arrived in 2004. What got many fantasy fans was when he came off 2007 with a freakish 32 passing scores after three seasons of having 17 or 18 touchdown passes. His yardage rarely changes and always remains below around 3500 yards but his 2004 season saw the rushing game only able to score nine times. The balance all went to the receivers but 2008 saw 16 rushing scores in total – much more normal – and suddenly the passing touchdowns fell down to 17 yet again. That’s all Roethlisberger’s reliable to get and that remains outside of fantasy starter numbers in all but the biggest leagues.

One other factor to keep in mind with Big Ben. He has been sacked over 45 times in each of the last three seasons, never ranking worse than 2nd in the league. That has to take a toll eventually and so far 2008 was the only season where he lasted all 16 games. That particularly causes concern if you will need to rely on him late in the season. The rushing game should find an easier time in 2009 and that will prevent Roethlisberger from being more than a fantasy backup in value.

Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008 BAL 16 257 428 2971 14 12 52 180 2
Avg   16 257 428 2971 14 12 52 180 2
Proj BAL       3300 18 11   160 1

The rookie out of Delaware not only became a starter by week one of last season, he also led the Ravens to the AFC Championship game. He passed for 2971 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season but only had 12 interceptions and also added two rushing touchdowns. Flacco showed amazing poise and picked up steam as the season progressed and he became more comfortable down the stretch. He only threw one score in the first five games but then turned in four games with multiple touchdowns before the season ended.

Flacco returns with the same offensive cast other than the addition of L.J. Smith. He has made nice strides already and has a very bright future. For 2009, his limitation is that he has not added any stars to the offense and still will make do with a cast of average (at best) receivers. Also notable is week 16 during most fantasy championships that has Flacco playing in Pittsburgh.

07-25-09 Update: The apparent retirement of Derrick Mason is not a positive for Flacco who already is facing a brutal schedule. Combine the two and the chance for a sophomore slump rises significantly.

Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NYJ 16 313 485 3352 17 16 36 111  
2007 NYJ 9 179 260 1765 10 9 20 32 1
2008 MIA 16 321 476 3653 19 7 30 62 1
Avg   14 271 407 2923 15 11 29 68 1
Proj FA       3400 17 8   50 1

Pennington’s move to Miami last year saw him hit career best marks with 3653 yards and 19 passing touchdowns against just seven interceptions. He remained healthy for the rare full sixteen game season. And yet – the speculation is that Chad Henne may take over next year and Pat White was drafted to add to the mix. Pennington's numbers last year came in spurts with a few big games but 11 games had either none or just one touchdown. He was solid enough for a starter in a big fantasy league and a very nice backup quarterback. That should remain the same this year with the Dolphins who did nothing to upgrade the receivers other than fourth-rounder Brian Hartline.

Miami faces a much tougher passing schedule in 2009 after having what ended up to be one of the easiest set of opponents in 2008. That won’t help Pennington’s numbers nor will Chad Henne’s impressive offseason. Hold off on getting Pennington as your backup if you can.

Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NYG 16 301 522 3244 24 18 25 21  
2007 NYG 16 297 529 3336 23 20 29 69 1
2008 NYG 16 289 479 3238 21 10 20 10 1
Avg   16 296 510 3273 23 16 25 33 1
Proj NYG       3260 18 15   30 1

Manning posts remarkably similar numbers every season even though they always lie just outside what you want from a fantasy starter. Manning passed for 3238 yards and 21 scores in 2008 and he does roughly as much every year. Not only that, but he always has a late season slide in passing numbers which kills anyone relying on him come fantasy playoff weeks. For weeks 14 to 16 of last season, Manning averaged 165 passing yards and less than one score. In 2007, it was 171 passing yards and less than one touchdown per game. He’s fine for replacing your starter’s bye week but late season he’s been AWOL. Fantasy playoffs this year are PHI, @WAS and CAR and all could be bad weather games.

Making matters much worse is that Manning no longer will have Shockey, Burress and Toomer. This year it is Boss, Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon (maybe). Let someone else take Manning this year – there’s almost no upside and plenty of risk.

Tier Four
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 CHI 3 43 80 478 3 2 5 -1  
2008 CHI 15 272 465 2972 18 12 24 49 3
Avg   9 158 273 1725 11 7 15 24 2
Proj FA       3220 17 12   60 1

Nothing says “hello, change!” like swapping Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton. New HC Josh Daniels is putting his immediate mark on the team and who knows – maybe longer term he will be proved right. For the short term and in fantasy terms – the Broncos took a huge hit in fantasy points this year. Cutler had made surprise stars out of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. Daniels would seemingly be more interested in the passing game coming from the Patriots but installing a mediocre quarterback instead of one of the rising NFL stars seems curious. It also doesn’t help that The Broncos are going from an average strength of schedule for quarterbacks to one of the worst in the league this year.

