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2005 Player Rankings: Quarterbacks
Updated: September 5, 2005
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Tier 1
Performance: 1
TD Only: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction: 20%
2002 IND 16 392 591 4199 27 19 38 148 2
2003 IND 16 379 566 4267 29 10 27 29  
2004 IND 16 336 497 4557 49 10 25 38  
Avg   16 369 551 4341 35 13 30 72 1
PROJ FA       4500 46 10   20  

This Manning kid might end up being sort of good. His level of production is so astronomic that it challenges a calculator to project what his entire career may produce. Six straight seasons over 4000 yards passing. Never less than 26 touchdowns in any season INCLUDING his rookie year.

Manning comes off an all-time historic high of 49 touchdowns thrown in one season along with 4557 yards. This considering that he really only played in 15 games. The Colts claimed Manning sat out the week 17 game against the Broncos to rest him for the playoffs. No way ? they did it because they wanted to let him break the all-time scoring record AGAIN this year and there was no reason to make it any more mind-boggling. Protect his health? The last injury Manning had was from a rosebush in his backyard during a pickup game in 5th grade.

Considering his incredible consistency and production, coupled with a durability that has seen him play every game in his seven year career, Manning could be the de facto first pick in any draft and raise no eyebrows even though he is not a running back. With Manning on your fantasy team, you?ll only need to find about half as productive starters as most to compete. Unless your league richly rewards running backs and you feel very certain about one, there is no reason why any team should skip over Manning in the first round. The Colts didn?t and they?ve reaped the benefits for seven years.

Performance: 2
TD Only: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction: 17%
2002 MIN 16 334 551 3859 18 23 105 603 10
2003 MIN 14 295 454 3479 25 11 72 422 4
2004 MIN 16 379 549 4717 39 11 89 406 2
Avg   15 336 518 4018 27 15 89 477 5
PROJ FA       3880 29 12   450 4

Culpepper comes off a career year in yardage, passing TD?s, completions, attempts, yards per attempt, completion percentage and every other category outside of rushing. He ended with the 2nd best completion percentage in the NFL (69%), the most passing yards and was second only to Manning in touchdown passes. Even after that stellar performance, most still wonder ? ?but what happens with out Moss??

The game breakdowns of Culpepper?s stats above are shaded to show the five weeks when Moss was out ? his only in the last six years. While they indicate a decrease is in store, it?s probably easy to read too much into that five week period. The offense will be unchanged this season other than the absence of Moss and the addition of Troy Williamson.

Culpepper has been supremely successful as an NFL quarterback and while having a great wideout helped; it never turns a merely good quarterback into a great one like Culpepper. Moss added to Daunte?s numbers, but they would have been good regardless. The Vikings bring in Williamson with the 7th overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft as a talented, speedy complement to the offense. There is no doubt that Culpepper will lose ground in drafts this summer with Moss gone but always remember ? quarterbacks can make receivers, but receivers never make quarterbacks. Don?t underestimate one of the greatest fantasy quarterbacks of all time. His only real downside is playing the Steelers and Ravens during the final weeks of fantasy playoffs.

Tier 2
Performance: 4
TD Only: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction: 12%
2002 STL 7 138 214 1826 14 6 12 -13 1
2003 STL 15 336 532 3845 22 22 27 78 4
2004 STL 14 321 485 3964 21 14 19 89 3
Avg   12 265 410 3212 19 14 19 51 3
PROJ FA       4330 26 14   140 2

(+Upside) Bulger comes off his second season as a starter and ended up with almost identical numbers to 2003 though he played in two less games due to a badly bruised shoulder. Through the first eleven weeks, Bulger had scored 18 touchdowns and was on a pace to finish with 26 scores and 4600 yards. He still ended with four 300 yard games and eight weeks with multiple touchdowns.

Thanks to missing all or most of three games, Bulger doesn?t show up near the top in any quarterback totals from 2004 and with that a chance he falls farther in the 2005 drafts than is warranted. The Rams have one of the easiest schedules for quarterbacks in the NFL this season and he?s already shown to be a lock to gain 3900 yards and 24 touchdowns even missing a game or two.

Bulger makes a very attractive option at quarterback that will likely end up cheaper in a fantasy draft than he should have been. He goes into his third season with all the same players and scheme and will likely have an even better rushing game to concern the defenses since Steven Jackson has been given the starting nod. He?ll probably be the 5th to 8th drafted quarterback in most leagues and yet he has the upside that could easily deliver a top three performance.

Performance: 3
TD Only: 5
Keeper: 3
Auction: 12%
2002 PHI 10 211 361 2289 17 6 62 464 6
2003 PHI 16 276 479 3223 16 11 70 359 3
2004 PHI 15 300 470 3875 31 8 42 221 3
Avg   14 262 437 3129 21 8 58 348 4
PROJ FA       3820 26 10   290 4

After five seasons in the NFL, McNabb was already considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the league and the only question he had not answered was simple enough. What would it be like if McNabb had a great receiver instead of a gaggle of west coast dink-n-dunkers? With Terrell Owens on board last year, we now know ? it spells a career season for McNabb who ended with 31 passing touchdowns (3rd best in the NFL) and a trip to the Super Bowl.

That great fantasy year could have been even better had the Eagles not wrapped up their playoff slot so early and McNabb really only played in 14 games ? thirteen if you exclude the Dallas game when Owens was injured. Donovan turned in an incredible five games with four or more touchdowns. He had five games over 300 yards including a 464 yards effort against Green Bay. Want optimism for 2005? Consider McNabb had games featuring four or more scores against each of the NFC East opponents that he faces twice each every year.

Owens is holding out and it is expected to last through into training camp and potentially beyond. Without Owens, McNabb is still a fantasy gem. When he has Owens, McNabb is a fantasy goldmine. Track the situation closely because it will have a bearing on how valued McNabb should be considered. The expectation is that Owens returns to the team with only minimal bad feelings. But with Owens ? you just never know until you know.

08/11/05 Update: McNabb drops out of Tier 1 with all the dark clouds gathering around Terrell Owens. He may drop farther as the situation in PHI does not appear likely to improve.

