Preseason fantasy football quarterback rankings

Over the past decade, a number of rule changes favoring offensive playmakers coupled with a league-wide increase in passing has resulted in the quarterback position becoming increasingly valuable not only for NFL front offices, but also for fantasy owners.

With more and more passers reaching the once-heralded 4,000-yard mark in a season, quarterback is arguably the deepest position in all of fantasy football. While statistical parity is apparent, it is still difficult to determine which signal callers give you the best chance to win every week.

To assist fantasy owners in their tough decisions on draft day, I present the 2014 preseason fantasy football quarterback rankings.

1.)    Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Brees has three consecutive seasons of 5,000 yards passing and 39 touchdowns, making him the safest pick at the position. Throw in the 10th best schedule for fantasy quarterbacks in 2014 and you have the number one ranked quarterback in all of fantasy.

2.)    Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Assuming he can stay healthy, Rodgers should likely recapture his 2010-2012 fantasy glory years as one of the top options in the game. His 18 rushing touchdowns since 2008 make him a weekly matchup nightmare, and give him an added dimension none of the other fantasy elites can match.

3.)    Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

After a record-breaking 2013 campaign, many are expecting Manning to regress towards his career averages, and the losses of Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno certainly will not help in this regard. Even with the 22nd best schedule for fantasy quarterbacks, Manning will still be great; just do not expect last season’s performance.

4.)    Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Despite a mid-season injury to Reggie Wayne, Luck still finished as the fourth highest-scoring quarterback in fantasy football. A healthy Wayne, an emerging TY Hilton, a newly-signed Hakeem Nicks, a developing Coby Fleener, and a soft schedule all signal Luck to land in the top five once again in 2014.

5.)    Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Jim Caldwell likely will not be as pass-happy as the Lions have been in previous years, but this should actually render Stafford more effective when he throws. If he can limit his turnovers, Stafford can post a career year.

6.)    Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

While this ranking is contingent upon Cutler staying healthy throughout the season, he has the best receiving duo in the NFL (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery), an elite pass-catching running back (Matt Forte), and a brilliant offensive head coach who will throw the ball (Marc Trestman). Did I mention he has the 4th best schedule for fantasy quarterbacks in 2014?

7.)    Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones, returning Harry Douglas, and an actual offensive line all indicate that Ryan will be back this year as a fantasy force.

8.)    Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson finished last season as the tenth highest-scoring quarterback despite Seattle’s last-place ranking in pass attempts. A greater commitment to passing and a healthy Percy Harvin give Wilson even more upside this year.

9.)    Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

After losing his top four wide receivers in free agency, I am expecting Newton’s passing numbers to take a hit this year. However, this will not be the first time Newton has been expected to produce without any weapons around him. While he can still end up a top five option due to his involvement in the rushing attack, I just think he is too risky to be drafted ahead of the previous eight.

10.)    Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson’s departure is going to hurt, and his 27:2 TD-INT ratio is going to be virtually impossible to replicate, so there will likely be a drop in his per game numbers. However, Chip Kelly’s offense will still move the ball and score often, so Foles is a safe option as a fantasy starter.

11.)    Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

RG3 is arguable the riskiest fantasy quarterback going into 2014. He could easily end up as the highest scoring player, or miss half the season due to injury. Griffin has the easiest schedule against fantasy quarterbacks going into the season, and the emergence of Jordan Reed and addition of DeSean Jackson should help his passing numbers. However, it remains to be seen how much he will run this year. The only reason he sits so low is due to his injury history. If you find yourself selecting him on draft night, it would be wise to invest in a solid backup quarterback as well.

12.)    Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

After a 2012 season that left him as a fantasy cast off, Rivers rebounded to finish sixth in quarterback scoring last year. As an aging veteran without much of a supporting cast around him, Rivers’ could easily revert to his 2012 version, although all signs are pointing toward him building upon last year’s success.

13.)    Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Romo’s finished in the top 10 in quarterback scoring in each of the past three seasons and easily can do so once again. His current back injury worries me that he may miss time throughout the season, and the 30th ranked schedule against fantasy quarterbacks is not bolstering my faith in Romo either. On the flip side, Romo will have many opportunities to produce since the Cowboy defense is terrible, likely resulting in many shootouts and close games.

14.)    Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Until Rob Gronkowski’s status is known, it is best not to jump on the Brady bandwagon quite yet.

15.)    Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick is simply too risky to select high in the draft. He has the potential to end up as a top 5 option week-in and week-out, but his floor (single digit points in 4 games last year) is too low for me to feel comfortable selecting him as my permanent starter.

16.)    Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Last season Dalton had only one fewer 30-point game (3) than single-digit scoring game (4). He’s a boom-or-bust as they come, but if you play him on his good days, you will not find better value from a QB2.

17.)    Eli Manning, New York Giants

If Manning’s offensive line improves, and he can limit turnovers, he has very strong upside as a QB2 with the fourth easiest schedule for fantasy quarterbacks in 2014.

18.)    Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

While Roethlisberger’s upside is not that of the other backups, his floor is also not as low. Averaging 16.5 ppg over the last 12 weeks of the season, Roethlisberger may not win you many fantasy games, but he is not going to lose you any either.

19.)    Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Another year of development in Bruce Arians’ offense should help Palmer from turning the ball over as frequently as he did last season (22 interceptions). While the NFC West will not do him any favors, Palmer is a solid backup option.

20.)    Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

After a lackluster season on a dysfunctional Dolphins team, Tannehill is arguable playing for his job as the quarterback of the future. Due to a growing rapport with deep threat Mike Wallace and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, I expect Tannehill to throw downfield more frequently this year. With the second best schedule for fantasy quarterbacks, Tannehill will likely connect on a few of those passes this season.