The difference between fantasy football champions and fantasy football playoff teams is often related to the quarterback position. While premium receivers, tight ends, and running backs are harder to come by, few teams excel without having a quarterback that is among the league leaders. Negative points associated with interceptions can ruin a season in a single weekend. Here is a list of the Top 20 quarterback prospects for the 2016 season.
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay; Rodgers is one of a handful of players that can make the claim of being the best player in the game. Unlike the other quarterbacks, Rodgers finds himself in the best situation for success in Green Bay. He’s as sure a bet as their is in fantasy to be a top level performer.
Andrew Luck Indianapolis; Luck’s injury issues aside he’s the quarterback with the highest upside. WIth a deep and talented group of receivers and a recently retooled offensive line, Luck could very easily revert to his 2014 form. He does need to cut down on turnovers - the negative points will frustrate owners all season - but Luck is too good to not be a top 3 quarterback.
Cam Newton Carolina; Newton is an obvious dual threat and the consistent rushing yards he gets, along with the likelihood of double digit rushing touchdowns moves him past Brees, Wilson, and the other second tier quarterbacks. Even better for Newton owners is the possibility that Carolina will need to score more points after losing Josh Norman. Even of the Panther’s pass only a few extra times a game that yardage should add some significant points to Newton’s totals each week.
Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh; Roethlisberger, like Rodgers, is a veteran quarterback on a talented team that appears relatively stable. Unlike Rodgers, Roethlisberger, has a history of injury issues. Still, with Le'veon Bell and ANtonio Brown the Steelers will score points and Roethlisberger will rack up yards and touchdown passes.
Drew Brees New Orleans; Brees is still among the best players in the league but not only is he getting older, his team is getting worse. Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are gone and the Saints might not have the receiver depth that they have enjoyed in the past. The team will be pretty bad though so Brees should still rack up yardage and touchdowns. It just seems more likely that the higher ranked players will outscore him.
Blake Bortles Jacksonville; Bortles arrived on the fantasy scene last year and should continue his rise in 2016. With a solid tandem of receivers, and a defense that still has some holes, Bortles is another safe bet to put up big numbers. His ability to gain yards, and touchdowns, on the ground only enhances his value.
Russell Wilson Seattle; Speaking of gaining yards and scoring on the ground, Russell WIlson does that better than anyone right now. With no Marshawn Lynch for defense to focus on Wilson could find it harder to move the ball through the air, but he should be able to make up some of that difference on the ground. Still, Seattle is a good team in a poor division and their defense will frequently keep them from having to score in droves, which is why Bortles edges him just so slightly in these rankings.
Carson Palmer Arizona; Palmer should continue to put up huge numbers through the air. Injuries and age are a concern, though not a huge one, but Palmer has too much going for him in Bruce Arians’ offense to not be expected to have a huge year.
Derek Carr Oakland; Carr is a particularly difficult player to rank. At times in 2016 he looked elite and at other times he looked, simply, very good. Oakland has the talent, and should be better in 2016, so Carr can be expected to have a very good year. The division Oakland plays in is problematic though. I would expect Carr to regress slightly in terms of numbers, but that’s still enough to make him a starter in any fantasy league.
Tom Brady New England; Brady would be a top 5 player if he wasn’t suspended for 4 games. Since he is he’s coming in at tenth among quarterbacks. He’ll need to be taken earlier than people will want to take him, and backed up with a strong marginal fantasy quarterback for the first four games but I wouldn’t mind having a motivated Tom Brady leading my team late in the season.
Tony Romo Dallas; Romo has his injury history and an extremely talented team around him. He has a high upside but I don’t trust him to stay healthy.
Philip Rivers San Diego; Rivers always seems to put together a good to great season. THere are far better options but should you find yourself missing out on a top level quarterback, loading up on other positions and settling for Rivers in a 12-14 team league is a solid option.
Jameis Winston Tampa Bay; Winston should have a big year. Tampa fired Lovie SMith simply because they didn’t want WInston to be without Dirk Koetter. One would think Koetter has a plan to help WInston continue to grow and put up big numbers.
Kirk Cousins Washington; Cousins had a great 2015 but his 2016 could be dependent on a number of factors. He didn’t show the consistency last season to justify being in the top 12 yet, although he does have a high upside.
Eli Manning New York Giants; Manning has Odell Beckham Jr. He also has a new coach and a history of inconsistent seasons. Eli is a better NFL quarterback than he is a fantasy quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota; The Vikings added some talent at receiver. Bridgewater could have a breakout season but a more conservative offensive approach seems likely.
Brock Osweiler Houston; Osweiler crumpled at the end of 2015. DeAndre Hopkins is a star and Bill O'Brien is a great offensive coach but there are too many questions surrounding Osweiler, as opposed to the players ranked above him.
Andy Dalton Cincinnati; Dalton is solid, if unspectacular. He could easily be as high as 10 on this list but i can’t shake the feeling that Dalton has an upside around the 8-10th best quarterback in any given year.
Ryan Tannehill Miami; If Tannehill doesn’t perform under Adam Gase, he’s not going to perform.