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BC Fantasy Island - Quarterback Rankings

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Welcome, BC Denizens, to this year’s Barking Carnival Fantasy Football Preview. Apologies to all those who have already held your drafts, but if you do a draft before the third set of preseason games you’re being silly anyway. A San Fran/Vegas vacation and a ton of work on my return have delayed me in getting this series posted, but hopefully today and tomorrow I’ll be able to stick it to The Man and have everything up by Friday afternoon.

Good fantasy football projection is all about variance analysis. Anybody can re-draft the top guys from last season. The trick to landing this year’s top guys, spotting the right sleepers and avoiding guys who are going to plummet is understanding what’s changed from last year – their supporting cast, their schedules, their coaching and offensive schemes, and even their skill level – and how that’s going to translate into this year’s performance. That kind of knowledge has never been more important than 2011 in the wake of the biggest offseason roster upheaval in NFL history.

Fortunately for you, you’re a Barking Carnival man. You know where to go for both witty repartee and hardcore football analysis. We’ve got you covered with a five-part Fantasy Preview series that will make you the Don of your draft room.

The projections you’ll see in this series were built bottoms-up, not unlike the angel-voiced castrati choir that Sailor employs to provide a soothing undertone to the weekly BC staff meeting. Starting with last year’s performance, each player was analyzed in terms of his team’s overall number of opportunities in the run and pass game and how personnel and scheme changes might make those opportunities more or less productive on average. Factor in that player’s share of the targets and opportunities within his team’s offense and a look at the difficulty presented by his schedule and you arrive at each guy's season projections for 2011.

Each entry in this series will provide some detailed analysis on the top starters for a typical 12-team league (12 QBs, 24 RBs and WRs, etc.) with projected stats and selected comments for the lower-tier guys. You’ll see last year’s key stats and a review of what’s changed for the better or worse in 2011, and finally their projected stats for the coming season. The players in this guide will be ranked according to the following scoring system:

Passing Yards : .04 points per yard (100 yards = 4 points)

Rushing/Receiving Yards : .1 points per yard (100 yards = 10 points)

Receptions: 1 point per catch

Passing TDs: 6 points

Rushing TDs: 6 points

100 Yards Rushing/Receiving or 300 Yards Passing: 3 Points

Some guys with higher raw stats/point totals may be lower on the list due to my thoughts on their risk level relative to other players. If your league has a different scoring system then your mileage may vary, so make sure to adjust for your league and personal risk preference if necessary.

We’re starting off our list with the triggermen, in deference to the fact that the NFL has become a passer’s league. You can take different approaches to the QB position and be successful – I’ve done well grabbing one of the 3-4 top guys and also had good years when I mixed and matched two or three lower tier starters based on matchups. How much your league rewards TD passes relative to other scoring should guide your strategy here, as well as remembering that QB is a unique position because only around 20 or so people on the Earth can execute it with reasonable competence. Every year a LaGarrette Blount or Brandon Lloyd emerges from obscurity at RB or WR to jack bigtime stats, but don’t count on an unknown signal caller to save you should you find yourself without a quality QB at some point in the season.

1 – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

475 8.3 3935 28 11 64 356 4

The Outlook for 2011: Aaron Rodgers was the triggerman for a remorseless aerial assault in 2010, and his performance against the Falcons in the 2010 NFC Divisional Game was as amazing a performance as you’re ever likely to see. The bad news for the other 31 teams hoping to stave off a Packers’ Super Bowl repeat is that Rodgers is likely to be even more deadly this year. He’s returning a dynamic cast of receivers and regaining a nearly un-coverable weapon at tight end in former Longhorn Jermichael Finley. Longtime stalwart Donald Driver is a lion entering winter, but his decline will be more than covered for by young guns Jordy Nelson, James Jones and speed-burning rookie Randall Cobb (whose nickname we can only hope is "Tex"). The OL isn’t fantastic but it should be capable – RT Brian Bulaga went from horrible to decent in pass protection over his rookie year, center and right guard are capably manned and T.J. Lang shouldn’t be a major downgrade from the departed Daryn Colledge. The biggest risk is that aging LT Chad Clifton’s performance falls off the table this year, but if he’s able to keep aging with relative grace the OL shouldn’t allow more heat than Rodgers can handle. Throw in Rodgers’ rushing stats and you’ve got your #1 QB. You’re not likely to need your backup QB much with Rodgers as your lead dog, but both Matthew Stafford and Kyle Orton have favorable matchups during the Packers’ Week 8 bye.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

