QB rankings for Week 1

The season is finally here.  Now instead of analyzing yearly value for the draft, we have to start breaking down individual matchups.  There is nothing better than getting out of the gates with a Week 1 W.  So if you have any tough QB decisions for week 1, refer to these rankings.

The Elite

1.  Aaron Rodgers @ Philadelphia – One of the top tier QBs against a young, unproven Eagles defense.  This sounds like a recipe for success, and I am excited to have Rodgers at the helm in one of my two important leagues.  This should be a shootout to open the season at the “The Linc” and Rodgers should be the life of the party.

2. Peyton Manning @ Houston – Another top tier quarterback in a likely shootout.  Manning will be on a mission this year after losing the Superbowl in 2009.  He returns with an arsenal of weapons with Wayne, Garcon, Clark, Collie, A. Gonz, Addai, and D. Brown.  I am intrigued to see how changing the position of the referees could hinder Manning’s hurry-up offense, but they did drop the distance the officials must run from 15 to 12 yards. Manning will continue to be the on-field coach and torch the division rival Texan defense.

3. Drew Brees vs. Minnesota – Is it a coincidence that the top three fantasy QBs are a part of the three highest over/unders in week 1?  The Saints will look to debunk the rumors of a Superbowl hangover against their 2009 Conference Finals opponent.  The Vikings have a staunch defense, their one weakness being the secondary.  They allowed the tenth most passing touchdowns last year, so do not let the Vikings defense deter you.  Not like anyone would be benching Brees, no matter the opponent.  Start with condidence, and enjoy watching your field general at work on opening night.

The Upper Class

4. Tom Brady @ Cincinnati – I think Brady will have a great season this year.  Tom has a questionable defense and a bit of a chip on his shoulder after being written off due to the last two seasons.  That said he starts his season with a tough matchup against the Bengals defense.  Jonathon Joseph and Leon Hall make up the most underrated cornerback duo in the league.  The Bengals allowed the sixth least passing yards and the eighth least passing touchdowns in 2009.  Brady should still post decent numbers, but I would expect something along the lines of 275 yds/ 2 TDs.

5. Jay Cutler vs. Detroit – Martz and Co. get a chance at a coming out party at home against Detroit.  This will be a telling sign as to how successful the highly hyped Bears offense will be this year.  The Lions defense (especially their D-line) should be better with the signing of a few free agents, the drafting of Suh, and another year under the tutelage of HC Jim Schwartz.  Even if there is improvement, Detroit was dead last in passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed last year.  If Cutler does not put up numbers in week 1, everyone will be stamping this offense with the overrated tag.  My guess is he comes out firing.  300 yds/ 2TDs/1 INT

6. Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis – Schaub was only marginally successful last year versus the Colts.  He posted good yardage numbers (311, 284), but posted only 3 touchdowns along with five turnovers between the two games.  Since Houston was introduced to the NFL in 2002, they have beaten the Colts only once out of sixteen attempts.  There is a hatred for the Colts in the Texans locker room, and I think the offense will put up good numbers in their season opener, at home, against their arch rival.  Pencil Schaub in for 300 yds/ 2 TDs/ 1 INT.

7. Phillip Rivers @ Kansas City – The Chargers offense has a lot of turnover from last year.  LT Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson are holding out due to contract disputes, and rookie Ryan Mathews has taken over for Tomlinson at running back.  The offense should still be fairly powerful with Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee, and newly acquired Patrick Crayton running routes.  The Chiefs pass defense last year was a little below average (22nd Yds allowed, 20th TDs).  With Eric Berry at safety and Romeo Crennel now at DC, the defense stands to improve.  Arrowhead is notoriously one of the loudest stadiums to play at in the NFL, and opening day should not do anything to contradict the stadium’s image.  Rivers should be a solid quarterback this week, 250 Yds/2 TDs.

The Middle Class

8. Kevin Kolb vs. Green Bay – This should be a high scoring game, and I think Kolb can prove some of his doubters wrong right out of the gate.  We all know Andy Reid is a pass first, pass second kind of guy.  If the Eagles have any chance of winning (the spread is only Eagles +3), then Kolb will have to produce.  He has more variance than someone like Rivers, but his potential for a huge game is there.

9. Tony Romo @ Washington – This matchup is a big question mark.  Can the Cowboys over the hill offensive line protect Romo?  Will the Hayneworth drama effect the performance of the Redskins defense?  These questions don’t allow me to put Romo in the “Upper Class”, making him a below average QB1 start.

