Fantasy Football: 2015 Quarterback sleepers and busts


Fantasy Football: 2015 Quarterback sleepers and busts

We're not here to debate Andrew Luck vs. Aaron Rodgers (though that debate will be coming soon).

Everybody knows those are the best two quarterbacks to own in fantasy football. It's just obvious, like this stellar graphic during a Padres broadcast this spring:

We're also not here to argue whether Luck and Rodgers are worthy of a first-round draft pick (they probably are). We're here to discuss 12 other names in the QB circle, guys you could fill your roster with if you don't land Mr. 1A or Mr. 1B.

Top Targets

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: What’s there not to like about Roethlisberger’s situation? He has arguably the best receiver in football in Antonio Brown, a major deep threat in Martavis Bryant and an electric running back out of the backfield in Le’Veon Bell. He’s also got a reliable red zone target in Heath Miller and an improving receiver in Markus Wheaton. The weapons are there for Roethlisberger to be the third best quarterback in fantasy this year. Don’t miss out. - John "The Professor" Paschall

Tony Romo, DAL: While the rest of the world debates Rodgers vs. Luck, my plan in every league I'm in will be to wait until the middle rounds to get my quarterbacks. Yes, plural. There are so many quality QB options in fantasy today that you can easily acquire two really solid guys and play the best matchups on a weekly basis. Romo's average draft position on ESPN leagues is 75th overall, putting him in the seventh round in 10-team leagues. I'll take that every day of the week from a guy who has consistently been a Top 10 QB during his career and playing behind a dominant offensive line with Dez Bryant as his top target. - Tony Andracki

[MORE - CSN Fantasy Football Podcast: Previewing Raiders, AFC West]

Ryan Tannehill, MIA: You’d be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who has risen up the rankings in the past calendar year more so than the former Texas A&M wide receiver. Tannehill was a revelation for fantasy owners last year, finishing with 266 total points, making him a Top 10 fantasy quarterback. Heading into the 2015 season, with a plethora of weapons at his disposal in Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jordan Cameron and Lamar Miller, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Tannehill continue to climb that ladder and cement himself among the NFL’s elite. - Scott Krinch

Russell Wilson, SEA: It’s been quite the offseason for Ciara’s boyfriend, but when Week 1 rolls around there isn’t a quarterback not named Luck or Rodgers that I’d want leading my fantasy squad. With a brand-new contract, brand-new tight end (Jimmy Graham) and same fantasy-friendly offense in hand, expect Wilson to again lead all QBs in rushing yards and touchdowns, while getting an additional bump in the red zone with Graham around. Chances are someone will reach too early for him, but if he’s still available in the 4th round I’d pounce on him. You can play the strategy of waiting on a quarterback and roll the dice every week, or you can select a guy who hasn’t missed a game in three seasons and will get you 6+ points on the ground alone each week. Easy decision. - Mark Strotman


Drew Brees, NO: Gone are the days that Brees was considered at worst a third-round fantasy selection. The gunslinging Saints quarterback has been passed up by young bucks’ Luck and Wilson, and he no longer has his favorite target in Graham. But fear not Brees fans, there is still a lot to like about his prospects heading into the season. Getting Brees at his current ADP of 53 or later is tremendous value. Expect Brandin Cooks and Josh Hill to become Brees’ go-to-guys and fill up the box score each week. Add a healthy and explosive C.J. Spiller to the mix and Brees has more than enough weapons in his arsenal, and should easily outperform his ADP in 2015. - SK

Colin Kaepernick, SF: Kaepernick rushed for the second-most yards (639) of any quarterback last season, but somehow only found the endzone once on the ground. If he had four rushing TDs (a moderate - not crazy - boost), Kaepernick would jump from the 18th-ranked Fantasy QB to the 13th. If he had five total rushing touchdowns, he would be tied for 11th among QBs. First off, that depicts just how close the pool of QBs is in Fantasy (another reason why you shouldn't reach for one) and it illustrates how valuable Kaepernick can be as a Fantasy option. In the midst of a disappointing season, the only thing that kept him from being a Top 13 QB was a statistical oddity that should not happen again. Sure, things are still a muddled mess in San Francisco, but Kaepernick should be rejuvenated now that he's out from under Jim Harbaugh's ire and he's still got a solid group of weapons around him. Expect a re-entry into the Top 10 QBs. - TA

