For X’s Fantasy RB rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/xs-2015-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings/
For X’s Fantasy WR rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/xs-2015-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings/
For X’s Fantasy TE rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/xs-2015-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings/
X’s 2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings (8/11/15 – updated 8/31):
1. Andrew Luck, IND
Luck was the only QB to hit 40 touchdown passes last year. Replacing Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks with the steady Andre Johnson and the speedy rookie Phillip Dorsett can only help. Luck can be the #1 fantasy QB if he cuts down on his 22 turnovers from a year ago.
Update: Andrew Luck moved from #2 to #1 as of 8/30 due to Jordy Nelson injury.
2. Aaron Rodgers, GB
Not much justification needed here, but I’ll still give you a little bit. Over his last 64 games, Rodgers has thrown 155 touchdown passes and just 27 interceptions. That’s good for a 5.7 to 1 TD to INT ratio. I don’t know about you, but those numbers work pretty well for me.
Update: Aaron Rodgers moved from #1 to #2 as of 8/30 due to Jordy Nelson injury.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
Last year, Roethlisberger set career highs in completions, attempts, completion percentage, and passing yards while tying a career high in TD passes. The Steelers have morphed into an offensive team and that should continue into 2015. With Le’Veon Bell suspended for the first two games, Big Ben could come out of the blocks fast this year.
4. Russell Wilson, SEA
Wilson finished last year tied for 16th in the league in rushing yards with breakout fantasy RB C.J. Anderson. He is by far the league’s best dual threat QB, running for 208 more yards than any other signal caller. Jimmy Graham gives Wilson the most imposing target he’s ever had (especially for red zone purposes), so he should continue to ascend.
5. Peyton Manning, DEN
Reports of Peyton Manning’s demise are premature and greatly exaggerated. Even in a “down” season, Manning was 4th in passing yards and 2nd in passing touchdowns. There will be a larger emphasis on the run this year, but now that his quad has healed Manning should still post strong numbers.
6. Tom Brady, NE
In his first four games of 2014, Brady threw 4 total TDs while failing to hit 160 passing yards twice. In the next ten games, Rob Gronkowski regained his form which led to 28 TD passes and five 300+ yard games from Brady. When Gronk is healthy, Brady is still one of the best fantasy options at QB. Note: I do not believe Brady will miss any games due to suspension.
7. Drew Brees, NO
Brees led the league in passing attempts last year (31 more than any other QB), but don’t expect that to happen again in 2015. The Saints traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills – who combined for 148 receptions, 1,820 yards, and 13 TD – for a power blocking center and a linebacker. They are transitioning to more of a “grind it out” mentality which should cause a minor dip in Brees’ typical production.
8. Eli Manning, NYG
Through the first seven games of last year, Manning averaged a pedestrian 224.7 passing yards per game. However, over his last nine that average shot up to 315.2 yards per game. If Manning can get a full year with the electric Odell Beckham Jr. and a reasonably healthy Victor Cruz, we could see more of the superb production he had during the second half of last year.
9. Tony Romo, DAL
The Cowboys don’t have the luxury of riding DeMarco Murray the way they did a season ago, which means more responsibility will fall on Tony Romo’s shoulders. Last year, Romo was 4th in the league in TD passes despite having fewer attempts than Kyle Orton and Brian Hoyer. More opportunities should make for more fantasy production.
10. Cam Newton, CAR
Kelvin Benjamin has a year under his belt now, and Devin Funchess is probably already better than any #2 WR the Panthers had last year. Those factors should lead to improved passing numbers for Newton this year. His legs will continue to make him a nice fantasy commodity. Newton has led Carolina in rushing TDs in each of his four NFL seasons.
11. Ryan Tannehill, MIA
Flying largely under the radar, Tannehill finished last year 11th in passing yards, tied for 12th in TD passes, 6th in completion percentage (min. 200 pass attempts), and 5th among QBs in rushing yards. He came quite a long way after nearly being benched (reportedly) after his first three starts. With improved weapons (Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jordan Cameron), the dual-threat QB has high fantasy upside.