539 8.2 4420 31 13 55 285 3

2 – Michael Vick, Philadelphia

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

372 8.1 3018 21 6 100 676 9

The Outlook for 2011: Michael Vick had an unbelievable resurgence in 2010, highlighted by passing accuracy that was nearly night and day from his scatter-armed Atlanta career. He was able to take advantage of weapons like Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for big strikes downfield while proving as dangerous as ever with his legs. He should put up a ton of points in 2011, but his campaign may not be the outright coronation that many in the media are slavering to bestow. He returns a lot of pluses in 2011 – same bigtime weapons (Maclin seems to be shaking off his mono/bird flu/Motaba virus from the offseason), same high-powered offensive system and same ability to rack up 600+ yards on the ground with his legs. The minuses shouldn’t be ignored, though – injury risk due to his style, an OL that looks to go rookie/rookie/converted guard from C to RT, possible early season chemistry issues with Maclin and the tendency to ignore Brent Celek. I’d also look for his INT totals to rise after he got tremendously lucky with dropped picks last season and also displayed some very iffy decision-making in the preseason. The bottom line is that in the games when he’s healthy he’s the odds-on favorite to outscore every other QB almost every week, but a few risk factors drop him just behind Rogers for me. Investing in a solid backup will be a good strategy here, and both Joe Flacco and Sam Bradford offer attractive matchups during the Eagles’ Week 7 bye.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

518 7.8 4044 27 17 110 580 6

3 – Tom Brady, New England

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

492 7.9 3900 36 4 31 30 0

The Outlook for 2011: While it didn’t equal his historic stat-jack from the Patriots’ 16-0 2007 regular season run, Brady still put up a phenomenal season in 2010 that was highlighted by the most impressive TD/INT ratio you’re ever likely to see. While he’s not going to drop another 9:1 ratio on us in 2011, his overall production is likely to remain extremely strong. Brady is still in his prime and is probably the NFL’s premier decision-maker with sufficient arm strength and great accuracy that allows him to hit the receiver that’s open on a 4-10 yard in or out in this offense EVERY SINGLE PLAY along with selective deeper shots. The Pats pass attack didn’t skip a beat when Randy Moss skipped town as Brady was able to work his standout rookie tight ends and the ever-reliable Wes Welker. They’re all back and likely to be improved this year (more experience for Gronkowski and Hernandez, more distance from knee surgery for Welker). The addition of Ochocinco could be a bonus if he plays well but they can easily function without him should he fail to pick up the offense. A stout OL is yet another asset for Brady – aging Matt Light at LT is the only real question mark, and the Pats can flip Sebastian Vollmer over from the right side or promote good-looking rookie Nate Solder if Light really starts to fade. There are QBs like Rivers who may have a higher ceiling than Brady this year, but Brady’s high floor and sustained excellence earn him the third spot.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

495 8.0 3958 33 8 30 40 1

4 – Philip Rivers, San Diego

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

541 8.7(!) 4710 30 13 29 52 0

The Outlook for 2011: Rivers put up some terrific pass numbers in 2010, including an absolutely jaw-dropping 8.7 yards per attempt. His performance becomes even more astounding when you realize that he only had Vincent Jackson for six games, Antonio Gates for 10 and Malcom Floyd for 10 – he did all this throwing the ball to Legedu Naanee and Seji Ajirotutu much of the time. With his Big Three available to him this season, Rivers may have the highest upside of any QB in 2011. The potential downside comes from a few factors. First, coach Norv Turner is a run-first guy at heart, and with the Chargers figuring to lead big in most games after fixing their special teams fiasco from 2010 Rivers’ attempts may fall by 40 or more this season. His OL is solid but not great, and he lacks the feet of a Rodgers or Vick to get out of trouble when pressure comes. He also loses about 500 free yards with the loss of super-scatback Darren Sproles, although RBs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert can both contribute in the pass game. For all that, Rivers is an elite QB with the league’s best deep ball, scary weapons and tremendous decision-making. Take him in the second round and you won’t regret it – let Stafford, Flacco or Colt McCoy put up numbers for you during Rivers’ bye week.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

