Scouting the quarterbacks
By Ed Barkowitz
On the way up: Matt Ryan, Atlanta
On the way down: Tony Romo, Dallas
Riskiest pick: Peyton Manning, Denver
Sleeper: Joe Flacco, Baltimore
Late-round look: Sam Bradford, St. Louis
Please avoid: Any New York Jet
Top rookie: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Tom Brady, New England: Josh McDaniels, who was with Brady during his career year in 2007, returns as offensive coordinator. About the only thing to worry about is that Brady turned 35 earlier this month.
Drew Brees, New Orleans: You just know Brees wants to go out and justify that $100 million contract he got in July. Threw 14 touchdown passes during fantasy playoffs to cap his record-setting 2011.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati: Took the Bengals to an unlikely playoff berth last year as a rookie. But until proving otherwise, it looks like Dalton will be a better NFL quarterback than a fantasy option.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore: Defections, injuries and Father Time are depleting the Ravens’ defense, so the offense is going to have to start winning some games. Baltimore brought in Jim Caldwell, Peyton Manning’s former coach in Indy, which can only help Flacco.
Matt Flynn, Seattle: Don’t fall too in love with Flynn’s cameo at the end of last season when he threw for six touchdowns in a spot start in Week 17. He was playing a meaningless game against the Lions and the supporting cast he had in Green Bay was much better than what he has now. Plus, Russell Wilson is peeking over his shoulder.
Robert Griffin III, Washington: He seems like a nice kid and should be a good pro, but for now Griffin is nothing more than a late flier in fantasy drafts.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis: He won’t post Cam Newton stats, but look for Luck to put up some decent numbers this year. Ron Jaworski, who knows all about quarterbacks, loves him.
Eli Manning, NY Giants: Kind of sums up Eli’s career that his 4,668 passing yards last year were the sixth-highest in NFL history, but only the fourth-highest of the season. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Stafford topped 5,000. Eli walked away with another Super Bowl ring.
Peyton Manning, Denver: Has lost some velocity, which is to be expected for a 36-year-old. The key could be his rapport with young receiver Demaryius Thomas, who was terrific at the end of 2011.
Cam Newton, Carolina: Reported to training camp with the rookies, 4 days ahead of the veterans. Love that. Fourteen rushing touchdowns will be hard to match, but expect Newton to cut down on the 17 picks he threw last year and increase the 21 scores he tossed.
Philip Rivers, San Diego: Will be without running back Ryan Mathews (clavicle) and wide receiver Vincent Brown (ankle) for the first part of the season. Threw 20 interceptions last year.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: The only way the loss of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin hurts Rodgers is if Philbin had taken Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley with him to Miami.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Keep his value moderate until it’s determined how much rust Mike Wallace accrued during his holdout.
Tony Romo, Dallas: The offensive line is a huge question and losing Jason Witten (spleen) for an extended time will be a problem. Handle with care.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta: Has improved his number of touchdown passes each of his first 4 years, and the Falcons look like they’re going all-in with him running the offensive show. It’s difficult, but try to get past that 24-2 loss to the Giants in the playoffs.
Mark Sanchez, NY Jets: Anyone considering Sanchez should heed Mick Jagger’s advice. Go ahead, bite the Big Apple. Don’t mind the maggots.
Matt Schaub, Houston: The Texans want to see how Schaub fares coming back from his Lisfranc injury before offering the 31-year-old a multiyear contract. Not a bad idea.
Matt Stafford, Detroit: See what happens when Stafford stays healthy. Played 16 games for the first time in his career and threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. With a muddled running game, 40 TDs are again a possibility.
Tim Tebow, Jets: He could hold some value in a flex role depending on how much he's used in the Wildcat.
Michael Vick: Eagles: Hit his hand on a helmet and got drilled while in the pocket. So much for the need to slide more.
Top Pick -- - Aaron Rodgers, Packers
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