"The NFL is a passing league."
If you're a fantasy football fan, you've heard this quote a lot in the last five seasons. To prove the statement to be true, keep in mind that the top five leaders in single-season passing yards have all come in the last four seasons. Furthermore, the NFL's highest single-season totals in pass attempts are littered with quarterbacks from the last five campaigns. In fact, Drew Bledsoe (1994) and Warren Moon (1991) are the only two field generals in the top 10 who didn't produce their totals since 2010.
With passing totals going gangbusters across the league, fantasy owners can be confident in waiting to draft a quarterback until the middle to late rounds. The question is ... which players are the best ones to target based on their offenses and the tendencies of their coaches and coordinators? Well, I have all the details you'll need to enter your draft with a high level of knowledge. Just think of me as your fantasy footballQui-Gon Jinn (in "The Phantom Menace"). Alright that movie wasn't so good but you get the idea.
Below is a list of all 32 teams, including projections (attempts/touchdowns) for their top quarterback(s). I've also included team pass percentages from 2014 in the case of teams with incumbent coordinators, with data on how new coordinators have handled quarterbacks in previous stints at the pro or college level. You'll also find a FPPT (fantasy points per touch - completions, rushes) average from 2014, which can help you do your own fantasy point projections based on the prognosticated totals.
The Cardinals threw the football 60 percent of the time last season but still finished no better than 15th in pass attempts (566), completions (319), yards (3,980) or touchdown passes (21). ... Before he was injured, Carson Palmer averaged better than 17 fantasy points per game and was on pace to finish with 276.1 points. That would have been good enough to rank 10th in points among quarterbacks. ... Bruce Arians was either a head coach or coordinator in six consecutive years before taking over in Arizona. During those years, his system produced three top-eight fantasy quarterbacks. Those field generals were Andrew Luck (2012) and Ben Roethlisberger (2007, 2009).
The Falcons threw the football on 64.1 percent of their offensive plays under former coordinator Dirk Koetter in 2014, which ranked as the third-most in the league. Atlanta ranked third in pass attempts (632), second in completions (418), fifth in yards (4,758) and 11th in touchdown passes (28). ... In his seven seasons as a coordinator, new OC Kyle Shanahan has had just two top-15 fantasy field generals. Both of them (Matt Schaub - 2009, Robert Griffin III - 2012) finished fifth. Of course, Shanahan's other quarterbacks were a 34-year-old Donovan McNabb (2010), Rex Grossman (2011) and Brian Hoyer (2014) ... Expect Matt Ryan to remain a top-10 signal-caller.
The Ravens recorded a 56.1 pass percentage in their one season under former coordinator Gary Kubiak (2014). To compare, new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman threw the football 64.7 percent of the time as the coach of the Chicago Bears. Still, Jay Cutler ranked a mediocre 16th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. In his last five seasons as either a coordinator or head coach, Trestman had just one signal-caller (Rich Gannon, 2002) finish better than Cutler in fantasy points. To be fair, however, Gannon did finish first that season and was forced to miss nine games in 2003 due to injuries. ... Joe Flacco could push 600 attempts in 2015, making him worth a late-round pick.
The Bills threw the football 60.6 percent of the time in 2014, but that figures to decline under new coordinator Greg Roman. His offense in San Francisco had a pass percentage of 53.4 percent last season, which ranked 26th. In his previous three years, Roman's offenses never finished better than 30th in pass percentage. Furthermore, his system had accounted for one top-10 fantasy quarterback (Colin Kaepernick, 2014) while with the Niners. It should be noted that almost 30 percent of his fantasy points that season came as a runner. ... Tyrod Taylor will open atop the depth chart and has some deep-league appeal due to his running skills, but don't expect him to be the next Cam Newton in the stat sheets.
Panthers quarterbacks ranked 19th in pass attempts (545), completions (327) and passing yards (3,828) last season, while putting up 23 touchdown passes. None of those totals are very impressive, so it's no surprise that Cam Newton finished 17th in fantasy points among at the position. Overall, Newton has still found fantasy success under Mike Shula as either the quarterbacks coach or coordinator (2011-present). In fact, the Auburn product finished no worse than fourth in fantasy points in each of his first three NFL campaigns. ... Since 2011, no other quarterback has had more rushing attempts (467), rushing yards (2,571) and rushing touchdowns (33) than Newton.
