2006 Fantasy Quarterbacks : Ranking Analysis

Peyton Manning Stands Out in Our QB Rankings

As your fantasy draft approaches, we break down the top ranked fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL.

ELITE
Peyton ManningIndianapolis Colts
Mr. Consistency fell way off of his 2004 numbers.  Manning
threw for 21 fewer touchdowns and 500+ fewer yards in 2005.
But...Manning still had 28 TDs and over 4000 yards in a 
much more conservative offense!  Manning, who hasn't 
missed a start in 8 years, has the health and offensive
weapons to dominate the fantasy quarterback position.  
Look for Manning to build upon last year's numbers and 
104.1 quarterback rating as the Colts adjust to a rookie
running back.  

2005 Stats       TDs – 28        Passing yards – 4037



BIG GUNS
Carson PalmerCincinnati Bengals
Palmer was on the edge of a breakout season in 2005, and
breakout he did.  Palmer finished the season as the top 
fantasy quarterback of '05 with 33 TDs and over 3800 
yards.  Unfortunately, Palmer's last play was a season 
ending knee injury in a losing playoff effort (which has
many fantasy owners worried).  But 2006 is new year and 
Palmer's extensive rehabilitation has him cleared to play.
He has the skills, the weapons, and the experience of a 
breakthrough year under his belt...and all that remains is
the mental preparation of testing a restructured knee.
Palmer's arm, offense, and experience will again vault the
Cincy quarterback to the top of fantasy QBs.  Palmer may 
fall in some drafts due to his knee, but we think he'll be
fine.  Palmer's final stats will tell the tale and will 
reward owners who draft him (esp. for those who land him 
in the 4th round).

2005 Stats       TDs – 33          Passing yards – 3836


Tom BradyNew England Patriots
Tom Brady led all fantasy quarterbacks in 2005 with 4110
passing yards.  Brady never seems to have a favorite 
target, but is a consistent passer who wins games with
his accruacy.  Fantasy owners who select Brady to their 
fantasy team will benenefit from his his consistent 2 TD - 
250+ yard performances...as he is rarely shutout.

2005 Stats        TDs – 27        Passing yards – 4110


Jake DelhommeCarolina Panthers
Jake Delhomme enters 2006 with a Carolina Panther team 
that is a favorite to make it to Superbowl 41.  Delhomme's
offense features a strong running game and last year's top
fantasy wide receiver (Steve Smith).  However, the knock 
on Delhomme is inconsistency.  Delhomme tends to get his 
stats from the big play, but in an unpredictable fashion.
The feast/famine showed in 2005 as Jake finished half of 
his games with 1 passing TD or less and 6 games with under 
200 yards.  But ultimately, Delhomme still finished as a 
top 10 fantasy quarterback.  There will still be a shutout
risk from Delhomme, but we see a more consistent 2006 from 
the Carolina QB....the addition of posession receiver 
Keyshawn Johnson should help.

2005  Stats       TDs – 25         Passing yards – 3421


Eli ManningNew York Giants
Eli finished the 2005 season as the 5th ranked fantasy 
quarterback.  He scored consistently with at least 1 TD in
every game (except Dallas on 12/4).  Manning's yardage 
totals, however, were up and down and Manning threw a 
whopping 17 interceptions on the season.  But, Eli's still
learning and will continue to improve (think back to early
Peyton).  With a little more passing accuracy, Eli Manning 
should approach 30 TDs and 4000 yds in 2006...with fewer 
interceptions.  

2005 Stats      TDs – 25          Passing yards – 3762


Matt HasselbeckSeattle Seahawks
The defending NFC champion quarterback may have benefitted
from a soft schedule last season, but he still finished in
the top 5 of fantasy quarterbacks...and that without the 
services of primary wide receiver Darrell Jackson for most
of the season.  It may be more of the same this year as
Jackson starts the season with a nagging injury (and top
TE Jerramy Stevens expected out until October).  
Shaun Alexander's return as RB will continue to open up 
Seattle's quarterback friendly passing game...regardless
of the receiver.  H-beck will get his stats in '06, but we
can't guarantee to whom.