08-27-05 Update: McNabb gets a tick upwards after looking almost flawless the last two weeks and with an instant connection with Terrell Owens last night in the exhibition game against the Bengals.

Performance: 5
TD Only: 3
Keeper: 5
Auction: 9%
2002 GBP 16 341 551 3658 27 16 25 73  
2003 GBP 16 308 472 3361 32 21 18 15  
2004 GBP 16 346 541 4086 30 17 16 36  
Avg   16 332 521 3702 30 18 20 41 0
PROJ FA       3800 30 16   10  

What?s not to like about one of the most consistently productive quarterbacks of all time? Favre comes off his seventh season of 30 or more touchdowns and he hasn?t failed to be the starting quarterback in any game since 1992. While he was initially rumored to be considering retirement, Favre played in 2004 and ended up with one of his better seasons. He?s only about one game away from breaking 50,000 passing yards for a career.

While many elements may change in the Packer offense over the years, Favre has always been a constant. There is almost zero rushing yards from him over the last five years but his passing numbers always place him in or very near top ten. He ranked fifth in passing yardage and fourth in passing touchdowns last year. He?s not slowing down.

Favre may play one more year and he may play several ? it is 100% up to him. But he will play in 2005 for sure and that means he is a rock solid, leave the bye week QB filler until the end and expect above average every week. There is simply no quarterback other than Manning that can approach the consistency and minimal risk of Favre.

Performance: 6
TD Only: 6
Keeper: 7
Auction: 9%
2002 KCC 16 287 470 3690 26 13 31 225 1
2003 KCC 16 330 523 4039 24 12 26 83 2
2004 KCC 16 369 556 4585 27 17 25 85  
Avg   16 329 516 4105 26 14 27 131 1
PROJ FA       3680 26 17   160 1

Trent Green has shown amazing consistency with the Chiefs. Over the last three seasons he has never thrown less than 3690 yards and always scored at least 26 touchdowns. His yardage totals grow every year and in 2004 only Daunte Culpepper threw for more yards. Green had more yardage (4585) than even Peyton Manning (4557).

Green led the NFL last year with eight games over 300 yards and had over half of his games result in multiple scores. In short, he was a quarterback that is always available later in drafts than warranted. That may change this season.

What helped the Chiefs last season was not only those delightful divisional games, but a schedule that included games against TEN, NO, IND and HOU. This year the AFC West goes against the AFC East (NYJ, BUF, MIA and NE) and the NFC East (PHI, WAS, DAL and NYG). Add in that OAK and DEN will have improved defenses and the schedule is not nearly as kind against the Chiefs this season. That will matter. There is no doubt that Green will still perform well, but four of those 3 TD games last year were against opponents they are not going to face. Expect Green to still throw well, but for the first time in four years, Green is very unlikely to improve from the previous season and finally, he?ll likely be drafted in advance of his true value.

Performance: 7
TD Only: 7
Keeper: 8
Auction: 7%
2002 SEA 13 267 419 3075 15 10 40 202 1
2003 SEA 16 313 513 3844 26 15 36 125 2
2004 SEA 14 279 474 3390 22 15 28 94 1
Avg   14 286 469 3436 21 13 35 140 1
PROJ FA       3700 26 13   130 1

Hasselbeck?s future with the Seahawks was cemented last February when he signed a six-year contract worth $49.4 Million and with a $16 million signing bonus. He has the keys to the offense now surgically attached.

Matt comes off a solid 2004 season with 22 passing scores and 3390 yards after having missed two games due to a bruised thigh and a sprained elbow. Had he played the full season as he had in the 14 games, his numbers would have been identical to 2003. Hasselbeck has become a very consistent fantasy player and scored in all but one week in which he played a full game and that one week still had 349 passing yards against the Pats.

This season Matt will have all the same offensive players return with the exception of swapping out Jerry Rice for Jerome Pathon ? no loss there. With a similar schedule to last season, there is no reason to expect anything less from Hasselbeck unless Jackson or Alexander holds out (unlikely to last). If he wasn?t intriguing enough, consider his stretch during fantasy playoffs ? SF, @TEN and IND. There?s a reason to pull the trigger in the fourth or fifth round of your draft.

Performance: 8
TD Only: 10
Keeper: 6
Auction: 6%
2004 CIN 13 263 432 2897 18 18 18 47 1
Avg   13 263 432 2897 18 18 18 47 1
PROJ FA       3790 26 15   100  

(+Upside) After sitting out his freshman season in Cincinnati, Palmer was given the starting job for 2004 and the results were much better than a glance at year-end totals might suggest. He had to leave the Patriots game in the third quarter of week 14 with a sprained knee and never recovered enough to play again last year. His 13 games came at a pace that suggested a total of 3565 yards and 22 touchdowns. That would be solid production for any quarterback.

But Palmer was going through the learning curve in his first year starting and had only thrown for five scores in his first seven games. In his last six starts, he threw 13 touchdowns and those came against quality secondaries like WAS, PIT, BAL and NE. That sort of pace would result in over 30 touchdowns in a season and Palmer will be better in his second season.

The Bengal schedule is fairly good for passing and Palmer has enough experience now to make his big arm well known. Expect that he continues to develop into a top-flight NFL signal caller and immediately rekindles the chemistry with Chad Johnson from last year when he threw his favorite wideout a score in their last four straight games together. Consider Palmer a steal if you get him as a back-up and be prepared to make him your fantasy starter.

Performance: 9
TD Only: 11
Keeper: 9
Auction: 6%
2002 ARI 16 286 530 2979 18 20 47 283 2
2003 DEN 11 189 302 2183 15 7 37 205 3
2004 DEN 16 303 522 4089 27 20 60 215 1
Avg   14 259 451 3084 20 16 48 234 2
PROJ FA       3700 24 18   200 1

Plummer used his second season with the Broncos to produce his career best 4089 passing yards ? 500 yards better than he had ever managed in his eight previous seasons. His 27 touchdowns dwarf his second best of 18 back when he was with the Cardinals. While his first season with the Broncos produced average numbers (2183/15 TDs) in his eleven games of 2003, Plummer exploded this season almost from the very first game.

