The end of the 2005 NFL season gave us a good preview for the 2006, but also left us with some lingering questions about some Quarterbacks such as Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Trent Green, and Brett Favre. This next season will be an interesting one to watch, with some young QBs looking to break out, and some legends apparently looking to head out. First off, in fantasy football you always want to draft a stud RB in the first round. Later on however, you will definitely want a QB who will score and not turn the ball over. These are the top gunslingers to draft for 2006.
1. Peyton Manning – Indianapolis –
Some say he had a down year in 2005, but in reality he still had a great fantasy season. Fantasy players were spoiled by Manning after his record setting 2004 season in which he threw 49 touchdowns. In 2005 he still threw for a league 2nd best 28 TDs, which is definitely solid. The Colts will reportedly resign Reggie Wayne and let running back Edgerrin James test the waters of free agency, so I expect Manning to ‘rebound’ in 2005 and let it loose again for somewhere around 30-35 TDs. He will have to carry the Colts in 2006, so anything is possible. It seems on the field, nothing is impossible for Peyton. Except winning the Big One.
2. Carson Palmer – Cincinatti –
Palmer led the league in touchdowns with 32 but left us all wondering about 2006 after his knee was blown out in the 2005 postseason. That is the main concern. I believe Palmer will rebound and take back his starting role by week 2 at the latest. He is young and determined and has a promising future. 2005 was only his second starting season and he looked like a 10 year veteran on the field. He has a talented offense around him and a great coaching staff to go with it. The thing you need to watch and monitor is his recovery, as that is the key. But if Palmer is healthy by the start of the season, I think he will get right back into the groove and produce solid numbers once again 2006.
3. Tom Brady – New England –
Brady led the league in passing yardage in 2005 and threw for a solid 26 touchdowns. Corey Dillon was nagged with injuries all season and is getting older, which will continue to force Brady to carry the load on his shoulders, which is great for fantasy owners. He is a great leader and has thrown for over 3600 yards and 20+ TDs each of his past four seasons. He will skip the Pro Bowl because of a sports hernia, but providing he is healthy for the start of the 2006 season, he is a solid choice for QB.
4. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh –
He may not have put up great fantasy numbers in 2005, but I expect him to have a breakout season in 2006. He has the offense around him to get it done, and has the experience under his belt to pick apart NFL defenses. His recievers are speedy, talented, and make plays, and Heath Miller is going to be a great tight end for a very long time. It’s too early to tell but you have to watch the running back situation. If Jerome Bettis retires, I would move Big Ben down the ladder just a tad bit. I just dont think Willie Parker is capable of being a full time starter. Other than that, Ben is a smart QB who will get the job done.
5. Matt Hasselbeck – Seattle –
I was pleasantly suprised with Hasselbeck in 2005. He led a Seattle offense that was second only to Kansas City, and he seemed extremely confident and poised the entire season, which was the difference maker in 2005. He has thrown for over 3000 yards and 20 TDs in each of his past 3 seasons, and I expect him to produce the same results in 2006. The only thing you have to watch for is whether or not Shaun Alexander returns to Seattle. If he goes, then it definitely hurts Hasselbecks value.
6. Donovan McNabb – Philadelphia –
Losing Terrell Owens hurts McNabbs value alot. This offseason will be crucial. If Owens is traded for another top notch WR or Philly trades for one, then McNabb looks again to be a good choice. But if Philly doesnt make any moves than I will be a little concerned. McNabb is a great leader and a smart QB, but his numbers were significantly lower when TO wasnt around. I believe he will still put up solid numbers with or without TO, but Philly needs to get him some help.
7. Eli Manning – New York Giants –
Mannings rap with fans took a tumble in the postseason, but in the regular season he put some pretty solid numbers. He finished 5th in the NFL with 3762 passing yards and tied for 4th with 24 TDs. His leadership abilities have me concerned but he has a good group around him and two great players to help carry the load in Plaxico Burress and Tiki Barber. He needs to make better decisions in 2006 and cut down on the turnovers( 9 fumbles, 17 INTs), but I think those numbers will go down in 2006, and his TDs and yardage will go up.
8. Marc Bulger – St. Louis –
Bulger was limited and his season cut short by injuries in 2005, but he started off great. Steven Jackson will share the load with Bulger in 2006, but if he can stay healthy there should be no reason he shouldnt put up solid numbers. Torry Holt is still a stud WR and St. Louis has some speedy young bucks as well. I love St. Louis’ offensive line as well, so I think Bulger will rebound well in 2006.
9. Drew Brees – San Diego –
His shoulder injury, plus Phillip Rivers lingering right beneath him on the depth chart makes me wonder about 2006. His numbers dropped a bit in 2005 but he was still a top 10 QB. He has a great offense around him which definitely makes him a good choice. LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates will make life easy for Brees once again in 2006 if he can get healthy. You have to watch his injury situation, and whether or not San Diego makes a trade that involves either him or Phillip Rivers.
10. Jake Delhomme – Carolina –
Delhomme is constantly overlooked and underrated as a QB. He has the best receiver in the game in Steve Smith, and though he doesnt throw to them alot, the rest of his WRs are solid as well. The main question mark I have with Carolina is its running game. Deshaun Foster and Stephen Davis have made a living on the injury report, and I am not sold on them. Until they get a solid RB, Delhommes numbers could see a slight decline as teams start to learn how to cover Smith in 2006.
Those are my picks for the top QBs in 2006. There are other QBs out there that will provide decent numbers if you cant manage to get any of these guys.
Michael Vick – Atlanta – He has yet to prove he can be a true QB, but he will still get you decent numbers, providing he doesnt turn the ball over.
Kurt Warner – Arizona – You might be suprised to see his name here, but he has two of the best WR’s in football to throw to and constantly puts up 300+ yards. The main concerns about Warner are his durability and Arizonas nonexisitent running game. The running game I think will be better in 2006, but the injuries are unpredictable.
Jake Plummer – Denver – Plummer put up decent numbers in 2005 without turning the ball over much, but they were nothing shocking, and Denver is still a run first offense with Shanahan calling the shots.
Trent Green – Kansas City – He threw for a league second best with 4014 passing yards, but only 17 TDs. There are some issues I have with Green in 2006. Al Saunders has left for Washington, and Green is now 35. The good news is teams will load up to stop Larry Johnson, which will allow Green to produce decent numbers.
Byron Leftwhich – Jacksonville – He was on pace to have the best season of his career but once again the injury bug hit him. If he can stay healthy for an entire season I think he would do very well, but until he does that he is worth a late round pick at best.
There are some other names out there but they still have to prove theyre capable of being good fantasy QBs. Names like Harrington, Frerotte, Carr, Grossman, etc…. Until they step up though, keep them on the bench if you do end up drafting them.