2005 Stats      TDs – 26           Passing yards – 3459



SOLID
Marc BulgerSt. Louis Rams
The Rams haven't been the same team since the Superbowl, 
but still have most of the offensive weapons in place. 
However, new coach Scott Linehan is expected to feature 
more of stud RB Steven Jackson and run him with 20+ 
carries per game.  Sure, Bulger will amass yardage and 
several touchdowns to top WR Torry Holt, but don't expect the 
"Greatest Show On Turf" to be revisited in '06...at least
not through the air like previous Mike Martz led teams.

2005 Stats        TDs - 14         Passing yards – 2297


Kurt WarnerArizona Cardinals
Kurt Warner has arguably the best wide receiving duo in 
the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.  Each of 
the two caught over 100 balls and combined for over 2800 
yards and 17 touchdowns.  If, we could guarantee the 
health of Warner, we'd have him much, much higher in our 
rankings - but Warner can't seem to last the whole season.  
Owners who decide to draft Warner with Arizona's up and 
coming high-powered offense are advised to handcuff Warner
with rookie Matt Leinart.  A solid draft strategy may be
to grab Warner cheap and ride him as long as you can.

2005 Stats     TDs – 11           Passing yards – 2713


Byron LeftwichJacksonville Jaguars
Leftwich is a quarterback that certainly has the skills to
be a fantasy contender, but is often under the radar of 
fantasy draft boards.  Most forget that Jacksonville 
finished the 2005 season with a 12-4 record and have an
'06 team building upon last year's success (with a
healthier Leftwich).  Provided he stays healthy, Leftwich
will break into the top ten of fantasy QBs and reward
owners who select him in the middle rounds of their 
fantasy drafts.

2005 Stats        TDs – 17         Passing yards - 2123


Michael Vick - Atlanta Falcons
Vick is the most athletic QB on the board and is an 
absolute human highlight reel.  The issue is...that Vick
still hasn't learned to harness his talent.  We look for 
Mike Vick to improve his decision making skills, accuracy 
within the pocket, and approach 1000 yards rushing with 
more of an emphasis in red zone situations (Ashley Lelie 
should help).  But then again, we said this last year and
are now forced to knock him further down our fantasy 
rankings each year.  On a positive note for yardage based 
leagues, Vick's 610 rushing yards last year put him at 
32nd overall of NFL rushers and his 6 rushing TDs tied him 
for 18th. There is no reason to believe he won't repeat 
his rushing numbers from 2005.  And Vick's likely to build 
upon his passing game...but Mike Vick is a risk - and 
fantasy owners need to be advised to draft him for his 
fantasty statistics instead of his explosive potential.

2005 Stats         TDs – 21        Passing yards – 2412


Donovan McNabbPhiladelphia Eagles
The toughest forecast in predicting fantasy quarterback 
rankings may be with Donovan McNabb.  McNabb is coming off
of an injury plagued season,...and one that would like to
be forgotten by the Eagles.  The implosion of 
Terrell Owens resulted in his mid-year departure and left the 
Eagles and their fans scratching their collective heads.  
For McNabb in 2006, the questions become:   Will McNabb 
stay healthy?...What effect will the loss of T.O. have?...
and...Who to/How Often will McNabb throw the ball?  Nobody 
seems to have an answer and we're not going to pretend to 
have one.  McNabb may have the skills to be a top fantasy 
quarterback, but there will be other fantasy QBs on your 
board with more knowns and much lower risks. 

