Breakout Quarterbacks
By FBG Staff
August 17th, 2010

Every season, there are players that perform above expectations. Some of them far exceed their draft position, and those are the players the propel good fantasy teams into championship seasons. We asked the staff to pick their 2010 Breakout Players, and here are their quarterbacks:

Jene Bramel

Kevin Kolb, Phi - To be frank, Kolb scares me. His cleanest game over the past two seasons came against the Kansas City defense. Against defenses with aggressive and sometimes confusing schemes like Baltimore and New Orleans, his completion rate was poor and he turned the ball over frequently. But among the second tier quarterbacks, he has the most to work with. A downfield threat in DeSean Jackson, talented tight end as a safety blanket over the middle in Brent Celek, burgeoning tough possession target in Jeremy Maclin and a running back with pass catching skills in LeSean McCoy in an Andy Reid led West Coast system that regularly throws the ball more often than it runs, including in the red zone. It's a setup for 4000 yards and 25-30 touchdowns and a similar leap to what Aaron Rodgers made in his first season as a starter.

David Dodds

Matthew Stafford, Det - Bad defense...check. Superstar WR...check. A RB that can take it to the house on a screen pass...check. Stafford enters 2010 with a year of experience and a lot more weapons. Rookie RB Jahvid Best, WR Nate Burleson, and TE Tony Scheffler will force teams to at least pretend to cover someone not named Calvin Johnson. Stafford showed me elite skills last year (and also a lot of mental mistakes), but these added weapons should slow the game down for him.

Colin Dowling

Matthew Stafford, Det - I realize that this may seem a year or two too soon for Stafford, but the Lions have done a nice job adding talent around him. He has plenty of weapons to throw to and the Lions line has improved. The only thing stopping Stafford from breaking out in a big way is turnovers. If he can reduce his interceptions (which will allow for longer drives and more scoring chances) then he could be a top-10 quarterback as soon as this year.

Jeff Haseley

Alex Smith, SF - I would not be surprised to see Alex Smith rise in the rankings as the season goes on. He has a very good core of players around him that can and will elevate his game. RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis are all capable of making multiple big plays each game. Who will benefit the most? Alex Smith. Keep in mind, Smith started only 12 games last year and he had six games where he had multiple TD passes. For the first time in his career he will have the same OC in consecutive seasons, plus the 49ers boast one of the easiest schedules in the league. Playing in the weak NFC West has it perks. If things continue to gel for Alex Smith and the trio of offensive talent picks up where they left off, it could be a very productive year for the 49ers, especially Smith. He could reach over 3,000 yards passing with 25 TDs. That would definitely warrant an every week fantasy start.

Jeff Pasquino

Kevin Kolb, Phi - The Eagles are going to throw a ton this year, and the entire franchise is behind him both on and off of the field. Kolb is not a rookie but a veteran of the NFL and he knows this offense inside and out. Yes, he will put up more INTs than McNabb, but he will also break 4,000 yards and push for 30 touchdown passes for a team that calls a pass play two-thirds of the time. With weapons like TE Brent Celek (his close friend and roommate on the road), WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson and RB LeSean McCoy out of the backfield it will be difficult for teams to completely shut down this high-powered passing game. Expect Kolb to finish as a high end QB1 this season as the Eagles will be in many 34-27 type games this year.

Chris Smith

Matt Leinart, Ari - I see him ranked 29th or worse in multiple staff rankings this year and I don't get it. Sure he disappointed early in his career but by all accounts he has matured and has been working hard to get his game in order. Throwing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald alone will elevate him into the top-twenty but I believe he has a real opportunity in Arizona for a top-ten finish.

Jeff Tefertiller

Matthew Stafford, Det - Matthew Stafford is now healthy. The Lions have upgraded the weapons at his disposal. With Jahvid Best a weapon out of the backfield and Nate Burleson as a very viable WR2, Detroit has very good offensive personnel. Best will add a very needed dimension to the team. His speed and quickness out of the backfield will help Stafford. Burleson is underrated and will make it difficult for opposing teams to double or triple Calvin Johnson. Stafford has a strong arm and should make a big leap in his development. While he may not be elite this season, there is a chance for a Top 10 finish. For a player with an ADP of QB18, that is good upside for a late round pick.

Matt Waldman

Matthew Stafford, Det - Mark Sanchez finished 2009 with only 10 more fantasy points than Stafford despite the Lions rookie lacking surrounding talent that Sanchez had in New York and Stafford playing five fewer games. Coach Jim Schwartz made it known they limited the offense last year due to the lack of surrounding talent and not their rookie quarterback. This year, the Lions have significantly upgraded Stafford's weapons with the addition of the versatile Jahvid Best, the reliable Nate Burleson and the seam-threatening/red zone upside of Tony Scheffler. With Calvin Johnson - the game's most physically dominant receiver - back to full health and Kevin Smith likely to provide quality touches in tandem with Best, this offense should be far more dynamic. Stafford will not have to force the football as frequently because these weapons will sufficiently spread the field and the coaches will allow the second-year QB to make changes at the line of scrimmage.

Mark Wimer

Joe Flacco, Bal - Joe Flacco enters his third NFL season a rising NFL star, sporting an offense that has been revamped with talented targets during the offseason. Flacco completed almost two-thirds of his passes last year (315/499 for 3,613 yards, 21 TDs and 12 interceptions - a 63.1% completion percentage). And he did this throwing to Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington as his #2 and #3 WRs. The Ravens' highest-profile acquisition this year was wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who should step into the #1 wide receiver role on the team. Aided by skilled possession receiver Derrick Mason and deep threat Donte Stallworth at the #2 and #3 wide receiver positions on the depth chart, with the talented Todd Heap and Ray Rice threatening the opposition on short and intermediate routes, the Raven's offense is stacked. I think that Flacco is indeed one of the guys who could "break into" the top 12 at his position this year - he's youthful and has a good arm, and now has the experience to utilize all the new weapons around him.

Jason Wood

Chad Henne, Mia - I suspect most staff will choose Kevin Kolb, because he has the clear #1 role on a prolific offense, and sits at QB12 in our consensus rankings. So I'll go with someone else - Chad Henne. Henne took over the starting job last year and never looked back, and the team has given him the missing piece in WR Brandon Marshall. While the Dolphins aren't going to throw a ton, I think people are letting their perception cloud the reality - Miami threw the ball 545 times last year and that was without anyone of Marshall's caliber. I think Henne can be a breakout player even if he doesn't increase his reps - because his natural maturation and a better surrounding cast will mean more productivity per attempt.

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