Thursday, August 6, 2009

The great QB debate

Who's the top QB to target in fantasy this year? For me, the choice comes down to three: Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Let's start with old reliable, Mr. Manning. Has he had a disappointing season yet? He's never missed a start in 11 seasons. He's never thrown for fewer than 3,700 yards or 26 TDs in a season either. Now, Manning is a long way from his amazing 49-TD season in 2004, the record-breaking Reggie Wayne-Marvin Harrison duo is no more, and he's dealing with the most significant coaching changes of his NFL career. At age 33, Peyton doesn't offer the same kind of upside he once did - but at the same time, there's probably no safer pick in all of fantasy. He checks in at No. 3 on this year's QB rankings.

If you're more of a gambler, Brady might be your pick. Some people want to pretend like last year's devastating Week 1 knee injury never happened and Brady will pick up where he left off with 2007's 50-TD campaign. I'm not sure I can go with that, and I'd have to think long and hard before making Brady my QB. We've seen other quarterbacks - Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb - struggle to come back from similar ACL injuries, but they were much more mobile than Brady to begin with. Carson Palmer also suffered a similar injury in 2005 but bounced back nicely the following season. Can Brady do the same? He's had a full year to recover, and his strong point has never been his legs anyway. Can he return to the same record-setting, fantasy-MVP level he was at in '07? Maybe. He's got just as many receiving targets - Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis - a similar running back committee and and the same mastermind, Bill Belichick, running the offense. There may not be a QB with more fantasy potential, but if that knee isn't fully healed, taking Brady with a first-round pick could devastate your team. He's No. 2 on our list.

That leaves Brees as this year's top fantasy QB. He's led the league in pass attempts the past two seasons, and although the Saints might like to be a little more balanced on offense, Sean Payton's not afraid to air it out, meaning Brees has a legit shot at hitting the 5,000-yard mark and maybe setting the single-season passing record. With a complete arsenal - Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas - to spread the ball around to, Brees could finish head and shoulders above the rest of the league's QBs.

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