12. Matt Ryan, ATL
Ryan was 2nd in the league in pass attempts last year, and although the attempts may come down Ryan should still provide solid fantasy production. With nothing but unproven commodities in the backfield, more responsibility could end up falling on Ryan’s shoulders. Keep in mind new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did get career years out of Matt Schaub (2009) and Robert Griffin III (2012).
13. Matthew Stafford, DET
Stafford was the only QB last year to attempt 600 passes, but fall short of both 4,400 yards and 28 TD passes. However, fantasy football is largely about opportunity and there is no reason to believe Stafford won’t close in on 600 more pass attempts this year. Having a healthy Megatron at his disposal and a year of experience in Joe Lombardi’s offense should benefit Stafford.
14. Carson Palmer, ARI
If you project Palmer’s per game averages from last year over a 16-game schedule, you would get 4,336 passing yards, 29 TD passes, and 8 interceptions. If he can stay on the field every week, he has top 10 fantasy potential in Bruce Arians’ aggressive vertical-based passing scheme. For now, there have been no reports of any shoulder or knee issues this summer, which is a good sign.
15. Philip Rivers, SD
Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal combined to catch 19 of Philip Rivers’ 31 TD passes a year ago. Neither of those targets will be available to start the season as Royal is now in Chicago and Gates is set to serve a 4-game suspension. Rivers threw 15 interceptions in his final nine games last year. He has to cut that turnover rate down before his stock can rise.
16. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN
Bridgewater showed tremendous growth and potential over his rookie season, highlighted by completing 72.1% of his pass attempts over his final five games. The return of Adrian Peterson should help his progression. The addition of Mike Wallace, continued growth of Charles Johnson, and the presence of a healthy Kyle Rudolph (maybe) all bode well for the rapidly ascending Bridgewater.
17. Sam Bradford, PHI
Bradford has thrown 27 TD passes and 10 interceptions in his last 15 starts, an impressive ratio. Of course the problem is he hasn’t started a regular season game since October 20, 2013. Bradford has talent, and in a very quarterback-friendly system he can thrive. Bradford can easily be a top 10-12 QB (or better) in Chip Kelly’s offense if his body allows him, but it’s a major risk to take.
18. Colin Kaepernick, SF
The new-look (leftover) 49ers coaching staff is rumored to have a desire to see Kaepernick run the ball more frequently. If true, this could be a big boon to his fantasy value. Kaepernick set career highs in both passing attempts and rushing attempts last year, finishing 2nd among QBs with 639 rushing yards. More running opportunities and a legitimate deep threat in Torrey Smith make Kaepernick a high-upside QB2.
19. Jay Cutler, CHI
The good news for Cutler is last year his 3812 passing yards, 66.0 completion percentage, and 28 TD passes were all his best totals since being traded to the Bears. The bad news is his 24 turnovers were his most since 2009, and they often came in bunches. Losing Brandon Marshall and his 31 TDs over the last three years doesn’t help. The mercurial Cutler remains a weekly high-ceiling, very low floor option.
20. Joe Flacco, BAL
Even though Torrey Smith struggled with drops last year, his presence will be missed in Baltimore. Flacco loves slinging the ball deep, and Smith has led the Ravens in yards per catch (min. 10 catches) in each season since being drafted in 2011. Breshad Perriman was brought in to replace Smith as the speedster of the offense, but he is raw. Flacco may go through some growing pains with some of his inexperienced targets this year.
21. Jameis Winston, TB
Winston has the luxury of taking over an offense with three 6’5” targets, including an absolute beast in the making in Mike Evans. He took a lot of criticism for throwing too many picks in his final year at Florida State, but Winston’s willingness to throw into tight windows should reward fantasy owners with big plays. Winston showed plenty of comfort with throwing to big targets in college, hitting Kelvin Benjamin for 15 TDs in 2013.
