1. Cam Newton
Nothing has really changed for Newton since the end of last year, so he’s still the unquestioned number one quarterback. On a plus note, Kelvin Benjamin will be returning which should at least help in the red zone.
2. Andrew Luck
It was a bad, injury-plagued year for Luck last year, and even when he was healthy he was horrible. Hopefully, the Colts offensive line is better in 2016 thanks to the additions of Ryan Kelly and Le’Raven Clark, and Luck desperately needs the running game to step up to take some pressure off his hands. Luck may be more Brett Favre than Tom Brady, but at least we know we’ll be getting a lot of yards and touchdowns.
3. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, no question, he just needs Jordy Nelson to return healthy and it should be all systems go.
4. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson had an amazing run to end the season last year, but it was no thanks to his horrible offensive. The Seahawks didn’t make any big moves to improve the line for Wilson, other than draft two rookies, so protection could be an issue. Also, with the loss of Marshawn Lynch and the uncertainty of Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks running game is a bit up in the air. Regardless, Wilson proved last year that he can do it all, so he’ll probably set a career-high for passing attempts.
5. Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers have the potential to be one of the best offenses in the NFL, but Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant just haven’t been able to keep up their end of the bargain. Even without two of his top weapons, the Steelers added LaDarius Green and still have Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates. I think Big Ben will be fine in 2016, barring injury.
6. Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer is an aging quarterback with an injury history, but the Cardinals have as much receiver talent as any team in the NFL. Bruce Arians loves airing it out, and Palmer will likely keep that up, but David Johnson should see a big workload.
7. Drew Brees
Like Palmer, age is a concern, especially after seeing Peyton Manning completely fall off a cliff this past year, but Brees is the focal point of the Saints’ offense. The Saints also have plenty of receiving talent in Brandin Cooks, Mike Thomas, and Coby Fleener.
8. Eli Manning
Doing these rankings, it dawned on me that I actually like Eli Manning. Though he hasn’t always had the prettiest season, Manning has actually amassed 65 touchdowns and only 28 interceptions in the past two years. The Giants’ offensive line does need to step up quite a bit, but the addition of Sterling Shepard should give Eli Manning his Victor Cruz replacement.
9. Matthew Stafford
I don’t know if there is another quarterback that people are sleeping on as much as Stafford. Over the Lions’ final seven games, Stafford threw 17 touchdowns and one interception. He was amazing, and a lot of people are down on Stafford, most likely, because Calvin Johnson retired. I am a firm believer that Eric Ebron is going to breakout, and that the duo of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will be more than serviceable. Do not overlook Stafford.
10. Philip Rivers
Rivers was great in 2015, and the return of Keenan Allen certainly increases his outlook for this season. I will say, I am a bit concerned about their receiver group as a whole. I do think Travis Benjamin was a nice addition, but after him, there really isn’t much. Also, I think they’ll certainly miss LaDarius Green, even though his role was never huge, I think he’s someone that should have gotten a bigger opportunity.
11. Tyrod Taylor
Taylor was probably the best late-round or free agent quarterback addition from last year. Despite missing four games, Taylor still produced over 3,500 total yards, 24 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. The Bills were very run-heavy in 2015, and with Taylor coming off as big a season as he did, I think the Bills will be more than comfortable giving him a bigger workload. All Taylor needs to do is stay healthy, have a healthy Sammy Watkins at his disposal, and keep being successful passing down the field.
12. Tony Romo
I am a little bit concerned about Tony Romo coming off an injury and being 36-years-old. He does now have a dynamic receiver out of the backfield in Ezekiel Eliott, but the Cowboys’ don’t have much after Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams is pretty average, and Jason Witten won’t be able to do it forever.
13. Blake Bortles
I already wrote a piece about why I’m down on Allen Robinson, and the same rings true for Blake Bortles. In short, the Jaguars won’t be down as much late in games, they’ll run the ball more, and their defense will be better. Bortles is still a gunslinger with plenty of weapons, but this isn’t the same Jaguars team from a year ago.
14. Tom Brady
I always drop players down quite a bit when their guaranteed to miss a few weeks to start this season. In Brady’s case, he’s great, but there are plenty of good quarterbacks available late in your draft, so you don’t need to waste a somewhat early pick on Brady.
15. Derek Carr
I never expected Carr to throw for 32 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions last year. I like him enough in 2016, but he’s in a weird spot where I’d just rather wait a little bit longer and go for Tannehill, Mariota or Winston.
16. Marcus Mariota
I go back and forth on how much I like Mariota. On one hand, he has the running ability that only himself, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Tyrod Taylor have. On the other hand, I don’t know how much of the offense is going to be given to him just yet, and could definitely see DeMarco Murray getting a large workload.
17. Ryan Tannehill
People like to trash on Tannehill because he’s a bad real-life quarterback, but in fantasy, he is a sneaky good option this year. My only concern is that Tannehill threw the ball almost 100 fewer times in 2015 compared to 2014, so I’d hope that Adam Gase ramps up the offense a bit. Regardless, the Dolphins have quite a few weapons, and I think Tannehill is the perfect quarterback for people that want to wait.
18. Andy Dalton
Through 13 games, Dalton easily had the best season of his career. However, his lack of interceptions seems a bit flukey to me, and he is going to be without three big weapons to start the 2016 season. No more Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, and Tyler Eifert is likely going to miss the start of the season. Dalton isn’t a horrible, and shouldn’t be overlooked, but his 2015 could have been a mirage.
19. Jameis Winston
Winston, like Mariota, had a great rookie season, but I’m worried about his interception count heading in 2016. I think he’ll throw for a lot of yards, a few touchdowns, but his interceptions will hurt owners, and I don’t think he’ll be getting as many rushing touchdowns.
20. Matt Ryan
For his price in 2015, Matt Ryan was bad, but now he seems like a somewhat valuable late-round sleeper. The yards, 4,591, were there but he just wasn’t putting the ball in the end zone. I think Matt Ryan improves in 2016, Mohamed Sanu is a decent addition, the touchdowns should go up.
21. Kirk Cousins
22. Jay Cutler
23. Mark Sanchez
24. Brock Osweiler
25. Sam Bradford
26. Alex Smith
27. Joe Flacco
28. Teddy Bridgewater
29. Geno Smith
30. Robert Griffin III
31. Blaine Gabbert
32. Jared Goff