2014 Fantasy Football Recap: Quarterback
With the Super Bowl approaching, the fantasy season is truly in the rear-view mirror. Hopefully you finished as the king of the mountain and took home a fantasy championship. If not, pour some salve on that ego and let’s talk about the top scoring position in fantasy, the omnipotent quarterback! We will start by examining the players that finished as the fabulous Top Five of 2014* before tossing some food waste into our Mr. Fusion machine and foreshadowing who will dominate in 2015.
*Based on default NFL.com scoring
Top Five of 2014
1. Aaron Rodgers – 4381/38/5 – 269/2
Sca ba da ba dweetly bum diddley doo! I’m the Calf-Man! The Calf-Man not only saves us all like $20 if we switch insurance, but he’s also quite decent at American Football. Rodgers was overshadowed last year by the fantasy-title-winning performance of Peyton Manning. Rodgers also missed time with a broken collarbone. You can’t say he truly faded this year, but he wasn’t being drafted in the first round, a la Cup O’ Noodles-Arm Manning. Rodgers continues to be elite at the position while playing nearly mistake-free football. The only thing that can slow Rodgers down is Mike McCarthy calling plays reminiscent of a cowardly egg-laying clucking bird.
2. Andrew Luck – 4761/40/26 – 273/3
If any QB in the league could replace Mr. Rogers, it would be Andrew Luck. No, not that Rodgers, Mr. Rogers, the one with the bathrobe and the neighborhood. This guy seems like he belongs in Pleasantville as he’s so good-natured. His friendly demeanor did not stop him from dropping pinball wizard points on opposing defenses. Apparently long gone are the balanced/run-heavy days of Chuck Pagano. Ball on the two-yard line? Don’t worry, Luck’s still going to throw. The downside to Luck’s incredible season? The dude straight wilted in the fantasy playoffs. The Luck giveth, and the Luck taketh.
3. Russell Wilson – 3475/20/7 – 849/6
The Dangerous One wrapped up his top-three fantasy season on the strength and speed of his legs. While RG3 and Colin Kaepernick were basically exposed in 2014, Russell Wilson continued on his stairway to heaven. The read-option with Wilson and Marshawn Lynch remained assassin-level deadly. Percy Harvin? Get that overpaid bum out of town! Russ can get it done with a set of wide receivers so unknown even their own grandmas forget their names. Wilson’s fantasy numbers were erratic and it was often a dice game when you threw him out, but for most of 2014 he got it done in a big way.
4. Peyton Manning – 4727/39/15 – (-24)/0
Fantasy players who gave an obscene gesture to the analytics of avoiding an early pick on a QB were flying sky-high throughout the regular season. Manning, although not as good as his record-shattering 2013, was tearing it up! Sure, his throws looked like they should be tracked down by that digital NES dog from Duck Hunt, but it didn’t matter. Manning is invincible! Manning is forever! Hmmmm, that was a strangely poor performance against the Rams. Then the week before the fantasy playoffs, Manning threw for 179 and 2 TDs against the Chiefs. Those aren’t the numbers a team built on the Manning Foundation needed to win. (Scary music plays) An ominous fog rolls in over of the stark black night covered mountains. Week 14, Manning throws for 173 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs, #dreamsdestroyed. Week 15, he throws for 233/1. Week 16, 311/2 and 4 INTs. News eventually broke that Manning was playing on a hurt quad of some nature, but he looked like he better change selling pizzas from part-time to full-time. Manning’s NFL future is currently unknown, but rumors are appearing stating he will return for 2015.
5. Ben Roethlisberger – 4952/32/9 – 27/0
Raise your hand if you drafted Big Ben in 2014…that’s right, I did! Now, raise your hand if you dropped Big Ben before the Week-8/9 automatic wins he handed out…guilty. Yes, technically speaking, Big Ben finished in the Top Five quarterbacks of 2014. If you had booked nonstop tickets on the Berger Express, he harmed you more often than not. Having a QB with that kind of ceiling is a tremendous advantage, but consistency and a high floor are also attractive qualities. He essentially had two astronomical games and three great games scattered among a bunch of ‘meh’ and ‘eek’ games. However, 2014 will be remembered as the year Big Ben threw 12 TDs in 2 weeks!
The past is so old and busted. Let’s gun it to 88 MPH and take a sneak peak into….the future!!
Of the three proven elite QBs (Manning, Rodgers, Brees) it appears only Rodgers remains. Manning may retire and was absolutely brutal to watch (admittedly his thigh injury could have been the cause). Drew Brees had a solid year, was consistent, but had few megalodon week-winners. Rodgers’ skill set is just nasty. His team is built perfectly for him to thrive. He easily takes the top spot.
