Fantasy football preview: Scouting the quarterbacks

Tom Brady, Patriots: The Patriots open with a 7 o'clock game against Buffalo on Sept. 14. If he's still on the field at 7:30, he already will have had a better season than 2008.

Peyton Manning, Colts: The return of senior offensive coordinator Tom Moore gives Manning the security blanket he lost with the departure of Marvin Harrison, who was released in February.

Drew Brees, Saints: There's bound to be a decline after last year's ridiculous 5,069 passing yards. But getting back healthy wide receiver Marques Colston should keep him in the ballpark of the 34 touchdowns.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers: A real nice early schedule, except for the Week 4 trip to Minnesota, should get Rodgers and the Pack off and running. December (Ravens, at Bears, at Steelers) could be a different story.

Philip Rivers, Chargers: The numbers just keep climbing for Rivers, who is entering his prime. Heck, anybody with two games apiece against the Chiefs and Broncos can't be all that bad.

Tony Romo, Cowboys: Getting rid of Terrell Owens will help, as will Roy Williams having time to learn the offense. As long as your league doesn't play in January, when Romo is prone to gag, he's an OK option.

Jay Cutler, Bears: Chicago's lack of proven wide receivers is a concern. But wouldn't you rather have a stud quarterback with shaky receivers than a shaky quarterback with stud receivers? Ask anybody who's ever drafted Matt Leinart.

Kurt Warner, Cardinals: Sure, 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is possible, but the trend of teams that lose the Super Bowl and flop the following season has to be considered before making a 38-year-old your starting quarterback.

Matt Schaub, Texans: He's missed five games each of the last 2 years, which will cause him to slip in most drafts. But this guy is throwing to Andre Johnson and is a viable starter in leagues of 12 or more.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: He probably has the best group of receivers he's ever had, so all he needs to do is stay healthy. Wish the offensive line had more time together. Wish the Eagles' bye was later than Week 4.

Matt Ryan, Falcons: Ryan's present for winning Rookie of the Year was tight end Tony Gonzalez. A decent backup in smaller leagues and a low-end starter in larger ones.

Brett Favre, Vikings: In his last five games a year ago, he threw two touchdowns, nine interceptions and never had more than 250 yards. Turns 40 in October, so if you wind up drafting him, be sure to have a Plan B.

Eli Manning, Giants: Gave him a boatload of money, but not a replacement for Plaxico Burress. Steve "Not the Panther" Smith? Yikes.

Matt Cassel, Chiefs: He might be on the waiver wire after starting the season with games against the Ravens, Raiders, Eagles, Giants and Redskins sprinkled over the first 6 weeks.

Carson Palmer, Bengals: There was a chance during the offseason that Chad Ochocinco was going to move in with Palmer for a time to help develop chemistry. And you thought a visit from the mother-in-law was torture.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Except for 2007, Roethlisberger has never thrown for more than 18 touchdowns.

Trent Edwards, Bills: Like him as a backup in larger leagues with possible midseason trade value if he starts well.

Kyle Orton, Broncos: If he can function in the system run by new coach Josh McDaniels, the guy who built the Patriots' track teams, he can be an interesting backup.

Jake Delhomme, Panthers: When last we saw Delhomme, he was committing six turnovers in that dreadful playoff loss to the Cardinals. Had 15 touchdowns and 12 picks in the regular season.


The draft board: The Top 32


1. Tom Brady, Patriots 8

2. Peyton Manning, Colts 6

3. Drew Brees, Saints 5

4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers 5

5. Philip Rivers, Chargers 5

6. Tony Romo, Cowboys 6

7. Jay Cutler, Bears 5

8. Kurt Warner, Cardinals 4

9. Matt Schaub, Texans 10

10. Donovan McNabb, Eagles 4

11. Matt Ryan, Falcons 4

12. Brett Favre, Vikings 9

13. Eli Manning, Giants 10

14. Matt Cassel, Chiefs 8

15. Carson Palmer, Bengals 8

16. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers 8

17. Trent Edwards, Bills 9

18. Jason Campbell, Redskins 8

19. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks 7

20. Jake Delhomme, Panthers 4

21. Kyle Orton, Broncos 7

22. Joe Flacco, Ravens 7

23. Shaun Hill, 49ers 6

24. Mark Sanchez, Jets 9

25. Kerry Collins, Titans 7

26. Brady Quinn, Browns 9

27. Chad Pennington, Dolphins 6

28. David Garrard, Jaguars 7

29. Jeff Garcia, Raiders 9

30. Matthew Stafford, Lions 7

31. Marc Bulger, Rams 9

32. Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers 8


Quick hitters


* On the way down: Eli Manning, Giants

* Riskiest pick: Jay Cutler, Bears

* Sleeper: Matt Schaub, Texans

* Please avoid: Kurt Warner, Cardinals

* Top rookie: Mark Sanchez, Jets


* On the way up: Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Note: Bye week at end of each line