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2016 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Quarterbacks

As the 2016 NFL season rapidly approaches, let's take a look at fantasy football's top quarterback options.

Blake Bortles will be hard-pressed to improve upon last year's top-5 fantasy finish
Blake Bortles will be hard-pressed to improve upon last year's top-5 fantasy finish
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't done so already, September 8th is surely a date to mark on your calendar.  The Denver Broncos will host the Carolina Panthers in a Super Bowl rematch to kick off the 2016 NFL season.  With regular season contests just over a month away, and preseason action just around the corner, it's crunch time for fantasy football owners.  Hopefully you've been putting in some research this summer to prepare for your upcoming championship run, but if not, there's still time to right the ship.  Without further ado, here is a list of my quarterback rankings for standard scoring leagues, broken up into separate sections with a bit of supplementary analysis.

Ranking

Player

Team

Bye

1 Cam Newton Panthers 7
2 Aaron Rodgers Packers 4
3 Russell Wilson Seahawks 5
4 Andrew Luck Colts 10
5 Drew Brees Saints 5
6 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 8
7 Eli Manning Giants 8
8 Tom Brady Patriots 9
9 Carson Palmer Cardinals 9
10 Blake Bortles Jaguars 5

Cam Newton leads the pack after a record-setting 2015 season that saw him throw 3837 yards with a clean 35:10 TD to INT ratio.  Last year's top fantasy QB also sprinkled in 636 yards and 10 TDs on the ground.  He might not surpass these impressive numbers, but he's the most sure-fire signal-caller in all of fantasy football and should be the first QB off the board in all fantasy drafts.  After a disappointing 2015 without Jordy Nelson on the field, Aaron Rodgers' Packers finished the year as the 25th passing offense in the league.  Even though Rodgers was still the 7th-best fantasy QB in standard leagues, a solid QB1, I'm expecting a serious bounce-back season in 2016.  Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has gotten noticeably better in each of his four NFL season, specifically as a pocket passer.  He's always been able to make plays with his feet, but Wilson has the looks of an elite thrower as well.  Fresh off a season where he posted 4024 passing yards with a stellar 34:8 TD to INT ratio, Wilson has a legitimate chance to challenge Cam or A-Rod for fantasy's best quarterback.

After an injury-riddled 2015, Andrew Luck received a monstrous contract and now he'll be expected to prove his worth.  If he can stay healthy, there is no reason for Luck not to return to mid-range QB1 territory at the very least.  The Colts addressed their offensive line in the draft and there are plenty of weapons at his disposal.  Get this: Drew Brees has averaged 5127 passing yards and 38 TDs in the past five seasons.  In 2016, Brees will have rookie WR Michael Thomas and newly-signed TE Coby Fleener to throw passes to.  He's a legit QB1 again.  Ben Roethlisberger could have easily made his way into the top five if it weren't for the year-long ban of Martavis Bryant, who has clearly elevated Big Ben's numbers when he plays.  When on the field in 2015, Roethlisberger led the NFL in per-game passing yardage.  He should finish as a mid-range QB1 this year as long as he can stay upright for the majority of the season, a common issue for the tough, but injury-prone, gunslinger.  Eli Manning has found tremendous success in Ben McAdoo's offensive system in recent years, and now his favorite coordinator will enter 2016 as the Giants' Head Coach.  Manning is coming off of what could be considered his best statistical season in the pros, accumulating 4436 passing yards and a career-high 35 TDs.  With ODB leading a slate of talented receiving weapons, I think Eli is in line for another QB1 fantasy seaason.

Tom Brady will be sitting out the first four contests of 2016 due to "Deflategate", but that shouldn't lower his fantasy value too much.  When he comes back in Week 5, with an extra month of rest and preparation, Brady should be an elite signal-caller in both real life and fake football.  If you grab Brady in the mid-to-late rounds, just make sure you draft a four-week replacement.  The No. 5 fantasy QB of 2015, Carson Palmer racked up 4671 yards and 35 TDs through the air with the help of a dynamic receiving corps.  I don't see him matching those numbers, but I'll still label him as a back-end QB1 for this season.  There is a lot of talk about Blake Bortles being overdrafted this offseason based on last year's garbage time stats.  His 4428 yards and 35 TDs do seem a bit lofty, but his 18 INTs can certainly be improved upon.  He's more than capable using his legs and has one of the game's best wideouts in Allen Robinson.  While I obviously don't recommend drafting him based on last year's inflated stats, I like Bortles as a borderline top-10 QB this season.

