With the 2015 NFL season fast approaching, it’s time to get an early jump on the competition in your fantasy football leagues. We decided to take an early look at the top players at each position to give you an edge in your season-long leagues and Week 1 of your daily fantasy sports contests.
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Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, but that isn’t necessarily the case in fantasy football. QBs are often overlooked in seasonal drafts, and while the top players like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers will likely be taken early, many good options will drop to the middle rounds. Luck was a middle-round selection in most season-long drafts last year and turned out to be the highest-scoring fantasy player in the league. The point is, don’t overpay if you have to.
Will there be another Andrew Luck in 2015? We take a look at the Top 10 QBs going into the season.
Top 10 Quarterbacks for 2015
1. Andrew Luck (IND)
Luck has been a top 10 QB in each of his three seasons. He finished last year as the top fantasy QB and he is still in the peak of his career (if no pre-peak).
As good as Luck was last year, it is possible he may be even better this year. In addition to his natural growth as a player, he will also be a part of a much better offense this year. The addition of Frank Gore should give the Colts a legitimate running game, something they lacked last year. And the Colts also added Andre Johnson, Duron Carter and Philip Dorsett, giving Luck a ton of weapons. The sky is the limit for him.
2. Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Rodgers is about as consistent as they come. Since 2008, he has finished as either the best or second-best fantasy QB every year except one (2013, he missed time due a broken collarbone).
He has the skill and he has the weapons. And there is no reason to expect any major regression this year. He isn’t as exciting as Luck, but you know exactly what you are getting with Rodgers. And that has value.
3. Peyton Manning (DEN)
Unlike Rodgers, Manning carries some risk. We saw Manning fade big time down the stretch last season and the Broncos offense became more and more run-heavy, which hurt Manning’s fantasy production.
CJ Anderson isn’t going away and Gary Kubiak is known for balanced offenses. So we aren’t getting the 50+ TD Manning from 2013. But it’s not all bad news. An improved offense line should help Manning immensely, as he is pretty much immobile at this age. And he still has some excellent weapons in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
4. Russell Wilson (SEA)
Wilson has improved, from a fantasy perspective, in each of his three seasons, finishing a career-best 5th among QBs last season. And now he has Jimmy Graham to throw to, so you can understand the excitement surrounding him.
Wilson attempted more passes than ever last season and the addition of Graham suggests a continued shift away from the run-heavy offense of the last few seasons. So the upside is pretty big here.
5. Matt Ryan (ATL)
Ryan didn’t get any new weapons this offseason, but he did get a new coordinator. And that coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, is generally a pass-heavy guy.
Ryan has consistently been in that second-tier of quarterbacks, right outside the elite. Perhaps the biggest thing keeping him from putting up that elite production has been a poor offensive-line. Atlanta has tried to fix it through both the draft and free agency, to limited success. Injuries ripped their line apart last year, so there is some reason to believe it will be better this year. A healthy Joe Hawley, a year of experience for Jake Matthews and the addition of Chris Chester should help Ryan (and the Falcons) in a big way.
They added Tevin Coleman to the backfield, but it is hard to see them having an effective running game. Ryan has attempted 600+ passes in each of the last three seasons, and I am expecting him to reach that mark again this year.
6. Cam Newton (CAR)
Newton is coming off the worst season of his career. Prior to last year he had finished 6th, 4th and 4th among QBs going back to his rookie season. He just turned 26 and he enters this year healthy (something he couldn’t say last year).
The biggest knock on Newton is a lack of weapons. Kelvin Benjamin’s rookie season had its moments, but there was also some red flags. The Panthers did add Jarret Boykin and Devin Funchess this year, which might help Newton.
The biggest reason to be optimistic about Newton is his rushing yards. The injuries really hurt him in that department last season, so improved health could push him back towards the numbers we saw earlier in his career which made him an extremely valuable fantasy commodity.
7. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Roethlisberger finished as the 6th-best QB last season, a career-best. With Antonio Brown as his main target and a terrific pass-catching running back in Le’veon Bell, Roethlisberger has the weapons needed to be a great fantasy QB.
The terrible defense, leading to a lot of shootouts, also helps.
8. Tony Romo (DAL)
Romo was a QB1 last season, despite DeMarco Murray’s presence. The Cowboys didn’t do much to replace Murray, so you have to expect a shift towards more passing this year. Romo has shown he can handle that.
He has an elite WR (Dez Bryant) and an elite TE (Jason Witten) to throw to. He had 34 TDs last year and I think he can improve on that total this year.
9. Eli Manning (NYG)
Manning got off to a slow start last season, but finished the year on a tear (thanks to the emergence of Odell Beckham, Jr.). Another year in Ben McAdoo’s system, a full year from OBJ and (hopefully) the return of Victor Cruz means that Manning could be in a position to improve on last year’s performance.
If that happens, he could finish as a top 5 QB. Even if it doesn’t, he will likely be in the top 10 come season’s end.
10. Drew Brees (NO)
Brees lost a lot of weapons this offseason (Graham, Kenny Stills, Pierre Thomas). He will be 36 when the season starts, so there is some legitimate concern that we could see the Saints offense shift towards a more balanced approach. The trade of Graham certainly suggests as much.
If that is the case, Brees obviously takes a huge hit. But he is still talented and there is hope for this offense. He is no longer an elite QB, but he is a fantasy starter.