[MORE - CSN Fantasy Football Podcast: Previewing NFC West]

Eli Manning, NYG: It was an ugly start to 2014 for Manning, but a sexy finish. Losing Victor Cruz hurt, but gaining Odell Beckham Jr. was a huge boost to Manning’s fantasy value. He could be this year’s Roethlisberger, a fantasy star who is being drafted right now in the mid-to-late rounds. A full offseason with Ben McAdoo’s offense can only help everyone on the Giants. The addition of Shane Vereen is an enormous boost for Manning, who now has a great check-down target. The only thing holding Manning back may be his offensive line, but he’s a top QB2 with a QB1 upside. - JP

Jameis Winston, QB: The NFL’s top pick couldn’t be coming into a better fantasy situation this fall. With bookend receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, no clear-cut running back (all of whom can catch, by the way) and a defense that allowed more than 25 points per game a year ago, Winston is going to be cut loose to throw early and often, and late and often. He’s looked great in the preseason and has star written all over him. Whether that stardom blossoms in Year 1 remains to be seen, but I’ll feel very comfortable snagging him as my QB2 in the later rounds of the draft this year. - MS


Peyton Manning, DEN: It’s usually a good rule of thumb to draft a quarterback who can feel his fingertips. Unfortunately, we may be seeing the last run of one of the all-time greats, who failed to top 13 fantasy points in any of the last five games of the regular season. The offseason wasn’t kind to him, either, as the Broncos lost Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, hired run-oriented Gary Kubiak as head coach and Manning turned 39. Look, odds are he’ll finish as a Top 5 or 6 quarterback this season because he’s still elite and has Demaryius Thomas running circles around secondaries. But in most leagues, he’s going to cost you a third- or fourth-round pick, and that’s just asking for trouble. Unless he miraculously fell to the 6th round (he won’t), I won’t have him on any of my teams this season. - MS

Cam Newton, CAR: Newton was overrated before his top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season-ending injury. Now, he’s at the top of my “Do not draft" list. Newton will always hold some semblance of value due to his ability to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground, and someone in your league will always draft him a few rounds too early because of that. According to ESPN Stats and Info, only two quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Kordell Stewart) have rushed for over 500 yards after their fourth NFL season. Newton should come close to that total, but he just doesn’t provide enough value with his arm to offset his added rushing value. He’s fool’s gold. Stay far away in 2015. - SK

[MORE FANTASY: Get ready for your Fantasy Football draft by checking out our coverage]

Matt Ryan, ATL: The hype is starting to wear off on me. Sure, he has an All-Pro receiver in Julio Jones to throw to. But after Jones, there’s a lot of concerns and question marks. The Falcons don’t have a legitimate tight end threat in the passing game. Roddy White is really starting to show his age and is undergoing elbow surgery. Is Devin Hester really a legitimate weapon in the Falcons offense? So many question marks for Ryan that I don’t feel comfortable targeting him in my draft this year. - JP

Matthew Stafford, DET: Every year, fantasy owners look at Stafford's physical skills, check to make sure the Lions still have a surplus of weapons around him led by Calvin Johnson, reminisce on his 5,000-yard, 41-TD 2011 season and salivate. They draft him too high based on all of these things and sit back, thinking they just got the steal of the draft. Ten weeks later, they're sitting there with their head in their hands, wondering where their fantasy team went wrong. Fact: The only way to properly draft Stafford to avoid a potential "bust" label is to get him as your second QB and understand that if he suddenly makes good on that jaw-dropping potential, you're set. If he doesn't, you still got a solid starter in place who is not Matt Stafford. - TA

Thomas Jones tweets plan to fix Bears' struggling offense

Thomas Jones tweets plan to fix Bears' struggling offense

It didn't take Thomas Jones long to become a fan-favorite during his tenure with the Bears, which spanned three seasons from 2004-2006.  Jones, who was the seventh overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, resurrected his career in Chicago with back-to-back seasons over 1,200 rushing yards in 2005 and 2006.

So, when he speaks about how to improve the offense through the running game, coach Matt Nagy and the rest of Chicago's offensive staff should at least give it a listen.

Technically, Jones tweeted his plan to repair the Bears' struggling offense. But, the point remains.

