The Surefire series is behind us, so now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. For the next week, I’ll be ranking the top players at each position in fantasy football. To start, we’ll look at the 2016 fantasy football quarterback rankings.

  1. Aaron Rodgers

From the Surefire Quarterbacks: “Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scored the seventh-most points among quarterbacks last season, which is already great. Rodgers didn’t even get to enjoy the services of Jordy Nelson last season, who missed the entire year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Nelson finished with 230 points in 2014, good for second among wide receivers.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Aaron Rodgers is your number one quarterback for 2016. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

The Packers didn’t even have a great wideout last season. Their leading point scorer was James Jones (141 points), who isn’t even on an NFL roster right now. Randall Cobb was right behind Jones, scoring 130 points last season. Rodgers didn’t get to throw to an elite receiver, or even a great one at that.

I say all that to say this: Aaron Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he did it without an elite receiver. Of the six passers to score more than Rodgers last season, all of them had at least one player who scored in the top 12 of receivers last season.

Here’s the complete breakdown:

Cam Newton Greg Olsen (#5 TE)
Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE), Jullian Edelman (on pace to be#7 WR)
Russell Wilson Doug Baldwin (#7 WR)
Blake Bortles Allen Robinson (#4), Allen Hurns (#14)
Carson Palmer Larry Fitzgerald (#11), John Brown (#21)
Drew Brees Bradin Cooks (#12)

Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since he became a starter in 2008. Rodgers hasn’t finished worse than third in points among quarterbacks since 2008, other than last season. He’s chalked up two first place finishes, coupled with two second place finishes.

Draft Rodgers this season, and don’t worry about drafting another quarterback until the double digit rounds. The UC-Berkeley alum stays healthy, and will get Jordy Nelson back this season, so don’t be surprised to see him finish in first among quarterbacks this season.”

Aaron Rodgers is the number one quarterback in fantasy football. He has an elite receiver in Jordy Nelson, a solid running game, and the fifth-best pass-blocking offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus.

  1. Cam Newton

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Cam Newton scored the most fantasy points of all players in fantasy football last season. Just like Rodgers, Newton gets one of his favorite targets back after missing all of 2015. Kelvin Benjamin returns this season, and like the aforementioned Nelson, missed 2015 due to a torn ACL.

In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He was 11 catches away from Greg Olsen’s team leading 84 catches, and tied Olsen’s mark for most receiving yards. Benjamin also led the team in receiving touchdowns, snagging 9. With Benjamin back, Newton has a chance to have two top-15 pass catchers at their positions. Benjamin is just 25 years of age, and is about to enter the prime of his career. It will also be just his second full season in the league.

Alongside Benjamin and Olsen are Tedd Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess. Ginn’s rather ho-hum career was recharged last season. The Ohio State product was the ringleader of the wide receivers, pulling in 44 throws for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ginn is 31, so he may still have a few more productive seasons in him. Regardless, the speedster still should produce enough to help Newton be more than serviceable this season.

Another Ohio State alum who’ll continue to improve his young career is Corey “Philly” Brown. Brown caught 31 balls for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown is just hitting his stride in his NFL career, and will be a deep-threat slot receiver for Newton this season.

Wedged in between two OSU alums is Michigan standout Devin Funchess. Many fantasy experts are waiting for Funchess to quit spinning his wheels and gain traction in the NFL, but it hasn’t happened yet. With 473 yards on 31 catches and 5 touchdowns last season, Funchess was widely known as a fantasy sleeper last season. Instead, Ginn took his projected role. Funchess is still a pretty good option for Newton, who is really becoming accustomed to not-so-new faces in Carolina.”

Newton’s rushing abilities make him a much more valuable quarterback in fantasy football. He had 10 rushing touchdowns, more than any other quarterback in 2015. He also had 636 rushing yards, which was also first among passers. Couple that with Newton’s 35 passing touchdowns a season ago and you’ve got an elite fantasy football quarterback.

  1. Russell Wilson

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “In 2012, the first season after Tony Romo got married, Romo had the best season of his career. On July 6 of this year, Russell Wilson tied the knot. People say history repeats itself, so I project big things for Russell Wilson. All humor aside, let’s get to the undeniable stats.

Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has been in the top-ten in scoring each season. He’s improved each season in points, shooting all the way up to second last season. Wilson’s exact finishes are shown below.

