Now that the dust has settled a bit from the draft, I will be releasing my positional rankings. You can get Mike Braude’s free projections here. Rankings will change drastically as the season approaches, with injuries occurring and position battles being decided. Use these initial set of rankings as a model to start thinking about who might be over- or under-valued as your draft approaches, rather than as a definitive guide in late August.

In this series, I’ll take a closer look at the players that I am highest and lowest on compared to the general consensus, based on FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings. Without further ado, here are my initial quarterback rankings for Apex Fantasy Leagues:

My RankPlayerTeamECR
1Peyton ManningDEN1
2Drew BreesNO3
3Aaron RodgersGB2
4Andrew LuckIND5
5Nick FolesPHI7
6Matthew StaffordDET4
7Cam NewtonCAR6
8Matt RyanATL8
9Tony RomoDAL11
10Robert Griffin IIIWAS9
11Russell WilsonSEA13
12Colin KaepernickSF12
13Tom BradyNE10
14Philip RiversSD15
15Ben RoethlisbergerPIT16
16Alex SmithKC19
17Andy DaltonCIN17
18Jay CutlerCHI14
19Ryan TannehillMIA18
20Carson PalmerARI21
21Joe FlaccoBAL23
22Eli ManningNYG20
23Sam BradfordSTL25
24Johnny ManzielCLE22
25Josh McCownTB24

The High

Nick Foles (My Rank: 5, ECR: 7)

In his first year under Chip Kelly, Nick Foles set a record with a 27:2 TD to interception ratio and he ranked 3rd in fantasy points per game behind just Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. One could argue that Foles will actually have a better set of weapons around him in 2014. He loses his main deep threat in DeSean Jackson, but the Eagles added Darren Sproles, drafted arguably the best all around wide receiver in Jordan Matthews, and get Jeremy Maclin back. With a full off season as the Eagles starter, the fantasy QB Big 3 could become the Big 4, with Foles added as the newest member.

 Tony Romo (My Rank: 9, ECR:11)

Fellow Apex writer, Asher Molk, already highlighted why the addition of Scott Linehan makes Tony Romo one of the best values this season.   As Asher points out, Romo’s efficiency numbers trump those of Matthew Stafford, and a likely large increase in volume easily gives him top 5 upside. The emergence of Terrance Williams, who I like as a breakout candidate this season, only adds to what should already be an explosive offense, and Gavin Escobar could develop into a sneaky good option around the goal line.

Alex Smith (My Rank: 16, ECR: 19)

For anyone employing a late round QB strategy, Alex Smith should be ripe for the picking whenever you decide to pull the trigger on your signal caller. In his first season under Andy Reid, Smith finished as the QB11 in Apex leagues, setting career highs in every major passing category and was one of just six quarterbacks to finish with over 400 rushing yards. While he may not become an every week plug-and-play option, his legs and optimal usage in the offense will make him a great streaming option versus below average defenses all season.

The Low

Matthew Stafford (My Rank: 6, ECR: 4)

I do have Matthew Stafford in my second tier of quarterbacks after the big 3, but if I’m going to invest an early to mid round pick on a QB, I want less risk as well as upside. While Andrew Luck, Nick Foles, and Stafford (my 4th, 5th, and 6th ranked QBs, respectively) all have top 3 potential, Stafford’s efficiency numbers don’t match up to Luck and Foles.

 Comp/GameAtt/GameCompletion %TD:INT RatioFantasy Points/Game
Andrew Luck21.635.860.3%2.6:117.8
Nick Foles15.624.464.0%13.5:119.7
Matthew Stafford23.239.658.5%1.5:117.2

Luck and Foles also add a dimension to their game with their rushing ability, and that versatility equates to added fantasy value. The switch from Scott Linehan to Joe Lombardi shouldn’t have a huge impact on Stafford’s usage, but there is always inherent risk when there is a switch in play callers.

Tom Brady (My Rank:13, ECR 10)

There may be no quarterback in recent history with the “elite” tag that has relied more on the players around him for his fantasy success than Tom Brady.  First it was Randy Moss that elevated Brady to fantasy superstardom, and now it’s Rob Gronkowski. Here’s a look at Brady’s per game numbers with and without his star tight end, since Gronk was drafted in 2011*:

 AttemptsCompletionsYardsTDsINTsFantasy Points
With Gronk38.925.3314.62.20.620.8
Without Gronk39.522.9264.31.70.816.6

*Game splits courtesy of rotoViz Game Splits App

In 2013, 20.8 FP/game would be 5th best in the league, while 22 quarterbacks scored more than 16.6 FP/game. There’s no guarantee that Gronk will be ready when the season starts, and Brady’s production is too fragile for me to draft as a top 10 QB.

Jay Cutler (My Rank: 18, ECR: 14)

Many experts will point to the Quarterback Whisperer that is Marc Trestman and the weapons in Chicago and salivate at Cutler as a late round QB option. The Trestman effect translated more so to Josh McCown than to Jay Cutler in 2013, though. While McCown averaged 19.3 FP/game, Cutler’s average was just 17.7 FP/game, 22nd in the league.

Cutler’s health is also a concern, as he hasn’t played 16 games since 2009. One could argue that since he is a streaming option, mid-season health isn’t an overriding concern. Part of implementing a late round strategy, though, is hoping that our small investment can turn into every week gold, and Cutler’s recent health history suggests that that option is unlikely.