22. Derek Carr, OAK
Carr did an excellent job with protecting the football as a rookie, but many times he was painfully overcautious. This approach led to him having the lowest yards per pass attempt (5.46) the NFL has seen from a starter since Blaine Gabbert in 2011. If Amari Cooper lives up to the hype and Michael Crabtree (Achilles) and Rod Streater (foot) return to pre-injury form, Carr should be much more willing to let it rip this season.
23. Andy Dalton, CIN
In year one with Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator, the Bengals went from 12th in the league in run percentage up to 5th. The emphasis in the run game resulted in career lows for Andy Dalton in pass attempts (482) and TD passes (19). Getting 16 games out of A.J. Green would help improve Dalton’s production, but there’s no reason to expect a drastic change in offensive philosophy from Cincinnati in 2015.
24. Marcus Mariota, TEN
The Titans seem to have no intention whatsoever to ease Mariota in. Expect Mariota to have the ball in his hands a lot by design, and maybe even more than the coaches plan for if they are trailing as often as they did last year. If he is given the freedom to take advantage of his skills as a runner, the fantasy ceiling will be a lot higher for him. The lack of a true go-to receiver and a questionable offensive line are limiting factors.
25. Alex Smith, KC
To give Smith credit, he has posted a touchdown to interception ratio of better than 3 to 1 in three of the last four years. The master of the checkdown won’t often hurt the Chiefs, but he also won’t often help his fantasy owners. Smith infamously failed to throw a single TD to a WR last year, a direct reflection of his complete unwillingness to challenge defenses. For this reason, his fantasy ceiling remains pretty low.
26. Kirk Cousins, WAS
Cousins threw for 250+ yards in each of his first five appearances last year, and threw multiple TD passes in four of those five games. Those numbers indicate there is a sliver of upside with Cousins for as long as he is the starter. Bear in mind however, Cousins had 11 turnovers in just six games and was ultimately benched for the remainder of the season after a poor showing against a subpar Titans defense. A lack of job security amidst the never ceasing drama in Washington could make Cousins a short-term option only.
Update: Kirk Cousins moved from #39 to #26 as of 8/31 after being confirmed as Washington’s Week 1 starter.
27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ
Geno Smith seems to have a firmer grip on the starting job than Robert Griffin III or Matt Cassel or else Fitzpatrick would be ranked a little higher. In three seasons under Chan Gailey in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick averaged over 3,400 passing yards and almost 24 TD passes per season. If the coaching staff decides to turn to the veteran at any point, he should do reasonably well in a familiar offense and with a good WR duo.
Update: Ryan Fitzpatrick moved from #36 to #27 (as of 8/17) as a result of the Geno Smith injury.
28. Nick Foles, STL
Foles goes from the #1 team in the NFL in offensive plays per game last year to the team that ranked 30th in offensive plays. Taking Tre Mason and Todd Gurley II in back-to-back drafts indicates Jeff Fisher won’t shy away from a deliberate pace any time soon, and he’ll rely on a run game and defense to try to win games. Foles is an upgrade over last year’s Davis/Hill duo, but he’ll be hurt by playing in a less aggressive passing offense.
29. Tyrod Taylor, BUF
It didn’t take long for Matt Cassel to relinquish his starting job to a young QB last year. History could repeat itself if Cassel is unable to make the occasional big play to keep defenses honest. Taylor has only attempted 35 passes in the NFL, and has never thrown a TD in four NFL seasons. Complete ineptitude from the other Bills QBs gives Taylor a legitimate chance to start. He projects as a dual threat QB which is always a fantasy-friendly attribute.
Update: Tyrod Taylor moved from #33 to #29 as of 8/31 due to winning the Bills’ starting job.
30. Blake Bortles, JAX
Bortles’ passing actually regressed over his rookie season. He averaged 240.1 passing yards in his first eight games but dropped all the way down to a meager 164.5 passing yards per game over his last six starts. Bortles’ significant drop off directly coincided with Allen Robinson’s season-ending injury, so a healthy Robinson could help restore Bortles’ game. He did pick up 50+ rushing yards in three of his last five games. If he keeps that up, he’s worth monitoring.