Encouraging for the Broncos is that even though Plummer had a great season, he didn?t rely on one or even two players to accomplish it. The highest yardage by a receiver belonged to Rod Smith with only 1144 yards. Both Smith and Ashley Lelie shared the team lead with seven receiving touchdowns while seven others also had at least one score from Plummer.

A positive is also that invariably Plummer had his best efforts against divisional rivals thanks to the toilet paper soft defenses in the AFC West. Look for a little less from Denver this season though. 2003 had them matched up against the NFC South and the AFC South which produced big games in most. This season Denver faces off against the AFC East and NFC East which will provide much tougher match-ups. But not enough to remove the value of six games against Oakland, San Diego and Kansas City.

Performance: 10
TD Only: 8
Keeper: 10
Auction: 6%
2002 NEP 16 373 601 3764 28 14 42 110 1
2003 NEP 16 317 528 3620 23 12 42 63 1
2004 NEP 16 288 474 3690 28 14 43 28  
Avg   16 326 534 3691 26 13 42 67 1
PROJ NEP       3680 26 14   60 1

The Patriots had a daunting schedule last season but Brady almost exactly matched his career best 2002 season. He was tied for second best in the NFL with 11 games of two or more touchdown passes. There was only one game in the entire season when he failed to score at least once. Brady was second to only Peyton Manning in consistency, turning in either 300 yards or two scores in 75% of his games last year.

He only had two 300 yard games but had ten games with at least 230 yards. Put that together with at least one guaranteed touchdown or more and the worst he offered was a solid weekend. Going into 2005, the only changed aspects to the Patriots are the loss of David Patten (and his seven scores) and the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. This will be the first season without Weis since 2000, the year before Brady came to town.

Brady should get a healthy Deion Branch back for the entire season so the loss of Patten is not that significant. His schedule once again looks tough but that hasn?t been a big factor for the last four years. One caveat here ? the Pats have games @BUF, TB and @NYJ during the fantasy playoff weeks. That won?t make it any easier.

Tier 3
Performance: 11
TD Only: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction: 3%
2002 NOS 16 284 529 3574 27 15 61 256 2
2003 NOS 16 306 518 3546 24 8 52 183 2
2004 NOS 16 309 542 3810 21 16 57 199 4
Avg   16 300 530 3643 24 13 57 213 3
PROJ FA       3500 22 16   320 3

Brooks has spent the last four seasons as a much underrated fantasy quarterback. He has never had less than 21 passing scores and each season is among the best quarterbacks at rushing in touchdowns ? he led the NFL with four scores in 2004 which was even better than his cousin Michael Vick (3). In the pass happy season of last year, Brooks threw for 3810 yards for 9th best in the league. He?s been consistently good though never truly great.

Brooks had a fumbling problem which was solved last year when he only lost two during the entire season. He scored in all but one game but ended with only two 300 yard efforts. Brooks is one of the most solid quarterbacks in fantasy terms. He invariably gets about 240 yards a week, throws for at least one score and occasionally rushes in another. He won?t win you a fantasy championship but then again, he won?t lose one for you either.

The move from the NFC West to the NFC South was not a benefit for the Saints and now Brooks must face TB, CAR and ATL twice each season. Throw in match-ups against BUF, MIA, NE and NYJ this season and it will be a challenge for Brooks to maintain his standard numbers. Look for a relatively solid season from Brooks but likely less than 2004. The Saints have promoted Mike Shepherd to offensive coordinator and plan on giving Brooks less ?pocket duty? and more play action and moving around which should boost his rushing numbers and possibly his passing efficiency as well.

Performance: 12
TD Only: 21
Keeper: 13
Auction: 3%
2002 ATL 15 231 421 2936 16 8 112 796 8
2003 ATL 5 50 100 585 4 3 40 255 1
2004 ATL 15 181 321 2313 14 12 121 902 3
Avg   12 154 281 1945 11 8 91 651 4
PROJ FA       3100 15 13   730 4

(-Risk) (+Upside) Vick ranked #1 in rushing for quarterbacks last year, his 902 yards were more than double the #2 of Culpepper (406) and his three rushing scores were better than all but his cousin Aaron Brooks (4). Since rushing yardage is typically more valuable than passing yardage in most leagues, Vick is a solid scorer on fantasy teams. In fantasy terms, he?s just as elusive when trying to determine his value.

The problem comes considering his passing which is pedestrian at best. The Falcons ended with the #31 passing attack last season and in spite of acquiring Peerless Price and drafting first rounder Michael Jenkins, the wideouts have been almost invisible in the offense. The entire crew only managed 1322 yards in 2004 with Price?s 575 yards as tops. And yet again, the Falcons spent another first round pick on another wideout (Roddy White). There is also the question of Vick?s durability since he missed most of the 2003 season with a broken leg and after four years has yet to play a full 16 game season.

While some fans point at Vick having to learn a new offense and other excuses why his passing has yet to be even average, the reality so far is that he has not shown the ability to be an NFL-caliber passer but balances that out with being a uniquely gifted runner who happens to take direct snaps. You cannot disregard the yardage he racks up on the ground but you cannot dismiss the lackluster passing. He?s fun to watch but given the risks of injury along with the several games each season when he produces minimal fantasy points, he?s better off on someone else?s roster.

Performance: 13
TD Only: 9
Keeper: 14
Auction: 2%
2002 SDC 16 320 526 3284 17 16 38 130 1
2003 SDC 11 205 356 2108 11 15 21 84  
2004 SDC 15 262 400 3159 27 7 53 85 2
Avg   14 262 427 2850 18 13 37 100 1
PROJ NOS       3460 26 9   80 1

(+Upside) After being snubbed by Eli Manning, the Chargers engineered a swap with the Giants that sent Philip Rivers to San Diego and supposedly Brees to the bench eventually. What no one counted on was that Brees would end up as the master of good timing. His total of 29 touchdowns (27 passing, 2 rushing) were almost exactly how much he has scored in his previous three years in the league. To add to his freakish improvement, he had less than half as many interceptions (7) as he did in any other season.

