With NFL training camps getting underway this week, here’s a look at the top 20 quarterbacks to target in upcoming fantasy football drafts.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
After a down year by his standards in 2015, Rodgers rebounded with one of the best years of his career. He threw for 4,428 yards, a league-leading 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions, marking the second time he reached the 40-TD mark and the sixth straight season he kept interceptions in the single digits. Those numbers largely stemmed from the Packers’ inefficiency on the ground, leading to a career-high 610 pass attempts for Rodgers. Rodgers also rushed for a career-best 369 yards and four touchdowns.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady played 12 games because of his DeflateGate suspension, but that didn’t slow him down. In his age-38 season, Brady threw for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 67.4 completion percentage and 112.2 QB rating were his best since 2007 when he was named league MVP for the first time. With the addition of speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, look for Brady to get back to 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown territory, which he’s done four of the last six seasons.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
For the fifth time in his career, Brees eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark with a league-best 5,208 passing yards. Brees also had a league-high 673 pass attempts and capitalized with a completion percentage of 70. Brees lost his leading receiver in Cooks, but Michael Thomas emerged as a 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie last season. With Thomas and Willie Snead, Brees still has a potential 1,000-yard receiving tandem.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks relied more on Wilson to throw the ball as they struggled to run the ball with Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls following Marshawn Lynch’s retirement. Wilson racked up a career-best 4,219 passing yards on a career-high 546 pass attempts. The Seahawks added Eddie Lacy in the offseason, but the fifth-year running back missed 11 games last season with an ankle injury. Wilson dealt with knee and ankle injuries of his own last season, and while he didn’t miss any time, he rushed for a career-low 259 yards and had just one rushing touchdown for the third time in the last four seasons. The Seahawks likely will continue to rely on a pass-heavy attack.
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan is coming off a career year after leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl before falling to the Patriots. He finished second in the league with 4,944 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes behind only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, respectively, to earn league MVP. Ryan also threw a career-low seven interceptions. Expect Ryan to regress — but not too drastically. While he’ll be working with a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian, he’s also thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in each of the last six seasons and should have no trouble matching that with the likes of Julio Jones lining up outside.
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck has been ruled out for at least Week 1 after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, which drops him down a bit in the rankings. Colts owner Jim Irsay declared “the offensive line is fixed” during OTAs in June, which would be good news for Luck after the team allowed 44 sacks last season, fifth-worst in the league. He will need all the protection he can get after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery from an injury that kept him out of nine games in 2015. But the Colts’ defense hasn’t been repaired. After ranking 29th in yards allowed per game and 22nd in points allowed per game last season, it’s been reported that the Colts could have as many as 11 new starters on defense under new general manager Chris Ballard. So the Colts could be playing from behind frequently, meaning Luck would be throwing early and often, when he’s ready to go.
7. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr delivered big numbers — 63.8 completion percentage, 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and a career-low six interceptions in 15 games. Part of that was luck, though. According to Pre-Snap Reads’ Cian Fahey, Carr threw 24 interceptable passes, and his accuracy percentage of 70.94 percent ranked 25th in the league. Carr, 26, has arguably the best supporting cast in the NFL, despite losing running back Latavius Murray to the Vikings. The offensive line is right up there with the Cowboys’ line, especially in terms of pass protection. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree lead a strong receiving corps that added tight end Jared Cook in the offseason.
Carr is rebounding from a broken fibula in a Week 16 win over the Colts that kept him out of the Raiders’ regular-season finale and playoff game and will look to prove he’s deserving of his five-year, $125-million extension.
8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
After winning NFL MVP honors in 2015, Newton regressed last season. He had a career-low 52.9 completion percentage and threw for 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, his worst since his rookie year in 2011. Newton’s run game also took a hit last season. The fleet-footed quarterback rushed for a career-low 359 yards and five touchdowns, matching a career low.
Newton had his partially torn rotator cuff repaired in March and was shown throwing for the first time in a hype video released by the Panthers on June 26. Newton is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
The Panthers also added running back Christian McCaffery and wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the first two rounds of the draft, which should take some pressure off Newton.
9. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
In his second year as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, Cousins proved to be among the league’s top fantasy players. He threw for 4,917 yards, third best in the NFL, with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Washington’s offense took a big hit this offseason, though, as its two 1,000-yard receivers, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, left in free agency. Terrelle Pryor Sr., who had a breakout year with the Browns, and 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, who missed most of last season with Achilles issues, will look to make up for those losses. Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis round out Cousins’ receiving weapons.