10. Carson Palmer @ New England – This will be the first chance to see how Palmer can control Batman and Robin.  The offense has talent and will be up against a young, albeit up and coming, Patriot defense.  Like Cutler, Palmer has a chance to prove that this much talked about offense is for real.

11. Brett Farve @ New Orleans – With Sidney Rice out, can Harvin, Berrian, and Camarillo be enough firepower for Farve?  I think the Vikings turn to Purple Jesus (AP) and the running game.  After missing most of training camp last year, Farve started his season slow passing for 110 yards vs the Browns and 155 yards vs the Lions.  Even with the ESPN hyped opening game, I don’t think Farve will produce fantastic numbers.  The potential is there, but he is definitely not a safe start.

The Lower Class

12. Eli Manning vs Carolina – The first regular season game in the beautiful new stadium.  The chance at a bit of redemption against the team who shut the door on the G-Men in last years horrific close to the season.  A shot to prove to the nation that the Jets may be the most talked about NY team, but not the most talented.  That said, Carolina has one of the better pass defenses in the league (2nd TDs, 4th Yds) and likes to run, run, run on offense.  That does not often equate to a high scoring affair.  A Big Blue win, but only mediocre numbers out of Eli.

13. Matt Ryan @ Pittsburgh – Another potential break out quarterback against a good defense.  The Steelers ranked middle of the pack last year in passing D, but with the return of Polamalu they should vault back into the top ten.  I think the Steelers will also try to slow the game down without Big Ben at quarterback.  Ryan may produce good numbers, but less likely than the men above him.

14. Kyle Orton @ Jacksonville – With Marshall now gone, the question remains who will Orton turn to for the most targets?  Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal stand as the favorites, and this should be a good week for them.  The Jaguars were ranked in the high twenties in passing yards and TDs allowed last year and have not done much to improve.  Orton is a sneaky choice if a manager needed a bye week or injury replacement, but lets hope not as its only week 1.

15. Joe Flacco vs. New York Jets – Flacco has the potential to step into the top tier of QBs this year, but this is not the week.  Even though I think the Jets are slightly over-hyped, it is not because of their defense.  This unit is phenomenal, and can shut down the best.  Revis is just coming back, but make no mistake he will still be good.  Add to the mix the Jets offseason pickups of Kyle Wilson and JT, plus a healthy Kris Jenkins, and losing Calvin Pace is not going to kill the Jets.  Flacco should be benched in week 1 if you own a solid backup QB.

16. Matt Stafford @ Chicago – Another offense with breakout potential.  The Lions acquired Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, and Tony Scheffler in the offseason.  If Stafford can mature quickly he has the ability to put up some good numbers with his supporting cast.  Not to mention the Lion’s weak defense will force the offense to put up numbers in the passing game.  The Bears were middle of the road in passing yards allowed, but near the bottom in passing TDs allowed.  The addition of J Pep should help Chicago’s pass rush, but Stafford should still put up decent numbers.

17. Donovan McNabb vs. Dallas – The first game for an entirely new regime in Washington.  Move over Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell, welcome Mike Shanahan and Donny Mac.  McNabb is not entirely healthy with his ankle, but I would not be surprised if he comes out throwing in an attempt to show the fans he is the new leader.

18.  Derek Anderson @ St. Louis – Starting the season off against the Rams will give Anderson a chance at being successful this year.  Anderson has talented receivers in Fitz, Breaston, and Doucet.  If he can control his accuracy he may be able to put up decent numbers.

19. Matt Cassell vs. San Diego – No one is giving Cassell much credit, but Kansas City has made advancements on offense.  With an in shape Dwayne Bowe, Chambers, McCluster, Charles, and T. Jones the offense has playmakers.  Now that Charlie Weis has come on board, Cassell will be in an offense he studied for several years in New England.  If the O-line can protect him, he may put up decent numbers this year.  San Diego’s defense is overrated, and Cassell has the chance to be serviceable this week.

20. Chad Henne @ Buffalo – Chad Henne liked the offseason addition of Brandon Marshall more than anyone.  For a young quarterback to have a talent like Marshall is very helpful.  Along with Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, Henne has potential.  I think the wildcat becomes even more of a change of pace in Miami this year as Henne takes over.  Buffalo however does have a tough pass defense, ranking second in the league last year.  Second year stud cornerback Jairus Byrd fully practiced Wednesday, and should play on Sunday.  Henne is an average QB2 this week.

Cheers to the first week of the season.  Let the games begin!