Continuing BTSC's fantasy football coverage, we take a more collective and concentrated look at which fantasy quarterbacks you should be looking to draft going into the 2015 season.
There is different reasoning that goes into every fantasy football owner's strategy as to where they value different players and positions. Here, Bryan DeArdo and myself give our takes on which quarterbacks we prioritize in the top ten for our fantasy football picks in 2015.
1) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers-
Believe it or not, Big Ben has been a big reason for why I won two of the last three Fantasy Football championships in my league. And after last year's breakout stats and with the emergence of receivers Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and possibly Sammie Coates, 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns would not be out of the realm of expectations at all for Big Ben in 2015. Only concern with Ben is those dud games that he can sometimes suffer, most notably last season's losses to the Saints and Jets.
2) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers -
If Ben was out of the equation, this is the guy I want directing my offense, fantasy football or the real deal. Rodgers almost never throws interceptions, is always in the upper 30s in touchdown passes, and is a shoe-in for at least 4,000 yards a year barring injury.
3) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts -
While he still throws too many interceptions for my liking, Luck will let it fly in 2015, which means big passing totals and big touchdown numbers. He tossed 40 touchdown passes last year, and with Andre Johnson coming to town this offseason, he could challenge Peyton Manning's touchdown pass record this fall. Beware of starting him in outdoor, cold weather games late in the season; Luck hasn't proven to be as effective in those situations as he is in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
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4) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys -
With Demarco Murray gone, it's Romo's offense again. Look for Romo to dwarf his 3,705 passing yards from 2014 and flirt with 40 touchdown passes after throwing 34 last fall. Save the 2012 season, Romo is normally good at not throwing picks, as he has thrown 10 interceptions or less in five of the last six seasons.
5) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks -
The little QB that could should have a breakout season statistically in 2015. Wilson has evolved in each of this first three NFL seasons and has proven that he is much more than a game manager. Now, with the addition of Jimmy Graham, Wilson's passing and touchdown numbers should rise considerably this season while keeping his interception total down.
6) Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos -
While I'm lenient with selecting a 40-year-old quarterback to man my offense, Manning is still an all-time great playing at high level. Even with an aging arm, you can still bank on Peyton to throw for at least 4,000 yards with 30ish touchdown passes in 2015. Just be weary of the picks, as Manning threw the most picks in a season last year since he threw 17 back in 2010. Remember: Do not start him in cold weather, outdoor games, and you should be fine.
7) Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions -
The Lions quarterback was my No.2 quarterback on my fantasy team last year, and he didn't disappoint. He put up strong numbers across the board, numbers that should only improve this year with the emergence of Golden Tate at wide receiver. Look for Stafford to eclipse his touchdown pass tally of 22 from last year.
8) Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers -
San Diego's veteran passer has averaged 4,382 yards and 32 touchdown passes over the last two years. Rivers is the model of efficiently as a passer, throwing for at least 4,000 yards in six of the past seven seasons. He also has thrown 64 picks in the past four years, something to consider if you have the opportunity to draft him as your quarterback.
9) Tom Brady, New England Patriots -
If you can afford to have him sit the season's first quarter, the wait to use Brady could be worth it. Brady always plays well when he's out to prove something- see his 2007 post Spygate season- and he will surely be out to prove something after serving his suspension.
10) Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens -
Baltimore's QB enjoyed his best statistical season ever in 2014, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards with 27 touchdown passes with just 12 picks. Start him against favorable match-ups and you should get good results.
With each player on my list I like to analyze both the players expected output for 2015 as well as their playoff value in the teams they will face in the final five weeks of the regular season. That's primetime fantasy football value, it doesn't matter as much if a player like Tom Brady can't start in the early weeks for you if they can deliver in the playoffs.
For each player I researched the final five opponents they'll face and averaged out the amount of points those opponents surrendered to to quarterbacks in 2015. Though defenses change year to year, it's still important to take into consideration who they might have to overcome in the final weeks, or who they might be able to exploit.
To measure each players' chances of facing weaker defenses, I took those averages and ranked them. I don't have a fancy name for this stat yet, so to indicate this calculation for each player it will be known as "average playoff defense points allowed" or APDPA for short. Each player will have the average points listed as well as where that ranks them in comparison to the other quarterbacks on this list.
1) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts - APDPA 16.11 points, 6th highest.
Andrew Luck was a top fantasy producing quarterback of 2014. Despite throwing the second most interceptions of any QB on my list, he is a consistent threat to score in his offense in the regular season. With the additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson for some veteran leadership in his offense, I see no reason for him to not be able to be able to increase his statistical output this season and be the best fantasy QB. Though his opponents are not teams that allowed a ton of points to quarterbacks last season, Luck should be able to get into shootouts and be of great value in the home stretch.
2) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers - APDPA 15.95, 8th highest.
Rodgers has long been a sure-fire fantasy pick at quarterback in the early rounds and this season continues that trend. Rodgers benefits from the emergence of third year running back, Lacy as well as a young and rising DaVante Adams at wide receiver who adds to an already talented duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Though he might have one of the toughest paths in the playoff weeks, Detroit could be less of a problem now without Ndamukong Suh creating mayhem.
3) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers - APDPA 15.50, 10th highest.
Ben Roethlisberger has the best assortment of weapons he's had in his career this season with Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller. On paper though he has a tough road in his last five games (as well as the most difficult schedule in the NFL), Roethlisberger mostly faces teams which he at least had one really productive game against in 2014. The Colts and the Ravens were both teams Ben threw for six touchdowns against in 2014, while both the Ohio teams had games where he threw for multiple touchdowns in 2014 and usually performs well against. Denver will be a challenge though with their pass rush and top-ranked secondary, but if Roethlisberger continues to improve his efficiency with the playmakers on his roster he could be the perfect pickup at quarterback this season.
4) Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos - APDPA 16.38, 5th highest.
Peyton Manning may be edging 40, but he's still a great option as a fantasy quarterback in Denver's system. He still has a very solid and proven 1-2 punch at wide receiver with Demariyus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders who will now have a full year's experience together as a trio with Manning. He also ends his season with three games against teams in the top 12 for QB fantasy points allowed, making him a great option for carrying your team through the late weeks.
5) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks - APDPA 15.62, 9th highest.
Russell Wilson finally has a top-tier NFL receiving weapon with Jimmy Graham being acquired from the New Orleans' Saints. That plus the numbers he put up in 2014 make him a top fantasy candidate. His rushing stats alone are impressive, but with another weapon to add to help the passing offense in the redzone, he could ascend his stats even higher this season.
6) Tom Brady, New England Patriots - APDPA 16.73, 3rd highest.
Brady's age and pending four-game suspension seem to have dropped his average draft position in numerous fantasy football sites, but that should not deter you from selecting him. In the home stretch of the season Brady will face two defenses that were in the top five of units that allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Brady could be a big threat for you in the fantasy playoffs.
7) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys - APDPA 17.49, highest overall.
Though he lost a major asset in Demarco Murray, Romo still should be a major fantasy weapon in 2015. Most notably for fantasy managers however should be his opponents in the home stretch of the season. He gets to face the Jets and 2014's worst defense against fantasy quarterbacks in Washington, twice. Fantasy playoffs Romo could be an upstart and not cost that much to get.
8) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - APDPA 15.97, 7th highest.
Drew Brees is always a fantasy asset but I don't see him being as valuable this season with the loss of Jimmy Graham. I do think Brandin Cook will emerge as a weapon but in comparison to those listed above him I still don't think this will be one of his better seasons.
9) Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers - APDPA 17.25, 2nd highest.
Newton could flourish for fantasy owners this year with Kelvin Benjamin having a year under his belt and more weapons coming his way. He also has a good stretch of opponents at the end of the season so if the offense is firing on all cylinders he could be perfect for a playoff run.
10) Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions - APDPA 16.60, 4th highest.
So long as Stafford has Calvin Johnson, he is a valuable pickup, but now that Golden Tate has proven himself a credible receiver in multiple systems and Joique Bell looks like he can bring some balance to this offense, Stafford could see an increase in his numbers this season. It also helps that he plays the Saints and the Bears in the last few weeks, some of the worst teams against the pass in 2014.