On a cold, rainy day in May, football should be the furthest thing from my mind. But it is not.
The NFL offseason gives us time to evaluate the player pool, to plan ahead for fantasy football drafts – and to debate hot topics.
Today’s hot debate topic? Who will be the top five fantasy quarterbacks in redraft leagues this year?
Before I begin, remember that the whole method behind the chinstrapninjas madness is that we’re a site of people forming a community to help each other excel at fantasy sports. For my list of five to really make a difference, it needs analyzed, critiqued and debated. Feel free to do so below in the comments.
Check back soon for top five debates at the other major positions (RB, WR and TE).
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB. No surprise here, and likely no debate from the masses.
Rodgers is just that good, surrounded by a great supporting cast and the lack of a running game only enhances what Rodgers will need to do to keep adding points to the scoreboard.
Greg Jennings is of course a top receiver and Jordy Nelson showed his true worth last year. James Jones is back, and if he can learn to hold onto a football, he should see a step forward in production. Tight end Jermichael Finley also has no where to go but up. And don’t forget about last year’s rookie receiver addition: Randall Cobb.
2. Drew Brees, NO. Probably the consensus No. 2 on most boards, as well.
Brees has all his weapons back, except for Robert Meachem, and Meachem has been replaced by rookie Nick Toon, who should see value right off the bat in that offense. The running game is still a question mark in second-year Mark Ingram who is looking at more knee procedures. Darren Sproles provides Brees with a great weapon out of the backfield and tight end Jimmy Graham will continue to sit in the top three of all fantasy tight ends this season.
The offseason turmoil involving Brees’ contract, the bounty-gate scandal and other distractions will actually only improve Drew’s performance this season by giving him a vested interest in proving everyone wrong and by also giving him more control in the huddle without key members of his coaching staff on the sidelines.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT. Now comes some of the debate.
Big Ben is not a QB you’ll find in many Top 5 arguments, but give me a moment to explain. First, he’s coming off a season where he saw a career-high in passing attempts despite missing one game totally and being banged up in several others. He also recorded his second-best total yards (4,077) and third-highest TD total (21) of his NFL career thus far.
A large part of that equation was the emergence of Antonio Brown, who has become an elite receiver on a team that already boasts Mike Wallace. The fact that the Steelers have been able to keep Wallace this offseason means that Roethlisberger will have two elite receivers to stretch the field, and a strong supporting cast behind them.
The running game can not be relied upon, as Rashard Mendenhall will miss most, if not all, of the season and Pittsburgh did nothing to augment Isaac Redman in the backfield. The team will have to win through the air, which is just what Big Ben wants.
Some feared that new offensive coordinator Todd Haley would lead to a more smash-mouth style of play to the offense, however, few remember that Haley was the mastermind behind two years of Arizona offensive output that left the Cardinals second in the league in passing attempts.
4. Tom Brady, NE. Old reliable nails down the next ranking, with likely little fanfare.
Personally, I can’t stand Brady, and I’m always quick to think/hope he’ll start to see the decline we’d expect out of an older QB with that many miles on his arm.
However, Brady just seems to get better with age, helping both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez break out as tight ends while Wes Welker continues to shine. Add in new OC Josh McDaniels’ favorite toy, Brandon Lloyd, and it is impossible to expect anything but stellars numbers again from Mr. Brady.
5. Eli Manning, NYG. Perhaps another head-scratcher considering some of the other names still available.
However, Eli proved last season he is willing and able to be the type of quarterback that can power a fantasy team to elite status. Of course, the same can be said about Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton, among others, but I get the feeling Eli is just getting started.
For one, he has better weapons than either Stafford or Cam Newton when you consider the depth. Hakeem Nicks is a true elite receiver. Victor Cruz came out of no where to become another elite option. While the G-Men lost Mario Manningham, they drafted a receiver I personally was pretty excited about in Reuben Randle. I also have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of Ramses Barden in fantasy circles.
Don’t forget about the intangible weapons, too. While the team was hit hard with injuries at tight end, they brought in Jason Witten’s understudy Martellus Bennett, who has the potential to be a solid tight end option. The running backs are able to snag their share of passes out of the backfield and even fullback Henry Hynoski has shown the ability to make important yardage when it counts.
After Calvin Johnson in Detroit, I find myself lacking enthusiasm for the rest of the receiving corps. Newton has an aging Steve Smith and not a lot after him (although Brandon LaFell should take a step forward this year).
Ultimately, Eli just feels like the safer pick.
Who are in your top five QBs for 2012? How would you rank them? Feel like debating my list? Let’s hear it all in the comments below, and don’t forget to check back for debates at the other key positions!