515 8.6 4429 31 11 25 40 0

5 – Drew Brees, New Orleans

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

658(!) 7.0 4620 33 22 18 -3 0

The Outlook for 2011: Last year was more of what you’ve come to expect from Brees and the pass-happy Saints, with the unwelcome addition of a much higher than normal number of INTs. Brees’ decision-making wasn’t quite up to par in 2010, but he’s got enough of a track record that you can be pretty comfortable in considering that to be an aberration. Brees will be spreading the ball to a bunch of high quality targets again in 2011. Lead WR Marques Colston’s knees are a worry after yet another surgery, but if he falters guys like the super-reliable Lance Moore, the extremely fast and fairly reliable Robert Meachem, and the even faster but only semi-reliable Devery Henderson at WR and emerging stud TE Jimmy Graham should have no trouble picking up the slack. The Saints also grabbed stellar 3rd-down back Darren Sproles from the Chargers, where he will make a further mockery of Reggie Bush’s career by dramatically outperforming him in the Crescent City. Brees’ downside comes from the fact that a likely improved defense and the acquisition of stud RB Mark Ingram could reduce his attempts from "Holy Shit, He Throws the Ball a Ton" territory down to "Wow, That Sure Is A Lot of Attempts"-ville. His OL is also the shakiest of any yet listed. Part-time TE Zach Strief at right tackle, ancient Olin Kreutz at center and just plain terrible Jermon Bushrod at left tackle each have the potential to send Brees running for cover on any given play. The reward definitely outweighs the risk with Brees, though – if you get him in the late second/early third your QB spot will be in very good hands. This particular Cajun dish pairs well with a side of Bradford, Flacco or McCoy at backup QB.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

600 7.3 4380 32 16 20 30 0

6 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

680(!) 6.9 4700 33 17 18 18 0

The Outlook for 2011: Even if you’ve been completely caught up in the start of the Longhorn football season, the Aggies’ SEC-ede drama or Kim Kardashian’s fairy-tale wedding, you’ve likely been aware of the questions surrounding Peyton Manning’s neck after off-season surgery. The "will he or won’t he" question surrounding Manning’s Week 1/early season availability is one of the biggest in both the NFL and fantasy this year. After weighing all the available evidence I made my bet this weekend in Vegas, taking the Texans big to win the AFC South this year. I bet Manning returns to action in Week 3 or 4 this year, with his neck creating an increased injury risk for the balance of the season. The projections I listed below are for all sixteen games, though, and they’re pretty tasty numbers – depending on your personal tolerance for risk, move him up or down your list accordingly. When he does take the field he’s likely to lead a high-octane passing attack. Reggie Wayne is slowing down but still has an edge on most corners due to his fantastic route running and rapport with Manning. Austin Collie was damn near uncover-able last year before brain trauma sat him down, and Dallas Clark remains one of the game’s best receiving TE’s. Couple that with a healthy Addai and a streaky deep threat in Pierre Garcon and Manning should put up strong numbers in just about every game he plays. His OL won’t be great but should actually improve on last year (Manning takes few sacks because he gets rid of the ball faster than anyone in the league, not because his OL has been worth a damn lately), so his main risk lies in his neck and a possible decrease in performance his first few games back since he won’t have been conducting his legendary post-practice timing sessions with his main weapons. The risk is far higher than it has been in over a decade with Manning, but once you get into the middle of the third round he’s likely worth it. Backup QB selection is at a premium with Manning this season – Josh Freeman and Matthew Stafford both have attractive early season matchups should Manning not be ready to roll in Week 1, and the Bradford/Flacco/McCoy troika all offer nice bye-week matchups.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

630 7.4 4662 32 17 12 20 0

7 – Tony Romo, Dallas

2010 Stats (6 games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

213 7.6 1611 11 7 6 38 0

The Outlook for 2011: Even though penalties, defensive breakdowns and other fiascoes doomed the Cowboys’ season almost from the start in 2010, Tony Romo was putting up a very strong performance until he got knocked out against the Giants thanks to a missed blocking assignment from yet another of the spares with whom Jerry chooses to surround his star players. Fully healed, Romo figures to rack some big numbers in 2011. The NFL’s all-time leader in adjusted yards per attempt can get the ball downfield with the best of them and will be throwing to deep-ball impresario Miles Austin, young Terrell Owens doppelganger Dez Bryant and ultra-reliable TE Jason Witten. The Cowboys have also evolved an impressive screen game in response to new DE Rob Ryan’s insane blitz schemes, so look for a good number of cheap yards chipped in from Felix Jones and Demarco Murray at RB as well as Kevin Ogletree at WR. His 2011 OL may have some growing pains with two rookies and one second year man starting and only LT Doug Free playing in the same spot he did last season, but as the season goes on they should perform better in both the run and pass games than last season’s aging, penalty- and mistake-prone group of laggards. While Romo has largely reined in the swashbuckling ways that dominated his game up through the 2009 Giants game, he is still likelier than a lot of QBs to make the risky throw. While he’s been knocked out in two of the past three seasons, they were injuries that would have put out any QB so it’s tough to call him injury prone but hey – it’s out there. The bottom line is that with his top three weapons the equal of anyone in the league and a team that has shaken off the Wade Phillips malaise, Romo presents a great third-round value and should be able to keep up with most all the QBs chosen ahead of him. When choosing a backup, know that Josh Freeman, Eli Manning and Kevin Kolb all complement Romo’s schedule nicely.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

