2014 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Labor Day Weekend Update

For those with fantasy football drafts this Labor Day Weekend, I have made another update to my 2014 preseason fantasy football rankings.

Here are my updated fantasy quarterback rankings for the 2014 season:

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

It would be hard to discuss the quarterback position without beginning the discussion with Manning. It was a historic season as Manning, a (now) five-time league MVP, broke the single-season records for both passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) previously held by Drew Brees and Tom Brady, respectively, as well as numerous other records.

As dominant as Manning was with his record-setting full-season numbers, he was remarkably consistent and dominant on a weekly basis. Throwing a touchdown in every game last season, Manning had only one game (excluding the playoffs) with less than two touchdowns. In addition, he had more games (nine) with four or more touchdowns than he had with less than four scores (seven).

While many (fantasy) championships were likely won by Manning-QB'd teams last year, I would still prefer to wait to on quarterback in my fantasy league(s), but I would begin to consider him at the end of Round 2 in standard 12-team leagues.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Although he missed a big chunk of last season with a broken clavicle, Rodgers has a combined passer rating of 112.7 over the past three seasons with a 101:20 TD-to-INT ratio during that span. Over the past three years, he has averaged 4,589.6 passing yards per 16 games.

In addition, Rodgers has consistently posted solid rushing stats for a quarterback. Since becoming the starter in 2008, he has rushed for an average of 279 yards and 3.3 touchdowns per every 16 games.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

For a long time, 5,000 passing yards seemed like a special feat. And it is ... for everyone else. For Brees, however, it's become an expectation. Brees has now thrown for 5,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons. With four 5,000-yard seasons in his career, Brees is tied with all other quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. In addition, Brees has thrown for 128 touchdowns over the past three years.

Even if Brees doesn't reach 5,000 passing yards this season, he's going to come close and he's a lock to be a top-three producer in fantasy points at the position once again.

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

It was an up-and-down season for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. To be more accurate, it was a down-and-up-and-then-back-down season for Brady from a fantasy perspective. To be fair, Brady began the season without five of the team's leading receivers from 2012.

Brady's production seemed to match the presence (or absence) of tight end Rob Gronkowski. Beginning with Gronk's third game back, Brady began a six-game stretch with five games of at least 344 passing yards that also included two games with more than 400 yards. In the seven games that Gronkowski was active, Brady averaged 315 passing yards and 1.86 touchdown passes compared to averages of 237.56 yards and 1.33 touchdowns in games he missed.

While it may not be a sure thing, indications are that Gronk will be ready for the season opener.

5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Even though Luck threw 57 fewer pass attempts and Reggie Wayne (ACL) was lost for more than half of last season, Luck finished fourth among quarterbacks in fantasy points. With good health from Wayne as well as tight end Dwayne Allen and the free-agent addition of Hakeem Nicks, Luck has an improved supporting cast.

Luck's mobility is one of his underrated attributes and he has rushed 125 times for 632 yards and nine touchdowns in his two NFL seasons.

6. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

One of the handful of 5,000-yard passers in NFL history, Stafford seems set up for his best opportunity to duplicate that feat. In addition to elite pass-catching weapons of Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell already being on the roster, the Lions have added Golden Tate via free agency as well as Eric Ebron with the 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft.

7. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (Cutler's 2014 fantasy profile)

While Cutler did not stay healthy for the full season, the combination of Cutler and Josh McCown threw for a total of 4,450 yards and 32 touchdowns in Marc Trestman's first season in Chicago. Through Week 16, the Cutler/McCown duo scored 289.6 fantasy points, which would have been enough to finish third among QBs last season.

Not only do the Bears have a pair of stud receivers (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery), but Matt Forte is one of the league's best receivers out of the backfield and he set receiving career highs last season. Cutler has (mostly) looked sharp in the preseason as he enters Year 2 running Trestman's offense with the continuity of all 11 offensive returning from last season.

[Related: Cutler appeared on list of undervalued fantasy options in 2014.]