Ranking

Player

Team

Bye

11 Derek Carr Raiders 10
12 Philip Rivers Chargers 11
13 Kirk Cousins Redskins 9
14 Tyrod Taylor Bills 10
15 Tony Romo Cowboys 7
16 Jameis Winston Buccaneers 6
17 Ryan Tannehill Dolphins 8
18 Ryan Fitzpatrick Jets 11
19 Marcus Mariota Titans 13
20 Andy Dalton Bengals 9

Derrick Carr is coming off a great sophomore campaign, throwing for 3987 yards and 32 scores.  He's in a young, ascending offense and has a revamped defense behind him this season.  Kirk Cousins was fantasy's 8th-best QB in standard leagues last season after entering the year with much lower expectations.  With plenty of talented pass catchers and now the undoubted starter in Washington, he should be able to provide borderline QB1 numbers in 2016.  Tyrod Taylor was another quarterback who severely outperformed expectation last season.  He averaged over 19 points per contest last season, and was on pace to finish as the QB6 overall had he played the two games he missed, one spot ahead of Drew Brees.

Ryan Tannehill has had to deal with numerous coaches and coordinators during his young career in Miami.  Now with HC Adam Gase, who has managed to squeeze out impressive seasons from his QBs in the past, Tannehill should have more playcalling freedom than ever before.  With Landry, Parker, and Arian Foster catching passes, this could finally be the year we see him make the so-called leap.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has re-signed with the Jets after a summer-long standoff that worried fantasy owners and NYJ fans alike.  After a surprisingly efficient 2015 where he tossed 31 TDs to go along with his 3905 passing yards, he finished as the 11th-best fantasy QB.  I'm not sold on him repeating those stats this season, but he certainly has the receiving weapons to make him a useful streaming option in favorable matchups.  He's more of a QB2 on draft day.

Ranking

Player

Team

Bye

21 Matt Ryan Falcons 11
22 Jay Cutler Bears 9
23 Matthew Stafford Lions 11
24 Brock Osweiler Texans 9
25 Joe Flacco Ravens 8
26 Robert Griffin III Browns 13
27 Alex Smith Chiefs 5
28 Sam Bradford Eagles 4
29 Colin Kaepernick 49ers 8
30 Teddy Bridgewater Vikings 6
31 Mark Sanchez Broncos 11
32 Jared Goff Rams 8

While most of these quarterbacks won't be useful outside of 2-QB leagues, there are still a few sleepers than could work their way into fantasy relevance in 2016, specifically as streaming options or bye-week fill-ins.  Jay Cutler had a solid 2015 campaign with HC Adam Gase, but now he'll be without him in 2016.  Still, if Alshon Jeffery remains healthy and Kevin White can live up to his pre-draft hype, Cutler should have a physically dominant duo of wideouts to target.  With a new team, Brock Osweiler is a very intriguing fantasy option in 2016.  Although Houston figures to employ a run-based offense, the Texans defense is mediocre enough for Osweiler to be forced into playing catch-up, and having DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal doesn't hurt.  He could find his way into streaming territory later in the season.

Robert Griffin III is looking to revive his career in Cleveland under HC Hue Jackson.  I'm not doubting Griffin's athleticism, but he has to prove he can still play at an elite level (or even average) before he becomes worthy for fantasy consideration.  Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon could form a talented duo of wideouts if everything goes according to plan.  I still think Colin Kaepernick should be able to win the 49ers starting QB job and run Chip Kelly's offense much better than the underwhelming Blaine Gabbert could.  Jared Goff has perhaps the most depleted receiving corps in the NFL for his rookie season.  Tavon Austin will be the main target, but this Rams team is going to be run-heavy.

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Like what you read?  Drop any comments or questions below, and be sure to check out my in-depth divisional outlooks for the upcoming fantasy football season, where I discuss every relevant player from every NFL team.

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