540 7.8 4212 29 16 30 125 1

8 – Matt Schaub, Houston

2010 Stats (6 games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

574 7.6 4371 24 12 22 28 0

The Outlook for 2011: Faced with the need to pour points on the board to make up for a tremendously inept pass defense, Matt Schaub wasn’t able to do quite enough to lead the Texans to their first playoff berth last season but still made his fantasy owners plenty happy. He has the arm, accuracy and receiving threats to do the same again in 2011. Those receiving threats are highlighted by all-world WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels, who is in line for big-time production now that he’s totally healed from his knee surgery last off-season. Schaub also enjoys solid secondary targets in WRs Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, and lead running back Arian Foster was kind enough to chip in over 600 yards of his own to Schaub’s aerial efforts. Operating behind one of the league’s premier O-lines (yes, somewhere David Carr is weeping bitter tears) Schaub should have time to shred defenses once again this season. His upside may be curtailed a bit by his team’s improving fortunes – with a pass defense that should improve from atrocious to ‘sort of OK’ and the continued support of a top-grade running attack, the Texans may have the luxury of killing the fourth quarter with handoffs instead of furiously trying to pass their way down the field for an answering TD. Still, you don’t ignore the type of deep-strike magic that Schaub and his merry band are capable of working, so he should put up strong totals again this year. As with the QBs above that feature a Week 11 bye, you’d do well to land one of Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco or Colt McCoy as Schaub’s backup.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

545 7.7 4197 28 12 30 40 0

9 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

571 6.5 3705 28 9 46 122 0

The Outlook for 2011: The Matt Ryan-Roddy White connection was one of the NFL’s most potent last season as they hooked up on dozens upon dozens of chain-moving first downs that helped Atlanta to the long, clock-killing drives that propelled them to 14-2. In the playoffs, however, they got a taste of what a truly dynamic passing attack looked like as Aaron Rodgers and the Pack fricasseed them with an air show for the ages. The Atlanta brain trust realized they needed to up the ante to survive this kind of arms race and handed the Browns a bounty of draft picks to move up and grab stud Alabama wideout Julio Jones. While opinions differed as to whether Jones would provide enough return to make up for that substantial investment, he has looked like dynamite throughout his first preseason and proved equally scary on at-the-line smoke routes and deep balls. The Falcons intend to operate a much more wide-open passing attack with their pair of stallions at wideout, and Ryan’s passing stats should see a substantial uptick as a result. He’s not going to have the attempts of someone like a Brees or Manning, but his improved YPA and strong red zone weapons will make him a top 10 QB with substantial upside, especially if he gleans some additional red zone passing opportunities should the Falcons’ goal line run game falter with an older Michael Turner and without G Harvey Dahl. Ryan should be available in the fifth round or later in most drafts and offers a great value there. If you get Ryan, target Matthew Stafford as one of the first backups off the board and you’ll be able to mix and match starts based on matchups to equal the season point totals from a number of higher-ranked QBs.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

550 7.3 3995 29 13 42 100 1

10 – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

2010 Stats (12 games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

389 8.2 3200 17 5 33 176 2

The Outlook for 2011: After sitting in time-out during the first quarter of the 2010 season for being just a little bit rapey, Roethlisberger returned and forced himself on the league’s DBs to the tune of a terrific 8.2 yards per attempt in leading the Steelers to yet another Super Bowl. While he wasn’t able to match the aerial mastery of Aaron Rodgers in the big game, Roethlisberger will be helming a pretty fearsome passing attack in 2011. His weaponry is headlined by elite deep threat Mike Wallace as well as emerging speedburners Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. Hines Ward is in decline but can still move the chains, and RB Rashard Mendenhall continues to improve as a weapon out of the backfield. A less-than-elite number of passing attempts and a higher than average risk of injury (due to his improving but still-shoddy OL and penchant for running around in the pocket) keeps Big Ben from rising higher on this list, but considering where you’ll likely be able to draft him he’ll be a solid value that should keep your team in most of your games. He’s also got a very favorable schedule against the pass, and his Week 11 bye puts Bradford, Flacco and McCoy at the top of your backup QB shopping list.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

