Fantasy Football: QB tiers for 2016
10 tiers of fantasy football QBs
Quarterback play can make or break a fantasy season, but not all passers are worthy of investment. Ben Standig reveals his 10 tiers of 2016 fantasy football quarterbacks.
1 - For scoring system or just 'cause you want an elite option tier
Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers
These are the only two quarterbacks owners should even consider selecting in the first round. Newton's short-yardage prowess makes him a constant scoring threat running or passing. Now he gets Kelvin Benjamin back after dealing with just a mediocre group of receivers. The return of Jordy Nelson should bump up Rodgers' production. Look for 35+ touchdown passes for the fourth time in his career. All that said, owners should consider waiting on selecting a passer unless their league rules favor quarterbacks.
2 - Start for an advantage over nearly every other QB tier
Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson
Luck had little last season, whether because of injuries that cost him nine games or ineffective help at the skill positions. Now the former No. 1 overall pick is healthy and it's quite possible the Colts have one of the league's more exciting perimeter trios in T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. Factor in six games against other low-end AFC South teams and Luck should get his fantasy mojo back. As for Wilson, he's now the true leader of Seattle's offense following Marshawn Lynch's retirement.
3 - Draft and start every week tier
Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer
Veterans. Unstoppable when rolling. Weapons around them. Only the random bad matchup (weather, facing top-5 defense on the road) takes them out of your lineup. At some point Roethlisberger's upside could get compromised if the Steelers keep losing players, but fire away as long as Antonio Brown remains on the field.
4 - Could end up a top 5 QB, but probably won't tier
Eli Manning, Philip Rivers
Manning has Odell Beckham Jr. and an interesting slot receiver in rookie Sterling Shepard. Rivers can target playmaker Keenan Allen, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates and running back Danny Woodhead. Both are at their best when in comeback mode, which could happen plenty unless their respective team defenses improve plenty. Reality is that based on value, owners are better off letting these guys slip by and grab others in the next group or two.
5 - Got hosed by the NFL and now out the opening four games tier
Even though New England's Golden Boy will miss the first month of the season due to that suspension, expectations remain high. Once he returns -- and assuming Rob Gronkowski is healthy --, Brady becomes a top-5 QB option and one with major attitude. Brady finally relented and stopped pursuing justice, but he won't forget the lengthy ordeal and end result. Opposing defense, you've been warned. While he's out, make sure to snag a top 15-20 quarterback, ideally one with a nice early schedule.
6 - Totally cool leading a QB-by-committee tier
Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr
All three passers went from hmmm to hooray with breakout 2015 campaigns. All three have stud receiver targets in Allen Robinson, Jordan Reed and Amari Cooper. All three are in situations where the passing game should lead the offense, though the schemes are not as pass-obsessed as others around the league. All three could build on last season's fantasy success without gasps. All three could also take a step back and few would be fall-down stunned. The risk-reward is worth it if they come off the board in the middle rounds and another viable QB is added a few rounds later.
7 - Hodgepodge of veterans and those with upside tier
Tony Romo, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan
Depending on your risk tolerance, this crew looks motley because of week-to-week uncertainty or divine because of the value offered this late. Owners who waited on QB while stockpiling assets elsewhere could win their league right here by selecting two from this group and playing the weekly matchups to perfection. Stafford epitomizes this group. The Lions starter enters the season without the retired Calvin Johnson. However, Stafford faces the easiest strength of schedule for quarterbacks based on 2015 stats and likely ends up attempting 35-45 throws most weeks.
8 - Sigh audibly but you need a backup tier
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford
Nobody is excited drafting anyone from this group, let alone starting them. Yet for any given week, these five have a puncher's chance for a big week and possibly more if carried by their various receiving studs. Still, yeesh. Fitzpatrick rocked for fantasy owners last season and wow does he have weapons around him. He also has a career résumé that screams he's just a guy so tread lightly. The Super Bowl-winning Flacco will need to be elite if he can turn fantasy viable despite a rather uninspiring receiver corps.
9 - Thinking more about the "keeper" part of your league tier
Brock Osweiler, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch
Osweiler just signed a mega-deal to become Houston's go-to quarterback while the other four are recent first picks. Based on the faith shown by their respective clubs, there's reason for long-term intrigue. There's just not much reason to count any for 2016 help, though having DeAndre Hopkins boosts Osweiler's chances for bye week help. Owners who drafted weekly starters can take a risk here over some basic options in the previous tier especially in leagues where adding a QB off waivers is possible.
10 - Leave for the waiver wire/playing in two-QB league tier
Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum, Jimmy Garoppolo, Geno Smith, Josh McCown, Chase Daniel
Speaking of waivers...Anyone in this group could put up good numbers for a week, but you'll never sleep tight with them in your lineup. Griffin starts his post-Redskins life as the Browns starter. Unless RG3 starts using his legs like he did at the start of his career, it's hard imagining he'll complete a high enough percentage of his passes to warrant much hope. That applies to fantasy and the NFL, for the record. It's possible simply getting the ball into the hands of rookie receiver speedster Corey Coleman and dual threat Duke Johnson can help with Griffin's numbers. Either way, let the obsessed RG3 fan in your league take the low-upside plunge.