The first preseason game of the 2014 season is complete. The crashing of pads and helmets become the sounding alarm that the fantasy football season has officially begun, and the time to start preparing for another run at your league championship begins now.
We will get things kicked off this week with my fantasy quarterback rankings. I have ranked these players in order of my preference of which quarterback I would rather have on my team for this season. However, just because I have Robert Griffin ranked as the 5th quarterback, that doesn't necessarily mean that I will be drafting him in the 3rd-4th round. I would instead target him closer to his current Average Draft Position in the 6th round as a huge value. ADP must always be considered when drafting in order to ensure that you are maximizing the value of every pick. Therefore, I have included each players current ADP value in 12-team standard leagues. Peyton Manning's 1.10 ADP would mean that on average he is being drafted at the 10th pick of the first round.
This is the elite tier, comprised of "can't miss" players that will finish the season in the top-5 of the position, barring a severe injury.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (ADP: 1.10) - Manning has already turned 38 this year, but proved last season that he still possesses the necessary tools needed to put up historic numbers in the Denver offense with the help of elite weapons around him, like Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Wes Welker.'
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 2.07) 2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 2.07) - The Packers' offensive line will continue to be the weak link for this offense, but Rodgers, as one of the most efficient in the league, will maintain his elite numbers with the help of an improved running game to reduce the pressure and top-notch receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb that can get open quick.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 2.08) - There were rumors earlier in the year that the Saints would be moving to a more run-oriented offense after they got rid of Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. However, the progression of Kenny Stills in his second year and the addition of rookie Brandin Cooks, should be enough to replace that production lost and allow for Brees to continue to post elite numbers in the Saints' passing game.
This tier contains players that have some concerns heading into the season that prevent them from being in the elite tier but still have the ability to finish in the top-5 of the position.
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (ADP: 4.09) - The loss of offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, is a concern since his offensive scheme had the Lions finishing at the top of the league in pass attempts every year. However, Stafford, under the tutelage of new head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, should be more efficient this year to make up for the lost volume of attempts. It will also help that they have finally added competent receiving weapons outside of Calvin Johnson in Golden Tate and the rookie tight end Eric Ebron.
5. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (ADP: 6.09) - According to reports, Griffin looks completely healthy from his knee injury suffered in his rookie season that continued to plague him last season. He may not see as many rushing attempts as he had in the Shanahan offense, but new head coach Jay Gruden will bring a pass-friendly offense to Washington that will allow Griffin to use his arm strength and deep ball accuracy to find Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson for an abundance of explosive downfield plays this season.
6. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (ADP: 9.02) - If Cutler can stay healthy this year, I believe he can finish in the top-3 at the end of the season. Marc Trestman has proven to be a quarterback guru, and entering their second year together, Cutler has reportedly become more in sync and comfortable with his offense. Cutler has been known to be a gunslinger, but Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery proved last year that they are likely to come down with the ball no matter how many defenders are around them.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 8.08) - Romo's back injury is becoming a concern. However, the addition of former Lions' coordinator Scott Linehan and the likelihood of having the worst defense in the league again should allow for Romo to have the most passing attempts he has seen in his entire career. If healthy, Romo will have a very much improved offensive line and will be able to have the time to connect with his deep targets, Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. And to give him more options, the running backs will also be a huge asset in the passing game for the Linehan system. Romo could have a career year with the possibility of being in a shootout in just about every game this season.
This tier holds players that I see as being solid but inconsistent. Most will likely not be on many of my teams this year because they are going much higher than where I would take them in drafts.
8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 7.06) - The Falcons placed a major focus on improving the offensive line and defense through free agency and the draft this offseason. This should allow for them to run the ball more and not be involved in as many shootouts as in recent years. Ryan should be a solid starting quarterback with the help of Julio Jones and Roddy White, but will likely finish just inside the top-10.
9. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 5.06) - Luck possesses the talent to be placed in TIER 1 with Manning, Rodgers, and Brees. However, his upside is limited under the current Colts' staff, more specifically offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Hamilton is adamant about featuring the power run game in his offense. This limits the opportunities for Luck in the passing game. Hopefully, with Reggie Wayne healthy and the additions of Hakeem Nicks and rookie Donte Moncrief, Luck will be able to outshine the hindering gameplan and will be able to post numbers close to what he had in his rookie year.
10. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 6.05) - I am still not sold on Foles as a top quarterback talent and think that he is just a product of the Chip Kelly system. The fact that he is still in that Chip Kelly system keeps him in the top-10 as a solid fantasy option, but he is due for a major regression from the historic numbers he posted last year and the Eagles will continue to be one of the most run-heavy teams in the league.
11. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (ADP: 6.10) - I had Tom Brady ranked much lower than this in earlier rankings due to the lack of receiving weapons, but the recent optimism of Rob Gronkowski playing as early as week one gives him a significant boost back toward the top-10. The Patriots will boast a much improved defense this year and will likely continue to run the ball more in most games. However, in the games that the Patriots need to pass, I would not feel comfortable playing against Tom Brady that week.
12. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 8.04) - The 49ers game plan has relied heavily on the run game and the stout defense. With a healthy Michael Crabree and the addition of Stevie Johnson, Kaep will have the best receiving corps that he has had this year. It should lead to more passing attempts, but not too many as they also placed a major focus on reloading the running back corps with Carlos Hyde. If Jim Harbaugh would allow Kaep to run more, he could put up elite numbers. However, looking at the backup situation with Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson, this is highly unlikely.
13. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 7.10) - Cam has never finished a season outside of the top-5 in standard fantasy scoring. This may be the year with what could easily be the worst offensive line in the league, a suspect receiving corps, and an ankle injury that could hamper his running ability early in the season. His rushing numbers will continue to be his saving grace as a potential fantasy starter, but I currently would not draft him as such.
If I miss on the quarterbacks in the first two tiers, this will be the tier I will be targeting a couple of these options later in drafts to stream throughout the season. This group has a lot of upside and could be had at great values.
14. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 11.05) - The Steelers' offensive line has been one of the worst in the league in recent years but looks to improve with the help of new offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Big Ben will have to gain a quick rapport with some new and interesting weapons this year in Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, and Martavis Bryant. Along with Antonio Brown, they have been drawing rave reviews in camp as the best receiver group that they have had in the Mike Tomlin era.
15. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 13.08) - I am very willing to take a chance on Carson Palmer this year. With an improving offensive line and emerging dynamic weapons to throw to in the downfield passing game that Bruce Arians is known for. The running game should take a backseat in the gameplan due to the lead back, Andre Ellington, being a more slender but versatile threat and the lack of an established power back. The loss of Karlos Dansby and Darryl Washington will also weaken the Cardinals' defense and allow for more shootouts.
16. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 10.07) - Like Andrew Luck, Wilson is another elite young talent that is hindered by the offensive gameplan. The Seahawks will continue to rely on their dominant defense while running the ball to control the clock on offense. If called upon, Wilson could put up huge numbers in the passing game with the help of a dynamic weapon in Percy Harvin, a solid, reliable contributor in Doug Baldwin, and an explosive rookie deep threat in Paul Richardson. His rushing numbers will also help to give him enough boost to his weekly fantasy value to make him a fine backup option.
17. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (ADP: 9.12) - Rivers enjoyed a resurrection of his career last year with the help of Ken Whisenhunt. With the Wiz heading to Tennessee, will Rivers continue to improve? I don't see it as Keenan Allen is now a known commodity, Antonio Gates continues to decline, and the other receivers have been unable to step up. I can see Rivers putting up a some big numbers in games throughout the season but will be too inconsistent this year.
18. Eli Manning, New York Giants (ADP: 12.10) - Eli Manning saw the worst year of his career last year due to a poor offensive line and not being on the same page as his receivers, causing most of his interceptions. This year, new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will bring a fast-paced offense with a major focus on Eli getting the ball out quick and letting his receivers do the rest. Victor Cruz and rookie Odell Beckham should excel in this system and Rueben Randle will be a nice red zone threat. This should be a bounce back year for Eli.
19. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13.06) - Josh McCown had a breakout year in Chicago throwing to big targets in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett. Tampa Bay provided a very simalar situation for him with another set of monster targets in Vincent Jackson, rookies Mike Evans & Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Tim Wright.
20. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans (ADP: Undrafted) - Locker is the Darren McFadden of quarterbacks. He teases with top-10 potential but can never stay healthy through an entire season. If he can make it through at least 14 games this year, he can drastically out-perform his draft stock and be one of the greatest values in the entire draft.
This tier does not offer much upside but could be solid starters during bye weeks when facing good matchups or could at least be top waiver priorities if your quarterback suffers an injury.
21. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 11.08) - This year, Hue Jackson replaces Jay Gruden as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. This will drastically tip the scales for the offensive gameplan to heavily favor the run game and decrease the amount of opportunities for Andy Dalton to air it out.
22. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: Undrafted) - The Chiefs continue to refuse to add any help to the receiving corps for Smith and will still heavily rely on the run game. A healthy Travis Kelce can prove to be helpful to Smith's passing numbers but will not be enough to warrant starting consideration.
23. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: Undrafted) - Joe Flacco can be exactly what Gary Kubiak wanted in Houston as a big armed quarterback than can be a huge asset in the play-action game. Kubiak is known for a very heavy run offense, but Flacco will have a few opportunities per game to use play-action to give him enough time in the pocket to target Torrey Smith and Steve Smith downfield. Tight ends are also used a lot in the Kubiak scheme, so Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels will provide enough help to pad Flacco's numbers as well.
24. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (ADP: 14.06) - Throughout his career, Bradford has been provided with enough excuses on why he hasn't produced as a top prospect with injuries, a very poor offensive line, inconsistent weapons, incompetent offensive coordinators, etc. This has to be the year that Bradford steps up to show that he can be the franchise quarterback for this team.
25. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans (ADP: Undrafted) - Bill O'Brien is another head coach that has proven to be a quarterback guru. Fitzpatrick was able to produce in Buffalo but was known for breaking down late in the season when weather conditions worsened. Perhaps a much better supporting cast and a domed stadium in Houston will help him to maximize his potential in the O'Brien offense.
26. Geno Smith, New York Jets (ADP: Undrafted) - Geno is currently the favorite to land the starting job over Michael Vick. The whole Jets offense was a mess last year, but Geno showed great strides of improvement late in the season. He will be helped by the addition of Eric Decker and his rushing numbers will be a welcomed bonus to his fantasy value.
27. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills (ADP: Undrafted) - Manuel struggled in his rookie year last year, but the Bills have placed a major focus on adding new pieces to help the young QB. They fortified the offensive line through the draft and added Sammy Watkins. And if you believe training camp reports, Watkins could be the second coming of Jerry Rice. If Manuel shows any improvement in his second year, he could be a deep sleeper in 2-QB leagues.
28. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 14.04) - Tannehill has continued to flash the talent that got him selected in the first round by the Dolphins in 2012, but hs progression has been hindered beause of poor offensive line play. They added Brandon Albert to help solidify the left tackle position, but center Mike Pouncey missing half the season due to injury will not help the situation.
This tier consists of a list of players that are either battling for a starting job in camp or are backups that are good enough to make a significant impact in deep leagues or 2-QB leagues if they get the opportunity to start.
29. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 12.07)
30. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: Undrafted)
31. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders (ADP: Undrafted)
32. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: Undrafted)
33. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (ADP: Undrafted)
34. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: Undrafted)
35. Michael Vick, New York Jets (ADP: Undrafted)
36. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (ADP: Undrafted)
37. Shaun Hill, St. Louis Rams (ADP: Undrafted)
38. Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills (ADP: Undrafted)
39. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: Undrafted)
40. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: Undrafted)