505 8.1 4091 25 11 42 195 2

11 – Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

474 7.3 3448 25 6 68 364 0

The Outlook for 2011: Freeman elevated expectations with a solid showing in his rookie season and then surpassed all of them with an outstanding sophomore campaign. Freeman teamed with rookie sensation Mike Williams and a resurgent Kellen Winslow at tight end to key a surprising Bucs air attack and notch an impressive 25 TDs against a mere 6 picks. Freeman is pretty reminiscent of Ben Roethlisberger with his ability to shake off a defender and fire deep, though Roethlisberger’s superior cast of receiving weapons and greater number of skins on the wall keep him ahead of Freeman in these rankings. Freeman will also contend with a sub-standard OL and will have to wait on wideout Arrelious Benn to fully recover from knee surgery. Sledgehammer RB LaGarrette Blount helps Freeman by keeping the chains moving and often pulling a safety into the box, but Blount doesn’t add much in the passing game and will likely cap Freeman’s pass attempts in the low 500’s while encouraging the Bucs to pound the ball in the red zone rather than throw. Despite those limitations, Freeman offers a good draft day value and will chip in some tasty QB rushing yards. Since you can get him in the 7th round or later in most drafts, pair him up with a solid partner like Matthew Stafford and you’ll be competitive at the QB position just about every week.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

515 7.5 3863 26 12 75 315 2

12 – Eli Manning, New York (N)

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

539 7.4 4002 31 25 32 70 0

The Outlook for 2011: Eli enjoyed a very impressive completion percentage in 2010 – unfortunately, 25 of his completions were to guys in the wrong color jerseys. He was victimized by some pretty poor luck with a high number of possible picks being grabbed and a lot of balls bouncing off his receivers and into defenders’ hands, but he also made a bunch of flat-out bad decisions. He did more harm to the Giants’ playoff hopes than to those of his fantasy owners’, however, due to his 4000 yards and 31 TDs. A lot of the credit there belongs to breakout stud Hakeem Nicks and his partner Mario Manningham, who when healthy is as smooth and slick as Astroglide. Those two should help keep Manning’s totals respectable in 2011, although the loss of slot receiver extraordinaire Steve Smith and solid receiving TE Kevin Boss will make it tough to equal last year’s career highs. Manning sits ahead of guys like Matthew Stafford as a starting option because of his experience and proven rapport with a pair of dynamic wideouts, but Stafford may actually have the higher upside this year. If you do go with Eli, grab someone like Flacco or Bradford a round or two later for matchup purposes.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

530 7.2 3816 27 20 35 65 0

THE BEST OF THE REST

13 – Matthew Stafford, Detroit

2010 Stats (3 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

96 5.6 535 6 1 4 11 1

If he stays healthy, Stafford has the chance to make the Lions faithful recall Bobby Layne for both his aerial and partying skills. Superweapon Calvin Johnson, underrated Nate Burleson and emerging TE Brandon Pettigrew should provide the targets for a breakout campaign.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

575 6.7 3852 25 16 25 100 1

14 – Jay Cutler, Chicago

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

432 7.6 3294 23 16 51 232 1

He’s got the arm. He’s got some weapons. He has no judgment. And if he survives another 16 games behind that OL I will cook and eat my dog.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

575 7.7 3696 25 17 55 210 1

15 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

489 7.6 3693 25 10 43 84 1

Capable QB in a run-heavy offense. Lee Evans adds a needed vertical threat, but the loss of Heap at TE will hurt. He’s a dependable backup.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

485 7.5 3638 24 11 44 81 1

16 – Sam Bradford, St. Louis

2010 Stats:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

590 6.0 3521 18 15 27 63 1

Chief Lazy Eye has the skills, and should go from utter garbage at receiver to a decent cast of weapons. His OL and overall team will be improved as well, so look for more TD opportunities. He’s a solid #2 with upside.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