31. Brian Hoyer, HOU
Hoyer was feast or famine over his final seven games last year – throwing for over 300 yards three times and for under 200 yards four times. He ended the season on a down note, with 1 TD pass and 7 interceptions over his last four games. Hoyer’s willingness to take chances will result in sporadic big plays, but he is a streaky (at times downright bad) passer playing in a heavily run-oriented offense.
32. Josh McCown, CLE
In 2013, McCown had a tremendous run with the Bears, looking like a top level quarterback in what was an ideal situation for him. But in 2014, Josh McCown went back to being Josh McCown. The underwhelming journeyman failed to take advantage of a strong WR duo in Tampa. Now he finds himself in a situation where his most imposing WR might be former QB Terrelle Pryor. Don’t expect a flashback to 2013 any time soon.
33. Mark Sanchez, PHI
Sanchez is a clear cut backup to Sam Bradford at this point. However, he has the highest ceiling of any backup in the league thanks to Chip Kelly’s system. Sanchez completed 64.1% of his passes last year, a career high by a wide margin. He finished ranked in the top 10 in the league in both yards per attempt and yards per game (min. 220 attempts). If Bradford goes down (again) Sanchez instantly becomes a quality QB2.
34. Matt Cassel, BUF
In his last 30 games (spanning over four years), Cassel only has two 300+ yard passing game. Over that span, he has thrown more interceptions (34) than touchdowns (30). Having intriguing weapons at his disposal gives him a slight bump in fantasy value. However, Cassel’s inability to produce at a high level combined with Rex Ryan’s infamous “ground and pound” approach make him unlikely to be relevant in fantasy.
Update: Matt Cassel moved from #31 to #34 as of 8/31 after Tyrod Taylor won the starting job over him.
35. Robert Griffin III, WAS
The pieces are in place here. There is above average talent at the skill positions, the offensive line should be improved, and he has a coach who did manage to get 50 TD passes out of the less talented Andy Dalton between 2012 and 2013. Injuries and the constant threat of being benched have torpedoed Griffin’s fantasy stock. However, if he’s on the field he’s still a threat to at least post moderate fantasy production.
Update: Robert Griffin III moved from #28 to #35 as of 8/31 after being benched prior to the start of the regular season.
36. Geno Smith, NYJ
Smith finished last season on a high note, becoming the only player last year to have a game with a perfect passer rating in Week 17. Smith did show some improvement from year one to year two, and the duo of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker is a nice 1-2 punch. Chan Gailey’s system should be a plus for him as well. Smith can greatly exceed this ranking if he avoids the bench, but admittedly that’s a big if.
Update: Geno Smith moved from #27 to #36 (as of 8/17) due to fractured jaw and losing starting job.
37. Ryan Mallett, HOU
On the field, Mallett has done very little to prove he can be a starter in the NFL. Mallett does have the physical look of an NFL quarterback however, and that alone could buy him another opportunity for playing time. Hoyer is not a long-term answer at the position, so if the Texans aren’t vying for a playoff spot it could be audition time for Mallett again. He’s not that good, but there is a realistic path to playing time.
38. Johnny Manziel, CLE
There is a strong chance that Josh McCown gets benched at some point during the season. Despite Manziel’s ineffective passing in spot duty last year, the Browns’ front office is not going to throw in the towel on him after just 35 pass attempts and 2 starts. From the outside looking in, Manziel appears to have taken this offseason much more seriously than last year’s. If nothing else, he should be more prepared to play this time around.
39. Colt McCoy, WAS
It’s no secret Jay Gruden is not exactly a fan of Robert Griffin III. Factor in Griffin’s injury history on top of that and it’s fairly likely another QB will start games for the Redskins at some point next year. Kirk Cousins’ propensity for bad interceptions could leave McCoy as the man who gets a chance if Griffin falters or goes down. McCoy is unspectacular, but he did complete 71.1% of his passes last year in limited duty and Washington does have good run after catch receivers.
Update: Colt McCoy moved from #33 to #39 as of 8/30 due to apparently falling to third on Washington’s depth chart.