Roundtable: Ranking the top five fantasy quarterbacks going forward
At the start of the season, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees were almost unanimously the top-three quarterbacks in fantasy football. Four weeks into the season, Andrew Luck is the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback. So who are the best fantasy quarterbacks going forward? SI.com's experts list their top five choices.
Michael Beller: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Peyton Manning, 3. Drew Brees, 4. Andrew Luck, 5. Jay Cutler -- My top quarterback for the rest of the season is the same guy I had atop the position at the start of the season. We saw the real Packers offense last week, and Rodgers was the maestro at the center of it. I’ve still got the elite preseason trio intact, with Manning second and Brees third. Luck has been the No. 1-scoring quarterback to this point, and I’ve got him slotted fourth for the rest of the year. Finally, even with a gimpy Brandon Marshall, I’ve got Cutler fifth. He edges Matthew Stafford because of his overall weapons, and Matt Ryan due to concerns over the Atlanta offensive line..
Kevin Casey: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Peyton Manning, 3. Andrew Luck, 4. Phillip Rivers, 5. Matt Ryan -- Yes, Luck surged well ahead in points at the quarter mark of the season, but he did so against a quartet of mediocre to abysmal pass defenses. The schedule is going to even out and bring the burgeoning 25-year-old back down just below the otherworldly Rodgers and Manning. Leaving Drew Brees off this list may seem like blasphemy, and it quite possibly could be. But I don’t trust the Saints offense to its usual degree. And while the Falcons are one or two offensive line injuries away from calling me up for a tryout, Ryan produced top-15 fantasy quarterback numbers last year with far less around him. The Falcons defense also remains horrendous, which means Matty Ice will be gunslinging in a series of shootouts.
Ben Eagle: 1. Peyton Manning, 2. Aaron Rodgers, 3. Drew Brees, 4. Andrew Luck, 5. Philip Rivers -- The Broncos offense looks better than ever, and that they've already had their bye further cements Peyton as the most valuable quarterback going forward. Rodgers gets the nod over Brees by virtue of the Packers' softer (from a fantasy perspective) remaining schedule. Luck has been one of the top fantasy players overall this season, but his stats have been inflated. He's great and could be top three next year; he's just not there yet. Rounding out the top five is Rivers, who has been locked in, but doesn't have the weapons of the other top quarterbacks.
David Gonos: 1. Peyton Manning, 2. Aaron Rodgers, 3. Andrew Luck, 4. Drew Brees, 5. Matt Ryan -- Peyton Manning is still my No. 1 overall quarterback, since he's still most likely to throw for three touchdowns a game. While Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees remain in the top five, Brees is surpassed by Andrew Luck for the No. 3 spot. I predicted Luck would end up replacing Manning in the top three spot by next draft season. We’ll see about that one. The final spot in the top five goes to Matt Ryan, who barely beats out Philip Rivers, because of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Alex Hampl: 1. Andrew Luck, 2. Aaron Rodgers, 3. Peyton Manning, 4. Philip Rivers, 5. Drew Brees -- Luck is the highest-scoring quarterback in fantasy so far, but he's No. 1 here primarily for his schedule going forward. After the Colts face the formidable Bengals' D in Week 7, Luck can coast. In Weeks 8-17, the Colts only face two defenses currently in the DVOA top 10 -- Giants and Patriots -- and New York's high rating is buoyed by Kirk Cousins' turnover-fest last Thursday. And during those crucial playoff weeks? Luck will face an especially toothless slate -- Cleveland, Houston, Washington and Tennessee -- over the final four weeks of the season.
One note for the forward-thinking: Sell high on Philip Rivers before the playoffs. The Chargers face the Patriots, Broncos and 49ers in Weeks 14-16. All three of those teams rank in the top 10 for defensive DVOA.
Bette Marston: 1. Peyton Manning, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Aaron Rodgers, 4. Matt Ryan, 5. Jay Cutler -- Luck, the top-scoring fantasy quarterback through this point, has been one of the biggest surprises in fantasy this season, and his schedule leading up to and in the fantasy playoffs makes him a huge asset for fantasy owners. But he still doesn't quite surpass Manning, who already has his bye week and some of his toughest matchups (at Seattle) behind him. Ryan and Cutler round out this list, because they will continue to sling the ball to their top-notch receivers. Drew Brees' performance in Week 4 was unsettling, and owners should look to sell high while he still has that name-brand value (and after he likely puts up big numbers against Tampa Bay in Week 5).
Eric Single: 1. Andrew Luck, 2. Matt Ryan, 3. Jay Cutler, 4. Matthew Stafford, 5. Philip Rivers -- Luck’s willingness to distribute the ball is a terrifying prospect for opponents: Consider the seven Colts receivers with double-digit targets through four games and six with touchdown receptions, second in the NFL only to the seven Falcons Ryan has found in the end zone so far. Indianapolis’ schedule gets a little stiffer in the coming weeks, but there aren’t many fantasy land mines after the Colts’ Week 10 bye. Cutler and Stafford both enjoy the luxury of feature running backs who are big-play threats in the passing game. Peyton Manning would make this list if the Broncos’ home date with the Raiders didn’t come during Week 17.