Team practices have just begun to get underway, but we at Fake Teams are already kicking off the fantasy football season with our way too early positional rankings. Brad Duffendack ranks this year's top 40 quarterbacks into tiers from the elite to the sleepers that you need to monitor throughout the offseason.
With the NFL Draft
complete, we are given a little more clarity into each team's situation and how rosters might be constructed when it's time for final cuts. There is, however, still plenty of time to shake things up before then once we get into training camp and preseason with surprise cuts, trades, injuries, and position battles. Rankings will still be in flux right up until the season opener, but we need to get started at some point to target certain players to keep an eye on and to begin to form a strategy for this year's drafts. So, to kickoff the fantasy football season, I give to you my Way Too Early Quarterback Rankings for the 2014 season.
This is the elite tier, comprised of can't miss players that will be in the top 5 of the position group by season's end, barring injury.
1. Peyton Manning , Denver Broncos
- When one of the best QBs in history is still breaking records on a team with a short championship window, it is really hard to remove him from the #1 spot.
2. Aaron Rodgers
, Green Bay Packers
- I still worry about the offensive line situation, but to counteract that problem, they drafted new WRs for Rodgers that know how to get open quick in Davante Adams & Jared Abbrederis to add in with Randall Cobb
, Jordy Nelson
, & Jarrett Boykin.
This tier contains players that have some concerns but can still easily finish the season in the top 5 of the position.
4. Matthew Stafford
, Detroit Lions
- The Lions have been searching for a good #2 option to play across from Calvin Johnson. This offseason, they added a #2 and a #3 in Golden Tate
and Eric Ebron. They may not lead the league in passing attempts as they have in previous years, but Jim Caldwell should help Stafford to be more effective in those fewer attempts to be even more productive.
6. Tony Romo
, Dallas Cowboys
- With former Lions OC, Scott Linehan in the fold, the Cowboys should become more pass happy. I worry about Romo's back injury but, if healthy, should produce greatly with the amount of attempts he will get in this system.
7. Jay Cutler
, Chicago Bears
- Entering his 2nd year under Marc Trestman, Cutler just needs to stay healthy to put up elite numbers in this offense. He is a gunslinger, but both Brandon Marshall
& Alshon Jeffery proved last year that it is not such a bad idea to throw the ball to either one of them on any play, even in double or triple coverage.
8. Matt Ryan
, Atlanta Falcons
- With a focus on improving the offensive line this offseason, the Falcons gave Ryan a fighting chance. If Julio Jones and Roddy White
can stay healthy, Ryan can return to putting up similar numbers to what he had two years ago when he was considered a fringe elite QB.
This tier holds the players that I see as being solid but inconsistent. They will likely not be on many of my teams this year because they are going higher than where I would take them. I would be more willing to wait and grab a couple guys in the next tier with just as much upside.
9. Colin Kaepernick
, San Francisco 49ers
- Defenses learned that rolling left to pass is Kaep's weakness, but most of those defenses are still unable to force him to do so against one of the best offensive lines in football. If Jim Harbaugh allows him to run more, he has shown to put up great numbers. Looking at the backup QBs, I doubt that will be the case. They will continue to lean more on the run game and the stout defense.
10. Nick Foles
, Philadelphia Eagles
- I'm still not completely sold on his talent, but anybody in Chip Kelly's offense has a great opportunity to produce. He has a great line and good weapons that should help to hide his deficiencies and allow for him to continue be a solid starter.
11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
- As long as Pep Hamilton is the OC, the Colts will continue to be more of a power run team. I hope that bringing Rob Chudzinski in as an offensive consultant will help to find ways to get more use out of Luck in the passing game instead of sticking to the much too conservative style of offense that was used last year.
12. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
- I would've liked to see more of a focus to improve the offensive line instead of the defense in San Diego for fantasy purposes, but Ken Whisenhunt helped Rivers to turn his career around and I believe he will continue to be a solid fantasy option in what should be a pass heavy offense. Even the complete stable of RBs, with the exception of Ryan Mathews
, excel more in the pass game than the run game.
13. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
- The Pats spent another offseason doing everything but giving Brady any help for the passing offense. The moves they did make seem to foreshadow a greater focus toward the power run game, and there will still be concerns about the interior of the offensive line.
14. Ben Roethlisberger
, Pittsburgh Steelers
- The Pittsburgh offensive line has been one of the worst in the league but should improve with the hiring of Mike Munchak. Though, Big Ben will have to gain a quick rapport with his new receiving corps of Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey
, and Martavis Bryant, with Antonio Brown
being the only one he has any considerable amount of experience with.
This will be the tier of QBs that I will be targeting later in drafts if I miss out on the first two tiers. This group has a lot of upside and could be great values if acquired in the later rounds.
15. Russell Wilson
, Seattle Seahawks
- Wilson has top 10 talent, but fantasy production will be inconsistent due to the Seattle game plan of playing tough defense and running the ball. A healthy Percy Harvin
and the addition of deep threat, Paul Richardson, should help to improve his fantasy numbers from last year.
16. Andy Dalton
, Cincinnati Bengals
- This is the make-or-break year for Dalton with an impending extension coming up. The Bengals have put a focus on surrounding him with plenty of young, dynamic weapons. It is up to Dalton to take the next step and show that he can be the Bengal's franchise QB.
17. Cam Newton
, Carolina Panthers
- I wanted to put him lower due to the situation in Carolina with average WRs and a patchwork offensive line, but he should get plenty of rushing yards running for his life.
18. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
- This is the point in the rankings where it's more beneficial to swing for the fences. When Manziel gets the opportunity to start, I can see him having similar fantasy production with rushing yards that Tim Tebow
had in Denver, but Johnny is a much better passer and has the confidence to throw it up to Jordan Cameron and Miles Austin
to give them the opportunity to go up and get it.
19. Michael Vick
, New York Jets
- If Vick wins the starting job over Geno, he still has the talent to put up big numbers but turnovers will still be an issue and he does not have the same quality of weapons he had in Philadelphia when he was the top fantasy QB early last year.
21. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
- Gary Kubiak's offensive scheme is extremely run heavy but also comes with benefit of getting Flacco out in space with play-action bootlegs and using that elite arm strength to send bombs downfield to Torrey Smith
and Steve Smith
23. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
- Manuel didn't have a very promising rookie year, but the team has built around him to give him the best chance to succeed this season. Buffalo has a chance to be a very dynamic offense this year if Manuel can show more development.
If you are stuck with picking your QBs from this tier, you must be prepared to stream the position and find the best available option from week to week.
24. Sam Bradford
, St. Louis Rams
- The Rams showed that they still have faith in Bradford by passing on drafting a QB this year. He was having an above average season before getting injured last year but will need to show improvement and stay healthy for the team to continue to remain confident in him.
25. Alex Smith
, Kansas City Chiefs
- Since last year, the offensive line talent in Kansas City has declined due to three lineman leaving in free agency, and they still haven't added any new receiving threats for Smith. The Chiefs will continue to heavily rely on the run game.
26. Ryan Tannehill
, Miami Dolphins
- After being the most sacked QB last year, the Dolphins have restructured their offensive line to help remedy that problem. It will take time for them to gel and be comfortable with each other, but if they can just keep Tannehill upright, he might have an opportunity to use the abundance of receiving weapons that they've added the last couple years.
27. Eli Manning
, New York Giants
- Manning's fatal flaw last year was not being on the same page with his young WRs. This offseason, the Giants let the veteran, Hakeem Nicks
, go and brought in another young WR, Odell Beckham. Eli will have to gain a quick rapport with his receivers to improve upon what was the worst season of his career.
28. Jake Locker
, Tennessee Titans
- Locker is the Darren McFadden
of QBs. There is plenty of potential to put up huge fantasy numbers, but can he stay healthy for the entire season? At this point, odds are that it is very unlikely.
29. Matt Schaub
, Oakland Raiders
- It was evident last year with the Texans
that Schaub's throwing velocity has greatly deteriorated. Before last season, he was known for good accuracy and making good decisions. To be successful, Schaub will have to recognize his flaw and adjust his game to play to his strengths.
30. Chad Henne
, Jacksonville Jaguars
- The Jags offensive line suffered major losses during free agency but attempted to counteract those losses by creating an arsenal of weapons in Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marcedes Lewis
, Marqise Lee, & Allen Robinson. They will give Henne the chance to produce, but he better get the ball out quick or keep his head on a swivel.
31. Ryan Fitzpatrick
, Houston Texans - Fitzpatrick will likely start week 1 but the rest of his season will hinge on the development of Tom Savage. The Texans will lean heavily on the run game with some short to intermediate pass game thrown in, which is the area that Fitzpatrick excels in.
32. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
- Bridgewater has good weapons to produce in Minnesota, but I see him being more of a game manager in his first year with the team, employing a heavy run game with Adrian Peterson
and being supported by a good Mike Zimmer defense.
This tier will likely not be drafted in redraft leagues but are worth monitoring if they get the opportunity to start.
33. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars have made it clear that they will try to keep Bortles on the bench to take time to develop, but if Henne is injured or the Jags fall out of the playoff race, they will have to put Bortles on the field.
34. Geno Smith, New York Jets - Geno showed some flashes last year, but they were too far and in between. He will need show a lot of improvement from his rookie season to see any significant amount of playing time and make an impact this season.
35. Brian Hoyer
, Cleveland Browns - Hoyer might've had a shot to stay the starter for the majority of the season, but with the loss of Josh Gordon, he will likely be replaced by Manziel once they fall a couple games below .500.
36. Tom Savage, Houston Texans - Bill O'Brien will be put to the test again to turn a developmental QB into an adequate starter. When he is confident that Savage is ready, O'Brien shouldn't have a hard time replacing Fitzpatrick in the starting lineup to see if he can be the future franchise QB for this team.
37. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans - Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Jake Locker will make it through the entire season. I suspect that Ken Whisenhunt will like to see what he has in his young QB whenever the time comes to name a new starter.
38. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders - The first time Matt Schaub throws a pick-six, the Black Hole will be clamoring for the rookie QB to get his shot. He can make any type of throw but needs to show that he can still perform well under the pressure of an NFL pass rush.
39. Thaddeus Lewis
, Buffalo Bills -If EJ Manuel cannot improve upon his below average rookie year, the Bills like Lewis and would not be afraid to turn to him if they believe that he will give them the better chance to win.
40. Kirk Cousins
, Washington Redskins - If RGIII still hasn't learned to slide or get out of bounds to avoid hits, Cousins will more than likely get the opportunity to start again this season.
As stated in the title of the article, these rankings are way too early to be anything close to concrete for your future fantasy drafts. Through OTAs and minicamps, we will be flooded with team and player news that will bring many changes to these rankings. The entire Fake Teams crew will keep our readers updated and will provide many articles, including team previews, updated rankings, and layouts for best draft strategies, throughout the offseason that will help you to prepare for the impending domination of your league this year.