As a tool for fantasy drafts, players can be grouped together in tiers of similar projected fantasy production. Tiers can help a drafter decide how to choose between players at different positions; if a given player is the last one left in a higher tier, an owner may choose to select him over another player at a position with several players of comparable value left on the board.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Last year’s epic campaign left a bigger gap between Manning and the No. 2 per-game scorer, Drew Brees, than there was between Brees and the No. 9 guy (Russell Wilson). So even with an almost certain regression, there’s no choice here other than Peyton.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Rodgers was either No. 1 or No. 2 in QB fantasy scoring every year since 2009 before an injury-marred 2013. Brees is nearly as metronomic in his consistency.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Another mini-tier for two players who have better chances than you may think of claiming this year’s top spot. All the Lions did in the offseason was hand Stafford more weapons, in the form of wide receiver Golden Tate and rookie tight end Eric Ebron, the team’s top draft pick. Luck gets Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen back from injury, has a sketchy defense, and he may be a better NFL runner than Trent Richardson.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Yup, quarterback is deeeeeeeeeeeep this year. All these guys should be good for QB1-quality numbers, bringing that total to 14. Cutler, Griffin, Ryan and Romo all have elite weapons at their disposal, plus distinctly non-elite defenses that should keep ’em throwing. Foles will surely toss more than the two interceptions he had in 13 games last season, but are we so sure his touchdowns (27) will also regress, given that he’ll be in Year 2 of Chip Kelly’s offense? Newton, Kaepernick and Wilson can all run to make up many of the points they might lose through the air. Brady’s stock is closely tied to Rob Gronkowski’s health, but he should be dependable at the least.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Even with the aforementioned depth, it would not be a total shock to see any of these players sneak into the QB1 clubhouse this season. Coach Mike McCoy appeared to revitalize Rivers in 2013, while new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo looks to do the same for Manning. The Steelers’ move to more of a hurry-up offense in the second half of 2013 worked wonders for Roethlisberger’s statistics. Dalton still has A.J. Green to target, and Palmer has one of the league’s better wideout duos in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
These players are acceptable starters — if you are in a two-quarterback league. And misplayed your draft. In fairness, they are all competent quarterbacks who can keep your fantasy team afloat if you get into dire straits, they just have very limited upsides.
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
Geno Smith, New York Jets
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
These guys are only worth rostering in the deepest of leagues. Manuel does possess some intrigue if Sammy Watkins is a star from Day 1. Locker and Smith have big arms, speedy legs and very little consistency. Fitzpatrick has a career record of 27-49-1 in ‘real’ games he has started; don’t let him do that to you in your fantasy games.