I'm pleased to announce that I will be bringing back my weekly fantasy football column this fall. Why am I so pleased? Because it gives me an excuse to tinker with my fantasy football teams when I'm on the clock.
I’m scaling back to four or five leagues this year so I can focus on other important things (like the new “Madden” game that comes out at the end of the month). But this column lets me play vicariously through you guys, and I’m always available to give fantasy advice via email, Twitter and the comments section.
Every once in a while I’m right, like when I told everyone to run out and draft Arian Foster last season.
I will kick the season off with position rankings this week. Today is quarterbacks, and I'll tackle a position each day until finally getting to the boring kickers and defense/special teams combos on Friday.
The big debate at quarterback this year is whether Aaron Rodgers or Michael Vick should be the top QB taken. Most publications I’ve seen have Rodgers ranked as the No. 1 quarterback, but ESPN fantasy guru Matthew Berry likes Vick so much he has advocated taking him first overall over the top running backs.
If you want a consistent point producer who is going to give you double digits for 16 weeks, you’ve got to go with Rodgers. But if you want to strap on your seatbelt and enjoy the Michael Vick experience -- it’s more fun when he’s on your fantasy team -- then take Vick as your quarterback and enjoy the ride. That’s what I did in the one auction league I participate in, even though Rodgers is my top QB, too.
On to the quarterback rankings…
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: He might be the best quarterback in football, and his supporting cast is sweet.
2. Michael Vick, Eagles: If you do draft Vick, make sure you draft a productive backup option, too.
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers: He led the NFL in passing yards last year, and did it mostly without Vincent Jackson.
4. Drew Brees, Saints: He’s usually good for 4,000 passing yards and 30-plus touchdowns every season.
5. Tom Brady, Patriots: Don’t count on a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception from Brady again in 2011.
6. Peyton Manning, Colts: His neck injury is concerning, and his top targets all have question marks.
7. Tony Romo, Cowboys: Count on a fine bounce-back season from Romo, who clicked with Miles Austin.
8. Matt Schaub, Texans: He benefits from having an elite weapon at both receiver and running back.
9. Matt Stafford, Lions: A risky pick, but if he plays 16 games, he will be a top-five fantasy quarterback.
10. Matt Ryan, Falcons: Like Joe Flacco, he’s a more valuable reality quarterback than a fantasy one.
11. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers: If he takes another leap forward in his third season, look out.
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: His week-to-week totals fluctuate too much for my liking.
13. Eli Manning, Giants: He will miss the other Steve Smith, but Hakeem Nicks is an absolute beast.
14. Jay Cutler, Bears: The Bears drafted a tackle and signed Roy Williams to help this inconsistent QB.
15. Joe Flacco, Ravens: The Ravens want to throw the ball less in 2011, so Flacco’s totals may drop.
16: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals: Take him strictly as a backup, and if he pans out, that will be a nice bonus.
17. Sam Bradford, Rams: The Rams must improve the talent around him for him to achieve starter status.
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills: If you like to draft two QBs and play the matchups, this guy is one for you.
19. Matt Cassel, Chiefs: As we saw in last year’s playoffs, he struggles when teams take Dwayne Bowe away.
20. Kyle Orton, Broncos: I’d be higher on him if we knew for sure he would be a full-time starter somewhere.
If you really want to draft a rookie…
Your best bet is Cam Newton, who will have Vince Young-like fantasy impact, but I would advise against it.
Three quarterbacks with sleeper potential…
1. Matt Stafford: With all those weapons in Detroit, whoever is the Lions quarterback will put up points.
2. Eli Manning: He has a pair of talented deep threats in Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
3. Jay Cutler: It’s his second year in Mike Martz’s system, which should help him cut down on the INTs.
Three quarterbacks I would draft with caution…
1. Mark Sanchez: He’s overrated, and despite the additions at wide receiver, the Jets are a running team.
2. Donovan McNabb: Stick a spork in him. He’s done. And the Vikings losing Sidney Rice really hurts.
3. David Garrard: I hated him as a fantasy QB before he had a first-round pick breathing down his neck.
Matt Vensel is a blogger and community coordinator for The Baltimore Sun. Send your fantasy questions and comments to Matt.Vensel@baltsun.com, @mattvensel on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.