First tier: 1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers; 2. Tom Brady, Patriots; 3. Drew Brees, Saints.
Commentary: Rodgers is a given, even if favorite target Jordy Nelson is getting older. Brady might be 40, but he’ll likely be better than ever with Brandin Cooks and a healthy Gronk to throw to. Brees is another old-timer, and yes he’s lost Cooks. But he still has weapons and is a lock to throw 30-plus TD passes.
Second tier: 4. Matt Ryan, Falcons; 5. Cam Newton, Panthers; 6. Derek Carr, Raiders; 7. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers; 8. Marcus Mariota, Titans.
Commentary: Ryan still has the weapons, but can Atlanta get over its Super choke? Newton was treated like a piñata last season, but if he can keep his head (and I mean that almost literally) there’s still no QB with more natural talent. Expect Carr to enter the year with a chip on his shoulder after being sidelined late in the regular season, derailing a possible trip to the Super Bowl. And Carr still has a stacked corps of receivers, led by Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Neither Winston nor Mariota were hit by the sophomore jinx last year. Winston has better targets (now with DeSean Jackson joining Mike Evans), but Mariota is a better runner (although that means he’s a higher risk to get hurt).
Third tier: 9. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers; 10. Zak Prescott, Cowboys; 11. Andrew Luck, Colts; 12. Russell Wilson, Seahawks.
Commentary: Age and injuries might be catching up to Roethlisberger, but when you have Antonio Brown to throw to, you still crack the top 10. Prescott might be able to take advantage of the early-season absence of running back Ezekiel Elliott, as one would expect Dallas’ offense to shift toward the passing game. Luck is good but he hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations he had when he was selected first overall from Stanford — and the front office still hasn’t surrounded him with championship talent. Wilson is a winning QB in real life, but not as great for fantasy owners. Seattle still hasn’t solved its running woes, which will only hurt Wilson in the long run.
Fourth tier: 13. Kirk Cousins, Redskins; 14. Eli Manning, Giants; 15. Matthew Stanford, Lions; 16. Philip Rivers, Chargers; 17. Andy Dalton, Bengals; 18. Carson, Wentz, Eagles.
Commentary: Cousins’ receiving corps is depleted and older, and the coaching change in Washington won’t help. No one has a better group of receivers to throw to than Manning, but a shaky offensive line and the lack of an established ground game could make that point moot.
Sleeper: DeShaun Watson, Texans. Tom Savage was just named the starter, but don’t expect this talented rookie to sit on the bench too long.