2008-2009 NFL Fantasy Draft Quarterbacks QBs

Round 1

Two names are head and shoulders above the rest of the Fantasy quarterback class: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and for obvious reasons. Not only do both of them play in up-tempo offenses that cater to the passing game, but they also have fabulous receivers at their disposal. Expecting anything less than 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns is a gross error.

It's obvious why they're going in the first round of most leagues: Fantasy owners view Brady and Manning as low-risk, high-reward options. They're established players who don't usually deliver low points on a weekly basis and play well whether their team wins or loses. They're also quarterbacks you'd rarely consider benching, so drafting a backup isn't even a necessity. That means another roster spot opens up on your team for another player, such as a sleeper running back.

Owners can certainly justify drafting Tom Brady with a first round pick in 2008. (US Presswire)
Owners can certainly justify drafting Tom Brady with a first round pick in 2008. (US Presswire)
The downside to drafting Brady or Manning is just as obvious as the upside: Picking one of them means passing on a top-caliber Fantasy running back. True, running backs are stat producers when playing in the right environment, and the first-round rushers qualify, but stud running backs get hurt more often and generally disappoint more often than stud quarterbacks. If your league rewards six points for all touchdowns, or favors quarterbacks in any way, then going with Brady or Manning with a middle-to-late pick in Round 1 is a no-brainer.

Rounds 2-3

If you pass on a stud running back in Round 1, you're probably going to have trouble finding one in Rounds 2 and 3. Miss on a quarterback, though, and you'll still find some very attractive options soon thereafter. Many Fantasy owners see a lot of value in nabbing Tony Romo (the consensus No. 3 Fantasy QB) and Drew Brees with a pick between 13th and 36th overall.

Like Brady and Manning, Romo and Brees are expected to reach 4,000 passing yards in 2008. Where they differ from Brady and Manning is in the touchdown department, where both are expected to lose some TDs to their respective running attacks. Interceptions are also more of a possibility with these two. Brees is also a bit injury prone and Romo opens himself to injury with his aggressive style of play.

Still, there is nothing wrong with going with a quarterback in Rounds 2 and 3, particularly if you struck gold with a running back in Round 1 and or 2. If you do, Romo or Brees should be who you take. A backup is a recommended option for both players.

Rounds 4-7

Like any position in a Fantasy draft, the deeper you wait to pick, the less desirable the talent. That said, several quarterbacks who were picked at this point and beyond last year turned out to be steals.

The quarterbacks in play at this point are Derek Anderson, Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger, and all three carry more risk with less reward than the four previous passers. Anderson is brimming with upside as the centerpiece in the Browns' offense, but he has just one year of experience under his belt and just got paid. Roethlisberger is also coming off a career year and an offseason contract extension and has never been a huge yardage guy -- 2007 was large for him because of the Steelers' passing in the red zone, something that should still be fairly consistent this season, though rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall might steal touchdowns from Big Ben and his receivers. Palmer has the tools and teammates to be a 30-touchdown passer but has only done it once in four years as the Bengals' starter.

Despite each passer's pros and cons, the truth is that once these three guys are off the board, Fantasy owners left without a quarterback will begin struggling to find one they can look at and deem reliable. That's why Anderson, Palmer and Roethlisberger are likely to be gone by Round 6 of most drafts, not Round 7.

And because these three carry some risk, drafting a solid backup is a must.

Rounds 8-10

We've found that the remaining teams in drafts that don't have a starter will grab one around this point, usually the middle of standard Fantasy drafts. But teams looking to hoard talent at quarterback will also be considering a passer here, so if you're still searching, you need to act quickly.

Four of the five names you'll see drafted next are familiar: Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb. With all four, you have a pretty good idea of what you are getting and what the positives and negatives are.

The fifth member of the group, and the true wild-card of the 2008 Top-12 Fantasy class, is Jay Cutler of the Broncos. Entering his second season as a starter, Cutler has the ability to be a gunner but has a suspect crew of offensive talent around him (made even more suspect by the offseason issues surrounding his most reliable receiving outlet, WR Brandon Marshall).

If you've waited this long for a starting quarterback, our recommendation is to take not one of these guys, but two of them, potentially with back-to-back picks. Because these quarterbacks have so many question marks around them, your best bet is to hedge and draft a pair of them and platoon them until one becomes the clear starter. If you get one from this group but the rest get drafted, then the plan of attack is to take the best available No. 2 quarterback according to our rank list and use him in the platoon.

Beyond Round 10

The last strategy worth considering is "punting" on the top Fantasy quarterbacks and drafting two (or even three) from the pool of No. 2 Fantasy quarterbacks, a pool that includes Jason Campbell, Jake Delhomme, David Garrard, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Schaub. On paper, all five of these guys are appealing because they have solid receivers to throw to, a good offensive line in front of them and a really nice running game to balance the offense.

But they all carry plenty of risk, more than any of the 12 aforementioned quarterbacks. How long will it take Jason Campbell to thrive in Jim Zorn's West Coast offense? Is Jake Delhomme fully recovered from Tommy John surgery? Will David Garrard repeat his efficient, nearly turnover-free campaign of a year ago while connecting with career underachiever Jerry Porter? Is Philip Rivers healthy and capable of consistently throwing for over 200 yards per game? Can Aaron Rodgers pick up where Brett Favre left off? Will Matt Schaub play 16 games, and will his best receiver, Andre Johnson, play them with him?

The only way we'd recommend drafting two or three of these quarterbacks is if you get to the point in Rounds 8 through 10 in your draft, you still don't have a quarterback and are dead-set against anyone in the bottom half of our Top 12. We've seen owners do this and end up with a star-studded team at all the other positions. If those owners choose wisely among these quarterbacks, they'll be extremely competitive in 2008.

Quarterback Bye-Week Cheat Sheet
Bye Week No. 1 Fantasy QBs on Bye No. 2 Fantasy QBs With Projected Good Matchups
Week 4 Tom Brady (NE); Matt Hasselbeck (SEA); Eli Manning (NYG); Peyton Manning (IND) Jake Delhomme (vs. ATL); Trent Edwards (at STL); David Garrard (vs. HOU); Philip Rivers (at OAK)
Week 5 Derek Anderson (CLE); Marc Bulger (STL) Jake Delhomme (vs. KC); Tarvaris Jackson (at NO); Philip Rivers (at MIA); Aaron Rodgers (vs. ATL)
Week 6 Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) Jason Campbell (vs. STL); Tarvaris Jackson (vs. DET); JaMarcus Russell (at NO); Matt Schaub (vs. MIA)
Week 7 Donovan McNabb (PHI) Jason Campbell (vs. CLE); Jake Delhomme (vs. NO); Matt Schaub (vs. DET); Vince Young (at KC)
Week 8 Jay Cutler (DEN); Carson Palmer (CIN) Trent Edwards (at MIA); David Garrard (vs. CLE); Philip Rivers (at NO)
Week 9 Drew Brees (NO) David Garrard (at CIN); Tarvaris Jackson (vs. HOU); Matt Leinart (at STL); JaMarcus Russell (vs. ATL)
Week 10 Tony Romo (DAL) Drew Brees (at ATL); Matt Hasselbeck (at MIA); Philip Rivers (vs. KC); Matt Schaub (vs. CIN)

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