2009 Fantasy Football Keeper Rankings: Quarterbacks | Sharapova's Thigh

With my Chicago Cubs putting me in depression, and my excitement building for the 2009 NFL season, I've already begun getting ready for fantasy football. Nerdy? Absolutely. More fun than I was having before this? Absolutely.

So, I figured we could do some previewing for fantasy football on here. You'll see basic rankings on a ton of sites, so I decided to go with keeper rankings. Basically with the keeper rankings, we're looking at players that would be valuable to keep for 3+ seasons ideally. Therefore, you have to take into consideration other things that you wouldn't in a normal league, such as age, their likely/unlikely development, the likely/unlikely development of players on their team, etc.

Even if you aren't in any keeper leagues(hell, I don't know if I'll be even), it's still basically a look at who the top quarterbacks in the league should be over the next few years. These rankings could easily change quickly, especially with the younger guys that we don't know enough about yet. You could argue pretty much every person on this list should be ranked differently, so feel free to chime in with your take.

Oh, and I'll rank running backs and wide receivers soon too. Also make sure to check back when the season gets underway for our weekly fantasy football roundups.

1. Drew Brees.
Age: 30.
2008 Stats: 34 Passing TD, 17 INT, 5069 Passing Yards, -1 Rushing Yard, 0 Rushing TD.

Just the 2nd quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season as he did in 2008. He's had 5 straight outstanding seasons, and is in his prime right now. With Marques Colston just 26, and an offense built for him to put up huge numbers, he's not slowing down too much anytime soon.

2. Aaron Rodgers.
Age: 25.
2008 Stats: 28 Passing TD, 13 INT, 4038 Passing Yards, 207 Rushing Yards, 4 Rushing TD.

This might be the one people disagree with most, and I think you could make a terrific case for the next 3 players being in this spot. But Rodgers had a sensational 1st season as a starter in Green Bay. The uneducated blamed the Packers' struggles on the loss of Favre, when Rodgers actually outplayed him in 2008 by quite a bit.

Rodgers was 4th in the NFL in touchdown passes, 4th in yards passing, ran for over 200 yards, ran in 4 touchdowns, and had a solid interception percentage of 2.4. At just 25, he's likely to only improve, and has another 25-year-old stud in Greg Jennings to throw to for years to come.

3. Philip Rivers.
Age: 27.
2008 Stats: 34 Passing TD, 11 INT, 4009 Passing Yards, 84 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

After a few solid seasons, Rivers finally took the next step in a big way in his 5th season in the league. While he might not repeat last season ever again, he's just 27, and the continuing development of 6'5" wide receiver Vincent Jackson will certainly help. He also works as hard as anybody in the league to get better, and we saw that work pay off last year.

4. Peyton Manning.
Age: 33.
2008 Stats: 27 Passing TD, 12 INT, 4002 Passing Yards, 21 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD.

Peyton's 2008 numbers are a bit misleading, in that he had a bothersome knee for much of the 1st half of the season. In the 2nd half of the season, he looked much more like himself, throwing 15 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions. He still has plenty of young, talented targets to throw to, but at 33, you get a little bit worried about his keeper value. He seems like the kind of quarterback that can play into his late 30s, but like Brady's knee, you don't know until you see it happen and have to proceed with caution.

5. Tom Brady.
Age: 31.
2007 Stats(as he only made 11 passing attempts before tearing his ACL in 2008): 50 Passing TD, 8 INT, 4806 Passing Yards, 98 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

He could go pretty much anywhere on the list really, until we see how he looks on the field after tearing his ACL and MCL in week 1 last season. While reports are promising and they showed a ton of confidence that he can be healthy with the trade of Matt Cassel, you still don't know how guys will recover from these things until you see it with your own eyes.

However, if he is healthy, he can be the top fantasy quarterback. After all, he did throw 50 touchdowns, just 8 interceptions, and had a QB rating of 117.6 in 2007. He's still just 31, has Randy Moss and Wes Welker to throw to, and is in Bill Belichick's offense that is incredibly favorable to quarterback play.

6. Matt Ryan.
Age: 24.
2008 Stats: 16 Passing TD, 11 INT, 3440 Passing Yards, 104 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD.

There's no way he doesn't keep getting better. He gets it, and has a great arm to go with tremendous accuracy. It's very rare a quarterback comes into the league and plays as well as he did as a rookie in 2008. The addition of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez will give him another great target on offense, and should help his red zone productivity. His touchdowns will get into the 20s this year. Get Ryan and barring serious injury, you've likely got a very good fantasy quarterback for the next decade.

7. Jay Cutler.
Age: 26.
2008 Stats: 25 Passing TD, 18 INT, 4526 Passing Yards, 200 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

Going from Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to Devin Hester and a bunch of #4 wide receivers, along with a new offense to learn, and difficult conditions to play quarterback in the Windy City makes Cutler a difficult quarterback to predict. I think 2-3 touchdowns less are likely, and with a much better running game and a more conservative offense, I think we see his interception total drop as well. Expect him to fall in love with tight end Greg Olsen, and maybe that will make up for the Bears' apparent lack of very good wide receivers.

