These top five fantasy football quarterbacks will lead you to the money.
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Top Five Fantasy Football Quarterbacks
5 - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, $13,800
I’ve already listed Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett in the top five at their respective positions, and even alluded to Alshon Jeffrey being a tough cut. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the man throwing them the ball projects to hang a big number. Football Outsiders ranked the Bills second against the pass last year, but oh what a difference a year makes. The Bills 2013 defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, has left to take head coaching duties with the Cleveland Browns, and he’s been replaced by Jim Scwhartz. Scwhartz served as the head coach of the Lions last year, and his club ranked 20th in pass defense by Football Outsiders. He’ll be working with different personnel in Buffalo than he did in Detroit, but that personnel lacks two major pieces from the high ranking pass defense of 2013. Both Jairus Byrd and Kiko Alonso won’t be playing for the Bills on Sunday, Byrd because he’s a member of the Saints, and Alonso because he’s hurt. Cutler should have little trouble picking apart the Bills with his uber-talented pass catching options and Marc Trestman calling the shots.
4 - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, $11,400
I love Palmer this week. His price point seems almost too good to be true. He can really pick apart mediocre or worse pass defenses. Palmer played eight games against pass defenses that Football Outsiders ranked 15th or worse, and he completed 66.4% of his passes for 2,209 yards (276.13 yards-per-game) and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions. The Chargers are a bad pass defense, and in fact, a potentially dreadful one. Eric Weddle is an elite talent at safety, but their cornerbacks are awful. The Bolts ranked 31 in pass defense last year, and as I stated in Larry Fitzgerald’s write-up earlier in the week, the addition of Brandon Flowers isn’t going to help matters. With Fitz and Michael Floyd torching the cornerbacks, that will leave room for the elusive and talented pass catching running back Andre Ellington to work over the other helpless Chargers defenders in the passing game. Over 300 yards passing and multiple passing touchdowns are a very attainable effort for Palmer.
3 - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers, $12,850
Like Palmer, Kaepernick will be throwing to two players I featured in the top five of their position write-ups (Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis). Those two talented pass catchers will be joined in torching the Cowboys secondary by Anquan Boldin, who earned the second highest pass grade (Pro Football Focuses grade for receiving only), and trade acquisition Stevie Johnson. The Cowboys secondary is without their best cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, due to suspension, and that will stress an already terrible secondary beyond their breaking point. When Kaepernick isn’t embarrassing the Cowboys through the air, he’s capable of doing so on the ground. The athletic 49ers’ quarterback posted the fourth most rushing yards of any quarterback in 2013 rushing for over 500 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll be the quarterback I roster the most frequently in week one, just a bit more often than Palmer, and a cheap pairing of the two NFC West foes is a combination I’ll be using a ton.
2 - Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, $16,650
Coming off a historic campaign, Manning isn’t showing his age. Eric Decker left for greener pastures, well, Jets green pastures, and Wes Welker is suspended. That won’t slow down Manning too much. He still has supremely talented options in Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders to air it out to. The Broncos are playing in the game with the highest betting total at 55.5 points, and as 7.5 point favorites according to SBRForum that leaves them projected for more than four touchdowns worth of scoring. That’s a lot of points available for The Sheriff to rack up, but at his cost, the juice might not be worth the squeeze. Manning will make it on a few of my squads, but I’ll be fading him pretty heavily in favor of some of the other, cheaper, high upside options such as Kaepernick and Palmer.
1 - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, $15,900
If I am going to spend heavily on a quarterback, I’d rather do so on Brees than Manning. The Falcons pass defense ranked dead last in 2013. Dead. Last. They added depth to their secondary, but no elite impact talent that can be expected to move the needle a ton. Brees is a stud quarterback, he ranked second to Manning last year in Pro Football Focus’ pass rating stat, and he has ranked in the top five every year the stat has been archived. That stat basically backs up the traditional stats that paint the picture of Brees as an elite passer. The 35-year old quarterback gets to air it out at a prolific rate every year, and he hasn’t ranked outside the top five in pass attempts since ranking 10th back in 2009. That kind of volume leads to great things, and great things are in order for Brees in week one.
Value Pick: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, $7,500
When ranking defenses I noted that Matt Schaub wasn’t the type of quarterback who could exploit the Jets secondary issues when the Raiders run offense inevitably fails. Perhaps Carr isn’t either, but his arm strength makes him a hell of a lot better candidate to pick the Jets secondary apart. Carr put up video game numbers in a pass happy Fresno State offense, but the NFL is a far cry from passing in the Mountain West Conference. Rex Ryan is a brilliant defensive coach, and he’s almost certainly got some tricks up his sleeves. The New York Daily News did a thorough job of highlighting the massive problems in the Jets secondary. Between injuries and the odd saga of Dimitri Patterson, the Jets are left with Darrin Walls and converted safety Antonio Allen starting. Walls posted a negative coverage rating last year according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 66th out of 110 cornerbacks that played 25% of their team’s snaps. As for Allen, things are even more bleak. He had the eighth worst coverage rating of 86 safeties that played 25% of his team’s snaps, and now he’s being asked to play cornerback? Yeesh. Carr isn’t a player I’d use outside of tournaments, but he warrants tournament consideration without a doubt.
Discover top plays at every position below:
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Top Five Fantasy Football Quarterbacks
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