Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Things could get interesting at the quarterback position for fantasy football players in 2014. Peyton Manning is assumed to be at the top (or near it) following his record 2013 season, while the likes of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers should be right there with him along the top line once again.
However, major questions marks surround guys like Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Tom Brady and others. Some guys had down years in 2013, while others have serious red flags that could prevent fantasy owners from using them as their QB1 in 2014.
To get a closer look at this year’s likely top-10, let’s break them down in our quarterback rankings:
1. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
Peyton Manning put up record numbers in touchdowns and yardage in 2013, but that’s not happening again. However, even with added age and a loss of some familiar weapons, Manning could certainly still come close.
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
Every year people want to take Brees down a peg or two, yet he just keeps killing it. With Sean Payton back in 2013, he put up a record fourth 5,000+ yard season, while hitting at least 39 touchdowns for the third year in a row. It should be business as usual in 2014 with Kenny Stills emerging on the outside.
3. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
A-Rod spent half of 2013 on the sidelines with a collarbone injury, but he wasn’t exactly elite on a consistent basis even when healthy. Green Bay’s love for a more balanced offense was a major contributing factor, as well as numerous injuries on the offensive line and in Rodgers’ receiving corps. With better health in 2014, the green and gold should be better, and Rodgers should once again find himself somewhere in the top three at his position.
4. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Newton has yet to finish a pro season outside of the top-four, so why stop now? He seemed to finally put it all together in 2013, although 2014 could be troublesome with no real proven weapons at his disposal other than Greg Olsen at tight end. Seriously, Jerricho Cotchery? Even if the Panthers draft new talent at receiver, it’s still going to be a major red flag for Newton owners. He’s scheduled to miss four months while recovering and rehabbing from ankle surgery. He should be ready to roll week 1, but camaraderie is again a concern.
5. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Stafford was expected to rebound from a poor 2012 showing in the touchdown department, and he did exactly that, making the jump from 20 scores through the air to 29. He still needs some minor work on his mechanics, and a more balanced approach going forward (stemming from 2013) should assist him greatly. You can’t bet against a guy who has a rocket arm and gets to throw to Calvin Johnson. It’s basically illegal.
6. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)
Luck was inexplicably stuck playing second fiddle to an ineffective power running game in Indy last year, and then unleashed to rescue his team late in games. He still made magic happen when it was needed, though, dazzling with both his arm and legs. He got off to a slow start and had some rough games because of game planning that was out of his control. But by season’s end he still found a way to be the #5 rated passer. Just imagine what he can do in his third season with Reggie Wayne back and the offense actually catering to his strengths (hopefully).
7. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Tom wasn’t so terrific in 2013, and it had everything to do with his surroundings. He was working with over 70% new weapons and without Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez. To make matters worse, he spent half the year without Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen and had to wade through the waters of offensive mediocrity with a bunch of spares. Despite working his way through hell on earth, Brady was still the 11th best fantasy quarterback. He should easily find his way back inside the top-10 in 2014.
8. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
Ryan dealt with major injuries and poor pass protection across the board in a nightmare 2013 season; one which even saw Atlanta’s normally solid rushing attack struggle. The Falcons dropped to 4-12 and Ryan was not the safe weekly performer we grew to know and love. Still, despite playing half the year without Julio Jones and a 50% Roddy White, he managed to be one of those 13 300+ fantasy point passers. With his team healthier in 2014, he should be back among the top-10.
9. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
It’s all about the Matt McCoy’s. Rivers went from a regressing, aging turnover machine the prior couple of seasons to an elite, accurate fantasy asset. We all doubted it while he was on his early season tear, but Rivers buckled down and ended 2013 as the fourth best fantasy quarterback. Thanks to some underrated weapons, great coaching and a system that actually suits him, that’s not going away anytime soon.
10. Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins)
Call me crazy, but I’m not going to be the guy that bets against RG3. Mike Shanahan was a dark cloud hanging over him that is now gone, and he’ll also shed that knee brace. Provided he can simply stay healthy, RG3 should make good use of new weapons DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, as well as holdovers, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed. And that’s just taking into account the damage he can do with his arm.
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Rankings visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.