2015 Second
2014 Third
2013 Eighth
2012 Ninth

To make a better case for Wilson, he gets one of the best tight ends in the league back this season. Jimmy Graham started slow last season prior to his gruesome knee injury that ended his season. However, three of his best four games took place in the second half of his season.

In addition, Wilson may be passing the ball more frequently with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch this offseason. Thomas Rawls was great in Lynch’s absence in 2015, but it’s not certain whether or not the running game will be as steady as last season. Pro Football Focus gives Seattle the worst offensive line grade in the entire league after the 2015 season. Wilson is a great passer when on the run, and it’s easier to throw with a mobile quarterback than run with a terrible line.”

Another quarterback with uncanny running abilities, Russell Wilson is a fantasy asset thanks to his legs. Wilson only managed one rushing touchdown in 2015, but he still had 553 yards rushing. Wilson will be a high-end QB1 this season.

  1. Drew Brees

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “If you’re looking for a player with consistency like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees is your guy. Since 2004, Brees’ worst season was finishing as the ninth-best quarterback(!). He did that twice, in his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Since then, Brees has finished in the top-five in every season except two, when he finished sixth in 2010 and 2015.

To add to Brees’ allure, he’ll get to throw to one of the most respected rookies from other players’ standpoint in the league. Michael Thomas was the Saints’ second-round pick, and the first of two Buckeyes to be drafted onto the roster (Vonn Bell). Thomas will be a huge red zone target for Brees, and has great hands. Thomas has gotten knocked due to his inability to showcase a large catching radius, but every rookie has some kind of kink to work out.

Rave reviews aren’t few and far between for Thomas. The highest of praise came from Saints in-house reporter Sean Kelley, who said Thomas is “going to be a star”. He went on to say that Thomas will easily take the number three spot on the depth chart, and that he could even push Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks.”

Drew Brees has managed to be one of the most elite quarterbacks of the past 10 years. He gets a rookie in Michael Thomas who has already impressed many during training camp. As long as Drew Brees is a quarterback, he’ll most likely be a QB1.

  1. Carson Palmer

It seems like a lot of quarterbacks threw for 35 touchdowns last season, and Carson Palmer is part of that group. Palmer is a lot like Ben Roethlisberger, in that they both have a lot of weapons in their offense. David Johnson is set to be a PPR stud, Larry Fitzgerald at worst will be the best blocking wideout in the league, and John Brown is poised to set Arizona on fire as a breakout receiver. Palmer does have knee issues, as he’s torn his ACL two times. Barring an injury, Palmer will be the beneficiary of one of the best offenses in the NFL this season.

  1. Ben Roethlisberger

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Ben Roethlisberger would’ve finished as the fifth-best quarterback last season had he played all 16 games last season according to projections.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Big Ben will be a QB1 this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Let’s marvel at all the toys Ben gets to play with. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Ladarius Green, will all catch passes from Big Ben this season. Roethlisberger has the best weapons in the league, paving way for a monster season for the bruising quarterback.

Roethlisberger threw for less than 250 yards just twice in the entire season in 2015. Six times he threw for 350 yards or more, and also had a game with 349 yards. The Miami (OH) product is just keeps on keepin’ on, and so long as he stays healthy, enjoy his services.”

Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first four games, and Martavis Bryant is suspended for all 16. It could be tough going for Big Ben until Bell returns, but when he does, he’ll be an easy QB1.

  1. Philip Rivers

Now everyone pull up a seat and let me drop some truth on you. Philip Rivers isn’t that bad. Listen here, Rivers was the number two quarterback in fantasy football through eight games last season. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen’s season was cut in half, just like his kidney (not confirmed), causing Rivers’ numbers to plummet. I’m no fortune teller, but I can tell you Keenan Allen is back, Travis Benjamin has signed with the Chargers (for whatever that’s worth), and I’m high on Rivers this season.

  1. Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck makes me nervous. His line allowed anything with as much horsepower as motorized Heelys get to the quarterback last season. There’s a bunch of hype in the receiving corps, but my momma told me that potential shouldn’t be taken as results- it hasn’t done anything yet. Luck is a gifted quarterback, but he must stay healthy in order to be a top-flight passer. Temper your expectations with Luck this season, and maybe he’ll be a number one quarterback like he was in 2014.

