10. Jameis Winston
Mike Evans caught 12 touchdown passes in 15 games last season. Josh McCown and Mike Glennon were the QB’s throwing him the ball. Go back and read that again, I’ll wait. Done? Isn’t that insane? I don’t think a dog could catch a dozen frisbees thrown by those two. But as a rookie, Mike Evans lit it up. Now he has massive missile armed Jameis Winston throwing him the rock. So as a rookie, Winston will have two 6’5″ men on the outside of the numbers to life the pigskin too. What a situation to fall into for a young player. Most young men at the position overthrow a lot and that leads to interceptions. I’m not sure that Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans can be overthrown. Jameis Winston will win rookie of the year because his massive wideouts will cover up for his shortcomings, and short throws. His running ability is similar to that of Cam Newton and a slingshot arm like Joe Flacco. A recipe for fantasy success and the main reasons he closes out my top ten pre, preseason quarterback rankings.
9. Cam Newton
As you can see the bottom of my top ten is filled with mobile quarterbacks. Especially those who finally have weapons around them. Like Russell Wilson a paragraph before, Cam Newton is a QB with wheels that can extend the play and gives his guys time to get open. With the emergence of big time wideout Kelvin Benjamin and additions in the off season, Newton is poised for a monster year. With the defense that was top five in turnover ratio last year, Cam is sure to have the ball in his hands quite a bit. And more possessions almost always leads to more fantasy points. In a two quarterback league, Cam is the strongest QB2 out there and a few weeks into this season he will make his case to be a solid QB1 for a contending fantasy team.
Russell Wilson makes the pre season top ten this year for two reasons and two reasons only. His legs and Jimmy Graham. Wilson is the most elusive player at the quarterback position and no matter what team he plays against he is good for 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but this has always been his upside. Only difference this year is he has the biggest pass catching target in the NFL now; Jimmy Graham. After not meeting expectations last year Graham will look to start hot with a new team and boy, what a fit! The thought of Graham getting lost in the defensive backfield while Wilson scrambles around has me watering at the mouth and you should be too. Wilson has made otherwise irrelevant tight ends and wide receivers absolutely fantasy relevant. Guys like Zach Miller and Ricardo Lockette. Usually pass catchers improve a quarterbacks value, except in Seattle the QB there is making everyone around him better with his legs and decision making, that will only continue this season now that he has a real threat deep down the field and in the red zone. Wilson will prosper mightily from his teams offseason moves.
7. Tony Romo
After by and large the best season of his career, Tony Romo will start this season minus a 2,000 yard rusher in his backfield. Demarco Murray’s absence will be felt mostly in the passing game, that’s why Romo is out of my top five. Romo will still be behind the top offensive line in the league but opposing defenses will no longer have to stack the box to stop the run. Nonetheless Romo is always cool under pressure and will end up with a more than decent year. Important to watch contract negotiations with Dez Bryant if you’re planning on owning Romo this year. If Bryant doesn’t play, Romo drops out of the top ten – maybe even the top 20. A lot of variables for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback this year, but before it all unravels, he belongs in the top ten.
6. Matt Ryan
I’m full of surprises early on so I’ll keep them coming with none other than Matty “Ice!” After a season filled with injuries to his wide outs and offensive lineman, Matt Ryan looks to rebound hard. Additions to the offensive line through the draft look to be an upgrade for Ryan. Julio Jones is coming off a career year while only playing 13 games and this offseason his health looks better than ever. Even though Ryan has lost some key guys at the wide receiver position like Roddy White and Harry Douglas, the improvements on the O-line and in the running game will show up immediately. More ammunition for Matt Ryan is the new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who loves to throw the ball down field and requires athletic O-lineman in the run game. This is very beneficial to 2012 sixth overall pick offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who is extremely mobile for a man his size. Look for Matty “Ice” to start hot and stay consistent throughout the year.
5. Eli Manning
Now I am extremely reluctant to give you this hidden gem because players in my own fantasy leagues will read this. Also, my biggest competitor, my wife, reads all my articles. I beat her in our fantasy league championship last year to ruin her repeat, so she will do anything to best me this year. Either way I’m faithful to my readers. So, here you go: Eli Manning will undoubtedly finish the season in the top five for overall fantasy points. There I said it! Everyone is so hung up on Odell Beckham JR that they seem to have forgotten about the Latin dancer from UMass; Victor Cruz. Also Larry Donnell, the 6’6″ tight end that will have a wide open field due to the two guys listed above tearing it up outside the numbers. As well as the addition of pass catching running back Shane Vereen. Eli has a plethora of weapons for that cannon arm. If he didn’t have horrible interception numbers the last two years he might have been second on the list.
Two six touchdown games last season? Has a wideout in Antonio Brown that has led the league in catches and receiving yards the last three seasons? Has Martavis Bryant, the human cheetah? Yupp, it’s Big Ben Roethlisberger. He might be another guy who is only getting better with age because last year he was masterful. He is absolutely thriving under offensive coordinator Todd Haley and that will continue, unhindered into the second year of their partnership. Although the run game will take a blow the first three games while Le’veon Bell serves his three game suspension, it will lead to Ben airing the ball out even more to start the season. Oh ya, did I mention he has Antonio Brown? I did? Well he is making a case as the best at his position in the league so I had to name him again. Fortunately for you, Ben will fall fast due to names like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Their names alone make them go way ahead of their actual value. Wait in your league’s draft, Big Ben will be an absolute steal in later rounds
3. Drew Brees
With the first surprise of the list I have Drew Brees at number three. How could I do that after a less than stellar previous season? With him losing his primary target in Jimmy Graham with him being traded to the Seattle Seahawks? Easily! In that trade the New Orleans Saints received Veteran Pro Bowl center Max Unger. A huge upgrade to an offensive line, whose biggest problem last season was allowing pressure up the middle to their “vertically challenged” QB. With target horde Graham leaving, it opens up the playbook for the open field monster that is second year speedster Brandin Cooks, among other specialist they have on the offensive side of the ball. Could be a big year for Brees and the Saints.
2. Andrew Luck
Without question the most intriguing player, maybe in the league, is Andrew Luck. Having superbly successful seasons in each of his first three seasons and is entering a quarterback’s most decisive season, season four. If this holds true and the three previous seasons were not his best, the NFL is about to be overtaken by the monstrous bearded gun slinger. Although hampered by high interception numbers in his first few seasons they have only declined each of the following years. His success is almost guaranteed especially with the addition of Andre Johnson to a ball catching corps already stacked with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and last years rookie standout Donte Moncrief. Undoubtedly these guys will be going early in your drafts. As will Luck. Maybe even first QB off the board?
Rodgers is an obvious choice as the leader of the pack at his position for a few reasons. He is the highest skilled quarterback in the league and his team consistently surrounds him with weapons at the wideout position. Most importantly his young offensive line is a year older and healthy for now. The maturation of Eddie Lacey in the run game mixed with a soft schedule and an even softer division looks good for Aaron. Rodgers has six games against bottom of pack defensive secondaries. Look for him to pick up right where he left off last year. Not only that, but smart money always bets on the odds and he is the favorite the last five seasons, that’s the only reason he is ranked above my number two.