Tier 1 – stone cold locks
- DEN Peyton Manning 5150-47-11 0-0
What more can be said about Peyton’s record breaking season last year. Even in standard 1 QB leagues with 4 points per passing TD, Peyton was virtually as valuable as Jamaal Charles. Denver lost Decker to the Jets, but Peyton will still put up big numbers; just don’t expect a historical season to be repeated.
- NO Drew Brees 5200-40-14 30-2
Brees was 1 TD short of throwing for his 3rd consecutive 5000 yard 40 touchdown season, but he also rushed for 3 TDs last year so he pretty much hit the mark you were expecting him to hit. Barring any injury, there’s absolutely no reason that he doesn’t end up right there again.
- GB Aaron Rodgers 4850-39-9 250-2
Rodgers 2013 season was derailed by injury, but he was still having the season you expected when you drafted him last year and will do the same thing in 2014, minus the injury we hope.
Tier 2 – don’t overpay, but if any slip the value can be great
- ATL Matt Ryan 4650-31-15 75-1
Julio Jones was having an off the charts start to the season and Matt Ryan was reaping the benefits. The entire team was terrible, but Atlanta spent their first round pick shoring up their o-line by taking OT Jake Matthews. A healthy Julio Jones will mean a great rebound season for Matt Ryan which makes him a potentially great value pick if people knock his value based on his performance last year.
- DET Matthew Stafford 4800-30-18 80-2
Stafford will continue to make mistakes, but he’ll also continue to throw the ball and feed weapons like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush, and Joique Bell. I expect another solid season.
- PHI Nick Foles 4000-33-8 275-3
What an amazing way to take control of the starting job in Philadelphia and turn himself into a fantasy star all in the process. Chip Kelly’s system is an offensive dream and Foles ended up being one of last season’s waiver goldmines. Foles will be without receiver DeSean Jackson, but had plenty of chemistry with Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin should be back (if he can stay healthy), and the Eagles added Darren Sproles into the mix as well. Look for the Eagles to run tons of crazy packages to get Sproles out into space and, of course, we don’t need to talk about how awesome LeSean McCoy is.
- NE Tom Brady 4500-33-12 25-1
I think it’s pretty undeniable that Brady is starting to decline. Being a Massachusetts resident, I’ve seen his decision making under pressure and ability to sidestep pressure wane over the years. That being said, he had absolutely no weapons last year aside from the few games Gronk actually appeared in, but was still able to turn Julian Edelman into a PPR star. If Vereen stays healthy and Dobson takes a step forward this year, Brady should see a statistical rebound in 2014. Since there’s virtually no chance that Gronk stays healthy, I have omitted his name from the previous sentence.
- CAR Cam Newton 3550-22-13 625-7
At this point, I don’t think we can expect Cam to take any major leaps forward. He’s passed for less yards and rushed for less TDs every year since his rookie season. He was still solid last year, but didn’t really separate himself from the middle of the pack of starting QBs. His rushing yards and TDs certainly help keep him a viable starter, but many leagues have moved to 6 point passing TDs which really hurts Cam quite a bit.
- IND Andrew Luck 4125-27-12 315-4
Andrew Luck really didn’t take the step forward I was hoping for him to take in 2014, however most of this was coaching related and not Luck related. Chuck Pagano insisted on continuing to pound cement foot Trent Richardson into the pile. Getting Reggie Wayne back should help him a little bit, but I think coaching will continue to keep him from being a top 5 option and his legs keep him from being a lower tier option.
Tier 3 – don’t worry, plenty of QB depth if you didn’t grab anyone in the top 2 tiers
- SD Philip Rivers 4525-30-13 45-0
Rivers had a great bounce-back season and found tremendous chemistry with rookie wideout Keenan Allen. I told you guys last year to keep your eye on Keenan Allen and maybe it paid off for some of you. 2012 was obviously the aberration in Rivers’ career and he should continue to be a safe low end QB1.
- SEA Russell Wilson 3400-27-10 500-2
Russel Wilson pretty much replicated his 2012 campaign which makes this projection a pretty easy one. I think you’ll get exactly what you expect from Wilson, but not a whole lot more; Seattle is a defense first team and doesn’t take a lot of chances through the air.
- SF Colin Kaepernick 3350-22-9 500-5
Regression, regression, regression. Was there a bigger disappointment at QB last year than Colin Kaepernick? Aside from week 1, he just looked lost last year. There’s definite upside, so I wouldn’t mind grabbing him as a backup, but anyone banking on him being their starter is taking way too much risk for my liking.
- DAL Tony Romo 4250-30-12 45-0
Romo was incredibly frustrating last year as he attempted far fewer passes than he did in 2012, but he was still effective in his reduced attempts. He was very consistent game to game and had success finding Dez Bryant in the end zone on a consistent basis. Just like Rivers, he’s a safe low end QB1.
- CIN Andy Dalton 4025-30-16 150-2
Dalton was one of the biggest surprises last year. I have a hard time seeing him fully repeat 2013, but he won’t take a big step back either.
- WAS Robert Griffin III 4000-23-13 500-1
New weapon DeSean Jackson alongside Pierre Garson and Jordan Reed could help put RG3 back on the fantasy map. RG3’s passing numbers improved last year while his running was severely reduced which resulted in much disappointment for owners. You can’t expect RG3 to run like he did in his rookie season given the increased risk for injury it creates, but he has some serious weapons to work with and I would be shocked if he doesn’t improve from his 2013 season.