The Bears threw the ball 64.7 percent of the time under Trestman last season, but that number is destined to decrease under new coordinator Adam Gase. Even with Peyton Manning under center in Denver, Gase's offense still ranked 19th in pass percentage (58.4) in 2014. The Broncos also finished ninth in pass attempts (607), fifth in completions (399), fourth in passing yards (4,779) and second in touchdown passes (40). ... Cutler, who never finished better than 16th in fantasy points among quarterbacks with Trestman at the helm, has almost no chance to duplicate Manning's totals in Gase's offense. In fact, expect the Bears to focus on Matt Forte and the run game in 2015.
In his first season as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Hue Jackson threw the football on 51.7 percent of the team's snaps. In his last four stints as offensive coordinator, Jackson hasn't had a single quarterback finish higher than 19th in fantasy points (Andy Dalton, 2014). In his defense, however, his top players at the position were Patrick Ramsey (2003), Joey Harrington (2007) and Jason Campbell (2010). ... Dalton, who fell from fifth (2013) in fantasy points to 19th, should see a slight increase in statistical success with A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert at 100 percent. However, he's still no more than a low-end No. 2 fantasy quarterback in 2015 drafts.
Cleveland's offense threw the ball on 52.8 percent of their offensive plays under Shanahan last season and dead last in both completions (274) and touchdown passes (12). ... New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who has never served in that role at the pro level, figures to run the rock a ton in 2015. While the OC at San Jose State in 2011, DeFilippo's quarterbacks accounted for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 12 games. ... Veteran Josh McCown is the current favorite to open the 2015 campaign under center, but Johnny Manziel could also be in the mix for some offensive snaps. Neither player will be worth a look outside of deep two-quarterback leagues, however.
The Cowboys threw the football 49.9 percent of the time last season, which isn't a surprise when you consider the success of their ground game. Scott Linehan, who will now handle all duties of the coordinator, never had an offense that threw the ball fewer than 59.6 percent of the time during his five seasons as the offensive coordinator in Detroit. That includes four seasons where Linehan's field generals ranked no worse than 11th in fantasy points. That includes a pair of top-10 finishes from Matthew Stafford (2012, 2013). Romo, who threw the football just 435 times (23rd) last season, should make that five straight campaigns in 2015. He's a prime fantasy draft bargain choice.
During Kubiak's four years (2010-2013) as the head man in Houston (with Rick Dennison as his offensive coordinator), the Texans threw the ball more than 60 percent of the time once. Matt Schaub finished no better than ninth among quarterbacks based on fantasy points (2010) and didn't finish as more than a No. 2 fantasy option three times under this duo. During Dennison's time as the offensive coordinator in Denver without Kubiak (2006-2008), Jay Cutler was a top-10 fantasy quarterback twice. ... Peyton Manning is a good bet to remain a top-10 fantasy quarterback regardless, but don't be a bit surprised if his pass attempts and completions decline for the third straight season in Denver.
In his first season as the offensive coordinator in Detroit, Joe Lombardi had his troops throw the football 62.1 percent of the time. His squad ranked 11th in pass attempts (602) but fell to 15th in completions (363), 12th in yards (4,257) and tied for 17th in touchdown passes (22). ... Stafford experienced declines almost across the board, finishing with fewer attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and fantasy points compared to his 2013 totals. He's also ranked 11th in points among quarterbacks (on average) in the last three seasons, making it difficult to recommend him as much more than a No. 2 fantasy quarterback and matchup-based starter in most 2015 drafts.
Green Bay Packers
Coordinator Tom Clements' offense completed 349 passes last season, which ranked 16th in the league. However, Aaron Rodgers (341 completions) still scorched the opposition with 38 touchdown passes and led all quarterbacks with 354.14 fantasy points. In all, the superstar out of California averaged almost a full fantasy point per touch (rush attempts, completions). ... Rodgers isn't just productive, but he's consistent as well. In his last six full seasons, he's finished no worse than second in fantasy points at his position. Had he not missed seven games in 2013, Rodgers would have projected to finish third at the position based on the numbers from his nine starts.
George Godsey, who served as the Texans quarterbacks coach last season, will now take over as the offensive coordinator. The scheme won't change with coach Bill O'Brien at the helm, though, and neither will the questions at the quarterback spot. Ryan Fitzpatrick ranked 21st in fantasy points to lead Texans field generals in 2014, but 22 percent of his production came in one start. ... Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer will battle for the top spot on the depth chart during training camp, but neither will be worth a look in most re-drafts. Houston will remain a run-based offensive attack regardless of who is under center, leaving each quarterback with minimal draft appeal.