Cutler has maybe the most talent of anybody quarterback in the NFL, and it's very possible that takes him to another level eventually. He's only 26, so he's a very enticing keeper option with his ability to get much better. I think we see a solid 2009, but he can do special things in the following years. If you're a gambler, move him up another spot or two on this list.

8. Tony Romo.
Age: 29.
2008 Stats: 26 Passing TD, 14 INT, 3448 Passing Yards, 41 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

Say what you want about Terrell Owens, but Tony Romo's going to miss him on the field at least. Owens caught double-digit touchdowns each of the last 3 seasons. Roy Williams is capable of being a #1, but was a major disappointment in 2008 after being acquired from the Detroit Lions, never catching more than 3 passes in a single game. Romo will still put up solid numbers still, but I don't know if he will be a top-5 fantasy quarterback at any point in the future.

9. Ben Roethlisberger.
Age: 27.
2008 Stats: 17 Passing TD, 15 INT, 3301 Passing Yards, 101 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

After those top 8, I think it's a big dropoff for the quarterback keeper options. Big Ben just wins games, but he's in an offense that doesn't ask him to throw the ball a lot, and he's been very inconsistent the last 3 seasons...

2006: 18 touchdown passes, 23 interceptions
2007: 32 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions
2008: 17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions

I love reliability, and you just can't do that with Roethlisberger in fantasy football. He's capable of more and more seasons like 2007 wouldn't surprise me at all, but you can't count on it.

10. Donovan McNabb.
Age: 32.
2008 Stats: 23 Passing TD, 11 INT, 3916 Passing Yards, 147 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

Donovan is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but he's only been able to play a full season once in the last 5 years. That happened to be last season, and he was a rock solid fantasy producer. He'll be 33 in November though, and add on his inability to stay healthy in recent years, and you have a guy that is hard to count on for more than another year or two.

11. Eli Manning.
Age: 28.
2008 Stats: 21 Passing TD, 10 INT, 3238 Passing Yards, 10 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD.

Eli's going to miss Plaxico Burress. With Burress last year, Manning threw 16 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. In the 6 games without the 6'5" wide receiver, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Now the Giants might have the worst group of wide receivers in the league. Expect solid for at least a few more years, but not spectacular.

12. Matt Cassel.
Age: 27.
2008 Stats: 21 Passing TD, 11 INT, 3693 Passing Yards, 270 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

I'm far from sold on Matt Cassel. I'm quite confident I could hop into New England's offense and quickly have a better career than Cade McNown had. We'll see how he looks in Kansas City. I think he's a middle of the road quarterback, but his rushing totals and age help his keeper case.

13. Carson Palmer.
Age: 29.
2008 Stats: 3 Passing TD, 4 INT, 731 Passing Yards, 38 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

Palmer only played 4 games last year, going down with a serious elbow injury. Reports are that he's progressing well, but his arm strength still isn't quite there. If it is and he's back to the guy that threw at least 26 touchdown passes each season from 2005-2007, obviously he belongs much higher on this list.

14. Kyle Orton.
Age: 26.
2008 Stats: 18 Passing TD, 12 INT, 2972 Passing Yards, 49 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TD.

I really expect Kyle Orton to do well in Denver. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the 26-year-old puts up better numbers than Cutler does in Chicago in 2009 at least. He'll fit in well into Josh McDaniels' system, and has some terrific targets to throw to in Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and Tony Scheffler. Additionally, he was terrific last year with the Bears before an ankle sprain, and really wasn't the same quarterback after that.

15. Matt Schaub.
Age: 28.
2008 Stats: 15 Passing TD, 11 INT, 3043 Passing Yards, 68 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

Can we trust Schaub to play a full season? He's only been able to play 11 games each of the last 2 seasons for the Texans. When he plays though, he's going to produce. It's also nice having in my opinion the best wide receiver in the NFL to throw to, Andre Johnson.

16. Trent Edwards.
Age: 25.
2008 Stats: 11 Passing TD, 10 INT, 2699 Passing Yards, 117 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TD.

He might not be a better quarterback than anybody on this list, but he's in a better situation to succeed than many of them. That's because he a couple of great receivers to throw to in Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. I like the 25-year-old's ability and think there's more there, we'll see.

17. Joe Flacco.
Age: 24.
2008 Stats: 14 Passing TD, 12 INT, 2971 Passing Yards, 180 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

Big arm, but not a big emphasis on the passing game in Baltimore. He can be a very good one and definitely has the ability to be a 20+ TD passer, but it's a matter of Baltimore's system and wide receivers allowing him to do so. Should you be looking to keep him though? Definitely not. Can be a solid #2 QB next year, and there's the potential to be more than that in the future.

18. David Garrard.
Age: 31.
2008 Stats: 15 Passing TD, 13 INT, 3620 Passing Yards, 322 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TD.

Garrard offers the ability to pass for plenty of yards and put up very good numbers rushing as well. The Jaguars receiving corps is weak, but free-agent signee Torry Holt might still have another good season in him. On another team Garrard would be up at least a few more spots on this list, but he's a mediocre fantasy option as a Jaguar.

