2014 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings from Kevin Hanson
Updated: Monday, March 10, 2014
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard scoring (one point per 25 passing yards, four points per passing touchdown plus one point per 10 rushing/receiving yards and six points per rushing/receiving touchdown) and are for the 2014 season only.
It would be hard to discuss the quarterback position without beginning the discussion with Peyton Manning.
And before getting into that discussion, I should point out that these early rankings for the 2014 season are just that (early). In other words, there will numerous iterations of my rankings between now and when most fantasy owners start (and complete) their fantasy drafts.
That said, it never hurts to begin looking ahead even if it's early in the process. Plus, in a self-serving way, it prolongs the amount of time that I get to be "not wrong" with my rankings. After all, trying to predict the future can certainly be a humbling experience.
Manning, a five-time league MVP, broke the single-season records for both passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) previously held by Drew Brees and Tom Brady, respectively.
As dominant as Manning was with his record-setting full-season numbers, he was remarkably consistent and dominant on a weekly basis. Throwing a touchdown in every game this season, Manning had only one game (excluding the playoffs) with less than two touchdowns. In addition, he had more games (nine) with four or more touchdowns than he had with one to three scores.
Of course, his nine games with four-plus passing scores set a record, but several great quarterbacks barely had that many in their entire careers. As an example, Hall-of-Fame quarterback and currrent Broncos EVP John Elway has a total of 10 such games in his career and Manning had nearly that many in a season.
Even though there was some risk that Manning (neck) would not have been cleared medically, he has already had and passed his physical this month and all systems are go for 2014.
Surrounded by arguably the most talented group of skill-position players in the league, the Broncos had five different players reach double-digit touchdowns this season: Demaryius Thomas (14), Knowshon Moreno (13), Julius Thomas (12), Eric Decker (11) and Wes Welker (10). Both Decker and Moreno are set to become unrestricted free agents next month.
Foles to be Eagles quarterback for next 1,000 years
Like Manning, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tied the single-game mark of seven passing touchdowns last season by doing so in Week 9 against the Raiders.
Entering the season as the backup to Michael Vick, Foles did not throw his first pass until Week 4 against the Broncos. That said, coach Chip Kelly joked late last season that Foles will be the team's signal-caller for the next 1,000 years.
Also in similar fashion to Peyton, Foles threw lots of touchdowns to begin his season without throwing an interception. In fact, Foles did not throw his first interception until Week 14 against the Lions in a weekend that was full of inclement weather around the league. Foles had entered that game with a 19:0 TD-to-INT ratio.
Despite being tied with Cleveland's Jason Campbell in pass attempts (317), Foles finished the season with 27 touchdowns, eighth-most in the NFL, and only two interceptions.
While nobody will confuse Foles for Vick, he did have success running the ball last season. Among quarterbacks, Foles ranked 10th in rush attempts (56) and 12th in rushing yards (225) while also scoring three touchdowns.
The Eagles have re-signed Jeremy Maclin, who missed last season with an ACL tear, and Riley Cooper, who had a breakout season last year. Stop me if you heard this one before: DeSean Jackson is unhappy with his contract. In a glass-half-full view, that is partly due to the fact that he had the best season of his career last year.
Among the NFC East quarterbacks, it's certainly possible that Foles ends up as the top-scoring fantasy quarterback in 2014. Either way, he's a solid QB1 option going forward.
An up-and-down season for Brady
It was an up-and-down season for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. To be more accurate, it was a down-and-up-and-then-back-down season for Brady from a fantasy perspective.
To be fair, Brady began the season without five of the team's leading receivers from 2012.
There were various reasons for their absences (injury, free agency, jail, etc.), but the team's leading returning receiver that was active in Week 1 of 2013 was Julian Edelman, who had 235 yards in 2012. Edelman posted a career-best season in 2013 with 105 receptions for 1,056 yards, both of which were team highs in 2013, but he is scheduled to become a free agent.
[Note: Free agency begins on March 11th.]
Brady's production seemed to match the presence (or absence) of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
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Beginning with Gronk's third game back, Brady began a six-game stretch with five games of at least 344 passing yards that also included two games with more than 400 yards. The one exception during that span was a 296-yard outing on the road against the Panthers, who had the league's second-ranked overall defense.
In the seven games that Gronkowski was active, Brady averaged 315 passing yards and 1.86 touchdown passes compared to averages of 237.56 yards and 1.33 touchdowns in games he missed.
As Gronk recovers from his ACL injury, he once again enters an offseason of questions around his status and availability for the start of the season. Early reports indicate that there is a good chance that Gronk will be ready for the start of the season. With more concrete evidence of that as we (technically, they) approach training camp, I may move Brady up a couple of spots in my rankings.
Lots of upside for Cutler in Trestman's offense
The answer to the question of whether or not Jay Cutler was the long-term answer at quarterback for the Bears has been answered.
After completing the final year of his previous contract in 2013, Cutler and the Bears agreed to a seven-year deal in early January.
While Josh McCown played exceptionally well in Marc Trestman's system while Cutler was sidelined with injury, the duo combined to throw for 4,450 yards and 32 touchdowns. Only four teams had more passing yards and passing touchdowns than the Bears last season.
To go along with the well-established chemistry between Cutler and Brandon Marshall, owner of the team's single-season receiving yards record (2012), second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery had a breakout season. Not only did he lead the team in receiving (1,421), but he set the franchise's single-game receiving record and had a pair of 200-yard games this season.
In addition to such a talented duo on the outside, Matt Forte is one of the league's most complete backs and excels as a receiver out of the backfield. Forte finished third among running backs in receptions (74) and set a career high in both catches and receiving yards (594) in the process.
Despite being ranked as my "top" QB2 at No. 13, Cutler certainly has upside in his passer-friendly offense with such talented pass-catchers at his disposal and he's a prime example of why waiting on quarterback is such a logical strategy to utilize in fantasy drafts.
Before the official start of NFL free agency on Tuesday, here are my updated fantasy quarterback rankings for the 2014 season:
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
5. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
8. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
9. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
10. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
11. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
12. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
14. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
16. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
17. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
19. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
20. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
21. Eli Manning, New York Giants
22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
23. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
24. E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills
25. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
26. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
27. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
28. Geno Smith, New York Jets
29. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
30. Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
More early 2014 Fantasy Football rankings: