I guess that was a pretty obscure Joe Namath reference, huh? As Rick mentioned yesterday, the Running Back is the money position in the fantasy football realm, but if you don’t have three of the first ten picks in your league then you are going to want a solid Quarterback on that roster. We’ve done the legwork for you (you can thank us by engraving our names on your league trophy). Let’s get started:
T. Brady, P. Manning, C. Palmer
Once again there are no surprises in the “Elites” list. Two MVP’s, 3 Superbowl MVP’s, 4 Superbowl rings; it’s hard to argue with success. Seriously, the Bengals, Colts and Patriots have potent passing games with the game’s coolest most skilled field generals, a list of Wide Receivers that reads like a Pro Bowl roster and solid enough running games to keep opposing defenses honest. Manning has the “can’t win the big game” monkey off his back and Joseph Addai who is nearly as good with his hands as he is pounding through the line. Tom Brady has been there and done that and with the addition of Randy Moss as a wild card in that receiving lineup the positives mount. And Palmer seems like he has 5 quality receivers on the field at all times. If you are not going to follow our advice about running backs then grab one of these three in the first round.
D. Brees, M. Bulger, J. Kitna, D. McNabb, P. Rivers
It’s hard to go wrong with this list. McNabb, Kitna and Bulger just seem to find a way to perform every year. It looks like Brees has found a comfort zone in New Orleans and he may be without Joe Horn this year, but let’s face it he really didn’t have him last season either. McNabb looks solid returning from last season’s devastating injury. In San Diego, Rivers will have the luxury of playing against defenses gearing to stop Tomlinson.
J. Delhomme, M. Hasslebeck, M. Leinart
These guys are the reliable QB’s who are likely to not lose a game for you. They will put in a solid performance week to week with nothing too flashy. Look to Matt Leinart to battle to overcome the dreaded “Sophomore slump.” He has good tools and a growing franchise that is looking to be taken seriously this year. Delhomme and Hasslebeck faded last year along with their respective teams. They will have something to prove this season.
J. Cutler, B. Favre, J.P. Losman, B. Roethlisberger
The names on this list are players in flux: a couple of guys on their way up, one seeking to regain his identity and Brett Favre who still makes the list of top QB’s because he IS Brett Favre. While Favre is not an Elite anymore, he’s a great choice for that second QB to fill in your bye week (who knows that may be one of the weeks he blows it wide open). Roethlisberger will be looking for some stability this year and, hopefully for Steeler fans, his supporting cast will be there for him this year. Cutler will have the benefit of this year’s offense being his and not have to worry about Plummer breathing down his neck. And Losman is a star on the rise.
In leagues that only require one starter, I would pick Losman only as a reserve. I do believe that he will push some starters by the end of the season, mostly because of the weapons around him. Lee Evans is a big time player waiting to bust loose. Roscoe Parrish is a speed demon that can stretch the field, and Marshawn Lynch might have the best hands of any back out of the backfield. In his first full season as a starter he threw for over 3000 yards and 19 touchdowns. His rating was near 85, and more importantly he completed 62.5 percent of his throws last year. That is a better percentage than Kitna, Palmer or even Brady last year. Given more opportunities to throw, his other numbers should improve. And hey, no one will draft him before the 8th round anyway.
R. Grossman, C. Pennington, M. Schaub, A. Smith, V. Young
O.k., if you haven’t selected a QB by now you might have an uphill climb this season. . .or maybe not. Any one of these signal callers can win you two or three games this season, and if you picked your RB’s well, that’s all you may need from your QB. Schaub might as well be a rookie: untested, unproven but with a lot of upside and high praise coming out of the Texan’s camp. Chad Pennington has always been that Quarterback on the cusp of something special but still looking for that first real breakout season. Still he puts up decent reliable numbers. Rex Grossman, or the Jekyll and Hyde of Quarterbacks. You never really know which man is going to show up week to week, but he just might surprise you on your starter’s bye week. Vince Young has the talent if he can stay on the field and can find the open guys. And Alex Smith showed sparks of something late last season.
I like Alex Smith as a sleeper because there is so much potential both in the player and in the 49er offense. True, they’re working with a new O-coordinator with Turner off to the Chargers, but I remember the Seattle game last year and something clicked with this kid. This could be the year when expectations are met and exceeded. Don’t expect it early, but don’t be surprised when it happens.
There it is in a nutshell. Ponder the wisdom if you will and good luck in your draft. They may not carry the weight of a Running Back, but if you can find a QB to win you a few games on top of a couple of solid RBs, you’re set for the season. I’m not Broadway Joe . . . I won’t predict a Super Bowl win, but you could do worse.