19. JaMarcus Russell.
Age: 23.
2008 Stats: 13 Passing TD, 8 INT, 2423 Passing Yards, 127 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD.

Russell played better than many realize last year, and has possibly the strongest arm in the league. He can get incredibly better, but it's possible he won't even be the starting quarterback this season after the Raiders brought in Jeff Garcia. He might turn into a prime keeper down the road, but right now shouldn't be on your fantasy roster.

20. Jason Campbell.
Age: 27.
2008 Stats: 13 Passing TD, 6 INT, 3245 Passing Yards, 258 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD.

It's unfair to really judge Campbell's numbers in the NFL at this point, as he's had a different offensive coordinator every single year. Still, he's been solid. It appeared he might be headed somewhere else a few months ago, as the Redskins were very close to trading for Jay Cutler before the Bears did. Anyway, he's going to be available off waivers most likely in your league.

21. Matt Hasselbeck.
Age: 33.
2008 Stats: 5 Passing TD, 10 INT, 1216 Passing Yards, 69 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

Word is his back is feeling good and he looks healthy out on the practice field. He also has a great new target in T.J. Houshmandzadeh to throw to. I like him to have a nice season, but not too many of those left. Short term solution.

22. Kurt Warner.
Age: 38.
2008 Stats: 30 Passing TD, 14 INT, 4583 Passing Yards, -2 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

If we're talking just 2009, he's a top-5 fantasy quarterback. It's just at 38, do you really want to invest in him as a keeper? Maybe he can surprise me and play a few more years, but you certainly cannot count on that.

23. Brady Quinn.
Age: 24.
2008 Stats: 2 Passing TD, 2 INT, 518 Passing Yards, 21 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TD.

Now we're getting to the guys we haven't seen enough to assess. Brady's shown some good things in his preseason playing time and in 3 games last season. He could skyrocket up this list in time, but again, we don't know enough about him yet to have him any higher than this.

24. Mark Sanchez.
Age: 22.
2008 Stats: N/A(Rookie).

I like Mark Sanchez a lot and think he can step into the league and play easier than most rookie quarterbacks could. He's a very smart quarterback with solid accuracy and a good enough arm. While he's only played 1 season in college at USC, he's been trained to run their pro offense and the transition to the NFL shouldn't be too difficult. The problem is... who is he going to throw to? Jerricho Cotchery is the only reliable wideout on the roster.

25. Matthew Stafford.
Age: 21.
2008 Stats: N/A(Rookie).

Daunte Culpepper may take 2009 playing time away from Stafford, but as the #1 overall pick, he'll obviously be behind center before long. He has a tremendous arm, but makes many ill-advised decisions as well. He could be a Jay Cutler type in the NFL, but is at least a couple years away from that. Stafford does have Calvin "Megatron" Johnson to throw to, and he's going to develop into an absolute superstar at wide receiver.

Update(8/14): Tom Brady looked very good yesterday in his first game action since going down with a torn acl and mcl in the opening week of the 2008 regular season. I'm beginning to think he belongs in the top two or three here. We just had to see it with our own eyes first, and it appears he is indeed healthy.

Update(8/24): Kyle Orton had a solid second preseason game after many questioned whether or not he'd be the starting quarterback, after a nightmare first game where he threw three interceptions for the Broncos in San Francisco. Still, I don't feel quite as good about him as I did coming into the season. It doesn't help with Brandon Marshall's situation. They'll likely work it out, but we thought that with Jay Cutler too.

JaMarcus Russell is officially the starting quarterback in Oakland and has looked solid thus far in the preseason.

Jason Campbell's really struggled in Washington. His Redskins haven't scored an offensive touchdown yet this preseason.

Matt Hasselbeck's really looking good, and he and T.J. Houshmandzadeh look like they could be a lethal combo this year. He should be a solid #2 fantasy quarterback this year.

Matthew Stafford's shown on a few throws why he was the #1 overall pick in this year's draft, but has also shown twice how he's just a rookie with a couple of really bad interceptions. We still don't know if he or Daunte Culpepper will be the starter in Detroit.

Update(8/31): Tom Brady and Randy Moss look like they could have a 2007 thing going again. Brady's throwing absolute rockets, and Moss is showing he still has plenty of speed left and the ability to outjump any defensive back for the ball. I'd move Brady into the top 3 of these rankings now.

Matt Cassel is out 2-4 weeks with an MCL sprain. He'll be out at least for week one, quite possibly week two. With Kyle Orton also injuring his right index finger(which is rumored to be a dislocation) and not exactly tearing it up on the field, I'm higher on Carson Palmer and Matt Schaub right now than either of them.

Update(8/31, 7:05 PM ET) Adam Schefter reports that Matt Cassel is likely to start the opener(or so that's what the Chiefs are telling themselves). Still, it's an injury that should bother him at least through the first couple of weeks of the season even if he plays.

Update(9/5): JaMarcus Russell's starting job is safe. The Raiders cut Jeff Garcia today and seem very confident that Russell's ready to break out.