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QBs are getting drafted later than ever. Just last season, there were arguments to take Andrew Luck in the first round, but look where that got you.
This season, the emphasis is all on top-tier WRs. When you have one or two of those, the thinking goes, grab the best RB you can find. Then, maybe in the fourth round, take a QB . . . unless you want to go WR or RB again.
Here are my top 20 QBs:
1. Cam Newton, CAR
Magnificent 2015 fantasy output - 45 total TDs, 3,837 yards passing, 636 rushing - makes this an easy choice over a couple guys I might trust a little more. If anyone can repeat, Cam can, and maybe with even more passing yards.
2. Aaron Rodgers, GB
Last year's 3,821 passing yards was a career low for a full season of play, though blame the porous O-line (46 sacks, second most of his career) and inconsistent WRs. His 32 TDs, eight INTs were typical output, so expect more of that with a rebound in passing yards.
3. Russell Wilson, SEA
Reached 4,000-plus yards passing for the first time in his career, 35 pass TDs, 553 yards rushing. Expected more ground game, but his passing feats happened in spite of untested and underachieving receivers, except for late blooming WR Doug Baldwin.
4. Andrew Luck, IND
Everyone put his mistake-prone, injury-marred 2015 in the books as a fluke. There's a little risk, and no one will take him in the first round - or even the first three rounds - like last year, but guessing 2016's TD tally will be closer to 2014's 40 than 2015's 15.
5. Drew Brees, NO
2015 pass yardage of 4,870 was his lowest since 2010, and 32 pass TDs lowest since 2007, but who wouldn't take that? This season, he has maturing pass targets, including top 20 WR Brandin Cooks, WR Willie Snead, TE Coby Fleener and RBs Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller.
6. Carson Palmer, ARI
Has the best WR rotation of any QB, making him a pretty safe bet even ahead of Brees or Luck. His 4,671 yards and 35 pass TDs last year both could show a little improvement, though sometimes an injury concern, and don't expect rushing points from him.
7. Philip Rivers, SD
Huge yardage pace last year ran off the rails amid receiver injuries. Career-high 4,792 yards good for second among QBs, 29 TDs, 13 INTs. Sacked 40 times, and if that comes down, he could reach 5,000 yards if everyone stays healthy, though INTs can be a problem.
8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
Injuries are still a problem, and limited him to 12 games. Still, just under 4,000 yards passing, 21 TDs made him a fantasy star most weeks he played. Even 16 INTs did little damage to his week-to-week fantasy points. Take him, but then draft a good backup.
9. Tom Brady, NE
He'll miss four games, but again should have a huge chip on his shoulder. Last year he played angry and collected 4,770 yards with 39 total TDs (three rushing) and just seven INTs. Just sayin'. Although he did have a few un-Brady-like games and slowed down late.
10. Blake Bortles, JAC
Talented receivers and a lot of passing while playing from behind helped him to 4,400-plus yards and 35 TDs, but also a league-leading 18 INTs. He'll be better overall this year, but JAC may have tightened up defense enough that 35 TDs could be hard to repeat.
11. Eli Manning, NYG
After much hype in the 2015 preseason, a few big games saved him from being a bust. 4,400-plus yards 35 TDs, 14 INTs look pretty good now, but 14 of those TDs came in three games, including a 6-TD shootout against Brees. A volatile fantasy starter.
12. Kirk Cousins, WAS
Real mix of hyping and dissing around the Barrington-born QB, but along with Russell Wilson, he was the only other QB to have at least one TD pass in every game last year, and he had three games of four TD passes with no INTs. Came on strong late last year.
13. Tyrod Taylor, BUF
Breakout buzz around him after a 2015 season of 24 total TDs (four rushing), just six INTs and 3,000-plus yards passing in 14 games. He did have three games of three TDs and no INTs, and the key stat that could move him up: 568 yards rushing.
14. Andy Dalton, CIN
Halted by injury in Week 13, and 3,250 yards, 25 TDs and seven INTs suggest he would have had a career-best year. But with thinner receiver ranks to start the season, a lot of his stats will depend on connecting frequently with top WR A.J. Green.
15. Jameis Winston, TAM
Trying to resist hype that suggests he's already a QB-1. 4,000-plus yards passing for a rookie was impressive, and everyone sees a fantasy freak in his 5-TD, 0-INT game against PHI last year, but the rest of the season he had 17 TDs, 15 INTs. Still learning.
16. Matt Ryan, ATL
Consistent yardage producer with five straight seasons of 4,500-plus, but still throws too many INTs (16 last year), and despite rich receiver talent, he managed only 21 TDs last season. If he find the end zone more often, he's a borderline QB-1.
17. Derek Carr, OAK
32 TDs, 13 INTs is a fantastic ratio to see this low, and finished just shy of 4,000 yards passing, but 21 of his TDs came in the first eight weeks and he faltered the rest of the way. Certainly not a bad bet if for some reason you wait until late rounds to pick a QB.
18. Matthew Stafford, DET
Incredible second half of 19 TDs, two INTs saved his season (13 TDs, 11 INTs to that point). The Cooter offense (that would be OC Jim Bob) made him super efficient, but his HoF WR retired, and Cooter's fast, safe offense could limit his fantasy points.
19. Tony Romo, DAL
Another injury-marred season in 2015, and he wasn't good in his four starts after expectations were high. Probability of injury is the main reason I have him this low, though certainly worth a gamble as a QB-2 who may still have big games left in him.
20. Marcus Mariota, TEN
In 12 games his rookie year, he had 2,818 yards, 21 total TDs (two rushing), 10 INTs for a really bad team. This year, TEN should be better, he'll have at least one better receiver than last year in Rishard Matthews, and may even run more often.
Just missed: Jay Cutler, CHI
Unloved as usual, Cutler actually did make fantasy noise last season as a popular bye week replacement, and his 11 INTs were a career-low for a full season (yay!). Total yardage under 3,700 yards was pretty boring, but WRs Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White could give him fantasy relevance.
Sleeper: Trevor Siemian, DEN
Just like we all expected, a Northwestern QB drafted No. 250 in the 7th round of the 2015 draft could be the Broncos' replacement for Peyton Manning . . . Wait, what? DEN is reportedly down on Mark Sanchez and giving Siemian every chance to claim the starting job, which would connect him with talented receivers that make him a safe fantasy play, though maybe not a points magnet.
* Part 1: The Top 20: New World Order.
* Part 2: Year of the Zero RB.
* Part 3: Embrace The Targets.
Disco Danny O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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