It’s been a long seven months since the Tom Brady clan, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, and NFL fans are ready to see America’s sport back in primetime. If watching your home team on TV once a week isn’t enough, ’tis the season for fans to draft their own beloved and perfectly crafted teams. Let’s face it: the time has come for fantasy football to take over your life. As you chase your coworkers down to add their $25 buy-in, check out our guide to the top 5 quarterbacks in the league.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Don’t let the infamous DeflateGate game fool you, Andrew Luck is a beast on the field.
Luck emerged as one of the top fantasy quarterbacks last season. He threw for 4,761 yards, scored 43 touchdowns and he’s only going to get better as he develops with his receivers.The Colts thrive on their passing game. This pass-happy approach allowed Luck to finish third in the NFL with nearly 300 passing yards per game last season. His receivers have only improved the depth of the team with the edition of wide receiver Andre Johnson, a healthy tight end in Dwayne Allen andwide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Their running game is impressive, too, thanks to running back, Frank Gore. Luck currently sits at the pinnacle of quality and quantity. He may not be the top player when the season ends, but he is probably the best bet to finish the season as a top-five overall fantasy player.
At just 24, the young quarterback can only get better and his name is being tossed around as the top player off the board. After all, his touchdown total from last season was 40, compared to 2013’s 23. Just imagine his stats if not for the abysmal last three weeks of 2014’s regular season. Also, Matt Hasselbeck was resigned in the offseason as the second string quarterback. Nothing screams confidence from the coaches like having a 40-year-old back up QB. Luck is ready.
Luck should have a better year than any quarterback in the NFL and he’ll probably be the first quarterback off the fantasy board.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, aka Brett Favre’s protege, has done pretty well for himselfjord. Remember when Favre passed for 4,202 and threw 33 touchdowns when he was 40 years old?
Even with wide receiver Jordy Nelson out for the year due to a torn ACL, the Green Bay Packers are in good hands. Rodgers will do pretty well with the dynamic Randall Cobb as a go-to receiver and Davante Adams as a number two. Outside of those two receivers, Green Bay will be relying on Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery and Myles White. The Packers have a stacked deck in offensive weaponry that should allow Nelson to rest easy. They were 21st in offensive plays per game last season, but with reports coming out of ESPN that Green Bay wants to pick up the pace, whoever picks Rodgers in their fantasy league will be just fine. But remember, Rodgers is 31-years-old, and is often categorized as “injury prone.” Rodgers’ last two seasons haven’t ended well, at least health wise. The severe calf injury at the tail end of the 2014 season limited his flexibility outside of the pocket.
But adversity isn’t anything new to Rodgers. After a shoulder injury limited him to just nine games in 2013, Rodgers came back last year, earning his second NFL MVP award and finished with 38 more touchdowns. Remember, he had 12 multi-TD games last season. Rodgers should be battling Luck for top QB spot supremacy, so have no fear with Aaron at the helm of your team.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning, aka Eli’s big brother according to any self-respecting NY Giants fan, has come back from a career-threatening neck surgery like no other.
He managed to regain his talent and become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL again and recently admitted that he has no feeling in his fingertips. Yikes. He will feel the brunt of offensive tackle Ryan Clady‘s season-ending injury. Manning had issues down the stretch last season because he was banged up. With Clady out, Manning will be hit even more, which could result in another poor finish. It’s safe to assume his offensive line is among the worst in the league.
But, all talk of Manning’s rapid decline have been extremely exaggerated. Yes, the future Hall of Famer took a big step back in 2014, throwing for 750 fewer yards, 16 fewer touchdowns and five more interceptions than the previous season. But even with that drop off, Manning still finished as the fourth ranked quarterback in fantasy football last season. The possibility of a repeat of those numbers again is reason enough to choose him. Even if you take his subpar numbers in the second half of last season and project it over the course of a full season, you’d have a quarterback who threw for more than 4,300 yards and 30 touchdowns. Ironically, thats right on par with little brother Eli. Peyton is a seasoned QB and calls plays like no other and because of that, he’s got to go in the five in almost every draft.
Reminder: Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning.
Drew Brees, New Orlean Saints
Brees had decent numbers last season, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns. The New Orleans Saints quarterback could have an amazing 2015 season, but what’s the aging 36-year-old to do without tight end Jimmy Graham?
Last year, he failed to reach 5,000 passing yards for the first time since 2010. It’s easy to blame his decline on the key parts he lost last season. Brandin Cooks is the only player remaining on the Saints’ active roster from the 2014 draft. Stanley Jean-Baptiste was the Saints’ bust of the 2014 draft since the team used such a high pick for him, but gave up on him so soon.
Brees lost Cooks to injury. Graham wasn’t the healthiest he could have been and the Saints lost running back Darren Sproles prior to the beginning of the 2014 season. Cooks is healthier than ever and becoming one of the league’s most dominant young receivers. He’s been training with Randy Moss during the offseason, who sees nothing but success in Cooks’ future. With Luke McCown as the backup QB and newly-picked Garrett Grayson looking like the probable protege of Brees, it’s time for Drew to go out with a bang. The young guys around him should have no problem picking up the pace when need be.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Wow, what a few days have done for the outlook on the New England Patriots’ 2015 season, fantasy prospects and Jimmy Garoppolo’s stress levels.
When Tom Brady plays, fantasy owners can count on solid productivity from the newly branded four-time Super Bowl champion. As the offseason woes are behind him, don’t forget that he ranked 28th among all QBs in the (fantasy) league last season, but that soon led to an eventual Super Bowl win. Keep in mind that Brady’s Hail Mary throwing days are over, but his incredibly short and perfectly accurate passes make tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman awesome weapons and automatic superstars.
If the DeflateGate ruling held up, it would have made for a much more interesting yet cautionary season for Tom Terrific, but so it goes for the golden boy.
Honorable Mention– Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Say what you want about preseason games not mattering, but drop back king Matt Ryan has been showing off. Ryan should finally have the season he deserves as the Atlanta Falcons aren’t injury-plagued for once.
Ryan is coming off his fourth straight season with at least 4100 passing yards. The addition of zone blockage and new offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan should be more than enough to keep Ryan on his feet more often, making for less sacks and more yards. And a healthy Julio Jones? Enough said.
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