With the 2010 fantasy season over, those among us who play in keeper leagues we begin the arduous task of deciding who will make the cut for our rosters. For some it’s as simple as who did the best this year, or who is likely to score the most next year. While for others there are long term considerations; who will continue to improve, or explode next year. This week we begin a series of articles that address our thoughts on the best keeper options by position.
Let’s start the ball rolling with the top point scoring position in most fantasy leagues, the Quarterback.
-- The Steady 6 – You’re gonna keep these guys no matter what.
Aaron Rodgers, GB - He was outscored by both Michael Vick and Peyton Manning in per game format, but he’s still number one in keeper leagues. Last spring I pegged him as 2010’s best fantasy QB. He ended at #2 this year, but only because of a slow start and injuries that decimated his team. Only Mike Vick beat him on a PPG (points-per-game) basis, but he holds more upside than Vick. Both Manning and Brees through 140 more complete passes than Rodgers, but both finished the season with only one for touchdown to show for it…and Rodgers missed a game. Rodgers will only improve, and as we saw down the stretch, he’s a stud.
Michael Vick, PHI – Vick surprised everyone by going from 3rd string QB to 2010’s top fantasy point machine during the games he played. Almost 30 PPG. Sweet numbers, yet I have him second on this list. My reasoning for this is that unlike Rodgers, he has a greater likelihood of dropping off rather than rising or even staying consistent. He played 12 games in his full time return as a starter. I’ve heard people talking about him as not only a first round pick, but first overall. Gutsy and risky call for a guy who has as much chance to implode as explode. There’s also the risk that he gets traded, or that Kevin Kolb gets moved. Either might impact his performance.
Drew Brees, NO – You could easily flip-flop Brees with Manning below. Both are valued about the same. Brees seemed to have a rather quiet year in 2010, but statistically he still came in at #3 overall. He’s been as consistent as they come the last several years. I don’t see any reason for decline in 2011.
Peyton Manning, IND – His team was plagued with injuries all over the field, but Manning still found guys to catch 450 passes from him. He should have another great season in 2011. I just keep worrying that his arm will fall off or he’ll start to show signs of wear and tear sometime soon. Still, I’m not expecting a serious drop off next year. Solid keeper for at least one more season.
Philip Rivers, SD – Despite not having his top receiver most of the season, and a mish-mash running game, Rivers still managed to lead the league in passing yardage (4710) which is 10 yards better than Peyton. Next season, with a healthier running game and a full arsenal of weaponry at his disposal, look for Rivers to once again land in the top 5 at his position.
Tom Brady, NEP – Lost your #1 receiver? Dealing with a hobbled #2 receiver? Ground game a riddle? Have no fear, Brady will get his bunch through the season any way. No one threw fewer interceptions than Brady’s four, or more touchdowns than his 37.
--Just a Step Below – Too much upside not to keep them unless you have one of the six above as well.
Tony Romo, DAL – Most fantasy sports writers had him pegged for a huge year, but poor coaching by the finally departed Wade Phillips, and a season ending injury nixed our crystal ball predictions. Look for a healthy season with better play calling under Jason Garrett. He still has Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant to throw to.
Matt Schaub, HOU – What the hell happened to his season? I pegged him for a breakout campaign and it felt like he flashed a fizzled his way through a roller coaster 2010. But looks can be deceiving-- he did manage about 4400 passing yards, but too many TDs got run into the end zone rather than thrown. So what appears on the surface to be a marginal season was actually just a few touchdowns shy of elite. He still has the best receiver in the game, and a solid ground game, so look forward to a better 2011.
--Potential Keepers— On the cusp. Keepers more dependent on league size and scoring.
Eli Manning, NYG – This kid drives me nuts. He has a world of tools at his disposal, but he lacks his brother’s cunning and on the field heroics. He ended the season 7th in scoring with 4000 passing yards and 31 TDs, but he’s still not exciting most fantasy GMs. You may be able to let him go and still get him back in the draft. Here’s where it pays to know your league.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – He only played 12 games in 2010, but still averaged nearly 22 fantasy PPG. His 2011 should be better overall, but he’ll never be a top 5 guy. Keep him only if there is a dearth at QB in your league.
Matt Ryan, ATL – The youngster had very respectable 2010, with 28 TD’s to only 9 interceptions. He tossed for over 3700 yards, and is playing just below the elite level. He’s young and has great upside, but I don’t know that he’ll do any better in 2011. Still, those numbers were good for 9th, so he may be a keeper in your league.
Josh Freeman, TB – The Bucs came out of nowhere this season and shook up the league. Freeman was 10th in scoring and tossed 25 TDs to only 6 picks. He has nothing but upside, and both he and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are for real. So he might be a nice keeper , especially for auction and salary cap based leagues.
Joe Flacco, BAL – Like Freeman above, there is a lot of optimism surrounding Flacco, and for good reason. He has solid talent and an evolving offense surrounds him. He ended just on the bubble at #12 in fantasy scoring, but only a couple of touchdowns from being in the middle of the pack.