538 6.9 3710 24 15 30 67 1

17 – Kyle Orton, Denver

2010 Stats (13 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

498 7.3 3657 20 9 22 98 0

Orton was quietly having a hell of a year before injury and Tebowmania overtook him late in the season. He’s a skilled QB with some solid weapons (Brandon Lloyd won’t equal last year’s numbers, but his skills are legit) and should be throwing from behind in at least 11 games this year. The new regime realizes Tebow isn’t worth a damn so there won’t be a rush to bench Orton this year, though the risk exists that Brady Quinn could get an audition if the Broncos are staring at 4-8 in Week 12.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

510 7.4 3774 23 14 30 105 1

18 – Matt Cassel, Kansas City

2010 Stats (15 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

450 6.9 3116 27 7 33 125 0

All-Pro Quarterback Matt Goddamn Cassel had quite a season in 2010, but I’m not as sanguine on his 2011 prospects. A tougher schedule and the extreme unlikelihood of Dwayne Bowe hauling in 15 TDs again make a drop in Cassel’s stats likely, and the Chiefs will continue to lean heavily on the run game. Cassel has also looked terrible throughout the preseason. He’s not the worst option as a QB2, but you can do better.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

505 7.1 3585 25 13 40 120 1

19 – Kevin Kolb, Arizona

2010 Stats (5 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

189 6.3 1186 7 7 14 68 0

I’m not as high on Kolb as many. While it’s a fairly small sample size, his 2010 stats give cause for pause considering the cadre of weapons at his disposal in Philly. He makes bad decisions when pressured, and he will be pressured early and often behind horrendous LT Levi Brown and the rest of the Cards’ iffy line. He’ll get to throw to superstud Larry Fitzgerald and still-capable Todd Heap and should be throwing a lot while trailing in the 4th, but keep your expectations reasonable for his ceiling.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

520 6.6 3432 21 18 50 125 1

20 – Colt McCoy, Cleveland

2010 Stats (8 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

222 7.1 1578 6 9 28 136 1

While he doesn’t crack a lot of publications’ QB2 lists, I think Colt belongs here for several reasons. First and foremost, achieving a respectable 7.1 YPA on a bad team with severely lacking skill position talent shows that he has the skills. His weapons still aren’t great, but he is developing some great chemistry with both his TEs and rookie WR Greg Little should emerge as a solid threat by mid-season. He should also chip in north of 250 yards with his legs. I also project the Browns to face the easiest schedule of opposing pass defenses in the league outside of their Baltimore/Pittsburgh matchups, and one of their Pittsburgh games falls after most Fantasy league playoffs in Week 17. His good matchups sync up well with a lot of top QBs’ bye weeks or tough games, so he can function as a very serviceable backup that you should be able to grab in the last two rounds of most draft rooms.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

470 7.3 3433 19 16 60 255 2

21 – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo

2010 Stats (13 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

441 6.8 2992 23 15 41 271 0

A scrappy QB with more skill than he gets credit for, Fitzpatrick put up a very respectable 2010 under dire circumstances. It will be another uphill battle in 2011, though, as he contends with the loss of deep threat Lee Evans and an OL that will continue to suck out loud.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

505 6.9 3484 22 18 55 240 1

22 – Donovan McNabb, Minnesota

2010 Stats (13 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

472 7.2 3377 14 15 29 151 0

McNabb is aging but still capable. He’d be higher on this list if I thought he had a prayer of playing 16 games this season. However, between the likelihood of him getting killed with edge protectors like Charlie Johnson and Phil Loadholt and the Vikes’ likely proclivity to turn the keys over to rookie QB Christian Ponder once the season becomes a lost cause, I don’t see it happening.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

518 7.1 3677 21 18 35 140 1

23 – David Garrard, Jacksonville

2010 Stats (14 Games):

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

366 7.5 2734 23 15 65 279 5

Garrard is another guy with more talent than most want to give him credit for. When he plays this year he should put up solid QB2 numbers despite the loss of WR Mike Sims-Walker. A bad back, shoddy protection and the Jags’ desire to see what rookie Blaine Gabbert can do make it very unlikely that he plays more than 10 games, however.

2011 Projections:

ATT YPA Pass Yds TDs INTs Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TDs

465 7.2 3384 20 17 80 290 4

There’s some other flotsam and jetsam available, but do your best to get one of these guys as your backup.

That’s it for Part 1 – hopefully running backs will be up this afternoon. I’ll answer as many questions as I can in the comments, and if there’s appetite for a BC fantasy league or two then post your interest and we’ll try and throw something together.