2. Andrew Luck
Is this the ’15 list or did I accidentally reread the ’14 list? Fear not! Andrew Luck is the real deal. He has the natural ability and now he has the experience combined with pass-heavy play calling. Indianapolis really needs another WR to emerge next year if they hope to take another step forward. T.Y. Hilton looks like a monster fantasy WR in the making, but for ‘real life’ he would be best served as a 1B instead of a 1. Reggie Wayne‘s future with the team is unknown as he is no longer under contract. Donte Moncrief could be the man the Colts need, but he is still extremely raw. Having a lackluster supporting cast will not stop Luck from being a top-5 QB, but it keeps him behind Discount Double Check.
3. Matt Ryan
Last year the offensive line in Atlanta resembled a group of matadors more than a protective unit. Tony Gonzalez left a big hole in the offensive scheme. Matty Ice, holder of the leagues’ worst nickname, still continued to get it done. When it was all settled, Ryan had thrown for just under 4700 yards, but a lack of touchdowns (only 28) kept him outside of the Top Five. Before Julio Jones suffered his late-season injury, the Ryan/Jones combo was surging to be ultimate killer. Kyle Shanahan is the new offensive coordinator in ATL. He was the OC when Matt Schaub had a top-three fantasy finish in Texas. He was the OC in Washington when Robert Griffin III blasted to superstardom and a top-five fantasy finish. He even managed to coax some decent play from Brian Hoyer in Cleveland last year–remember all the “quick, extend Hoyer now while you have a chance” talk? K. Shan’s presence gives Manila Ice a tremendous opportunity in 2015 to not be too cold, too cold.
4. Drew Brees
Sure, he may have had his keys to the VIP Elite QB lounge revoked, but Drew Bress is still a stud. His No. 1 target, Jimmy Graham, was dealing with a shoulder injury nearly the entire season. Graham would flash occasionally, but it was pretty obvious he was not completely healthy, showing a real hesitancy to go up in the middle of the field. The Saints should be coming into ’15 with a fire of desperation. The Brees’ Era will be coming to a close sooner than later. They need to win now and I think Brees puts that weight on his shoulders and comes out slinging.
5. Eli Manning
Wait. Seriously? The man who gives Jay Cutler competition for the ‘Mr. Sourpuss Award’? That’s right! The Book of Eli has not had its finale written just yet. The Giants installed a brand new offense this year and it looked like it. The beginning of the year was an offensive disaster. Eventually they got into a flow and started putting points on the board. And then, something glorious happened. A gift from the fantasy gods placed upon the waiver wire for anyone with priority, or decent FFAB budget left, to have and to hold. Odell Beckham Jr. ODB went from a “waste of a first-round draft pick” to “I’m going to draft that guy with my first-round pick.” Then something possibly even more amazing happened. Rueben Randle produced with consistency! The future of Victor Cruz (remember that ‘other’ WR stud who plays for Big Blue) is murky. He suffered a horrific patellar tendon tear in his right knee. This is generally far worse than tearing an ACL. Cruz could possibly never be the same, or take multiple years to return to form. But let’s think positive! If Cruz can return to the lineup and Randle can finally return his draft value, the Giants could be an offensive….well….giant.
This pick is pretty lofty at first glance, perhaps even a bit laughable. Slow Joe took a while to get it going in 2014 and finished outside the top-12. But let’s be honest. This name is being thrown out as offseason fodder because of the new offensive coordinator in Baltimore. Marc Trestman. The man who personally robbed a bank and gave Josh McCown $10 million. The man who had Jay Cutler sitting as a top-five fantasy QB for the majority of the season. Joe Flacco has everything that Trestman needs to sculpt a fantasy David. Baltimore will need to re-sign Torrey Smith and bring back Justin Forsett or a soft-handed RB replacement. Flacco could start building some buzz for these reasons, but he’s unlikely to climb that high in ADP. If you are looking for a late round pick that could turn into a top-five guy, Joe Flacco could be your man.
Romo may have finished as the lowly No. 11 QB, but those who rode him know he outproduced that rank. He had an awful start to the season against San Francisco and later missed a game because of a fracture in his back. If you use the laws of averages while throwing out high/low, Romo was elite, especially during the fantasy playoff stretch. The Cowboys have quite the predicament as they try to retain both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray, both of whom are set to become free agents. There is no possible way they let Dez walk, but Murray is a different story. Romo was extremely efficient with his limited pass attempts. If Murray walks, perhaps Romo’s attempts rise and elevate him to a top-five QB.