2015 Fantasy Football: Quarterback Rankings

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11. Tom Brady. Patriots – If not for a potential four-game suspension Brady would be higher on this list, but missing 25% of the season is a big deal. You can’t afford to start the season 0-4, so if you draft Brady you are forced to draft another starting caliber QB for the first four weeks. If his suspension is dropped to 1-2 games, then bump him up 2-3 spots on the list. He’s a master at his craft right now and with the Pats D losing a ton of talent, Brady may be forced to throw way more passes this season.

12. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings – I’ve been high on Bridgewater since before the 2014 draft and was impressed with how he finished the season. Despite playing with a beat up O-line and without a running game, Bridgewater was a top ten fantasy QB over the last three weeks of the season. He showed steady progression throughout his rookie year and with the additions of All-World RB Adrian Peterson, deep-threat WR Mike Wallace, a healthy O-line, and a healthy Kyle Rudolph… Bridgewater has more than enough weapons to be a top-10 fantasy QB over the course of a full season. You may think this is too high of a ranking, but Bridgewater finished last year with the 3rd best competition percentage (64.4%) and 7th best passer rating (85.2) ever for a rookie. His situation is much more promising this season and this is the last year fantasy owners will be able to get Bridgewater on the cheap.

13. Philip Rivers, Chargers – He was one of the surprises of the first half, but Rivers’ age caught up to him late in the year with a 6 TD / 8 INT ratio over the final quarter of the season. After multiple injuries to the Chargers RBs opposing teams focused on Rivers which hurt his production. With rookie Melvin Gordon coming out of the backfield in 2015 Rivers shouldn’t see anymore 8-man fronts and could have one more season in the sun before his inevitable decline.

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14. Jay Cutler, Bears – As a Bears fan I’m obligated to include Cutler, but I actually do think this will be a bounce back fantasy year for the much maligned QB. Cutler led all NFL QBs in turnovers last season, but still finished as the 14th ranked fantasy QB on the back of 3,812 yards and 28 TD passes. Injuries to the receiving & O-line cores, a dysfunctional offensive scheme, and an overconfidence in his right arm all contributed to possibly the worst season of Cutler’s career.

With a new coaching staff in Chicago, an offense that should rely more on short passes than the deep throws that consistently get Cutler in trouble, and a focus on the running game should all contribute to significantly cutting down Cutler’s turnovers. He will most likely have less pass attempts as well, but should still be a threat in the red zone where the Bears have four 6’3+ options. I’m not going into any leagues with Cutler as my starting QB, but he is one of my primary targets for a high-upside backup.

15. Matthew Stafford, Lions – Jay Cutler led the NFL in turnovers last season and still finished ranked ahead of Stafford in fantasy leagues. It might seem like Stafford has been good lately, but 2011 was the only season in his six year career that he was elite (41 TDs | 16 INTs). He’s had a few slightly above-average seasons since then, but in each of the last three years Stafford has had a crap-the-bed game during the fantasy playoffs.

Stafford has the talent to be a top 5 QB, but he’s been in the league for six years now and hasn’t been in the top 5 since 2011. He seems to be getting worse as his career goes on. Stafford has elite weapons around him and is very talented, but has a handful of really bad games every season that hurt his value. He is still tempting because of Calvin Johnson and the talent that made him a #1 overall pick in 2009. It’s even possible he has another 41 TD / 16 INT season in him, but more likely he continues to be just mediocre. Plus his consistent late season collapses make it almost essential to find another QB during the fantasy playoffs.

16. Cam Newton, Panthers – Newton finished the 2014 season as the 16th best fantasy QB. For some reason Yahoo (and most other sites) thinks Newton will be a top ten QB in 2015. The statistical trends say otherwise. Newton hasn’t been a prolific passer since his rookie year when he had 4,051 passing yards. It’s been downhill since then with last season being the worst year of Newton’s career for passing yards (3,127), rushing yards (539) and rushing TDs (5).

The Panthers didn’t add anyone one of note in the offseason, just replaced below average players with other below average players, so Newton is again stuck with a bad offensive line, awful receiving core, and generic play-calling. I don’t see any reason to expect Newton to finish any higher than the 16th overall QB spot he finished in last season.

17. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – In the six games that Palmer started last season he had an 11 TD /3 INT ratio and averaged 271 passing yards per game. Cardinals HC Bruce Arians loves to air it out, Palmer has the arm to do it, and the Cards have dangerous deep threats like Michael Floyd and John Brown. Reports from Cards OTAs have Palmer looking sharp and 2nd year player John Brown all but un-coverable.  The Cards still lack a respectable running game which could lead to 30+ passes per game from Palmer and plenty of deep balls. With a suspect O-line, it’s a legitimate risk that Palmer gets hurt again, otherwise he’d be ranked a few spots higher. Good value for a dollar or two and one of the better backups available.