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Fantasy Football 2015: Way-Too-Early Rankings– Quarterback

With the 2014 season in the books, Adam Pfeifer ranks the top fantasy football quarterbacks heading into 2015.

Quarterback rankings

In fantasy football, the quarterback position reminds me of modern day cell phones.

Nowadays, everyone has a good cell phone. One that works well, does different things, and provides strong results. However, a handful of people have better ones, phones that do a little bit more and are a little bit more exciting to own. As for the fantasy aspect, we have the super, crazy smart phones that do it all. Guys like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers fall into that category. And, normally, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees would find themselves in that category, too. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the quarterbacks aren’t good. In fact, they’re almost too good, making the position arguably the deepest in fantasy football.

According to Trsitan Cockroft, in four of the last five seasons, the quarterback position has set single-season records for cumulative fantasy points scored. The 2014 class missed making it five in a row by just 11 points, however, other records were set, as Cockroft points out here. Fourteen different signal callers scored at least 240 fantasy points, the most we’ve ever seen, and a few guys were just five or six points shy of 240, so that number could have been even higher.

Because so many different options are fantasy relevant on a given week, the quarterback position has become one of the ideal streaming candidates. Rich Hribar states that 41 different passers posted a top-12 fantasy finish in 2014, an insane amount. It also helps that it’s 100 percent a passing league, too. In 2014, 13 different quarterbacks attempted at least 550 passes, and 12 accomplished that feat the year before. However, if you look back to 2005, for instance, only three quarterbacks attempted at least 550 passes. That recent volume has helped quarterbacks post some of the best fantasy seasons ever, as 60 percent of the quarterbacks that rank inside the top-20 in fantasy seasons by a passer ever have been from 2011, 2012, 2013, or 2014.

So, with the 2014 season all but over, let’s rank these cell phones– err, quarterbacks.

2015 QB Rankings (1-10)

QB 1-10

 

-It’s kind of stupid to say you were “high” on Aaron Rodgers this year. Everyone was. He’s Aaron Rodgers. However, he was my number one quarterback, MVP pick, and Super Bowl pick back in May, so I’ve always preferred him over any other signal caller. And while he fell short of the number one passer in fantasy, he still was incredible, posting one of the 20-best fantasy performances we’ve ever seen from a quarterback. He tossed for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. Gaudy numbers from the league’s best quarterback, who has earned that title, especially when you look at his finishes over the last few seasons.

Rodgers

 

Rodgers currently accounts for four of the NFL’s twenty-best fantasy seasons we’ve ever seen from a quarterback, and his four seasons with at least 300 fantasy points are the second-best in the history of football. He’s the best quarterback in the NFL on an elite offense that averaged 30.1 points per game in 2014, the most in the league. This past season, he posted 11 games inside the top-12 among fantasy signal callers, as well as five top-three outings, the second-most in the league. He’s good at football.

Russell Wilson has been at least a top-10 fantasy quarterback in each of his first three seasons in the league. And, only Cam Newton has more fantasy points over a player’s first three seasons than Wilson’s 827. In 2014, he threw for 20 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions, but it was his rushing that helped him finish as the number-three quarterback in fantasy football. Only 15 players in all of football rushed for more yards than Wilson’s 849, and his six touchdowns on the ground were more than running backs like LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.

Meanwhile, according to Pro Football Focus, only Aaron Rodgers scored more fantasy points each time he dropped back to pass than Wilson’s impressive 0.61. Wilson also had three 100-yard rushing games on the season, giving fantasy owners a safe floor whenever he didn’t exactly excel through the air. Over 20 percent of his total fantasy points came from his legs, so imagine the numbers he could post if he were in a pass-happy offense. If Marshawn Lynch doesn’t return next year, the Seahawks won’t exactly become the Lions, but they could rely on Wilson’s arm more.

-A bust for 2014 had to have been Matthew Stafford. Given his best arsenal of weapons ever, Stafford just wasn’t consistent at all– unless it was consistently mediocre. According to Rich Hribar, Stafford finished as QB16 or worse in half of his starts in 2014, while placing as a top-three quarterback just one time. We’ve seen it before with Stafford, but he is very reliant on the health of his star wideout, Calvin Johnson. Using the RotoViz Game Splits App, I took a look at Stafford’s numbers since 2010 without Megatron in the lineup:

stafford

Stafford’s 22 touchdown passes were his lowest since 2012, and he finished well outside the top-12 among fantasy signal callers. He really disappointed this season, and entering 2015, the offense should be the same, so one would assume Stafford will bounceback.

11-20

11-20 QB

 

-If you plan on waiting on quarterback in 2015 (you should), definitely consider a guy like Eli Manning. Thanks to the arrival of star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., Manning enjoyed one of the best statistical seasons of his career, completing a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes, tossing 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In fact, big brother Peyton actually threw more picks than Eli in 2014. With Beckham on the outside, Eli averaged almost two more fantasy points per game, as well as about 40 more passing yards per game. In the 12 games Beckham played in 2014, Eli had seven multiple-touchdown games, averaging just under 290 yards per game through the air.

Ben McAdoo’s offense seemed to make Manning more comfortable, and now with Beckham’s emergence and Victor Cruz‘s return, Manning has his best receiving corp ever, making him an awesome late-round quarterback to target, especially still playing in the NFC East and their horrible defensive units. Both the Eagles and Redskins ranked inside the bottom-three in fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks, while the Cowboys ranked 13th. Quarterbacks against these three teams averaged just under 20 fantasy points per game in 2014.

-Man, if Carson Palmer could have stayed healthy… During the five full games Palmer played in this year, he averaged a healthy 19.56 fantasy points per game. And, via our Rich Hribar, was the sixth-best quarterback in fantasy in terms of consistency. He scored at least 20 fantasy points in 60 percent of his games this year, and had he stayed healthy, would have easily been on pace to finish the season as a top-10 fantasy signal caller. I love him as a post-hype sleeper for 2015. This past year, the Cardinals threw the football around 60 percent of the time when inside the opponent’s red zone, which was a top-three rank in football. Bruce Arians has brought the best out of his quarterbacks, and Palmer has already showed signs of being a top-12 fantasy quarterback, one that can be had extremely late in drafts.

21-30

21-30 QB

 

-Hey, Marc Trestman. Mind going to Jacksonville and doing that quarterback whispering to Blake Bortles? Thanks. The Jags rookie showed some signs in 2014, but still has a ton of work to do, as he turned the football over an ugly 18 times during his inaugural season. Still, he draws comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, and I kind of like the Jaguars receivers. Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and potentially Justin Blackmon isn’t exactly bad, by any means. This is pure speculation, but with Jacksonville needing a new offensive coordinator, Trestman could potentially land in Jacksonville, and if that were the case, Bortles would instantly become a sleeper of mine for 2015. Trestman has helped Jay Cutler, Rich Gannon, and others have big years, including an MVP year for Gannon back in 2002. I’m not saying Bortles will win MVP (he won’t), but in an offense that threw the football 63.5 percent of the time last year, the fourth-most in football, the sophomore passer should be on radars.

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