To the surprise of no one, the Colts threw the football 62.4 percent of the time last season. That ranked as the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. No team had more pass attempts (660), passing yards (5,062) or passing touchdowns (42) either, and only the New Orleans Saints (659) and Atlanta Falcons (632) had more completions (410). That's what will happen when your quarterback is Andrew Luck. The Stanford product recorded career highs almost across the board and was the lone player at his position to throw 40 scoring strikes. Aside from Rodgers, there isn't a more dependable and productive fantasy quarterback ... and he still hasn't even hit his statistical height.
The Jaguars had the fourth-highest percentage of pass plays last season (63.6), but that didn't equate to fantasy production. In fact, the team ranked next to last in both passing yards (3,400) and touchdown passes (14). ... New offensive coordinator Greg Olson failed to produce a top-15 fantasy quarterback in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, and he's had just one (Marc Bulger, 2006) finish better than 20th in his last five seasons in that role. Of course, his other quarterback options have been a rookie in Derek Carr, Terrelle Pryor (who is now trying to play wide receiver) and Joey Harrington. Still, fantasy fans should temper their expectations for Blake Bortles as a pro sophomore.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs ranked 23rd in pass percentage (56.3) and failed to finish better than 25th in pass attempts, completions, passing yards or touchdown passes last season. That led to Alex Smith finishing a modest 19th in fantasy points at the position in his second season under coach Andy Reid. ... Heading into 2014, Reid hadn't had a quarterback who started more than 10 games rank worse than 13th (Smith, 2013) in fantasy points at the position dating all the way back to 2000. Of course, Reid did have Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb for the majority of those campaigns. So while the addition of Jeremy Maclin should help, Smith can't be seen as more than a low No. 2 option.
In Bill Lazor's first season as the offensive coordinator, the Dolphins threw the football on 61.6 percent of their offensive plays. That helped Ryan Tannehill finish eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. The Texas A&M product wasn't consistent, though, as he failed to score at least 15 fantasy points in half of starts. ... The additions of rookie DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron gives Tannehill the best talent he's had in the pass attack, making him a good bet to at least duplicate or even surpass his 2014 numbers. ... Lazor's last two field generals (Tannehill, Nick Foles - 2013) have thrown for a combined 54 touchdown passes.
The Vikings ranked 21st in the league in pass percentage (57.9) last season, as their quarterbacks ranked no better than 22nd in pass attempts (517), completions (322, passing yards (3,566) or touchdowns passes (17). ... Coordinator Norv Turner hasn't had a quarterback finish better than 21st in fantasy points in his last three seasons, but he did help Philip Rivers rank in the top 10 four times during a five-year stretch (2008-2012) as the head coach in San Diego. ... Teddy Bridgewater finished his rookie season on a high note, scoring at least 15.6 fantasy points in four of his last six games. He's a prime fantasy sleeper and well worth a late-round selection.
New England Patriots
The Patriots threw the football 59.2 percent of the time last season, which was the highest rate the team has had since offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels re-joined the team in 2012. The offense ranked in the top 10 in pass attempts (609), completions (392) and touchdown passes (34) as well. ... In his last six seasons, Tom Brady has finished in the top 10 in fantasy points five times. He failed to reach that mark in 2013, due at least in part to the fact that Rob Gronkowski missed nine games. With his four-game ban now nullified, Brady figures to be one of the first six quarterbacks drafted in 2015.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints threw the football 62.9 percent of the time last season, which ranked fifth among all NFL offenses. The team finished second in pass attempts (659) and passing yards (4,952), first in completions (410) and sixth in touchdown passes (33). ... Pete Carmichael has been the team's coordinator since 2009, during which time Drew Brees has finished no worse than sixth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. That includes four instances where he's ranked first or second. ... On the flip side, Brees was more than a bit unreliable at times late in the 2014 campaign. Over the final four weeks, the veteran signal-caller scored 12 or fewer fantasy points three times.
New York Giants
New coordinator Ben McAdoo brought some life to the Giants pass attack last season, as the team ranked in the top 10 in pass attempts (606), completions (383), passing yards (4,470) and touchdown passes (30). It was also the first time that Eli Manning finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among quarterbacks since 2011. ... He had career bests in completion percentage (63.1) and passing yards (4,410) and dropped his interception total from 27 (2013) down to 14. ... With Odell Beckham Jr., the return of Victor Cruz (knee) and the addition of a pass-catching runner in Shane Vereen, Manning will again be in the hunt to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2015.
