Friday, September 3, 2010

FANTASY FOOTBALL: Don't Be Averse to Targeting Elite Quarterback early

There are several strategies on when and where to draft your quarterback, and most of those are changed and/or compromised based on the players available players when your time comes.
It seems inviting to get your top running backs in place because of the limited number of them. Inevitably, by the time the draft snakes its way back to you, such top quarterbacks as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning probably will be gone.
It's a tough choice that has to be made, but should it be that tough? Think about it: The top quarterbacks are about as consistent from year to year as it gets in fantasy football. Tom Brady getting hurt in the first game of 2008 put a sour taste in the mouths of many fantasy players because, in many drafts, he was the overall No. 1 pick after throwing a record 50 touchdown passes in 2007. But fantasy falloffs and tragedies such as Brady's are rare with the top QBs.

Drafting Titans running back Chris Johnson as the first pick overall, even if he does have some drop-off from last season, is a no-brainer. Taking outstanding Vikings running back Adrian Peterson next seems like a wise choice because he figures to get a lot of scores in a good offense. But after that, the safe choice in taking a player who will be your team's foundation -- with little variation of what is expected -- would be an elite quarterback.

The upper-echelon quarterback is the safe play with little risk. Here's a look at some quarterbacks who should equal or better their 2009 numbers:

■ Aaron Rodgers, Packers: He improved dramatically in all passing statistics during his second year as a starter and is expected to be better in 2010. You'd be hard-pressed to lose any argument making him the first quarterback selected. He's being selected eighth overall right after New Orleans' Drew Brees, but gambling with the likes of Frank Gore, Michael Turner and Ray Rice before Rodgers seems too big a risk. Projection: No. 4 pick, 4,500 yards, 35 TDs.

■ Peyton Manning, Colts: His 12 seasons mirror each other statistically. With the exception of his magical year in 2004, when he threw 49 touchdown passes, Manning is about as machinelike as it gets. He stays healthy, throws for at least 30 touchdowns and has been the most bankable fantasy player since 2000. He's being drafted with the 10th overall pick. Projection: No. 8 pick, 4,300 yards, 32 TDs.

■ Matt Schaub, Texans: If drafting a running back or Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson in the first round, Schaub is a must-take in the second. Last year he led the league in passing yards at 298 per game and had 29 touchdown passes. The Schaub-Johnson hook-up on your team could be profitable. He's being drafted with the 20th pick. Projection: No. 16 pick, 4,700 yards, 30 TDs.
■ Philip Rivers, Chargers: He threw for fewer touchdowns in 2009 (28) than the year before (34) but increased his yardage. Some might be skeptical of Rivers with his top wideout, Vincent Jackson, suspended for three games and not in camp, but don't be. Rivers will throw a lot no matter who is out there. He's being drafted with the 30th overall pick. Projection: No. 25 pick, 4,200 yards, 30 TDs.

■ Eli Manning, Giants: If within the first six rounds you find yourself stockpiled with running backs and receivers while everyone else has taken a quarterback, Manning is your guy. He had career highs in yardage (4,021) and touchdown passes (27) last year and yet is being taken as the 12th quarterback with the 70th pick. He has a nice stable of receivers to target. Projection: No. 66 pick, 4,200 yards, 28 TDs.

■ Carson Palmer, Bengals: He's worth taking a shot as a backup with the possibility of what might happen with all the new toys he has to throw to. The Bengals will look to run first and use the same formula that got them to the playoffs last year, but having Terrell Owens deep along with rookies Jermaine Gresham over the middle and Jordan Shipley underneath create possibilities that could make Palmer surprise. Projection: No. 80 pick, 3,600 yards, 25 TDs.

Micah Roberts has been making player proposition odds for Las Vegas sports books since 1995 and currently covers all sports from a betting perspective for various publications. He can be reached at

Click Here for a complete list of Roberts Fantasy Football Rankings

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