For the sake of Joe Flacco, fans of the team that employs him and any fantasy owner who may be counting on him, I will no longer say anything positive about the Ravens quarterback.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, on to quarterbacks for whom predictions of success are much less of a risk. OK, backtracking slightly to arrive at a point ... I said before that you'd have a hard time naming 10 fantasy quarterbacks better than Flacco. Then he went out last Sunday night against the Jets and made Baltimore fans long for the days of Tony Banks for three-plus hours. Despite Flacco's inconsistency, I'm not sure he's not a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (yeah, that could be considered positive; sue me). Now before you scoff, let's run down the list.
Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are no-brainers. After that, is there another QB you can count on? Given his track record, we'll put Rivers on the list a notch below the Big Three even though he's struggling this year without Antonio Gates.
Who's next? Michael Vick? He's been his old erratic self so far this season, and at this point, you can't count on him to last four quarters in any given game.
Tony Romo? Well, I have Romo and the Lions defense, which means he threw 5 touchdowns for me last week. He's even more erratic and turnover-prone than Vick.
Matt Schaub still gets some love, but the Texans were a run-heavy team (especially from a TD standpoint) before Andre Johnson got hurt. I have Schaub in another league, and he's riding the bench at least until his only credible wide receiver returns. In lieu of Schaub, I'll go with Ryan. But he's another QB on a run-heavy team that hasn't made the leap from promising fantasy QB to sure thing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick? Not a bad option most weeks, but the bandwagon has slowed recently and moved into the right lane to let some newer models pass.
So right now, after the Big Three plus one, Detroit's Matt Stafford and Carolina's Cam Newton look to be the safest bets. That's amazing considering how pass-happy the NFL has become. What does it say about the level of quarterback play that two of the most dependable fantasy starters at the position have COMBINED to start 17 — that's right, 17 — games in the NFL.
It says: Dispense with the conventional wisdom that you should load up on running backs and an occasional receiver early in a draft while waiting to draft a quarterback because there's plenty of depth and value to be had after the first few rounds. That depth only exists in the minds of fantasy football writers who are too smart for their own good. Trust me, there's no value in drafting Josh Freeman. In two leagues. If you didn't draft Brady, Rodgers, Brees (and possibly Rivers; it's still early), or have the foresight to grab Stafford (if you did, pray to somebody he remains healthy) or Newton, you better have luck and/or a favorable schedule on your side.
As for my Top 10, factoring in what I expect over a full season, here's the list:
1. Brady (edges out Rodgers because he's got better hair)
2. Rodgers (loses points for that stupid belt celebration)
3. Brees (finding it difficult to make fun of him; pass)
4. Rivers (he and his Southern drawl will turn it around)
5. Stafford (still wondering how this is possible)
6. Newton (ditto the previous parenthetical times 10)
7. Romo (more interceptions than a sad country song)
8. Vick (great when healthy and focused; rarely is either)
9. Ryan (haven't completely cooled on Matty Ice)
Uh, oh. Deadline. Have to go. Let me get back to you on No. 10.
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