Brees retained the starting job the entire season and allowed Philip Rivers to become familiar with a clipboard. After the Chargers coughed up $8 million when they tabbed Brees as the franchise player, there is no reason for Rivers to expect anything different this season. The expectation is that Rivers gets a two year ?look and learn? instead of the anticipated ?play and pray?. Most likely Brees gets traded next year, so he still has plenty motivation to keep excelling.

The schedule is good and the team returns all players for 2005, including getting back a few injured receivers. With Tomlinson in the backfield, no team will be loading up against the pass and with the breakout performance of TE Antonio Gates, the offense could be every bit as good as 2004 and maybe even a better. Brees will likely end up being drafted lower than warranted because he continues to fly just under the radar that searches for top quarterbacks in fantasy drafts. He makes an outstanding back-up quarterback and at the worst, a serviceable starter. Add in upside for a more cohesive offensive and a ?contract year? happening and Brees is even more attractive.

Performance: 14
TD Only: 13
Keeper: 15
Auction: 2%
2002 NYG 16 335 545 4076 19 14 43 -3  
2003 NYG 13 284 500 3110 13 16 17 49  
2004 OAK 14 289 513 3495 21 20 17 35  
Avg   14 303 519 3560 18 17 26 27 0
PROJ FA       3640 24 18   50 1

(+Upside) Collins took over in week four of last year and varied between having five absolute dud games and six monster performances. In a season where the Raiders were only second to Miami in having no rushing ability, the pass became very important since each game ended up as a shootout.

Collins performed very well considering the revolving door at wide receiver. He had 20 touchdowns and almost 3500 passing yards in essentially 13 starts. The acquisition of Lamont Jordan was made expressly so that Collins would not have to throw 40 passes a game and the trade for Randy Moss was just in case he still did.

It is still a developing offense but the addition of Moss and retention of Jerry Porter can obviously only be considered as great for the passing game. If Jordan is successful in making the run be respected, this could end up as a very surprisingly good season for Collins. The defense is being worked on but after a pathetic showing in 2004, it won?t be fixed overnight. There are still some shootouts left to witness.

The risk of Collins is far outweighed by the potential of the Oakland offense this season of the new scheme. The shelves are again stocked with great receivers and all but Moss and Jordan are in their second season. That makes Collins a perfect sleeper type and one with major upside this season.

Performance: 15
TD Only: 15
Keeper: 11
Auction: 2%
2003 JAC 15 239 419 2819 14 17 25 108 2
2004 JAC 14 267 441 2941 15 10 39 148 2
Avg   15 253 430 2880 15 14 32 128 2
PROJ PIT       3500 21 9   240 1

(+Upside) Leftwich entered his second season with optimism that the 7th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft would make progress into becoming a top signal-caller in the league. Never happened.

Starting out with a mediocre showing in preseason, Leftwich battled numerous injuries in 2004 including a sprained ankle, sore shoulder, partial tear to his MCL, bruised wrist and finally a concussion to wrap up the year. He missed only two games with the ligament problem but played at less than 100% health for much of the season.

His results were almost a mirror to his rookie season though he did have a four game stretch when he threw for at least 298 yards in each as the team spun through the lineup of IND, SD, KC and IND again. Leftwich threw touchdowns in his first seven games and appeared to be well on the way to a monster season before the injury in week eight when his numbers projected out to 3800 yards and 21 touchdowns.

He again enters the season with optimism and his good play was hidden by his overall numbers. Considering that Leftwich plays IND, SF and HOU during the fantasy playoffs makes him even more intriguing. His downside is an aging Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor and a second year player Reggie Williams who has failed to impress so far.

Performance: 16
TD Only: 22
Keeper: 18
Auction: 1%
2002 HOU 16 233 444 2592 9 15 58 279 3
2003 HOU 12 167 295 2013 9 13 27 151 2
2004 HOU 16 286 467 3539 16 14 72 303  
Avg   15 229 402 2715 11 14 52 244 2
PROJ FA       3550 17 14   240 1

(+Upside) Carr battled a few sprained ankles and a sore neck last year but managed to play in all sixteen games. His 3539 passing yards were a career high and ranked 11th best in the NFL last season. Where Carr compares worse is with passing scores and his 16 touchdowns was bettered by 21 other quarterbacks in the pass happy season of 2004.

Carr started the season out very strong with seven scores in his first five games and two 300 yard performances. Carr cooled more as the season progressed, failing to throw for more than 250 yards after week eight and five of his final seven games did not even reach 200 yards passing. His problem is largely that the Texan offense only features two weapons of any note ? Domanick Davis and Andre Johnson. No other player in Houston accounted for more than 400 yards of offense all season.

Until some other playmaker is found, the Texans are likely at a level that will not change. Andre Johnson is a great young receiver but cannot do it all and when he is covered well, the passing game falls well short of expectations. Domanick Davis is one of the best pass catching tailbacks in the league but this offense lacks the diversity to allow Carr to progress into a fantasy league?s starting quarterback.

09-03-05 Update: Carr has been suprisingly ineffective this preseason and there is a concern that the Texans offense will not take the next step up. He falls a few spots in the rankings.

Performance: 17
TD Only: 14
Keeper: 16
Auction: 1%
2002 NYJ 15 276 400 3128 22 6 30 49 2
2003 NYJ 10 189 297 2139 13 12 21 42 2
2004 NYJ 13 242 370 2673 16 9 34 126 1
Avg   13 236 356 2647 17 9 28 72 2
PROJ FA       3400 21 11   60 2

(-Risk) (+Upside) Right before the 2004 season started, Pennington signed a $64 million, 7-year contract that gave him an $18 million signing bonus. Not bad since he has never played a full 16 game season without getting hurt. He finished 2004 with a total of 13 games, a career high. Last year Pennington sustained a rotator cuff strain that held him out for three weeks while it healed.

Pennington has never been as good as he was in 2002 when he threw for 22 scores in only 12 starts. He only exceeded 260 yards in a game only once last year. Chad is certainly ?NFL starter good? though the jury is still out that he was ?$64 million good.? Pennington will be recovering from his shoulder surgery likely until camp starts. Another consideration is that OC Mike Heimerdinger is coming aboard this year from the Titans and brings an offense that has new facets to learn but is kind to quarterbacks.

