Fantasy Football: 2014 QB Rankings (Part 1)

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Tier: Runners

Cam Newton was Yahoo’s 3rd rated fantasy QB last year despite only throwing 24 TD passes. In leagues that give 4 points for passing TDs and 6 for all others, Cam’s 6 rushing TDs were the equivalent of 9 passing TDs which would put Cam at 33 passing touchdowns last year. I think Cam’s numbers will be worse this year as I’ll explain below, but my point is that QBs who run can make up for a lot of passing flaws. On the flip side, if those rushing yards were to drop off significantly you are left with a QB who doesn’t deserve to be your fantasy starter.

11.) Cam Newton, Panthers – This is lower than you will find Cam on most lists. Cam’s rushing ability has kept him around the top 5  fantasy QBs (585 yards, 6 TDs) the last few seasons, but his rushing numbers last year were the lowest output of his 3 year career and a huge drop from his 706 yards and 14 rushing TDs as a rookie. Cam’s rushing attempts have gone down every season as he tries to become a more traditional QB, but there hasn’t been the expected increase in his passing stats to go with it. His passing yardage dropped considerably for the 3rd season in a row (4051, 3869, 3379). Newton just hasn’t gotten any better as a passer since his breakout rookie season and it could be argued that he has regressed. When you consider the fact that the Panthers now have the worst starting WRs in the NFL (Avant, Cotchery, Benjamin), have lost their best O-lineman (Jordan Gross), and Cam is coming off of ankle surgery… It is hard from me to project any improvement from Cam this year. Cam’s passing numbers will probably take a hit with receivers that can’t get open and a line that can’t keep him clean and if he continues the trend of running less every year… I just don’t see him being a fantasy asset this season. I know I won’t have Cam in any leagues at his current price ($10, 6th round).

12.) Russell Wilson. Seahawks – I’m a Wisconsin football fan, so I’ve been pro-Wilson for longer than most, but fantasy football fails to reflect his real-life value more so than probably any offensive player in the league. As talented as Wilson is, the Seahawks threw the ball less than any team in the football last year (25.7 att/game). There just aren’t enough pass attempts for Wilson to have consistently solid fantasy lines. His rushing ability boosts his value (539 yards, 1 TD), but his fantasy ceiling is limited by the Seahawks run-heavy offense. Despite having less pass attempts per game than any other starting QB last year, Wilson still finished 8th overall due to his efficiency and running ability. With the return of Percy Harvin, another year of experience for Baldwin and Kearse, and the addition of deep threat Paul Richardson I think the Seahwaks may throw the ball a little more this year which could boost Wilson’s value close to the top 5. Or they could run the ball even more and Wilson will be barely startable in 12 team leagues. Too risky for my taste.

13.) Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – I drafted Kaepernick in quite a few leagues last year and after his 412 yard, 3 TD performance in week 1, I felt like a genius. Unfortunately it took him another 4 games to match his week one TD total and he threw 4 INTs over that time. Kaepernick has a cannon arm and great speed, but as tempting as his physical gifts are, the Niners have been in the bottom 3 in pass attempts since Harbaugh took over. It’s hard to put up solid fantasy stats when the Niners only throw the ball 26.4 times per game. His rushing (524 yards, 4 TDs) makes up for the lack of passing a bit, but Kaepernick isn’t an efficient enough passer (58%) to be a viable fantasy starter throwing less than 30 passes a game. Kaepernick had 4 games last year (25% of his season) with 0 passing TDs, despite his considerable upside that is just unacceptable for my starting QB. The Niners do have Kaepernick’s favorite target back at WR (Crabtree) which could increase his passing stats a little, but until he starts throwing 30+ passes per game he is just a high-upside backup QB on my squads.