2005 Stats         TDs – 17       Passing yards - 2507


Drew BledsoeDallas Cowboys
Bledsoe looked like the Bledsoe of the mid-1990's as he 
tore apart the Saints' defense in the 'Boys' second pre-
season game (and this without T.O.).  Although the Cowboys
are in one of the NFL's toughest divisions, head coach 
Bill Parcells seems to finally have Dallas on track to 
make their mark.  The addition of Terrell Owens will only
help Bledsoe and should open up the Dallas passing game.
If camp is any indication, the Cowboys are giving back-up 
quarterback Tony Romo significant snaps.  Even though 
Bledsoe is looking sharp early, it may not be a bad idea
to handcuff him with Tony Romo in a late round pick-up.

2005 Stats         TDs – 25        Passing yards – 3639


Trent GreenKansas City Chiefs
Trent had some amazing stats in 2004 and threw for a ton
of yards in 2005 (over 4000), but had a mere 17 TDs.  It
became very apparent that the Chiefs' strategy was to use 
Green to get the offense down the field in chunks, but 
then eat away at defenses with their strong running game.
For fantasy owners of Green, the result was nice yardage 
totals...but a jealousy of the Chiefs' running game and a 
pointed jealousy of Larry Johnson owners.  Point is, Green 
threw the ball despite the running game's success...and it 
won't change much this season.  As defenses continue to 
focus on Larry Johnson and the running game in 2006, 
expect Green's passing attack to open up even further.  
Look for Green to put similar yardage totals from 2005, 
but with more TDs.  Last year's low number of 17 with 
4000+ yards was just silly and can't possibly be repeated.

2005 Stats        TDs – 17         Passing yards – 4014

 
Daunte Culpepper - Miami Dolphins
After last year's "boat incident" and subsequent season 
ending knee injury, Daunte Culpepper went for a whole new
change of scenery in Miami.  Culpepper has the skills to 
be a top fantasy QB, but he was awful last season with 12
interceptions and 6 TDs prior to suffering the injury to 
his knee...and this after coming off of a phenominal 2004 
season.  Culpepper may end up being a starting fantasy 
quarterback, but our advice is to watch him closely and 
bring him in off of your bench once he's shown he's back 
on his game.  It's possible that the change of scenery may 
help, but changes can go either way.  The knee and last 
year's start add to C-pepp's risk.

2005 Stats        TDs – 7         Passing yards – 1564


Jake PlummerDenver Broncos
Although Jake Plummer showed signs of early brilliance 
last season, it wasn't something he could sustain.  This 
year, however, opens up even more question marks for the 
erradic Plummer.  The acquisition of WR Javon Walker is 
intriguing, but Walker didn't play last season and it's 
anyone's guess as to whether he'll regain his 2004 form.
The Broncos drafted Jay Cutler in the first round of this
year's NFL draft...and Plummer doesn't always do well 
under pressure.  We'll see what happens in Denver.

2005 Stats         TDs – 20        Passing yards – 3366


Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints
Drew Brees finished 6th in overall fantasy quarterback 
rankings in 2005, but Brees' change of scenery to New
Orleans may require a bit of an adjustment.  Brees is 
definitely an upgrade to Aaron Brooks, but we'd give him a
while to learn his new surroundings before making him a 
starting fantasy quarterback.  Brees is a smart QB with 
incredible field vision and an accurate arm (as evident at 
Purdue and in San Diego), but New Orleans is a project 
that will take time.

2005 Stats         TDs – 25        Passing yards – 3576


Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh Steelers
"Big Ben" got it done in Superbowl 40 to become last 
season's winning superbowl quarterback.  But, Ben
Roethlisberger isn't exactly a dominant passing QB.  
Instead, Roeth and the Pittsburgh offense is designed to
use the pass to take pressure off of the run...and we 
don't see that changing significantly.  Don't expect the 
loss of Jerome Bettis to change coach Bill Cowher's 
strategy in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers will still throw the 
ball, but the offense will continue to be run dominated.

2005 Stats         TDs – 20        Passing yards – 2385

___________________________________________________________

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