An Early Gander at Fantasy Football Quarterbacks

This is an early peek at fantasy football quarterbacks for the upcoming 2015 season.  From year to year the quarterback position is traditionally considered one of the more stable positions in fantasy football.  However there are factors including free agent movement, rookies entering the league and the relentless approach of father time that changes the landscape year after year.  In this early look at the field generals for the 2015 season; we examine players that may remain at the top, players that may be poised for a regression in performance, and players that may be in for a positive surprise season in 2015.

Fantasy Football Quarterbacks Early Gander

Generals at the Top:

Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

Last season Andrew Luck took the leap from being “a” top fantasy quarterback to being “the” top fantasy quarterback.  Luck set career marks in passing yards (4,761; third best in the NFL) and passing touchdowns with 40 scores (ranking first in the NFL).  With essentially all of his top weapons returning, the 25-year-old franchise quarterback is poised for another huge fantasy season.

Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

Following a tough 2013 season that was shortened due to injury, Rodgers roared back in 2014 with 4,381 passing yards, and 38 touchdowns.  Despite the 520 passing attempts last season, Rodgers only threw five interceptions on the season.  Additionally the Packers finally secured a true running game to complement Rodgers last season, and he proved that he is still an elite fantasy option.

Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints

Many fantasy owners are going to focus on the loss of Jimmy Graham as the reason to significantly fade Drew Brees in 2015.  I recommend fantasy owners keep in mind that despite Graham having a down season (by his normal elite standards), Brees still threw for the most yards in the NFL with 4,952 in 2014.  He continued to demonstrate a remarkable ability to spread the ball around while throwing for 33 touchdowns.  His increase in interceptions to 17 last season, and his increasing age may be cause for concern. However, as long as the play calls continue to ask Brees to sling the ball, he will continue to be an elite option for fantasy owners.

Players to Watch:

Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

Based on his final numbers for 2014 of 4,727 yards (fourth in the NFL) and 39 touchdowns (second in the NFL), fantasy owners may be able to expect Peyton Manning to have the same top production again in 2015. That said, Manning only averaged 237 yards per game over the last six weeks of the regular season in 2014 and managed just nine touchdowns over that same span.  Although John Fox is no longer the coach in Denver, there is no guarantee that Kubiak’s approach will allow Manning to yield better results over the course of the 2015 season.  Fantasy owners may let Manning be another owner’s investment in 2015, and the fact that he is 39 years old entering 2015 is hard to overlook.

Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton has often been selected as a top end quarterback in fantasy drafts since his breakout rookie season in 2011.  With the arrival of the young top target Kelvin Benjamin in 2014, many fantasy owners were excited for what Newton would accomplish last season.  While being hampered with injuries in 2014 Newton threw for 3,127 yards and 18 touchdowns, both career lows.  He was released to carry the ball more often in the latter part of 2014 which salvaged his season as he compiled over 500 yards on the ground for his fourth straight season, and added five rushing touchdowns.  Owners that are willing to invest early in Newton in 2015 may be rewarded. Still, they will likely have to gamble on his health, and hope to see a lot instances in which Newton calls his own number.

Potential Value Targets:

Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

In 2014, Ben Roethlisberger surprised fantasy owners with an enormous statistical season as he threw a career high 608 pass attempts which resulted in 4,952 yards (tied with Drew Brees for the most in the league) and 32 touchdowns.  Perhaps even more surprising is that Ben only threw nine interceptions and maintained a solid 8.1 yards per attempt average despite the high volume of throws.  Paired with an elite receiving option in Antonio Brown, and one of the league’s top running backs Le’Veon Bell, he is at the helm of one of the league’s top offenses.  He should not be discounted on draft day.

Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks

Although the 2014 season came to a crashing halt with an interception in the Super Bowl for Russell Wilson, he yet again had a solid fantasy season.  Wilson has been perhaps the most consistent fantasy producer at the quarterback position since entering the league in 2012.  Although his passing touchdowns dropped to 20 in 2014, both his pass attempts (452) and yards (3,475) increased to career highs, while he threw a career low seven interceptions.  Wilson also had a career season in regards to rushing performance with 849 yards and six touchdowns.  If Wilson can work out his contract situation with the Seahawks and continues to demonstrate his progression as a passer, he may achieve a top fantasy return in 2015.

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