It’s crunch time as we prepare to get ready for the kickoff to the 2016 NFL season on September 8th. A lot of leagues have already drafted, but hopefully yours waits until after week 3 of preseason. This way you get to see who comes out healthy. These rankings are based on a “custom” scoring league. 6 points for passing TDs, 1 point for every 25 yards passing. -1 for every turnover.
1. Aaron Rodgers- Although Jordy Nelson is coming off a knee injury, Rodgers has some viable targets including a much needed upgrade at tight end (Jared Cook). As always, Rodgers will only be as effective as his offensive line lets him be.
2. Russell Wilson- This may be Wilson’s “break out” year. He’s already well established as a QB, and has won a Super Bowl. I think he turns it up a notch though in 2016. Seattle has upgraded their line. WR Doug Baldwin had a great half of 2015, and should expand on that. Tyler Lockett is in year two. Hopefully Jimmy Graham comes back healthy. Seattle might be a little more reliant on the passing game without Marshawn Lynch to run the ball.
3. Kirk Cousins- Kirk proved he was “the man” last year in Washington. He’s got plenty of targets to throw to. The line seems decent. I think he improves on what he did in 2015.
4. Tom Brady- Despite missing the first 4 games in 2016, he should be right in the mix with the top QBs this year. He will be a little better rested, and has another big target to throw to in Martellus Bennett. He seems to have chemistry with a young Chris Hogan too. Don’t discount the fact that he will be focused and pissed off at the suspension.
5. Ben Roethlisberger- Ben is healthy and has the best WR in the league: Antonio Brown. He also has one of the best pass catching running backs in Le’Veon Bell. Even though they signed Ladarius Green from San Diego, Jesse James has looked good in preseason.
6. Cam Newton- Cam gets back his tall WR Kelvin Benjamin. It might take a few games to get going, but that should translate into a lot of points. He put up some crazy numbers last year without him, no reason to think he will regress.
7. Andrew Luck- I would rank Luck a lot higher, but his offensive line hasn’t looked any better this preseason than it did last year. Luck took a lot of shots already. He’s got two solid targets in TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief though.
8. Blake Bortles- Bortles had a pretty solid 2015 campaign as Alan Robinson and Hurns broke out. Tight end Julius Thomas will start the year off healthy, which could mean even loftier totals for Bortles and their passing game.
9. Drew Brees- It hurts me to see Drew rank so low, but this happens as QBs age. Although, it’s more a reflection of his offensive line and lack of a “go to” receiver. Brandin Cooks has show flashes, but lacks the consistency. Willie Snead seems like he might be on the verge of breaking out. The Saints added Coby Fleener to upgrade the tight end position. If their offensive line can keep Drew upright, he could be back in the top 5.
10. Philip Rivers- Rivers had one of his best years statistically in 2015. This was without Keenan Allen for a while. In 2016, they added Travis Benjamin from Cleveland, and bolstered their offensive line up a little. Rivers probably should be a starter in 10 team leagues, but might be overlooked.
11. Carson Palmer- As long as Palmer stays on the field, he should be a viable fantasy QB. While Larry Fitzgerald’s production has diminished a little, Michael Floyd seems more than ready to raise his. There is also speedy Brown.
12. Jameis Winston- Year two for the young QB. Same offense. Same two top receivers. Should equate well for more fantasy points.
13. Marcus Mariota- Like Winston, Mariota is also in year two, and will have the same offense. However, Mariota’s Titans have upgraded their running game with Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry. In addition, WR Tajae Sharpe has looked good so far. I think Marcus will be improved, but I think Tennessee might be more run dominant in 2016.
14. Eli Manning- While Eli gets back the reining “Salsa King” in Victor Cruz, his offensive line has looked offensive so far. Offensive lines can take time to come together. I have him in “backup” only mode.
15. Robert Griffin III- RG3 has shown flashes of his rookie self so far in Cleveland. He also has Josh Gordon back (for now) and looks like he has already established some chemistry. If that line can keep him on his feet RG3 could be among the top point getters at QB. If not, it will be another long year in Cleveland. I wouldn’t draft him as my QB1, but a solid QB2, with potential to be the QB1.
16. Jay Cutler- Like many 2nd tier QBs, Jay is dependent on his offensive line to give him time to operate. It’s been up and down in 3 preseason games. Alshon Jeffery looks like he has his health back. He is complimented by a young Kevin White. RB Jeremy Langford is a capable receiver out of the backfield. If tight end Zach Miller stays healthy, he should put up some numbers. QB2 with possible QB1 potential depending on matchups.
17. Brock Osweiler- He has one of the most dynamic receivers in Andre Hopkins. The Texans added Lamar Miller to run the ball. Miller is also a decent receiver out of the backfield. Rookie Will Fuller should also help spread the field and be another option in the passing game. Brock is still young, but could turn out to be a top 10 or better Fantasy QB.
18. Derek Carr- In 2015, I had higher expectations for Carr, perhaps he realizes his potential in 2016. Michael Crabtree and 2nd year receiver Amari Cooper are talented receivers.
19. Andy Dalton- Dalton finally looked like he was headed towards the top tier Fantasy QBs last year but then suffered a thumb injury. He lost 2 of his top targets to free agency, and his tight end injured himself in the Pro Bowl. He still has AJ Green, but I think the Bengals passing attack will struggle more often than not.
20. Matthew Stafford- Stafford is another QB I had high hopes for in 2015. I was wrong. I have the same hopes though for 2016, mainly because of the addition of Marvin Jones coming over from the Bengals. He has already shown a nice chemistry with Jones in limited play. Golden Tate should have a slight uptick as well. Cautiously optimistic on this prospect.
21. Tyrod Taylor- Tyrod is a solid QB. My real concern is Sammy Watkins and his ability to stay on the field. Still, Taylor should improve in his second year as an NFL passer.