Putting a significant injury track record aside, Pennington does enter 2005 with the one key that helped him succeed in 2002 ? Laveranues Coles. The Jets will have a tough schedule thanks to the AFC East but there is optimism that Pennington will finally put it all together this season. The only question is how long he will last before injury and if that happens when you needed him most. Until Pennington can string a full season?s slate together without absence, never rely on him for more than a back-up. And even then ? be prepared to have a #3 quarterback just in case.

Performance: 18
TD Only: 16
Keeper: 22
Auction: 1%
2002 DEN 13 291 436 3214 15 15 38 107 1
2003 MIA 5 74 130 813 5 6 3 17  
2004 TBB 11 233 336 2632 20 12 30 17  
Avg   10 199 301 2220 13 11 24 47 0
PROJ FA       3500 22 10   70  

Griese signed a five-year extension in February that was primarily done to avoid paying him a $6 million roster bonus and to give the Bucs some cap relief. The deal could be worth up to $32 million but it was written in a way that means Griese has to perform or he?ll just get cut in 2006.

The Bucs pointed at Griese in week five and he responded very well, throwing at least one touchdown in every game and ending with 20 scores in only 11 weeks. He had three games with over 300 yards passing though that was balanced by five games with less than 200 yards. The Buccaneers found themselves trailing in most games and had more reason to throw than in previous seasons.

Griese is the starter and while HC Jon Gruden likes Chris Simms, Brian will have to fall flat before Gruden makes any swap. Griese had the best stretch of games in his entire career last year and with a healthy set of receivers once again, his outlook is bright. The drafting of Carnell Williams should give a boost to the running game and that will decrease the need to throw as often as he did in 2004. Griese was inconsistent last year in yardage and that will likely repeat since he faces match-ups against the AFC East (bad) and NF West (good). He?s a great back-up and will produce top ten numbers about half the time ? if you can pick the right week.

Performance: 19
TD Only: 17
Keeper: 17
Auction: 1%
2002 NOS 3 8 10 113     3 4  
2003 CAR 16 266 449 3219 19 16 42 43 1
2004 CAR 16 310 533 3886 29 15 25 71 1
Avg   12 195 331 2406 16 10 23 39 1
PROJ FA       3380 21 14   80 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Delhomme produced outstanding numbers last season, throwing for 29 scores to rank 5th for all quarterbacks in 2004. He had a solid season in 2003 in his first year as a starter and was headed to a similar showing until both DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis were out injured by mid-season. He threw 22 of his touchdowns in the final ten games and managed four 300 yard games with ten match-ups producing multiple touchdowns. Put that all together and he produced 12 games with 300 yards passing and/or multiple touchdowns. No quarterback was more consistent other than Peyton Manning.

This season Delhomme gets Steve Smith back but has lost Muhsin Muhammad who turned into a fantasy superstar last season. Keary Colbert returns for his second year after a solid rookie season. If Smith can return to form ? and there is ample optimism that will be the case ? then Delhomme has just as good a receiving crew as last year. The question will be if he?ll have as compelling a reason to throw the ball.

Carolina has only a moderate schedule to contend with and they return Foster to the starting role. They also grabbed Eric Shelton in the second round to provide a better back-up than one-time fullback Nick Goings. The Panther offense is designed to use the run and good defense first, and rely on the pass second. That means if it goes to plan, Delhomme will return to his 2003 level of production. If something goes wrong and they need to throw more, Delhomme becomes an instant fantasy starter each week.

Performance: 20
TD Only: 19
Keeper: 29
Auction: 1%
2002 STL 7 144 220 1431 3 11 8 33  
2003 STL 2 38 65 365 1 1 1    
2004 NYG 10 174 277 2054 6 4 13 30 1
Avg   6 119 187 1283 3 5 7 21 0
PROJ FA       3500 19 14   90 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Warner enters his seventh season with yet another chance to redeem himself and prove that the thumb injury of 2002 wasn?t the end for one of the greatest ?sleeper? quarterbacks in the history of fantasy football. With only seven touchdowns in the last two seasons, chances are the end has already happened and Warner is merely playing out as temporary caretaker while Denny Green tries to install his brand of football in Arizona.

Warner comes in on a one-year, $4 million contract ? enough that he will be the starter no doubt but the one year stipulation sends the clear signal that he is not the future either. Warner played for the Giants last year while a new offense was installed there and did little more than play game manager and allowed Eli Manning to digest the entire playbook before taking over in week 11. Warner wasn?t the reason why the Giants were losing but he was no difference maker either.

Warner has a good opportunity this season in an offense that wants to throw and that has some very promising receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and a healthy Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals will run an offense much more like the Rams than the Giants did last year and there is a chance that Warner could surprise with a relatively light schedule and carte blanche to throw downfield. There is a reason why the Cardinals outbid several other teams to procure Warner but there is also a reason why he was only signed to a one-year contract.

Performance: 21
TD Only: 18
Keeper: 19
Auction: 2%
2002 DET 14 215 430 2294 12 16 7 4  
2003 DET 16 309 554 2880 17 22 28 98  
2004 DET 16 274 489 3047 19 12 49 175  
Avg   15 266 491 2740 16 17 28 92 0
PROJ FA       3700 23 15   80  

(-Risk) (+Upside) After two seasons with Mariucci, Harrington has been given gifts in both of the last two NFL drafts to add to Charles Rogers. 2004 saw Roy Williams come to Detroit and now Mike Williams adds a ridiculous amount of star-power to the receiving crew. If Harrington cannot manage a great passing game with this crew, he won?t succeed anywhere.

The Lions have been racked by injuries the last two seasons and that has been tough on Harrington?s numbers. Charles Rogers is more ghost than wideout and even Roy Williams played injured for much of the later half of the year. Through the first eight games, Harrington did throw 14 touchdowns but his production took a nosedive exactly when Williams was injured in week eight. Harrington only managed six more scores the rest of the season.