"Nagy should learn the history of the Bears," Jones tweeted. "When they've won in the past it's because they ran the ball 1st! The fans & the makeup of the Bears is blue-collar. Hard-nosed, physical fundamental football. Limit turnovers, chew up the clock & let the defense get you the ball back.

"And where is their fullback? How can you run the ball in Chicago without a fullback in the game? When u have a fullback in the game the linebackers know they have to strap up their helmets. It's going to be a physical game & some of them don't want that. Can't make it easy for them."

To be fair, fullback is a nearly extinct position in the NFL. But Jones' suggestion runs deeper than that; the Bears need to at least appear like they want to run the ball in order to make the defense respect the threat of a running game.

"They NEVER try to establish the run which puts all of the pressure on a young QB who is still learning & trying to figure out who he's going to be in this league," Jones said. "The O line won't get into any rhythm if they don't run block enough & the defense can only hold up for so long."

According to Jones, Mitch Trubisky isn't ready to be the centerpiece of Chicago's offense just yet.

"Mitch is too young to have all of that pressure on him at once. He's talented but he's not ready yet. You have talented backs & an incredible defense. The O Line just needs to gain confidence run blocking in real-time. They have to establish a running game or things won't change."

Jones drew on some experience from the 2005 season when the Bears kept things pretty basic for then-rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, who enjoyed some moderate success that year. He also chimed in on the Trubisky vs. Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson debate.

"Everyone matures at different times in the NFL. He's not those other guys so comparing him to them isn't going to help them win games right now. Establish a run game & take pressure off of him. Simplify the offense by giving him basic pass plays like we did with Orton in 05."

So how do the Bears get their offense back on a winning track? You guessed it: run the ball!

"It's not a old times sake thing. It's football. Every winning team establishes some sort of running game. Even if it's running back by committee or a running QB. The more tired a defense is from having to chase & tackle the more mental mistakes they're going to make.

"Which gives you a higher chance to win the game. When you run the ball you can take more chances throwing the ball downfield, running specialty plays such as screens and reverses. The defense can't just lay their ears back because they know they can get gashed at any time."

Head over to Jones' Twitter page to follow along with his complete Bears breakdown. It's pretty epic and is a great reminder of just how passionate he is about this team, this city, and winning.

Power Rankings Roundup: The free fall continues, and the NFC North is really good

Power Rankings Roundup: The free fall continues, and the NFC North is really good

The Bears' two-game losing streak is doing them no favors in The Web's power rankings, but even pessimistic reviews haven't totally sold them off yet (thanks defense!). What's a bit more daunting, however, is how quickly the other teams in the NFC North are rising. Some fun road games ahead huh?? Here's what they're saying: –– #15
Trubisky is clearly pressing as the pressure mounts on his shoulders. He's taken a big step back in his third season ... how long can Matt Nagy stand by the former No. 2 overall pick? –– #16
The Bears no longer resemble a playoff team -- not with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Chicago's offense ranks 30th in total yards per game, 30th in yards per play, 28th in passing yards per game and 28th in rushing yards per game.

CBS Sports –– #16
Their offense is woeful at times and just won't allow them to win many games. The defense hasn't been as good the past two games either, which makes Sunday's game against the Chargers a must-win for both teams.

Sports Illustrated –– #17
Maybe Matt Nagy isn’t a cure-all. Maybe the defense is feeling the weight of carrying the offense and starting to crack (36 points to a backup QB with two weeks to prepare at home). Or maybe, just maybe, this team was never that good in the first place.

Bleacher Report –– #13
To say that the Bears are having issues offensively is an understatement. In Mitchell Trubisky's first game back from injury, he had fewer than 100 passing yards into the final quarter. Chicago had seven carries for 17 yards on the ground—for the game.

Chicago Tribune –– #18
Classes in Offense 202 need to be canceled. Nearly all the students are failing miserably. That’s reality when the Bears have yet to total 300 yards of offense in a single game. High-powered offenses will come close to that total in a good half.

Sporting News –– #19
When the Bears don't play good defense and can't run the ball, they're in trouble, because it puts games on the right arm of Mitchell Trubisky. They have a few schedule breaks coming up, but they need their third-year QB to play a lot better for that to matter.

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