Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dr. Bass Ranks the QBs

Peyton Manning. Top fantasy quarterback, bar none...right? CORRECT. Shoe-in first round pick, right? WRONG.

I've been frequenting the mock draft lounge on ESPN.com (among other sites) as any worthwhile fantasy football pundit does these days. Without fail, Peyton Manning has gone in the first round of every draft I've seen. While Manning the Elder is clearly the best QB around, you are doing yourself a disservice if you take him at the expense of a top-tier RB. There are at least 10 top-tier running backs worthy of first round selection, and as any fantasy football champion will tell you, FFL is all about the running backs. If you can get Manning in the second AFTER taking a stud RB, then by all means take him. Just don't take him in the first round or you'll be sorry. Tom Brady, the concensus #2 QB, has been taken several rounds later in each and every draft. Beyond Brady are several other capable QBs. We'll get to the RBs later, but first let's run through the QB rankings. I've included a range of draft rounds for each QB (based on a 10 team league) where you can expect each QB to be taken.

TIER ONE

1. Peyton Manning (Round 1-2). In a class by himself. The loss of Edge will sting, and the Colts should throw more, so while you shouldn't expect another record-setting year like 2004, expect an uptick from last year's 28 TDs.

TIER TWO

2. Carson Palmer (Round 3-5). He's back. 'Nuff said. (+)

3. Donovan McNabb (Round 4-5). He's baaaaaack! Expect a return to Pro Bowl form. The sudden emergence of Hank Baskett and the continued development of Reggie Brown make his WR corps a little better, and L.J. Smith and Westbrook are reliable options as well. The trade for Dante Stallworth helps his value as well.

4. Tom Brady (Round 4-5). The Deion Branch holdout situation is not good for Brady, who already lost the dependable David Givens in the offseason. After watching Dillon and Maroney run roughshod over a respectable Atlanta defense, I got this funny feeling that the Patriots will be running the ball a lot more this season. Then I watched Brady light it up a game or two later. Don't expect him to rack up 4000+ passing yards again this season, but he's still a very nice play.

5. Matt Hasselbeck (Round 4-5). You have to like a guy at the helm of THAT offense in THAT crappy division. Just be wary of the Super Bowl loser hangover. No Super Bowl loser over the last 6 years has returned to the playoffs the following season.

TIER 2.5 (not THAT much behind Tier 2)

6. Daunte Culpepper (Round 5-7). Feast or famine option this year. Could explode with dependable receivers like Chris Chambers, McMicheal, and Booker around. Expect his rushing numbers to dwindle, however. The flip side of this risk/reward play? Daunte could very well find himself on the shelf before the regular season begins. Upside is too high to ignore at this stage of the draft, however. (+)

7. Marc Bulger (Round 6-8). Lost Mike Martz, but Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are still around. Solid fantasy option, and a perfect example of why it pays to draft two stud RBs and wait on a QB until the middle rounds.

8. Jake Delhomme (6-8). A better real live NFL QB than he is a fantasy signal caller. He has Steve Smith...but Smith is nursing a hamstring. Not good. Still, he's as good as anyone else left at this stage.

9. Trent Green (Round 6-8). As consistent as they come. Last year was a bit of a down year, but you can expect KC to throw just a little more often to Tony G in the red zone this season.

10. Eli Manning (Round 6-8). I'm not sold on the Giants offense...Tiki has nowhere to go but down, and the receiving corps outside of Plaxico is rather underwhelming. If not for Shockey, Manning would find himself on the outside of the Top 10 looking in.

11. Drew Bledsoe (Round 7-9). Will likely either be the best backup fantasy QB or the worst starting fantasy QB on draft day. I don't see him repeating his success of last season unless #81 starts making headlines ON the field. Drew's stock goes as T.O. goes...and right now, it's not going well. (-)

THE REST OF THE PACK

12. Kurt Warner (+), 13. Jake Plummer, 14. Byron Leftwich, 15. Aaron Brooks (+), 16. Micheal Vick, 17. Brett Favre, 18. Chris Simms (+), 19. Drew Brees (-), 20. Mark Brunell.

ONLY IF YOU'RE DESPERATE
21. Steve McNair (+), 22. Jon Kitna, 23. Ben Roethlisberger, 24. Brad Johnson, 25. David Carr.

UPDATED: August 28, 2006
(+): Stock rising; (-): Stock falling.