Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks
I’ve always felt that quarterbacks were underrated in fantasy football. In most scoring formats, they score more points than in any other position (yes, including the vaunted running backs). However, most people tend to dismiss quarterbacks as unworthy of a high pick because they all contribute the same number of points. I feel like the point differences between a top and middle level quarterback and a top and middle level running back are roughly the same.
In a standard Yahoo fantasy league, I’m going to see the difference in fantasy points between the top-ranked QB and RB and the 10th-ranked QB and RB. The top-ranked quarterback was Peyton Manning, with 356 points, and the 10th was Aaron Brooks with 187 points, a gap of 169 points. The top-ranked running back was Shaun Alexander, with 194 points, and the 10th-ranked running back was Willis McGahee with just 127 points. The point margin here is only 67 points. Because leagues generally have 2 running backs and only 1 quarterback, I’ll compare Alexander to the 20th ranked running back Thomas Jones, who had 97 points. Between the first and the 20th, there is a gap of 97 points.
In addition to having a much lower point spread, runners accumulate far fewer total points. The best running back, Shaun Alexander, has only 7 points more than the 10th QB, Aaron Brooks. The only reason running backs rank much higher than quarterbacks is because, for no real reason, people tend to hire running backs early. If you don’t pick a running back early, you’ll be stuck with a Warrick Dunn or Brian Westbrook, who, while still good, are far worse than the best.
Most quarterbacks had a professional season last year, which can be attributed to the new pass interference rules. So keep in mind that next year, after defensive backs and umpires adjust to the new rules, QB numbers may drop overall.
2005 season quarterback standings:
1. Peyton Manning: He threw for 4,500 yards and 49 touchdowns last year, so he should be your best overall pick, not just the best quarterback. I don’t think he’s going to get 49 touchdowns again, as his previous career record was 29. But he should still get more than 40 touchdowns with similar numbers of yards.
2. Daunte Culpepper: This guy should be first round. His season attracted almost no media attention, but he had one of the best seasons for a quarterback, setting an all-time record for combined yards. He had 41 combined touchdowns and threw / rushed for 5,100 yards. In fact, in leagues that emphasize yards, he could be more valuable than Peyton Manning. Similar to Peyton Manning, his record season came out of nowhere; his previous career highs were 4,400 combined yards and 33 touchdowns. Personally, I think he will do well without Randy Moss (I think Daunte benefited Moss’s numbers more than Moss helped his). Nate Burleson is an excellent # 1 receiver, and expect something around 35 touchdowns and 4600 combined yards from him.
3. Donovan McNabb: TO and Westbrook have ended their resistances, and McNabb looks ready to add numbers similar to last season. Expect more than 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns.
4. Trent Green: He tends to get overlooked, but he’s been more than solid for several years despite not having wide receivers. If Eddie Kennison can repeat last year, and if Marc Boerigter, a touchdown machine, can play well after injury, it will be solid. Samie Parker could also play a big role in the Chiefs’ offense. I’m going to say he gets 4000 yards and 25 touchdowns.
5. Jake Delhomme: He’s a very good quarterback, and with Steve Smith, Stephen Davis, Deshaun Foster and the rest of the team returning from injury, he should have a chance to improve on his numbers from last year. Keary Colbert’s appearance last year was a pleasant surprise, and his continued development will divert Steve Smith’s attention and open the passing game. Expect 28+ touchdowns and 3,600 yards from him.
6. Drew Brees: His season literally came out of nowhere, but he had 3,150 yards and 29 touchdowns, and with Reche Caldwell and Keenan McCardell back from injury, he could do even better. Having Antonio Gates back from his stamina also helps his courage. He should get 30 touchdowns and 3300 yards.
7. Tom Brady: Tom Brady is a solid starter, typically scoring around 25 touchdowns and 3,700 yards every year. The Patriots lost David Patten this offseason, but with the way they distributed the ball, he shouldn’t be a factor. They got Ben Watson back and signed a slew of receivers, including Tim Dwight and David Terrell. Deion Branch and David Givens are a highly underrated top 2, expecting around 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns from Brady.
8. Marc Bulger: He has an incredibly talented group of wide receivers, led by Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. He’s also in an offensive system that is very happy with passing. I hear people say their big year is coming this year, but I don’t think so. I mean 4000 yards and 20 touchdowns.
9. Brett Favre: Not many people would do it except Favre so low, but the loss of the two starting guards (Wahle and Rivera) from the outside line last year is concerning. This team’s offensive success was due in large part to its star line, and Brett Favre certainly won’t have as much time in his pocket as he did last year. But it’s tough to bet against Favre, and I’m going to say he scores 3,000 yards and about 22 touchdowns.
10. Jake Plummer: He throws too many interceptions for people’s liking, but he gets the numbers. You may not want to place him in a league that heavily penalizes interceptions, but his last-year stats of 4100 yards and 27 touchdowns are attractive in every other league. Last year was by far a career year for him, so I’m going to say he gets 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.