Fantasy Football 2009 Quarterback Position

PFC Writer Dan Johns

Well it’s that time of year again.  Football season is looming in the air.  Most obsessed fantasy players like myself, tend to wait until late August to conduct the “infamous” live drafts.  Reason being, it’s good to wait and see how the preseason plays out.  Those that have drafts in late June or early July are setting themselves up to fail if their star quarterback or key running back goes down to an injury in the middle of the preseason.  However, it’s never too early to start scouting and doing your homework during the long hot summer months.

So with that in mind, here is a list of the top quarter backs to go after in your fantasy football league:

1.  Drew Brees             NO

Out of the top five quarterbacks to draft, he is the safest one to pick.  The reason for Brees being the least risk out of all the quarterbacks is his recent track record.  He comes from a pass happy offense with an offensive-minded head coach.  The Saints air it out early and often, as indicated by Brees narrowly missing Dan Marino’s NFL single season passing record by only 15 yards last year.  Brees has a handful of targets to throw to including their running back Reggie Bush (which is always a commodity when the running backs can catch passes as well), newly acquired tight end from last year Jeremy Shockey and star wide receiver Marques Colston who battled injuries all last season (even though Brees still had a career year) will be fully recovered from his surgery and is ready to go in ’09.  Brees should be the first QB taken off the board to lead your team to fantasy stardom.

2.   Tom Brady NE

The “Wonder Man” Tom Brady is back and hopefully fully healed from a devastating torn ligament injury in Week-1 last year that put him on the shelf the entire year.  Don’t forget that when healthy Brady is one of if not the best quarterback in the NFL.  He is only a few years removed from his ridiculous 2007 campaign in which he had a 50-8 ratio in touchdowns to interceptions.  Many of those TD’s came on the long ball to star receiver Randy Moss.  Brady will definitely be one to keep an eye on during the preseason to see how he holds up, which is why it’s always better to have your fantasy drafts in late August.  Remember the Phillip Rivers came off a similar ACL injury in 2007 and went on to have his best year as a pro in 2008.  So fate should be on Brady’s side to once again go back to tearing up defenses all year.

3.   Peyton Manning                  IND

Any football fan should already know all the positives when it comes to Peyton Manning aka the best field general in the game today (maybe even ever).  However, heading into 2009 Manning may face the most negatives than any other time in his career.  It started with the releasing and possible retirement of his long-time favorite weapon WR Marvin Harrison.  It escalated when head coach Tony Dungy retired and then defensive coordinator and o-line coach Tom Moore and Howard Mudd both retired as well.  Harrison, Moore and Mudd are all Manning has been around since joining the Colts in ’98.  On top of it all he is coming off a sub-Manning year in 2008 (by his standards)/  After a very slow start he rounded into a more dominate type of year as it progressed but even still Peyton should and will be a top 3 quarterback in 2009.  He still has targets Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez at his disposal, not to mention two young and talented running backs added to the mix.  

4.   Phillip Rivers                       SD

Rivers is coming off a 34 touchdown career high year in ’08.  There’s no reason why he can’t at least come close to that number in ‘09 (realistically, he will end up more between 25-30 touchdowns).  With the injuries to star LaDainian Tomlinson last year, the Chargers had to throw a lot more than they normally like to do.  So Rivers numbers got inflated a bit but with a healthy LT and tight end Antonio Gates returning back to form this year, Rivers should still be a covetented top-5 pick.  It doesn’t hurt to get to pass against Denver and Kansas City twice a year either.  

5.   Aaron Rodgers                   GB

Rodgers went from a sleeper last year to my top-5 quarterback to select this year.  He has the ability and targets on offense to help Green Bay fans start to forget Brett Favre (at least a little).  His main target Greg Jennings is in line for a big, new contract and Donald Driver gives them a dependable veteran presence that has experience with Favre and now Rodgers.  Out of the other top 4 ranked quarterbacks above him, Rodgers should finish with the most rushing touchdowns out of the bunch, giving him a little extra fantasy value.

6.   Tony Romo                        DAL

Romo will be without star receiver Terrell Owens for the first time and will have to build a rapport with newly acquired WR Roy Williams from Detroit in the middle of last year.  Williams will take over as the Cowboys only big name target at WR, but a familiar face in tight end Jason Witten (apparently Romo’s favorite person on the team) will always be an asset in the passing game.  Romo, who is known to pass a ton, possibly will be asked to throw a lot less this year which will be a major draw back here..  With loosing T.O. to Buffalo and the crowded three-headed backfield running back by committee tandem now in Big D, Dallas may turn into a run-first team.  However, don’t shy away from Romo as he’s fantasy gold for most of the year; just be weary down the stretch where he tends to fail in December.

7.   Kurt Warner                       ARZ

Warner’s resurrected his career to say the least last year after beating out fellow QB Matt Leinart in ’08.  Arizona went on to be the NFC’s Super Bowl team before loosing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  None-the-less when you have WR targets like Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and now Steve Breaston, you could put almost anybody back there behind center and throw touchdowns to guys like these.  But Warner the well weathered veteran knows how to hit his targets in stride, which is why he is sure to throw a lot more touchdowns again this year at age 38.  Don’t expect a repeat of last year but if he’s on the board and you need a quarter back after the top 5, then pull the trigger.

