Determining clear-cut, post-draft Dynasty league winners was more challenging this year than ever. With free agency and trading season delayed, dozens of key offensive parts will be on the move at least four months later than normal. A mediocre fantasy situation in late June can suddenly turn promising by late July (and vice versa).
What we have discovered, though, is that at least 10 quarterbacks have their fantasy arrow pointed up since the draft. Let's take a look:Editor's Note:
Check out Wesseling's Dynasty Losers
1. Matt Ryan
- Heading into the draft, it was fair for fantasy leaguers to wonder if the Falcons coaching staff prefers Ryan in the game manager role as a way to minimize any perceived limitations in his skill set. As highly respected NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell points out, the blockbuster trade for Julio Jones
" Mike Mularkey is ready to unleash a "more aggressive and proactive" aerial attack. Saddling up Michael Turner
under a ball control philosophy suddenly has a horse-and-buggy feel after Aaron Rodgers
taught the Falcons' brass a 48-21 hard lesson that a championship offense must run through the quarterback. Poised for a breakout fantasy season, Ryan is perched atop this year's Dynasty "buy" list -- at the right hand of Larry Fitzgerald
2. Matthew Stafford
- Equipped with elite physical talent
, Stafford entered the league as NFL Films guru Greg Cosell's highest-rated QB prospect
since 2008. To a bonafide No. 1 receiver (Calvin Johnson
), the Lions have since added a three-down tight end (Brandon Pettigrew
), a veteran second receiver (Nate Burleson
), a "move" tight end (Tony Scheffler
), and a homerun hitter out of the backfield (Jahvid Best
). GM Martin Mayhew rounded out Stafford's weaponry this year with a "stick of dynamite
" third receiver (Titus Young
) and a four-minute drill power back (Mikel Leshoure
3. Joe Flacco
- Flacco doesn't get the respect of a Matt Ryan
or even Josh Freeman
, but he's one of the most accomplished QBs in NFL history through three years. Just the sixth QB in history with 10,000 yards in his first three seasons, Flacco joins Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar as the only other post-merger signal-callers to start a playoff game
in each of those seasons. During the final 14 games of last season, Flacco was the NFL's second-leading passer (103.4) with a 24:5 TD-to-INT ratio against the toughest pass defense schedule in the league.
NFL Network's Michael Lombardi compared the Ravens' offense late last season to "a restaurant with a large menu that doesn't make any one thing particularly good." They had no identity, nothing on which to hang their hat. Lombardi noted that the Ravens and Browns were dragged down by the slowest collection of receivers
in the league with no downfield threat to take the top off a defense. GM Ozzie Newsome took notice, adding second-round speedster Torrey Smith
and all-purpose fourth-rounder Tandon Doss
. Newsome wants Flacco to "take ownership
" of the offense from coordinator Cam Cameron this year, finally giving him the materials to make it work.
4. Tim Tebow
- Tebow started three games as a rookie, finishing as fantasy's top scorer from Week 15-17 last year. Another sign of serious fantasy potential: Tebow joined Fran Tarkenton (1961) as the only rookies in NFL history to post a touchdown passing and rushing in four games
. It's conceivable that Tebow will emerge as the first NFL quarterback of the fantasy football era to flirt with double-digit rushing scores on an annual basis.
After eschewing the position in the draft, Broncos head honcho John Elway insisted he was Tebow's biggest backer
. "He's one of those guys who -- if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be -- then we're in pretty darn good shape," said Elway. The odds are still in favor of a Kyle Orton
trade, leaving Tebow to take over the offense. Even if Orton sticks around in a contract year, I would bank on Tebow taking the job by mid-season at the latest. He has the support of the team's personnel czar and a rabid fan base in his corner.
5. Peyton Manning
- Manning finished as a top-four fantasy QB for the 10th time in 12 years despite a combined 17+ games missed by security blanket Dallas Clark
and lethally effective slot receiver Austin Collie
. His biggest problem, though, was a crumbling offensive line that kept him from taking shots down the field. First-round blindside tackle Anthony Castonzo and powerful second-rounder Ben Ijalana
were brought on board as instant upgrades upfront.