  1. Tom Brady

Way to go Tom Brady. You let air out of a football and got re-suspended after getting un-suspended from your original suspension. Because of that, I have to rank you as my number nine quarterback. You know what you get from Tom Brady. He’s going to throw for 300 yards a game, 3 touchdowns, and stay uninjured. Survive with another quarterback for the first four games, then ride with Brady as a top-five quarterback for the rest of the year.

  1. Andy Dalton

Some writers call Andy Dalton a sleeper for the MVP. I’m a Bengals fan and a writer, so I know that’s just something called #clickbait. Andy Dalton has the potential to be a QB1, that’s for sure. He has a WR1 in A.J. Green, and TE1 in Tyler Eifert, and two running backs who have dual uses in Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Cincinnati is a balanced attack, so Dalton simply won’t get enough passing attempts in to be a reliable QB1 each game.

  1. Blake Bortles

The two best wide receivers with the first name of Allen play for the Jags. Allen Robinson, a top-ten wide receiver, and Allen Hurns (64 receptions, 1,031 yards in 2015) will both help a scary Jacksonville pass offense. Don’t forget about former Denver Bronco Julius Thomas, who enters his second season in Florida. Bortles passed for 35 touchdowns last season, and will be a solid QB1 this season.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Underrated in 2015, let Carr fall into your lap as a high QB2 late in drafts. (Photo: AP/Joe Mahoney)

  1. Derek Carr

Amari Cooper is a budding star, and it turns out Michael Crabtree doesn’t suck in the NFL. Derek Carr has great deep threat and possession wide receivers, and a solid running game behind Latavius Murray. Carr threw for 32 touchdowns last season, and could venture his way into QB1 territory.

  1. Eli Manning 

Eli Manning was straight peeved when Peyton Manning clinched the Super Bowl. That said, he’ll have some extra fire girded within his loins this season. Odell Beckham is overrated but good (how about that for a hot #take for your Monday). Sterling Shepard could be one of the next great receivers in the NFL, and there are enough average running backs in New York (technically New Jersey) to have a mundane running game. Manning plays in a pass heavy offense, which means he could go off in any week.

  1.  Matt Ryan

Julio Jones just so happens to be good at gracing footballs into his hands. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but he has no other friends to throw to. I guess Devonta Freeman will have to suffice, because there’s no way the Falcons knew what they were getting in signing Mohamed Sanu to an absurd $32 million deal.

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick was the number 12 quarterback in fantasy last season. After finally agreeing to a new contract with the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick is in position to be a solid streaming option for your team this season. Throwing to the likes of Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall is as good as it gets, and Matt Forte can run and catch out of the backfield. Fitzpatrick is a solid QB2 with potential to be a low QB1.

  1. Tony Romo

Tony Romo can’t stay healthy, even with the best offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. That’s very concerning. What’s more is that Ezekiel Elliott will be seeing upwards of 300 touches according to Dallas coaches.

  1. Kirk Cousins

The Washington front office doesn’t believe Kirk Cousins is the long-term quarterback, but I believe he’s your long-term backup fantasy quarterback for this season. Jordan Reed is an animal inside the 20, and DeSean Jackson is an animal outside the 20. What more could he need? A running game? Psh.

  1. Matthew Stafford

Eric Ebron is slowly becoming a good tight end in the NFL. Golden Tate catches two-yard touchdowns like it’s his job (I guess it kind of is). Marvin Jones is no longer a sleeper because everyone is calling him a sleeper. Oh, and the Lions signed Anquan Boldin (meh). Calvin Johnson retiring will make Matthew Stafford have to actually throw the ball with some precision.

  1. Jameis Winston

When he’s not stealing crab legs, Jameis Winston is a viable QB2. He ran for 6 touchdowns last season, better than all passers not named Cam Newton. He gets to throw to the likes of Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so he does have the potential to sneak into high QB2 range this season.

  1. Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota had 19 touchdown passes and 2 rushing touchdowns. There’s also more young receivers with potential in Tennessee than there are “Go green” bumper stickers on a Toyota Prius. Lots of upside for Mariota.

  1. Brock Osweiler

Throwing to DeAndre Hopkins is a privilege. The only problem is that Hopkins is the only great receiver to throw to in Houston. Minor details.

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