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updated: 8/26/2011 11:04 AM

Rodgers or Vick? Who is No. 1 fantasy QB?

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  • Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has averaged 28.7 TD passes and 4.3 TD runs since becoming a starter in 2008.

      Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has averaged 28.7 TD passes and 4.3 TD runs since becoming a starter in 2008.
    Associated Press

  • Michael Vick was a fantasy beast in 2010, but can he repeat that kind of success this season? Probably, but he comes with some risk.

      Michael Vick was a fantasy beast in 2010, but can he repeat that kind of success this season? Probably, but he comes with some risk.
    Associated Press

  • Only Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick had more rushing yards among quarterbacks than Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman (above).

      Only Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick had more rushing yards among quarterbacks than Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman (above).
    Associated Press

  • Peyton Manning may miss Week 1, but fantasy owners who draft him are getting a quarterback with 11 seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards.

      Peyton Manning may miss Week 1, but fantasy owners who draft him are getting a quarterback with 11 seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards.
    Associated Press

 
 

A month ago, our family took an overnight trip to Galena for some much needed R&R.

As an avid golfer, it would have been a crime if I didn't play one of Eagle Ridge's sensational tracks.

So I booked an early tee time on the South Course, a tight, nasty beast where an 11-handicapper like myself must bring his 'A' game or the scorecard can easily read 95-100 when it's all over.

Beforehand I said to myself, "No getting crazy. Play for bogey when necessary."

After a par-bogey start came the third hole, an extremely tight, 325-yard par-4.

Hitting a 3-hybrid into the right rough left the ball sitting about 150 yards away from a green completely surrounded by trouble.

It's a so-so lie and a pretty tricky shot to pull off, so I took the safe route and punched an 8-iron about halfway home. From there I chipped up and had a 25-footer for par.

I didn't make the putt, but here's the point: I took double or triple bogey out of play and walked to the next hole plus-2 and feeling pretty good.

So what is this story doing in a fantasy football column?

It helps explain my philosophy for not making the Eagles' Michael Vick my No. 1-rated quarterback. And it's not just the risk of him getting injured, it's also the fact that he had just one sensational season.

I'm giving the slight nod to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who missed most of two games in 2010 yet still threw for 3,922 yards, ran for 356 and had 32 total touchdowns.

Vick missed most of five games, threw for 3,018 yards, ran for 676 and amassed 30 total TDs (9 were rushing).

Yes, Vick's numbers were clearly better, but is he going to stay healthy for all 16 games? And is what we saw last year really what we're going to get again?

So just as Kevin Costner famously put it in "Tin Cup" when he said, "The Tour pro's LAYIN'-UP!" that's what I'm doing here. Give me Rodgers and the safety of knowing there's no way I can start my season with a triple bogey.

Pain in the neck

It's the middle of the third round. Peyton Manning is still on the board. You're thinking of taking the banged-up Colts superstar.

Good move?

Definitely. Even though Manning may miss Week 1 with his neck injury and probably won't be himself until October, that doesn't mean you should pass on what may be the last premier QB remaining.

If you do pull the trigger, all you need is a backup who can get you through the first 3-4 weeks if need be.

The three second-tier QBs with sweet opening schedules include:

•Denver's Kyle Orton (vs. Oakland, vs. Cincinnati, at Tennessee, at Green Bay)

•Kansas City's Matt Cassel (vs. Buffalo, at Detroit, at San Diego)

•Arizona's Kevin Kolb (vs. Carolina, at Washington, at Seattle).

Quick side note: Those of you in two-QB leagues should take Kolb because the Cardinals finish the season by hosting San Francisco and Cleveland before going to Cincinnati in Week 16.

QB strategy

One thing you must pay attention to is how important this position is in your league.

If you are only getting 4 points for a passing TD and losing 1 or 2 for interceptions, never use a high pick on a quarterback.

If, however, you are getting 6 points for passing TDs, it's a whole 'nother ballgame.

In this case you really want one of the top six this year (and maybe Peyton Manning with the strategy outlined above) because once you hit Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger and then especially Matt Ryan and Eli Manning, you are definitely at a disadvantage.