8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Except for setting a career high in passing touchdowns (24), Newton set career lows in passing yards (3,379), rushing yards (585) and rushing touchdowns (six) last season. Even so, Newton finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback last season. If Newton does not finish as a top-five fantasy quarterback this season, it will be the first time that he has done so..

Even though the Panthers used their first-round pick on Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers have one of the league's weakest wide receiver corps (once again). That said, you could easily argue that the group is better this year than they were last year. Newton's bread and butter as a fantasy stud, however, is his rushing production. From his career rushing stats alone, Newton has averaged 7.73 fantasy points per game.

Currently recovering from a hairline fracture in his ribs, Newton has insisted that he'll be ready for Week 1.

9. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

A fantasy disappointment in 2013, Kaepernick hit his stride down the stretch with three consecutive games of 20-plus fantasy points to close the season. Recently, he admitted that an early-season foot injury had slowed him down — literally.

One of four quarterbacks to rush for 500-plus yards last season, Kaepernick should have much more success as a passer in 2014. The loss of Michael Crabtree (Achilles) for most of last season hurt Kaepernick, but Crabtree is healthy now and the team has added upgraded their overall depth at the position via trade, free agency and draft.

10. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

Beginning the season as the team's backup, Foles played nearly flawlessly in 2013. While Manning was breaking records and winning a record-fifth MVP for a record-setting offense, it was Foles — not Manning — that led the NFL in passer rating. In fact, his passer rating (119.2) was third-highest in NFL history as he posted a remarkable — and virtually impossible to repeat — 27:2 TD-to-INT ratio.

While nobody will confuse Foles for Michael Vick, he did have success running the ball last season. Among quarterbacks, Foles ranked 10th in rush attempts (56) and 12th in rushing yards (225) while also scoring three touchdowns.

11. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

With better health (thank you, Shanny) and the free-agent addition of DeSean Jackson (thank you, Chip), Griffin III has the potential to bounce back and possesses top-five upside. After all, new coach Jay Gruden coached up Andy Dalton to a top-five finish in 2013. RG3 has one of the league's better young trios of pass-catchers with Pierre Garcon, D-Jax and tight end Jordan Reed. That said, RG3 has struggled so far this preseason in the team's new offense.

12. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (Romo's 2014 fantasy profile)

One season after throwing for 4,903 yards, Romo threw for only 3,828 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. With an atrocious defense that is even worse than last season, Romo and the Cowboys should be involved in plenty of shootouts.

In addition, Scott Linehan joins the coaching staff and takes over the play-calling responsibilities. Over the past past three seasons, the Linehan offense in Detroit led the NFL in pass attempts by quite a bit. As a Cowboys fan, however, I hope they are more committed to the run this season and think they will to help keep their defense off the field.

13. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Sacked a career-worst 44 times and throwing a career-high 17 interceptions, Ryan still managed to throw for 4,515 yards, the second-highest total of his career, and 26 touchdowns. In addition to poor offensive line play, Ryan was without Julio Jones for the final 11 games and Roddy White was slowed by injuries for much of the season.

Jones was having a breakout season — 116.0 YPG through five games — before a foot injury ended his season. In addition, White closed the season nearly as strong as Jones began it — 43 catches for 502 yards. Only two receivers had more yards in the final five games.

With improved health from his top two receivers, Ryan will have an opportunity to bounce back in 2014 although Tony Gonzalez has retired. (This time for good, I think.)

14. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Despite playing in Seattle's run-first offense, Wilson still finished as the No. 9 scorer among QBs through Week 16 last year. While he won't throw many more than 400 pass attempts (has 800 through two seasons), Wilson has finished in the top 10 in passing TDs in both of his seasons with 26 per year. In addition, he has rushed for 1,028 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons.

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Rivers bounced back so much last season that he also took home the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. With three 400-yard games in the first five weeks, Rivers got off to a great start, but he posted more modest numbers the rest of the way. Among QBs, Rivers was fourth in fantasy points through Week 5, but he was only No. 14 from Weeks 6 to 16.

More QBs: Continue to QBs 16-40

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