Orton’s resume’ does have him going 21-12 as a starter but that reflects his time as a game manager over a team predicated on rushing and defense. In his four seasons (2006 and 2007 were almost entirely spent injured), Orton has played in 33 games and thrown for one game over 300 yards (thank you Detroit!) and peaked last year when he had 2972 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. By comparison, Cutler had 4526 yards and 25 passing scores. But you cannot dismiss the upgrade that Orton is getting in wide receivers. Or his injury history for that matter. It was a curious trade according to most in the league but Daniels is adamant about the quality of Orton. It could be his triumph or the albatross around his neck.

Obviously there is too much risk to consider Orton as a fantasy starter but he’s one to grab as a backup because he is playing with far better receivers than he had in Chicago. The Broncos are in year one of a new system with a tougher schedule so anything more than a bye week cover would be a lot to expect from Orton this year.

Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj DET       3200 18 20   80  

(-Risk) (+Upside) The Lions hope to summon the ghost of their last great quarterback with the addition of Stafford. Surely it’s mere coincidence that Stafford led his high school to its first state title since Bobby Layne did so in 1957, and now the Lions are tabbing Stafford to break the 50-year curse that’s plagued them since they traded Layne away after he directed them to an NFL title. The top pick in the 2009 draft enters the NFL on the heels of a college career that saw him direct Georgia to three bowl wins and toss 46 touchdowns. But more than just an SEC pedigree, it’s Stafford’s big arm and leadership skills that landed him $41.7 million and a chance to battle Daunte Culpepper for the starting job in Detroit.

Stafford’s cannon should come in handy when throwing deep to Calvin Johnson, Job #1 for the Detroit quarterback. And while a 57% completion percentage (and 33 picks) in college suggests his accuracy needs honing, those numbers are less a result of his touch (or lack thereof) and more indicative of an aggressive streak similar to that of Brett Favre. Stafford will also have the benefit of a good tutor in OC Scott Linehan, and if Culpepper can turn back the clock the rookie may also have the opportunity to follow a Carson Palmer-like route to the starting job—with a one-year stop in the clipboard pit before taking over—rather than absorb the kind of beating that ruined the careers of David Carr and Tim Couch.

Heading into training camp Lions coach Jim Schwartz has said the quarterback battle is an open competition, though the large investment and need to fill seats at Ford Field might trump patience and force Detroit to rush Stafford onto the field. That said, it’s worth noting that even with Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, and Culpepper playing musical quarterbacks last year the Lions QB produced more fantasy points than either Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco—two names frequently invoked when discussing Stafford’s ascent to an NFL starting job.

09-04-09 Update: Stafford has clearly played better than Culpepper who is hurt anyway. Expect Stafford to not only start, but to learn the ropes quickly throughout the season. Throwing to Megatron does not hurt.

Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 SFO 3 54 79 501 5 1 12 14 1
2008 SFO 9 181 288 2046 13 8 24 115 2
Avg   6 118 184 1274 9 5 18 65 2
Proj STL       2990 16 11   100 2

There will be a competition between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill to be the starting quarterback and Hill is the favorite to win. The 49ers are, yet again, installing an entirely new offense with a new offensive coordinator in Jimmy Raye. The goal is to create a balanced offense rather than the run-heavy attack or pass-heavy attack of recent years. Raye does not intend on naming a starting quarterback until during training camp. But Hill has been impressive in camp and Raye has no ties to Smith. Hill passed for 2046 yards and 13 scores against just eight interceptions last season which was almost entirely from mid-season onward. Hill passed for multiple scores in five of his starts. Smith threw multiple scores in only three games in his four year career. This may pretend to be open but Hill should win the start. With yet another offense being installed, new coaches and players it is not good to rely on anyone other than Gore as a fantasy starter but Hill could have some longer-term value if he can play well in a system not designed by Mike Martz.

08-25-09 Update: The 49ers have named Hill as the starting quarterback for week one but Alex Smith likely won't challange him again.

Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 GBP 16 343 613 3885 18 18 23 28 1
2007 GBP 16 356 535 4155 28 15 29 12  
2008 NYJ 16 343 522 3472 22 22 21 43 1
Avg   16 347 557 3837 23 18 24 28 1
Proj FA       3100 19 3   10  

(-Risk) Wow. The drama just never ends. Favre is back to the playing field despite already having a torn rotator cuff and turning 40 in October. This latest return allows him two important characteristics. He gets to play against his old team twice this year and he can still try to stay ahead of where Payeton Manning will end up. This is all about Brett and while he may add something to the running game if the defenses actually back away from Peterson to defend the run. But there is a risk with Favre like never before of injury. Making him more than just a fantasy backup is optimistic.

Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 WAS 7 110 207 1297 10 6 23 112  
2007 WAS 13 250 417 2700 12 11 36 185 1
2008 WAS 16 315 506 3245 13 6 47 258 1
Avg   12 225 377 2414 12 8 35 185 1
Proj CIN       3300 14 6   50 1

Campbell enters his second season in the Jim Zorn West Coast offense and he comes off his first ever season where he remained healthy for all 16 games. Of course he only passed for 3245 yards and 13 touchdowns and the Redskins offense was top ten only in running back yards and tight end stats (and just barely). Campbell’s job remains more of a caretaker game manager and was considered up for trade earlier this year. Campbell makes nothing more than a backup fantasy quarterback and not even a particularly good one. Half of his games come in with less than 200 passing yards and only two had more than one touchdown (if even that). Grab Campbell for the bye week cover and nothing else.

Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj PHI       2860 16 16   110 2

Sanchez is the latest USC product to take on the NFL. He threw for 3,207 yards and 34 touchdowns against 10 interceptions as a junior, capped by a record-setting 413-yard, four-TD effort in the Rose Bowl. For his career (16 starts), Sanchez threw for 3,965 yards and 41 touchdowns against 16 interceptions, completing 64.3 percent of his passes and posting a quarterback rating of 153.9. Sanchez also rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns.

Sanchez capitalized on his opportunity at the Combine. Scouts raved about the way the ball came out of his hand, and while his arm isn’t quite in Stafford’s class there is little question he can make all the necessary throws at the NFL level. But it’s not just Sanchez’s arm that had scouts buzzing— or is it the accuracy that allowed him to complete almost two-thirds of his pass attempts last year. What sets Sanchez apart is his anticipation and ability to read defenses and recognize blitzes. Sanchez rarely throws into coverage and scouts marvel at how he delivers a catchable ball, often releasing it before the receiver makes his move.

So far it appears that the Jets may “throw him to the wolves” and potentially start him in week one. Training camp will determine if he will be up to the task and Sanchez looked shaky initially in minicamps but then made strides in the eyes of the coaching staff. Sanchez is going to have to really earn his stripes this year though with one of the worst passing schedule coupled with an already mediocre set of receivers that has lost Laveranues Coles. Sanchez could be a great one long-term but 2009 likely won’t offer much fantasy value no matter what role he has.

08-28-09 Update: Sanchez has been named the starter for week one.

Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 OAK 4 36 66 373 2 4 5 4  
2008 OAK 15 198 368 2423 13 8 17 127 1
Avg   10 117 217 1398 8 6 11 66 1
Proj FA       2900 15 18   120 1

(-Risk) The first overall pick of the 2007 draft still looks a lot like a bust. He started 15 games last year and still only threw for 2423 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. No NFL team had such an ineffective quarterback and while Russell seemed to be taking a minor step up when he had two scores in each of the final three games, he looks just as bad as ever in minicamps. There are continual questions about his conditioning (or lack of it) and he’s showed up even heavier this season. The Raiders want a vertical game and Russell has a big arm but that doesn’t mean the passes will land near a receiver. Jeff Garcia has been brought on this season and could very well end up spelling Russell if he does not show more progress. The Raiders have added the speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey which should help but under Russell, the wide receivers came in dead last in the league – 32nd with only a total of 82 catches for 1166 yards from all team wideouts combined.

09-06-09 Update: The Raiders released Jeff Garcia and with that the chance that Russell is replaced for any reason other than injury.

Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 TEN 3 42 90 549 1 6      
2007 TEN 6 50 82 531     3 -3  
2008 TEN 16 242 415 2676 12 7 25 49  
Avg   8 111 196 1252 4 4 9 15 0
Proj FA       3000 15 7   50  

Titans ranked in the bottom five in passes, yards and touchdowns but it wasn’t Collins fault – the rushing game was so good that the Titans rarely needed to pass. Collins took over for the shell-shocked Vince Young and passed for 2676 yards and 12 touchdowns in what was his worst showing ever as a full year starter. Expect the same fantasy point starved situation this year though with a minor uptick in passing from the addition of Nate Washington and the rookie Kenny Britt.

Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 CLE 1 3 8 45          
2008 CLE 3 45 89 518 2 2 5 21  
Avg   2 24 49 282 1 1 3 11 0
Proj MIA       2800 15 17   30 1

Could this be the year for Quinn? He was denied a shot as a rookie when Derek Anderson looked all-world against a ridiculously easy schedule. When the real Anderson showed up in 2008, Quinn was finally give a chance to take the reins starting week ten but a finger injury made him miss four of the final games so that so far, Quinn has a total of three starts during his two years in the league. The Browns ranked #32 in passing yards (2529) and passing touchdowns (11) last season and have nowhere to go but up so Quinn has a chance to look like a savior this year. The Browns have a more favorable passing schedule (though still slightly below average) and used the NFL draft to stock up on receivers.

This is bound to be another tough year for the Browns though it should signal a turnaround from last year. Quinn is not likely to have much fantasy value beyond replacing someone on bye and much of that depends on how well Braylon Edwards can actually hold on to the ball and how quickly the rookies can get up to speed. No doubt the biggest impact will come from the absence of Kellen Winslow. Most likely – this is just a year to set-up 2010.

Go To Quarterback Rankings 31 - END >>

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