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
After considering retirement this offseason, Big Ben inenvitably decided to return to the Steelers. Roethlisberger, 35, threw for 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games last season. He suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery and was expected to cost him about a month. The infamously tough quarterback ended up just missing one game as the team’s bye came a week later. Injuries have been a problem for Roethlisberger throughout his 14-year career — he’s missed five games with injuries the past two seasons — but if he can remain healthy he’s a top-tier fantasy option, thanks to a supporting cast that includes arguably the best running back and wide receiver in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
11. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Tony who? Things looked grim for the Cowboys after Tony Romo went down with a back injury in a preseason game, but Prescott stepped in and led Dallas to a 13-3 record and an NFC East title as a rookie. The reigning Rookie of the Year threw for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns, and his four interceptions were the fewest among any quarterback with at least 450 pass attempts. Prescott also added 282 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Prescott benefits from a strong offensive line and playmakers Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and Jason Witten. Elliott and the rest of the Cowboys’ run game will continue to take pressure off Prescott, but it’ll be tough for the youngster to match his rookie campaign. Even with some regression expected, Prescott’s a low-end QB1.
12. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs seem to have found their franchise quarterback, and they got him some help by signing wide receiver DeSean Jackson and drafting tight end O.J. Howard in the first round. Winston already had a big red-zone target in Mike Evans, but Jackson and Howard significantly bolster the pass-heavy offense. Winston has eclipsed 4,000 yards and 500 pass attempts in each of his first two seasons, and with the new additions, he should continue to see those numbers climb, especially with running back Doug Martin’s PED suspension carrying over into the beginning of this season.
13. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, Rivers eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark. But, he also led the league with a career-worst 21 interceptions. That’s an outlier for someone who has averaged about 14 interceptions per season, so that number should come down. Rivers also threw for at least 30 touchdowns for the fifth time in his career. The Chargers will have wide receiver Keenan Allen back after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL. Though first-round draft pick Mike Williams likely will start the year on the PUP list with a back injury, he’s hoping to recover in time for the start of the regular season after reports circulated that he may need surgery. That gives Rivers another pair of weapons along with Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin and Antonio Gates.
14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Despite the surprise retirement of Calvin Johnson before last season, Stafford still turned in a strong year. It was his sixth straight season with at least 4,000 yards, as he threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Lions have been a pass-heavy offense throughout Stafford’s tenure, and even without Johnson, the Lions had a 63-37 pass-run ratio last season. With the lack of a clear run game, look for the Lions to continue to rely heavily on Stafford.
15. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
In a somewhat unexpected move, Taylor ended up staying in Buffalo, albeit after taking a pay cut as part of a restructured contract. Taylor threw for 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions last season, but his biggest strength is his legs. He led all quarterbacks with 580 rushing yards and tied Dak Prescott with a league-high six rushing touchdowns. Taylor lost his best weapon from last season in Sammy Watkins but gained Jordan Matthews and rookie receiver Zay Jones. Taylor's status for Week 1 was in doubt after he suffered a concussion in a pres, but he passed the league's protocol Tuesday and is expected to start in the season opener against the Jets.
16. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Mariota has missed a combined five games over his first two seasons after suffering two different knee injuries as a rookie in 2015 and a fractured right fibula in Week 16 last season. Mariota still is recovering from the latter injury, but he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp. The third-year quarterback reportedly will play at a lighter weight against the team’s wishes in an attempt to be more mobile and avoid big hits. Mariota was sacked just 23 times last season compared with 38 the year before.
Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions and added 349 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Titans added wide receiver Corey Davis with the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, improving a known weakness.
17. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton threw for more than 4,000 yards for the second time in his career but had a career-low 18 touchdown passes. It was a down fantasy year for “Red Rifle.” Dalton was missing two of his top weapons in A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert for chunks of last season. Both hauled in double-digit touchdown passes in 2015 and are expected to be healthy in 2017. The Bengals also took wide receiver John Ross with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft.
18. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles put their faith in the 2016 No. 2 overall pick early as Wentz racked up 607 pass attempts as a rookie. He threw for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. The Eagles revamped their receiving corps, adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to go along with Jordan Matthews, tight end Zach Ertz and running back Darren Sproles, whose biggest asset is his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. Wentz still is a QB2 even with upgrades to the passing game, but he has the potential to develop into a QB1.
19. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Manning has arguably the best receiving corps in the league with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and new additions Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram. Entering his 14th season, Manning still hasn’t missed a game, making him the most durable quarterback out there. He threw for more than 4,000 yards for a third straight season in 2016 and just missed the 600 pass attempts mark, which he’d hit the previous two seasons. The Giants had about a 60-40 pass-run ratio in their first season under Ben McAdoo. With a suspect run game, the Giants will continue to depend on their reliable quarterback.
20. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
After a huge comeback season in 2015, Palmer’s 2016 was a bit of a disappointment. But he still threw for 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games after missing Week 5 with a concussion. The Cardinals didn’t have quite the dependable receiving corps they were expected to have as Michael Floyd was released from the team after a DUI charge and John Brown dealt with his sickle cell trait. Brown’s health still is a concern, but Palmer has weapons in Larry Fitzgerald, running back David Johnson and emerging receiver J.J. Nelson.