Preseason Upgrades and Downgrades - QBs
By Sigmund Bloom
August 29th, 2011

After three games, here are my thoughts on how some players are moving up and down the rankings.

Upgrades

  • Tom Brady, NE - The Patriots offense has the "take no prisoners" look of 2007. It's easy to forget that he had a 22-0 TD-to-INT ratio in the second half of 2010 once his targets got comfortable. Adding Ochocinco and an emerging Taylor Price only helps. He's at the top of the 1A tier of QBs after Rodgers and Vick now.

  • Matt Ryan, ATL - The Falcons have the look of a fast-break, high-flying offense this year with the addition of Julio Jones and a healthy Harry Douglas. Ryan hasn't broken into the elite top 7 yet, but we could be including him there very early in the regular season.

  • Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - Reports out of Steelers camp are unanimous about Big Ben's growth as a player and person, and he has arguably the best and deepest WR corps he has ever had in Pittsburgh. The team is even running five-wide sets with success in the preseason. This could be the year Roethlisberger joins the fantasy elite even though he is available at QB8 or later in all drafts.

  • Matthew Stafford, DET - Any chance of the Lions running a balanced offense went out the window when Mikel LeShoure tore his achilles tendon. Expect a ton of spread/shotgun sets, which should allow Stafford to put up college-type numbers for as long as he is healthy.

  • Sam Bradford, STL - Bradford seems to be riffing well with new targets Lance Kendricks and Mike Sims-Walker. We all saw what the McDaniels offense did for Kyle Orton last year, and at least by early indications, there's no reason to think that the lack of an offseason will keep him from working the same kind of passing game magic in St. Louis.

  • Colt McCoy, CLE - The second-year QB came back to earth in the third preseason game and his targets are largely unproven, but overall he looks ready to take his game up a notch. McCoy is a good runner and he is under the tutelage of head coach and west coast offense guru Pat Shurmur. He should be considered as a strong backup fantasy QB even though he is rarely going in the top 20 QBs.

  • Cam Newton, CAR - Newton looks very raw as a passer, but Jimmy Clausen has done nothing to discourage the Panthers from throwing the #1 pick into the fire. His inexperience as a passer could actually be good for his fantasy prospects as Newton might feel more comfortable tucking the ball and running a ton in his rookie year, just like Tim Tebow and Vince Young. He is a fantasy draft afterthought, but he shouldn't be.

  • John Beck/Rex Grossman, WAS - Say what you will about Mike Shanahan's personnel decisions, he does seem to have his offense well-prepared. No matter who wins this QB competition (if it truly is a competition and the fix is not in for Beck), the potential is there for strong fantasy numbers, as Grossman showed in his final three starts last year, totaling 840 yards and seven touchdowns.
  • Downgrades

  • Michael Vick, PHI - Offensive line woes and Vick generally resembling Atlanta Michael Vick in the preseason has taken the shine off of his momentum coming off of his revelatory 2010 season. He is still a top 20 pick in every format, but one with a lot more risk coming off the non-existent offseason that would have helped him a lot.

  • Peyton Manning, IND - No doubt the signing of Kerry Collins was ominous and raises the real possibility that Manning misses the season opener. It pushes him down to the bottom of the elite top 7 QB tier, but it also increases the chance that you might get him at a value if your leaguemates are scared off.

  • Joe Flacco, BAL - The Ravens did pull out of the tailspin they went into when they released and failed to re-sign trusted targets Derrick Mason and Todd Heap by trading for Lee Evans, but their offensive line is still in terrible shape. When a team is picking up the Vikings rejects on the OL, you know that they are desperate. Flacco probably won't take that step solidly into QB1 territory that some have been anticipating for a few years now.

  • Eli Manning, NYG - There's no doubt that Manning looked less effective without Steve Smith last year, and he's in Philly now (and practicing). He also lost Kevin Boss in free agency, and the new TE (Travis Beckum) and rest of the WR corps is unproven or otherwise shaky. It's hard to imagine him improving on last year's numbers or otherwise changing his adequate, but rarely exciting fantasy profile.

  • Tim Tebow, DEN - Tebow has gone from presumptive starter to potential #3 QB over the course of the summer. He could still see time as the #1 QB if the season goes south for the Broncos, but he isn't even worth drafting now.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF - Fitzpatrick was one of the surprise fantasy QBs of 2010 for a while, but he started to slide late in 2010, and that should continue in 2011. Tyler Thigpen looms as a backup who has experience with Chan Gailey, and the Bills traded away their long-time deep threat Lee Evans, compressing the defenses Fitzpatrick will try to attack. It could get ugly quickly as the Bills have one of the shakiest offensive lines in the league.
  • Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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