- PIT Ben Roethlisberger 4225-27-12 100-1
Roethlisberger has strung together 2 nice seasons back to back if you prorate his shortened 2012 season. Antonio Brown fit in perfectly and Ben is definitely a reliable low end starter.
- CHI Jay Cutler 4150-30-19 150-0
Cutler is in one of the best offensive systems in the NFL, but still wasn’t able to be as backup Josh McCown was in Cutler’s absence. The offense around him is too good for him to not have a solid season, but health and inconsistency are concerns. He has the upside to have a big year if he can stay on the field.
- MIA Ryan Tannehill 4075-27-18 225-1
Tannehill was another guy who took a big step forward last year. I wasn’t expecting that level of improvement, but he had a stellar 5 game span in the second half of last year where he had 3 300 yard games and 12 TD. If he can improve his chemistry with Mike Wallace, he could improve a bit. My expectation is a slight improvement, but not enough for him to be more than a very low starter in extremely deep leagues or a middle tier QB2.
- KC Alex Smith 3500-25-8 250-1
Smith is very much the bottom QB in this tier, but he’s also too good to end up in the next tier. He’s a solid backup who you can rely on in your bye weeks or a low end QB2 for 2 QB leagues. You know exactly what you’re getting; limited attempts, but steady production.
Tier 4 – the backups
- ARI Carson Palmer 4275-23-18 20-0
Palmer was pretty much what you should have expected last year. There’s no real reason to expect any improvement or decline.
- NYG Eli Manning 4000-27-20 30-0
Eli had a brutal 2013 season. He has now lost Hakeem Nicks in place of rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. This could be a long term improvement, but rookie WRs rarely have exceptional seasons, so don’t look for Eli to be cracking anyone’s starting roster except in 2QB leagues.
- STL Sam Bradford 3000-27-12 70-0
It’s only a matter of time before Bradford will get hurt. He might give you some solid production while he’s healthy, but he just can’t seem to stay on the field.
- TEN Jake Locker 3375-20-12 400-3
How long until backup Charlie Whitehurst is seeing some action? Week 5? Locker is nothing but a career fantasy backup.
- BUF EJ Manuel 3200-19-13 250-3
Manuel will probably have a few nice runs that give him a couple big games, but he won’t be consistent enough to be starter worthy. He just doesn’t have enough weapons to take much of a step forward.
- HOU Ryan Fitzpatrick 3500-23-16 225-1
You’ll be kicking yourself when your starter gets hurt, your backup is on a bye, and you end up adding this guy for a random spot start. Maybe you can take some solace in the fact that I’m telling you that it’ll be ok?
- BAL Joe Flacco 3900-22-16 80-1
Baltimore wins games, but Flacco is a fantasy snoozefest. It can’t get worse than last year, but there’s still no upside here.
Tier 5 – QB controversy territory
- NYJ Geno Smith 3200-18-19 350-4
Geno is the starter, but if he continues to struggle there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing some Michael Vick.
- TB Josh McCown 2600-20-13 100-0
You’re out of your mind if you think 34 year old career backup Josh McCown can repeat the greatness that he showed in Chicago last year. The Bears have an elite offense and great system and Tampa does not. You shouldn’t expect much more than what Mike Glennon gave you last year, and if McCown struggles they might give Glennon a shot.
- CLE Brian Hoyer 2400-16-11 100-0
Hoyer strung together 2 really solid games before seeing his season end after blowing out his ACL. There’s no reason to start any Cleveland QBs unless Josh Gordon is on the field. We’ll see how the Gordon suspension situation shakes out, but either way Hoyer is a risky pick because he’ll have Manziel nipping at his heels.
- OAK Matt Schaub 2500-13-13 10-0
So he moves to a team with less weapons and was already beyond horrible last year? No thanks.
- JAC Chad Henne 2000-12-12 50-0
The Jags are sticking to their claim that Henne will start over Bortles, but I think Bortles has to get in there at some point.
- MIN Teddy Bridgewater 1550-9-8 125-1
The Minnesota QB conundrum is probably the most difficult to figure out at this point. I think Teddy Bridgewater will end up taking the most snaps by the end of the year, but none of them will be worth owning unless it’s a keeper league.
- JAC Blake Bortles 1375-8-7 100-1
I figure Henne will get about 10 starts and Borltes will get about 6. Even if he starts all 16, he’s only worth owning in keeper leagues.
- OAK Derek Carr 1250-7-7 50-1
Because Matt Schaub will be terrible, Carr will end up taking over the starting job, but with little talent surrounding him, he will struggle as well.
- MIN Matt Cassel 1200-7-6 40-0
It will probably be Cassel’s job to lose in Minnesota, and I expect him to lose it.
- CLE Johnny Manziel 1200-7-9 200-2
Manziel will probably take over the starting job once Cleveland is out of the playoff hunt. He has the wheels to possibly add some value, but, if Josh Gordon is suspended, he won’t be able to do enough in the passing game to be viable.
- TB Mike Glennon 800-6-4 15-0
Glennon might see some action if Josh McCown struggles, but he doesn’t have any upside.
- MIN Christian Ponder 675-3-3 50-0
You can stick a fork in Ponder’s career in Minnesota, because it’s done. Maybe if Cassel and Bridgewater struggle he gets in there in some blowout games.
- TEN Charlie Whitehurst 650-3-4 20-0
Locker has to get hurt at some point, right? I figure Whitehurst will see some action.
- NYJ Michael Vick 350-2-1 50-0
Can Geno be solid enough to keep his starting job all year? Probably, but you’ll have to keep your eye on Vick.