This is an article from the Aug. 10, 2009 issue
|SI PLAYER RANKINGS FOR 2009 with 2008 stats||PASSING YDS. PER GAME||TOUCHDOWNS||INTERCEPTIONS||300-YARD GAMES||RUSHING YDS. PER GAME||BYE WEEK|
|1. Drew Brees, Saints||316.8||34||17||10||-0.1||5|
|2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers||252.4||28||13||4||12.9||5|
|3. Peyton Manning, Colts||250.1||27||12||4||1.3||6|
|4. Philip Rivers, Chargers||250.6||34||11||5||5.3||5|
|5. Kurt Warner, Cardinals||286.4||30||14||7||-0.1||4|
|6. Donovan McNabb, Eagles||244.8||23||11||3||9.2||4|
|7. Tom Brady, Patriots||76.0||0||0||0||0||8|
|8. Jay Cutler, Bears||282.9||25||18||8||12.5||5|
|9. Matt Ryan, Falcons||215.0||16||11||2||6.5||4|
|10. Matt Cassel, Chiefs||230.8||21||11||3||16.9||8|
|11. Tony Romo, Cowboys||265.2||26||14||6||3.2||6|
|12. Carson Palmer, Bengals||182.8||3||4||0||9.5||8|
|13. Matt Schaub, Texans||276.6||15||10||4||6.2||10|
|14. Trent Edwards, Bills||192.8||11||10||0||8.4||9|
|15. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks||173.7||5||10||0||9.9||7|
|16. Kyle Orton, Broncos||198.1||18||12||1||3.3||7|
|17. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers||206.3||17||15||3||6.3||8|
|18. Eli Manning, Giants||202.4||21||10||1||0.6||10|
|19. Chad Pennington, Dolphins||228.3||19||7||2||3.9||6|
|20. Jason Campbell, Redskins||202.8||13||6||2||16.1||8|
|21. Joe Flacco, Ravens||185.7||14||12||0||11.3||7|
|22. Kerry Collins, Titans||167.3||12||7||0||3.1||7|
|23. Brady Quinn, Browns||172.7||2||2||0||7||9|
|24. Sage Rosenfels, Vikings||238.5||6||10||0||0.3||9|
|25. Jake Delhomme, Panthers||205.5||15||12||0||1.3||4|
|26. Mark Sanchez, Jets*||246.7||34||10||3||1.2||9|
|27. Matt Leinart, Cardinals||66.0||1||1||0||1.3||4|
|28. Marc Bulger, Rams||181.3||11||13||1||2.7||9|
|29. David Garrard, Jaguars||226.3||15||13||2||20.1||7|
|30. Jeff Garcia, Raiders||226||12||6||3||12.3||9|
|31. Luke McCown, Buccaneers||0||0||0||0||7.5||8|
|32. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders||161.5||13||8||0||8.5||9|
*Rookie (college statistics)
• Drew Brees challenged Dan Marino's NFL season-passing-yardage record in 2008, and this year he should have Marques Colston and Reggie Bush back healthy. The Saints play a last-place schedule too.
ON THE RISE
• Aaron Rodgers may seem high on my list, but check the numbers: In '08 he had the fourth-best fantasy season of any player, after Brees, Philip Rivers and DeAngelo Williams. Now Rodgers has a full season under his belt, and he's facing a more forgiving schedule than he did last year.
• Considering his '09 stats, you'd think Kurt Warner would be rated higher. But he's 38, and last season was the first one since 2001 in which he held up for 16 games. That's too much risk. If you take Warner, use a late pick to grab his backup, Matt Leinart. With Warner's injury history and Arizona's excellent receivers, Leinart is the only backup worth drafting.
• Tom Brady is rated as high as seventh only because he's Tom Brady. Any other QB coming off a major knee injury and playing under a new coordinator wouldn't be.
• I like Jay Cutler more than most. With his arm strength, he will get the ball into tight spots and make Chicago's receivers look better than they have.
• He's new to K.C. and short on experience, but Matt Cassel will do fine: a strong No. 1 target in Dwayne Bowe, a savvy possession receiver in Bobby Engram and a head coach who last year coordinated the high-flying Cardinals offense. Plus, their running game is so weak the Chiefs will have to throw.
• The second quarterback drafted last April, Mark Sanchez (Jets), makes my list, but the first, overall top pick Matt Stafford (Lions), doesn't—not this year, in the NFC North, behind that offensive line in Detroit.