The promise of the 2005 season for Harrington is so bright he should add a welding mask to his helmet. Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams catching passes and Kevin Jones making defenses finally respect the run once again. While Harrington carries enough risk to make him best suited as a fantasy back-up, his potential should make him the first back-up taken in your draft. And if you take him ? spend the pick on Garcia too. Someone should cash in all on those receivers and it should be your fantasy team regardless of the quarterback.

08-15-05 Update: Harrington looked very polished and sharp in the preseason opener against the Jets when he completed 9 of 9 passes for 100 yards. That's exactly what we want to see and gives hope that he will take advantage of the supercrew of wideouts he now has.

Performance: 22
TD Only: 20
Keeper: 30
Auction: 1%
2002 TEN 16 301 492 3387 22 15 82 440 3
2003 TEN 14 245 393 3184 23 7 37 138 4
2004 TEN 8 129 215 1343 8 9 21 130 1
Avg   13 225 367 2638 18 10 47 236 3
PROJ FA       3200 18 10   230 2

(-Risk) McNair has returned for his 11th season after missing half of 2004 with a badly bruised sternum that required surgery at the end of last December. He missed a couple games in 2004 and has been constantly nicked up, bruised or injured for the last two years. In spite of the various maladies, McNair has typically played well when he did suit up.

The Titans acquired ex-USC coach Norm Chow as offensive coordinator which gives the Titans the ultimate offensive mastermind ? at least in the NCAA. That means there will be a new offense installed this year and that happens without Derrick Mason who left for the Ravens. Drew Bennett was a nice surprise last year but he returns as the only wideout with any significant NFL experience. Couple that with the explosive but also injury-prone Chris Brown and the Titans offense could vary between an explosive, high-scoring unit to a stumbling, error-prone disaster. This could happen in successive weeks and then reverse itself again.

McNair comes in with too much risk to be considered a starter. A new offense, a history of injury and the worst set of receivers he has ever had doesn?t add any confidence to his season. But he is McNair, one of the great warrior quarterbacks and, of course, he says he feels better than ever and is back to form. He makes a great back-up, but nothing more until the season unfolds. And make sure Volek takes your #3 QB spot.

Performance: 23
TD Only: 23
Keeper: 27
Auction: 1%
2003 BAL 10 116 224 1260 7 9 30 52  
2004 BAL 16 258 464 2559 13 11 53 189 1
Avg   13 187 344 1910 10 10 42 121 1
PROJ FA       3050 17 14   180 1

(+Upside) Thanks in part to the injury of Todd Heap, the Ravens ended the 2004 season with the lowest passing yardage of any team in the NFL. Boller finally played his first 16 game season and never once managed more than 232 passing yards in any game and his freak four touchdown performance against the Giants in week 14 was the only reason he managed to reach the vaunted double digit scores for the season. And that doubled his mark from the previous season.

This year Boller will throw to Derrick Mason ?easily the best wideout he has had so far and the Ravens spent their 1.22 pick on Mark Clayton from Oklahoma. With Heap healthy again this year and two promising if not proven receivers, there?s no excuse for Boller to show some progress from his two seasons in the NFL. The Ravens passing schedule is certainly no worse than in recent years and this time around there?ll be no games missed by Jamal Lewis interacting with the judicial system.

With a great defense and a formidable rushing attack, passing has never been emphasized in Baltimore under HC Brian Billick in spite of his history in Minnesota. The Ravens are not going to suddenly become the Rams and both Clayton and Mason are only 5?10?. Expect some improvement from Boller but best case only moves him into the average category.

Performance: 24
TD Only: 24
Keeper: 23
Auction: 1%
2004 PIT 14 196 295 2621 17 11 56 144 1
Avg   14 196 295 2621 17 11 56 144 1
PROJ PIT       3050 17 10   150 1

Big Ben took the start in week 2 and never looked back. Considering that the Steelers led the NFL by using running backs on 66% of the plays, he was a delightful surprise by scoring 11 touchdowns in his first seven games. He cooled from then on by only throwing six scores in the remaining seven games played and was held out of the final week for the playoffs.

What Roethlisberger did only once was have any appreciable yardage totals. Ten times he remained under 200 yards a week and even failed to reach 150 yards in four games. That?ll happen when the offense is all about the run. That will happen again if they can remain successful.

Roethlisberger lost Plaxico Burress in the offseason and now will use either Antwaan Randle El or Cedrick Wilson as a replacement. That is a concern since Burress led the team in touchdown catches with a meager five ? all of them from Roethlisberger. Other than bombing the Giants, he looked very much like a rookie after enough game film was distributed throughout the NFL.

Expect a slight sophomore slump from the most successful rookie quarterback from 2004. The Steelers will want to run and with Burress gone, a new chemistry needs to occur with a receiver less adept than Burress.

Tier 4
Performance: 25
TD Only: 27
Keeper: 31
Auction: 1%
2002 SEA 6 94 168 1182 4 6 10 27  
2003 SEA 4 4 7 31 1 1 2 -1  
2004 SEA 4 25 58 333 1 3 10 14  
Avg   5 41 78 515 2 3 7 13 0
PROJ FA       3250 16 12   50  

Trent Dilfer was easily the most surprising free agent signing in the offseason since he hasn?t been a full season starter since 1998 ? three teams ago in Tampa Bay. At the age of 35, he certainly has the experience to help develop the new offense in Cleveland but this is a quarterback who has never thrown more than 19 scores in any season and hasn?t greeted the double digit scores since the new millennia.

The Browns used their valuable third overall pick in the NFL draft to grab wideout Braylon Edwards as the best rookie receiver. They burned the valuable sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft to take tight end Kellen Winslow. That?s two straight years of taking top ranked pass catchers in the NFL draft and they decided that a 35 year old quarterback who hasn?t played a full season since 1998 is the best way to utilize those players. Amazing.

The Browns were one of the worst offenses in the NFL last year by almost every measure and the rebuild under HC Romeo Crennel doesn?t look likely to hit the ground driving in fifth gear. The Browns dumped Jeff Garcia, Kelly Holcomb and Luke McCown in the offseason. The only player of any prospect behind Dilfer is the rookie Charlie Frye who was taken with the 3.03 selection in the draft. Dilfer is hands off this season due to the risk and almost nonexistent upside and Frye may end up cutting into some playing time before the season is over. It?s almost worth watching just to see how this plays out by the end of the season.

Performance: 26
TD Only: 28
Keeper: 32
Auction: 1%
2002 BUF 16 375 610 4359 24 15 27 67 2
2003 BUF 16 274 471 2860 11 12 23 29 2
2004 BUF 16 256 449 2932 20 16 20 52  
Avg   16 302 510 3384 18 14 23 49 1
PROJ FA       3100 16 14   40  

The 33-year old Bledsoe is reunited with the coach that guided his early years and he?ll once again be throwing passes to Terry Glenn. The pair had good chemistry in New England during the time Glenn was not hurt or otherwise in the dog house.

Bledsoe is a solid addition to the Cowboys ? he?s young enough to last for several years and a perfect fit for the ?drop back or hand off? style of Parcell?s offense, The Bills went in a different direction with the addition of J.P. Losman but so long as Parcells remains in Dallas, Bledsoe will be the starter and have some upside for at least average numbers.

Under Parcells, the Cowboys have thrown for 17 touchdowns a season and around 3400 yards ? almost exactly average in the NFL. With a rushing game now supported by Julius Jones, Anthony Thomas and Marion Barber, the offense should resemble exactly what Parcells wants ? ball control with the run and passing when needed. With Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson, the team will be able to move the ball more methodically than in big chunks and that is where the near guarantee for average numbers lies. Bledsoe should prove an adequate fantasy back-up but with depth at running back and a better defense in 2005, he can?t be expected to provide more than marginal fantasy numbers.

Performance: 27
TD Only: 25
Keeper: 33
Auction: 1%
2002 WAS 10 117 228 1539 9 8 13 -1 1
2003 WAS 11 180 338 2169 14 9 15 62 1
2004 WAS 9 169 272 1665 10 11 10 19  
Avg   10 155 279 1791 11 9 13 27 1
PROJ FA       2780 18 9   60  

Ramsey was pushed aside when Mark Brunell showed up last year but in week ten, he was given the reins and never looked back. In eight weeks, he scored 10 times and gained 1665 yards passing. Doubled makes him about an average quarterback, particularly in a year where passing numbers were higher across the league.

The team drafted Jason Campbell with the 1.25 pick but he?ll simmer on the backburner until next year at best. Mark Brunell remains with the team but mainly because they coughed up so much cash for him in 2004 that they?ve already paid for the year already. Ramsey should have no challengers this year and will enter the second season of the Gibbs-inspired offense.

The Redskins prefer to run and with a stout defense there are rarely games where a shootout could occur. The team just swapped Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss whish is akin to dumping the possession player for the guy that catches the occasional bomb. The move will not help the Redskins roll up any better passing yards. Washington also has a fairly kind schedule which means the running game should see definite improvement. That all sends Ramsey to the bottom of the list for potential fantasy back-ups. He is a starter and there is value in that but no upside to consider.

Performance: 28
TD Only: 26
Keeper: 20
Auction: 1%
2004 NYG 8 95 197 1043 6 9 6 35  
Avg   8 95 197 1043 6 9 6 35 0
PROJ NYG       2680 16 12   90 1

Eli entered the 2004 NFL draft bearing the name of all names and ended his rookie year by gaining almost exactly what his big brother Peyton had during his first season playing (though divided exactly by 4). Eli took over in week 11 and in the final seven games of the season he threw for six touchdowns against only nine interceptions. So far his career best yardage is 201 yards in a single game.

It was the first year for the new offense and the Giants had obvious problems blocking in addition to experiencing the learning curve. While by themselves his numbers were almost all horrible, he was starting to progress by the end of the season when he only had one interception per game rather than two.

The jury is still out on Eli and his first season shouldn?t be used to judge him too harshly. The Giants have acquired Plaxico Burress which will give him a new, young target in the offense and Amani Toomer will still provide good possession catches along with Jeremy Shockey. While brother Peyton was a skyrocket in the NFL, Eli is in a much more dull offense that won?t ask him to pass more than necessary. Eli has long-tern fantasy value but another year of development doesn?t expect to produce even a decent fantasy back-up for 2005. A brutal fantasy playoff schedule of @PHI and @WAS make him even less attractive.

Performance: 29
TD Only: 29
Keeper: 21
Auction: 1%
2004 BUF 3 3 5 32   1 2 15  
Avg   3 3 5 32 0 1 2 15 0
PROJ FA       2800 16 15   80  

(-Risk) (+Upside) Losman was selected with the 1.22 pick in the 2004 NFL draft and fractured his fibula in practice three weeks before the season started. After recuperating, he made only token appearances in three games in the later half of the season.

The plan was to groom Losman last year behind Drew Bledsoe and then deem him the starter for this season. With Bledsoe shipped off to Dallas, Losman gets his shot in the NFL playing in an offense that relies heavily on the run and good field position left over by a dominating defense.

Losman has the right size and a cannon arm but came from a Tulane squad that wasn?t considered very stocked with weapons for him to use. This season he?ll perfect the handoff to Willis McGahee and throw only when that doesn?t work. With Eric Moulds and second-year player Lee Evans to rely on when needed, Losman enters his NFL career in a good situation to succeed ? he won?t be asked to win games and the Bills offense has shied away from the pass under HC Mike Mularkey. Losman?s fantasy value is not high in his first year of playing but in a dynasty league he is worth considering if he somehow is not already owned by another team.

Performance: 30
TD Only: 31
Keeper: 34
Auction: 1%
2002 CIN 4 44 85 437 1 5 4 22  
2003 MIN 4 38 64 690 7 2 12 -2  
2004 MIN 1   1            
Avg   3 27 50 376 3 2 5 7 0
PROJ FA       2000 14 11   30  

(+Upside) Frerotte comes to the Dolphins already familiar with scheme being installed by ex-Viking offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and with his experience is probably the front-runner for the job. HC Nick Saban maintains that the competition is wide open between Frerotte and A.J.Feeley but the reality here is that the Dolphins are likely a year away from producing enough fantasy points to make any Miami quarterback a worthwhile addition to your roster.