On a Free ride

Most experts have Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman slated in the 10-11 range in their rankings.

I believe this kid has the real potential to be a top-5 guy this year. I put him No. 8, using the logic that he had the third-most rushing yards among QBs last season and DID NOT SCORE a rushing TD.

No way that happens again. I almost guarantee he punches 3-4 in this season.

Also, the kid only threw only 6 interceptions last year, completed 61.4 percent of his passes and has an elite wideout in Mike Williams.

Freeman's not a big name, but if you get him, sit back and know you've got a winner.

Hear him roar

Another player I'm higher on than many is Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

The third-year player out of Georgia managed to play in just three games last year and has only 13 under his belt in the NFL.

(Here is one case where I'm OK with taking a chance on an injury-prone player because I'm not taking him in the first round. I'm getting him deep, deep in the draft).

Stafford has shown us enough in limited time that I think ranking him ahead of Kevin Kolb, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford and others is completely justified.

Look, the Lions are going to be good. With an unstoppable Calvin Johnson to throw to, combined with a serviceable pro in Nate Burleson and a healthy tailback in Jahvid Best, Detroit figures to put up some serious points.

If you miss out on the top 6-7 QBs, take Stafford as your backup and he may be starting for you by Week 3 or 4.

Cut down

For all you Bears fans out there, if you want to take Jay Cutler, that's fine but don't expect much. He might be able to give you a spot start now and then, but he will be very lucky to play all season. And even if he does, Cutler will never throw for more than 25 TDs with that receiving corps.

Saturday: WRs/TEs

jdietz@dailyherald.com

John Dietz ranks the quarterbacks

Player, team Projected Projected Comment

yards TDs

Cream of the crop

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers 4,000-4,400** 31-34 5 games of 3 or 4 TDs last year

2. Michael Vick, Eagles 3,300-3,600*** 28-33 Injuries always a concern

3. Drew Brees, Saints 4,450-4,700 32-36* 33-34-34 TD passes last 3 years

4. Philip Rivers, Saints 4,300-4,700 30-34 10 multiple-TD games in 2010

5. Tom Brady, Patriots 4,000-4,250 28-33 Only 4 INTs last season!

6. Tony Romo, Cowboys 4,100-4,500 28-31 He'll bounce back big time

Still rock solid

7. Peyton Manning, Colts 4,000-4,400 29-33* Neck injury a major concern

8. Josh Freeman, Bucs 3,400-3,750* 24-27 He'll run a few TDs in this season

9. Matt Schaub, Texans 4,400-4,650 26-29* Avg. 324 yds last 5 with 9 TDs

Still solid

10. Ben Roethlis, Steelers 4,000-4,300 25-29 I'm guessing near career year

11. Matt Ryan, Falcons 3,650-3,800 25-29 15 straight games w/at least 1 TD

12. Eli Manning, Giants 3,800-4,000 26-29* Must cut down on interceptions

Can be spot starters

13. Matthew Stafford, Lions 3,500-3,900 24-27* Risky pick; must stay healthy

14. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals 3,500-3,750 23-27* Could be a steal here

15. Joe Flacco, Ravens 3,500-3,700 21-24 This is still a running team

16. Jay Cutler, BEARS 3,200-3,400 21-25* Average of 18.5 INTs last 4 years

Now you're reaching

17. Sam Bradford, Rams 3,550-3,700 19-22 Should improve on 3,512 yards

18. Matt Cassel, Chiefs 3,000-3,250 20-24 5 TDs, 3 INTs last four games of '10

19. Kyle Orton, Broncos 3,400-3,650 18-21 Doubtful he starts all season

20. D. McNabb, Vikings 3,200-3,450 20-23* Shame he doesn't have Sid. Rice

21. Mark Sanchez, Jets 3,300-3,500 18-21* Only 54.4 career completion pct.

Next 7: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills; Jason Campbell, Raiders; David Garrard, Jaguars; Colt McCoy, Browns; Matt Hasselbeck, Titans; John Beck, Redskins; Cam Newton, Panthers

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