Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fab Four of Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Edition

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when fantasy football season is so close your insides start to tingle with excitement and anticipation, yet, just far off enough to make any final decisions regarding player rankings premature; so much can happen between now and draft day. But while it’s too early to solidify a plan of attack for your league(s)’s draft (wait until a week before your draft ) it’s a great idea to keep track of how things stand to prevent becoming overwhelmed at the last minute. With that in mind, here is a list of the top quarterbacks to draft this fantasy football season as it currently stands.

1. Drew Brees- As last year’s top fantasy quarterback, Brees is my, and seemingly the whole of the fantasy community’s pick for #1 quarterback this season. While Brees doesn’t exude the glitz and glamour of his follow quarterbacks ( he doesn’t have a slew of national endorsements, nor does he have a new supermodel wife) what Brees does have is far more valuable: a career on the upswing, consistency and the ability to throw deep and accurate. Since his acquisition by the Saints in 2006, Brees has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns per season. ( 2006: 4418 yds/26 TD; 2007: 4423 yds/28 TD; and 2008: 5069 yds/ 34 TD) But, even prior to this, since 2003 to be exact, Brees’ yards per season has been increasingly at a steady rate. This progression, paired with the return of healthier targets in Reggie Bush and Marques Colston, sets Brees up for another high producing season.

2. Peyton Manning- Manning is in my top 5 because, well, how could you not put Peyton in your top 5. What other quarterback is so well versed in dissecting defenses and so trusted by his organization that he actually usurps one of the primary functions of an offensive coordinator /coach and calls plays as he sees fit. Manning is the type of player who can make something out of nothing; he is a master of putting together scoring drives from the most adverse situations. (Yes, I’m gushing, and no, I’m not a Colts fan) Just take a look at last season. Despite a rough start, knee injury and overall lackluster year for the Colts, Manning still threw for 27 touchdowns, 4002 yards and garnered his third NFL MVP award. While some may worry about the departure of Marvin Harrison, a perennial favorite target, I wouldn’t have concern.... at all. To be honest, Harrison hasn’t done much fantasy wise as of late and Manning still has Reggie Wayne as a target. In any case, Peyton Manning is a top fantasy quarterback because he is, in a word, clutch, and in fantasy football, clutch is what you aim for.

3. Philip Rivers- Also in a career upswing, as last year’s No. 3 overall highest FF scoring quarterback, Philip Rivers threw for an impressive 4009 yds/43 T.D., a significant increase from 3152 yds/21 T.D. in 2007. But more importantly, Rivers finally established in himself ‘08 not only as a top quarterback, but the focal point of the Chargers’ Offense. With LaDainian Tomlinson’s production on the wane, the Chargers will become increasingly more dependent on Rivers to lead the offense. If Rivers continues to connect with Vincent Jackson and if Antonio Gates stays healthy, you can expect an even better season out of Rivers this year.

4. Tom Brady- For all of those still experiencing flashbacks and other assorted symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to last season’s Brady catastrophe, why don’t you take a moment before carrying forth with this analysis. Ok, we all good? Alright, let’s get on with it. A lot of people aren’t too sure what to make of Brady this year; on one hand he’s a key player recovering from a season ending injury with almost a full year of rust to shake off, but on the other he’s freaking Tom Brady, and as much as it hurts me to say it, if there’s one person who could come back from injury better than before, its him. Still, if you’re still concerned, consider the following: Brady is not a scrambler. Much of the concern regarding an ACL/MCL injury is the agility of the player following recovery. However, with Brady this won’t be a major concern. Why? Because Brady is not a scrambler by nature nor will his team force him to become one. Brady is blessed with one of the most talent-rich teams in the entire NFL; his O-Line holds defenders long enough for him to make plays and his receivers find ways to get open. Because of this, (and strict post throw contact penalties), Brady will be able, for the most part, to drop back and pass without much juking or twisting, decreasing the likelihood of rupturing last year’s injury. Still not convinced? Keep in mind how willing the Patriots were to depart with their #1 backup for next-to-nothing, this shows the confidence the organization has in both the progress of Brady’s healing and his ability to bounce back.

Alternates: Kurt Warner, Tony Romo

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