Time to go shopping for the next family car and you’ve got a $20,000 budget. After hours of combing the local lots, you have the choice narrowed down to a brand new Toyota Camry, complete with factory warranty, or a 2006 Ford Mustang convertible with plenty of chrome, horsepower and head-turning ability.
Of course the Mustang has some wear and tear. Its odometer has seen some action. The factory warranty had morphed into three-month limited coveraged by the used car lot. But the roar of the engine, the feel of the leather, knowing you could own a piece of American muscle car history.
Looking ahead to the 2011 fantasy football season, and who my Top 5 quarterbacks will be, I can’t stop thinking about the Camry and the Mustang. Be sure to check out the hotly debated Top 5 running back post.
There is little doubt that when faced with a decision like the new Camry vs. the used Mustang, we’d all love to take the Mustang. Being used and no real warranty increases the risk, but the reward of cruising around town in such a ride makes the risk almost worth it. The Camry isn’t going to turn heads when you drop little Billy off at AYSO practice, but it is one of the most reliable cars on the market, backed by one of the best warranties in the business.
When I’m drafting my team’s dynasty quarterback, especially in the early rounds, I want something ultra-reliable. I want a pocket passer who has a decent O-line and enough talent around him to keep him upright as much as possible. I want a proven commodity with a proven track record. He may not turn a lot of heads, but he will still be running come Weeks 15 and 16 when I’m trying to hammer out a fantasy championship. So, my Top 5 dynasty QBs for 2011 and beyond may seem a little off to some. Specifically those who root for the Philadelphia Eagles, are into major comeback stories and think that Michael Vick deserves an early pick in fantasy football drafts moving forward.
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB. Perhaps this selection has something to do with my loyalty to everything Green and Gold. However, there is little doubt that Rodgers has the potential to be a stud QB for a very long time. Great coaching staff, great supporting cast, a possible emerging running back situation (James Starks or Ryan Grant or someone else). In some regards, his 2010 was a disappointment. He lost reliable Donald Driver for a few weeks, young stud-in-the-making tight end Jermichael Finley for most of the season and consistently solid running back Ryan Grant for the full haul. He had defenses keying off his every move. And yet, he was the second-highest scoring QB in all fantasy football, just 13 points shy of 2010 leader Tom Brady in leagues where TDs count for six. What makes Rodgers elite, too, is his ability to run the football effectively … and safely. He had 356 rushing yards, behind just Michael Vick and Josh Freeman. The key here is that when Rodgers does run, he takes every precaution to protect himself. He’ll run out of bounds. He’ll slide to the ground. Overall, there isn’t another fantasy QB I’d want over Rodgers moving forward.
2. Philip Rivers, SD. Not a typical pick here, but you have to love what Rivers did in 2010. When all his main targets seem to disappear quicker than a fly at a frog convention, Rivers continued to chuck the pigskin with authority, elevating the receivers still standing around him to elite status. If Rivers can may Seyi Ajirotutu look like a Pro Bowler, he can do most anything. With his rag-tag group of receivers and no real threat of a running game, Rivers led the league with 4,710 yards passing and added a more-than-respectable 30 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. One would expect Rivers to have better weapons next year. Ryan Mathews will mature with more time in the league. Antonio Gates is one of the most reliable TEs in the game when it comes to playing time … it is likely he rebounds from an injury-shortened 2010. Vincent Jackson missed most of 2010 in contract dispute. I’m gambling that he’ll stay with the Chargers in 2011 and be out there for Week 1.
3. Drew Brees, NO. After a mostly disappointing 2010, one would think I’m crazy for ranking Brees third overall. He is coming off a season where he threw the second-most interceptions (22) in the entire league. He rushed, for the entire season, minus-3 yards. He was streaky from week to week. However, he also produced just as many fantasy points as Philip Rivers in 2010. He notched 33 scoring strikes. He was behind just Rivers and Peyton Manning in yards passed (4,620). And, he’s on a fairly young team with solid weapons and an emerging potential stud TE in Jimmy Graham. Like Rodgers and Rivers, he is a smart QB when it comes to protecting himself from injury and should continue to be a top-5 QB for years to come.
4. Peyton Manning, IND. Age is the only reason Manning isn’t higher on this list. As with the others on this list, Manning is coming off a season some would consider less-than-par. However, he also dealt with numerous weapons going down to injury, perhaps none as damaging as safety blanket tight end Dallas Clark. And yet, he passed for a career-high 4,700 yards and added 33 touchdowns, passing to guys like Blair White and Jacob Tamme. While he may be a year older than my next QB, and may not have scored as many 2010 fantasy points, I trust Manning’s weapons and the fact that he hasn’t missed a game since Grover Cleveland took office in the White House.
5. Tom Brady, NE. Brady was a machine in 2010. A super-charged passing machine. Thirty-six TDs and 3,900 yards passing are impressive in their own right. The four interceptions were downright amazing. Especially while throwing to two rookie tight ends and a bunch of other mostly unknowns (outside of Wes Welker). The four interceptions are half of what he threw durings his record-setting 2007 campaign, and he’s thrown 12 or more INTs every other season. Brady and Manning are debatable, but I trust Manning’s weapons better than Brady’s. A small thing, yet these guys are so close, it comes down to small things such as that.
Michael Vick would be sixth if my list went out that far. He’s capable of winning you fantasy football games all by himself, thanks to a unique blend of passing and rushing with the pigskin. Vick’s six interceptions were almost as impressive as Brady’s four, especially since Vick doesn’t have a long track record of safe passing. The issue with Vick, for me, revolves around the high reward/risk situation. Vick plays all-out. He runs with the intensity of an Adrian Peterson. His body takes a beating, especially behind an Eagles O-line that seemed to collapse more and more as the season progressed. Also, Vick is known for his off-field poor decisions. One would think and hope that his recent jail stint has changed his mindset on who he hangs out with and what he does during the offseason. However, we need more time to see how he really acts during down time.
Others in the discussion: Matt Schaub, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger