Fantasy Football Rankings 2016: Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

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Quarterback may be the most important position in real-life football, but that doesn’t mean you should pay top dollar for them in the fantasy world.

Yes, the position tends to rack up the most points, but the sheer depth is also unmatched. In 2015, 11 quarterbacks–nearly a full standard league’s worth–threw for at least 30 touchdowns, while an astounding 40 quarterbacks–that would be eight more than the amount of NFL teams–posted at least one Top-12 week throughout the season.

In standard leagues, it makes plenty of sesnse to let other owners reach for quarterbacks in the early rounds, while instead using those picks to build your running back and wide receiver depth, knowing that an entirely capable QB will still be available late.

With that in mind, here’s an early preview of the quarterbacks for the 2016 season:

2016 Quarterback Rankings

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

6. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

7. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

10. Eli Manning, New York Giants

11. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

12. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

13. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

14. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

16. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

17. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

18. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

19. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

20. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

21. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

22. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

23. Mark Sanchez, Denver Broncos

24. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

25. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (If/when he gets a deal done, he’ll move up)

Rodgers Over Newton for Number 1

Most rankings you find will feature Cam Newton at the top of the QB position, which isn’t surprising after the transcendent 2015 season he had.

But don’t be too quick to dismiss Rodgers at No. 1.

In 2015, he had no Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb was average filling in as the team’s No. 1 wideout, Davante Adams was bad and the offensive line was banged up for much of the season. Rodgers finished with the worst completion percentage, lowest yards per attempt and worst QB rating of his career.

And despite all that, he still managed to finish seventh among all fantasy quarterbacks, showcasing an impressive floor to his value.

With Nelson’s return, a healthy offensive line and a reportedly rejuvenated Eddie Lacy entering his contract year, there’s no reason the Packers offense shouldn’t return to 2014 levels, when Rodgers threw for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions.

On the flip side, Newton was damn-near perfect in 2015, tallying career-bests in passing touchdowns, touchdown percentage and interceptions, while also putting up the second-most rushing touchdowns of his career. It was a perfect storm of passing-and-running production, and while he’s certainly a rare talent with dual-threat ability, taking him at No. 1 means betting on him having another career year.

While taking Rodgers at No. 1 is betting on him returning to what he did between 2011 and 2014.

Sleeper: Philip Rivers

In eight games with Keenan Allen in the lineup last year, Rivers completed 69.91 percent of his passes for 344.3 yards per game, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. That’s a full-season pace of 5,508 yards, 36 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

In the eight games after Allen’s injury, Rivers completed 61.98 percent of his passes for 254.9 yards per game, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. That’s a full-season pace of 4,078 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Of the eight games Rivers played with Allen in 2015, he finished as a Top-10 fantasy QB six times. In the four games with both Allen and Antonio Gates, he finished as a Top-10 fantasy QB all four times. With a full complement of weapons, Rivers was a legitimate fantasy star.

Now, going into 2016, Allen is healthy, Gates was re-signed to a two-year deal, Danny Woodhead is one of the better pass-catching running backs in the league and deep threat Travis Benjamin has been added to help stretch the field.

If everyone stays healthy, Rivers has top-5 upside. He proved that during the first half of last year.