8.   Matt Ryan                          ATL

The 2008 Offensive Rookie of the Year – Matt Ryan.  What a story book season if there ever was one.  Former face of the franchise Mick Vick goes to jail, their head coach Rick Petrino deserts the franchise out of nowhere, DeAngelo Hall is ran out of town and jumps ship as the Atlanta franchise seemingly hits rock-bottom left and deserted in disarray.  Then comes a glimmer of hope as they draft Matt Ryan to be the new face of the franchise; and all he does is win the ’08 Rookie of the Year and not to mention throwing a long touchdown on his very first NFL attempted pass!  Now the upstart Falcons have hope and Matt Ryan has turned himself into a top-10 pick.  Roddy White and newly acquired hall of fame tight end Tony Gonzalez are his main targets under the dome.  Ryan should emerge to far better his solid rookie stats from last year.

9.   Donovan McNabb             PHI

McNabb finally has some decent targets around him now.  DeSean Jackson needs to mature but can still be a dangerous weapon in the passing game.  Brad Celek an unknown tight end has emerged out of no where and Brian Westbrook is always a nice target to dump the ball off too as well.  If McNabb can only shake off the injury curse, probably not likely, but what is likely is at least another 20 touchdown performance and of course some rushing yards and touchdowns as well.

10.   Jay Cutler             CHI

Cutler is headed to a new team with fewer options to throw to then he had in Denver .  However, you need to only temper your expectations with him, not write him off all together.  Cutler still has RB Matt Forte to open up the coverage’s for him and keep defense’s honest.  Devin Hester has big play ability on the deep ball and tight end Greg Olsen has breakout season all over him.  Cutler should throw a lot less in the windy city than he did in Denver , but Cutler will still be an attractive pick for a QB with a strong cannon for an arm.

11.   Carson Palmer                  CIN

Palmer is heading into the new year almost as a sleeper.  After an awful year last year which was derailed by injuries and the bad play of Chad Ochocinco, many fantasy fans are ready to call off on Palmer.  It wasn’t long ago that he was highly touted as a top-5 quarterback in this league.  You may not feel comfortable with him as your number 1 starter, but he would fit nicely as a great back up option.  

12.   Matt Schaub                     HOU

Schaub is being regarded as one of fantasy’s biggest sleepers at the QB position.  Backup Sage Rosenfels is out of town now and Schaub has one of the best receivers in the game to throw to in Andre Johnson.  The only problem holding him back from consistent progression is his continuous injury issues.  If he can shake the injury bug and play a full season, he has a change to put up some monster numbers in an young, dangerous Houston offense.

13.   Matt Cassell                     KC

Now even though he’s not a better QB than let’s say, Ben Roethlisberger or Eli Manning, were talking fantasy here; and the two QB’s mentioned there are not a fantasy asset.  Cassell who has little experience and goes from a Super Bowl caliber team to a rebuilding bottom division dweller in Kansas City , still should be more fantasy worthy than that of the QB’s mentioned prior.  Dwayne Bowe will give him a big target but loosing Gonzalez before Cassell had the opportunity to throw to him could limit/downgrade his experienced targets.

14.   Ben Roethlisberger           PIT

Big Ben is not considered a “typical fantasy” contributor, although he proved fantasy geeks wrong by shattering all his career highs with a 32 touchdown total in 2007; he’s never had more than 17 touchdowns thrown in any other pro-year.  Big Ben is good for a couple of scrambling, rushing goal line touchdowns with his big frame and does have some solid options at WR but Pitt is better known as a smash-mouth defensive oriented team, which usually likes to run first..

15.   Kyle Orton                       DEN

Orton’s success will primarily be in the hands of Brandon Marshall.  Denver ’s organization has been on a downward freefall since the firing of long time head coach Mike Shanahan and the signing of inexperienced Josh McDaniels.  He single handedly ran their star QB Jay Cutler out of town and he’s on the verge of doing the same with disgruntled WR Brandon Marshall.  Marshall wants a new contract as he is now the face of that franchise and for Orton to be successful he will need the Anquan Boldin proto-type strong receiver.  

Other Quarterbacks for depth purposes

16.   Eli Manning                      NYG  

            – Lost his big play target WR Plaxico Burress, but still has a lot of young talent to throw to.  Has proven to generally not be a great fantasy option as your starting quarterback.

17.   Matt Hasselbeck              SEA

            – Coming off an injury plagued season but now has arguably his best WR of his career playing with him, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

18.   Trent Edwards                  BUF

            – Inline for a possible sleeper season with Terrell Owens now in the mix.

19.   Joe Flacco                        BAL

            – A surprise last year still has the same targets on offense.

20.   David Garrard                  JAX

            – A very disappointing ’08 after he was one of the top sleepers then, now has aging veteran Tory Holt but little talent to throw to after that.

21.   Chad Pennington              MIA

            – A surprising, solid season all the way around for not just Miami in general but also Pennington.  Lower expectations this year with him, but still a solid backup option.

22.  Jason Campbell                 WAS

            – Another sleeper candidate with a lot of solid targets to throw to, but the dink and dunk offense is no doubt holding his potential back.

23.   Jake Delhomme                CAR

            – Not a fantasy star like when he was in his prime, however Delhomme is a solid back up option and has Steve Smith still at his disposal but comes at a big risk if he’s your main quarterback.

24.   Shaun Hill             SF

            – Could be a nice waiver wire pick up against a bad defense opponent.  Hill has some more targets in San Fran with Michael Crabtree and Brandon Jones.

Always keep an eye on other quarterbacks through the waiver wire or free agents as some may have favorable matchups week to week against bad defenses or may get the chance to play due to an injury or quarterback change.

That concludes the 2009 Fantasy Quarterbacks to study on when selecting them in your draft!