08/11/05 Update: Frerotte played well in the Hall of Fame game and appears to have the upper hand in winning the coveted role of first Miami quarterback to get plastered behind a bad offensive line. He was much more poised and controlled and already is familiar with the new offense.

Performance: 31
TD Only: 30
Keeper: 24
Auction: 1%
2002 SFO 4 22 37 193 2   5    
2003 SFO 8 73 118 856 7 2 8    
2004 SFO 9 198 325 2169 10 10 12 55  
Avg   7 98 160 1073 6 4 8 18 0
PROJ FA       2040 13 15   40  

Tim Rattay had his golden chance to shine last year and his first ? and probably only ? chance at being a starter was not met with success. Rattay battled injuries for most of the year, entering camp with a groin strain and tendonitis in his elbow. He later injured his forearm and later separated his shoulder. He wrapped his year in the sun by tearing a muscle in his foot.

When he did play, the 49ers were unable to move the ball until the opponent was far ahead enough to allow trash time yards and scores. With the new HC Mike Nolan entering the picture, any good will that Rattay had was gone. The 49ers used their first pick in the draft to select the franchise quarterback in Alex Smith.

There is a chance that Rattay gets to start during the season and even if Smith takes over in week one, there is no guarantee he will last all year. The 49ers receiver corps is even worse with the loss of Cedrick Wilson and chances that the quarterback will get battered again is very high. He?s worth keeping on eye on during the season in case he gets a few starts because trash time scores count just as much as game winners in fantasy football.

08-25-05 Update: Rattay has been given the starting nod for now and he looks good enough to keep Alex Smith on the bench at least for the starting of the season. No guarantee he keeps the job, but for at least the first few weeks, it appears Rattay will get another chance.

Performance: 32
TD Only: 32
Keeper: 26
Auction: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA       2000 14 15   20  

No analysis available.

Performance: 33
TD Only: 33
Keeper: 25
Auction: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ WAS       880 4 7   100 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Smith was the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft and he goes, naturally enough, to the worst team in the NFL. While mini-camps and possibly training camp will have the coaches saying that the competition is open between Alex and Tim Rattay, take that with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge. In this case, it is not like Smith is learning at the feet of a master and he?s going to get blasted sooner or later anyway.

Smith has the obvious tools to succeed in the NFL but the same cannot be said about most of the players surrounding him. He starts out his career with perhaps the weakest set of receivers in the NFL. The offensive line has been patchwork and, oh yes, they are installing a new offense in San Francisco. This is not an equation that equals up to rookie of the year.

Smith has obvious value in dynasty leagues where you can hold him and see what happens in a year (or two or perhaps three). But for 2005, he?s untouchable in fantasy drafts this summer. A new offense, even worse receivers than last year and a rookie learning the ropes adds up to a fairly bleak 2005.

08-25-05 Update: Smith has been unimpressive in preseason play and the coaching staff has elevated Rattay into the starting position. Smith should see some playing time this year but at least to start the season - Rattay will be the man.

Performance: 34
TD Only: 34
Keeper: 28
Auction: 1%
2003 TEN 6 44 69 545 4 1 11 4 1
2004 TEN 10 218 357 2485 18 10 11 50 1
Avg   8 131 213 1515 11 6 11 27 1
PROJ FA       490 4 3   20  

Volek appeared to be a sudden fantasy superstar when he scored 11 touchdowns in only three games and threw for over 400 yards twice. That sort of production in three games was equal to almost a full season for many quarterbacks. It was like the next Kurt Warner had appeared. To put it in perspective, those games against KC and OAK were against two of the worst secondaries in the NFL and the other @IND was chock-full of trash time. He lost all three games. It may have been a skyrocket fantasy performance but anything less than a points-fest those three weeks would have been a disappointment.

Volek does appear to be a solid quarterback and perhaps he will eventually become better than average, but don?t read excessively into what a handful of games in 2004 produced. The Titans were happy to get McNair back this year and Volek returns as the back-up. McNair claims to be 100% and ?better than ever? so there is a chance Volek would rarely play this year.

However, McNair has yet to take a hit on his surgically repaired sternum and he?s had one injury after another the last couple of years. Volek is a must have if you are relying on McNair but only an interesting steal very late in the draft. Remember ? it is a new offense being installed and the best receiver is Drew Bennett with no apparent second best.

Performance: 35
TD Only: 35
Keeper: 35
Auction: 1%
2002 PHI 6 86 154 1011 6 5 10 9  
2004 MIA 11 191 356 1893 11 15 14 13 1
Avg   9 139 255 1452 9 10 12 11 1
PROJ FA       500 3 4   30  

Feeley was acquired in a trade with the Eagles last year and entered into a competition with Jay Fiedler for the starting job. HC Dave Wannstedt considered the two so similar that he literally did not name the starter until the first game. After playing for three weeks, his five interceptions and a fumble against only two scores sent Feeley to the bench. He was named the starter again in week five but lasted only two plays before getting a concussion. Later in the season the QB carousel stopped for Feeley once again.

He suffered a deep bruise to his right hip but still managed to play. Feeley threw at least one score in each of his last six games, fortunate since the Dolphins were always behind and had imploded as a team otherwise. Feeley ended up with 11 scores against 15 interceptions but with the release of Fiedler, Feeley will be the starting quarterback this year.

It is a new offense being installed by HC Nick Saban and there is little doubt that the Dolphins will struggle this year. No changes have been made to the passing game and the rushing effort is expected to vastly improve with the rookie Ronnie Brown. Four of the six draft picks this season went to defensive positions and the standard rebuilding plan has the focus on defense and rushing first, and only later putting together a good passing game. Expect that Feeley turns in a mediocre season as the team starts to learn the new scheme. The Dolphins picked up Gus Frerotte as a back-up, but there?s no expectation that Frerotte will replace Feeley unless an injury occurs.

08/11/05 Update: Feeley did not play well in the Hall of Fame game and has likely dropped behind Frerotte in the quarterback derby in Miami.