The 2015 season was a tough one for some elite quarterbacks. Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck all missed four or more games because of injuries, causing plenty of frustration for fantasy football owners.
All three signal-callers enter 2016 healthy, and combined with the breakout stars of last season, there’s a pretty deep group of quarterbacks for fantasy owners to choose from this fall.
Here are our top 20 quarterback rankings for the 2016 season.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 4)
2015 stats: 3,821 passing yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs
Rodgers threw for seven fewer touchdowns in 2015 compared to the previous season, but he’s still the safest fantasy quarterback out there, with five consecutive seasons with less than 10 interceptions. The return of his No. 1 receiver, Jordy Nelson, from major knee surgery also is a major boost to the Packers’ offense.
2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 7)
2015 stats: 3,837 yards, 35 TDs, 10 INTs
Newton’s plus-25 touchdown-to-interception margin last season was a career high, and he’ll also likely rack up five or more rushing touchdowns and plenty of yards on the ground.
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 5)
2015 stats: 4,024 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs
Wilson emerged as a late-season MVP candidate after leading the Seahawks to the playoffs. He’s one of the league’s most accurate passers and, like Newton, always is a threat to escape the pocket and pick up rushing yards.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 8)
2015 stats: 3,938 yards, 21 TDs, 16 INTs
Roethlisberger missed four games last season because of injuries and still threw for just under 4,000 yards. Expect another fantastic season for Big Ben as long as Antonio Brown, arguably the league’s best receiver, is healthy.
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (Bye Week: 10)
2015 stats: 1,881 yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs
Luck missed nine games with injuries in 2015, derailing the Colts’ season. The previous year, he threw for 40 touchdowns, though, and there’s no reason for him not to approach that level again if he’s healthy.
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 5)
2015 stats: 4,870 yards, 32 TDs, 11 INTs
Brees is as consistent as it gets at quarterback. He led the league in passing yards last season and has plenty of weapons in the Saints’ offense to post another tremendous season for fantasy owners.
7. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 9)
2015 stats: 4,671 yards, 35 TDs, 11 INTs
Palmer plays in a domed stadium and has a boatload of weapons at each skill position. He also has thrown 46 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions in 22 games over the last two seasons.
8. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 9)
2015 stats: 4,770 yards, 36 TDs, 7 INTs
Brady’s value drops because of his four-game Deflategate suspension, but he should be highly motivated when he returns in Week 5. And, of course, he has elite weapons around him in the Patriots’ offense, highlighted by tight end Rob Gronkowski and wideout Julian Edelman. So don’t be afraid to draft Brady in the first four rounds.
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (Bye Week: 11)
2015 stats: 4,792 yards, 29 TDs, 13 INTs
The Chargers struggled quite a bit last season, but Rivers was not among the reasons why. He finished second in passing yards and was one of just two quarterbacks to average 300 or more yards per game. Rivers also posted an impressive 66.1 completion percentage. He’s among the safer fantasy quarterback options.
10. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye Week: 5)
2015 stats: 4,428 yards, 35 TDs, 18 INTs
Bortles could become a fantasy star in his sophomore campaign. He led all rookie QBs in touchdowns and passing yards last season, and he should hit the 30-TD mark again with Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson to target in the Jaguars’ offense.
11. Eli Manning, New York Giants (Bye Week: 8)
2015 stats: 4,436 yards, 35 TDs, 14 INTs
Manning’s 35 touchdown passes last season were a career high, and we shouldn’t expect that number to drop as long as superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy.
12. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (Bye Week: 10)
2015 stats: 3,987 yards, 32 TDs, 13 INTs
Carr and the Raiders are popular picks for breakout seasons, and it’s not hard to see why. The third-year QB protects the ball, is an accurate passer and has a legit No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper.
13. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye Week: 6)
2015 stats: 4,042 yards, 22 TDs, 15 INTs
The Bucs’ offense is loaded with quality players, including running back Doug Martin and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Expect Winston to use all of them for a successful second pro season. He does need to be more accurate, though.
14. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 7)
2015 stats: 884 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs
Romo easily could be a top-five fantasy QB if healthy, but he missed most of last season and will be an injury concern throughout the 2016 campaign.
15. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 11)
2015 stats: 4,591 yards, 21 TDs, 16 INTs
Ryan had a very disappointing 2015 season. He threw the fewest touchdown passes since his rookie campaign, in addition to the second-most interceptions of his career. It certainly helps to have an elite receiver such as Julio Jones, though.
16. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 10)
2015 stats: 3,035 yards, 20 TDs, 6 INTs
Taylor proved to be an accurate passer after taking over Buffalo’s starting QB job, and he also can provide fantasy points on the ground.
17. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (Bye Week: 9)
2015 stats: 4,166 yards, 29 TDs, 11 INTs
Cousins proved to be a very effective quarterback last season after winning the starting job early in the campaign. He certainly has some good weapons around him, including rising star tight end Jordan Reed.
18. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 10)
2015 stats: 4,262 yards, 32 TDs, 13 INTs
Losing likely Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson to retirement is a blow to Stafford’s fantasy potential, but he’s still a pretty safe bet for 4,000-plus yards and 30 or more touchdown passes.
19. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 13)
2015 stats: 2,818 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs
Mariota wasn’t a prolific passer as a rookie, but he will give fantasy owners points on the ground. He has excellent speed and vision outside the pocket.
20. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 9)
2015 stats: 3,659 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs
Cutler’s touchdown-pass total decreased by seven, but interceptions dropped by the same number. Losing running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett in the offseason doesn’t help his fantasy potential, though.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images