New York Jets
In 2014, the Jets finished no better than 27th in pass attempts (27th), completions (30th), passing yards (32nd) or touchdown passes (30th). New coordinator Chan Gailey has been known to improve offensive attacks in the past, though, and he's done well for quarterbacks despite a lack of elite talent. In his last six seasons as a head coach or coordinator, Gailey has produced three top-12 fantasy signal-callers (Jay Fiedler - 2001, Tyler Thigpen - 2008, Ryan Fitzpatrick - 2011). That's good news for Fitzpatrick, who will get the call in Geno Smith's (jaw) absence and could help fantasy fans because of his knowledge of the offense. He's not a draftable asset, however.
No team in the league threw the football more than the Raiders last season, finishing with a 66.1 pass percentage. Despite the high pass rate, Oakland quarterbacks still ranked just 27th in passing yards (3,456). ... New coordinator Bill Musgrave has not had a ton of success with signal-callers in his last five seasons, either. In fact, he's coached just one top-20 quarterback (Byron Leftwich - 2004) in that time. ... Derek Carr will be a popular deep sleeper in fantasy leagues, but fans can't expect a massive leap into stardom. During his rookie campaign, Carr scored 15-plus fantasy points just five times. A top-15 finish among quarterbacks is more realistic.
In 2014, the Eagles had a pass percentage of 57.9, which was up from the 52.6 percent clip the previous season. Their quarterbacks ranked fifth in pass attempts (621), ninth in completions (384) and sixth in passing yards (4,581). Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez combined to score 258.7 fantasy points, which would have ranked 13th among quarterbacks last season. ... Sam Bradford is projected to open the 2015 campaign as the team's new starter, though he's played in just seven games over the last two years due to injuries. Playing in coach Chip Kelly's offense is enough to take him with a late-round flier, but Bradford's proneness to injuries limits his draft stock.
The Steelers ranked in the top 10 in pass attempts (8th), completions (4th), passing yards (3rd) and touchdown passes (7th) last season, so it was no surprise to see Ben Roethlisberger finish fifth in fantasy points among all quarterbacks. Keep in mind, though, that he recorded almost 50 percent of his production in a mere five starts. That includes a two-week stretch when he threw for a combined 862 yards, 12 touchdowns and 80.5 fantasy points. ... In Todd Haley's last nine seasons as either a coordinator or head coach, he's produced a total of five top-12 fantasy quarterbacks. That includes Roethlisberger (2010, 2013, 2014) and Kurt Warner (2007, 2008).
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers threw the football 60.6 percent of the time in their first season under coordinator Frank Reich, finishing no worse than 11th in completions (11th), passing yards (10th) and touchdown passes (11th). Still, Philip Rivers failed to finish in the top 10 in fantasy points among quarterbacks for the second time in the last four seasons. ... The loss of Antonio Gates could hurt his overall touchdown production, though, as 27 percent of his scoring strikes over the last five seasons have gone to the veteran tight end. That includes 39 percent of his touchdown passes last season. Overall, Rivers should be considered a No. 2 quarterback in the latter rounds.
San Francisco 49ers
In 2014, the 49ers ranked 29th or worse in pass attempts (30th), completions (29th) and passing yards (30th). Their offense also ranked tied for 22nd in touchdown passes (20). ... New coordinator Geep Chryst, who had spent his last four seasons as the Niners quarterbacks coach, hasn't been an offensive coordinator at the pro level since 1999-2000 (San Diego). In those two seasons, the Bolts ranked 26th and 31st in pass percentage. Ironically, his starting quarterback in 1999 was former Niners coach Jim Harbaugh. ... In what figures to be a run-based offense, it's tough to envision a scenario where Colin Kaepernick will re-emerge into a viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback this season.
The Seahawks feature a run-based offense, so it's no surprise that this team finished next to last in pass percentage (48.6) in 2014. Seattle also finished last in pass attempts (453), 31st in completions (286), 25th in passing yards (3,475) and tied for 22nd in touchdown passes (20). So how did Russell Wilson finish third in fantasy points among quarterbacks? Well, 37 percent of his production came as a runner. In three years under coordinator Darrell Bevell, Wilson has averaged 625.6 rushing yards and had finished no worse than 10th in fantasy points at his position. With Graham now in the mix, however, Wilson should now push for 25-28 touchdown passes in 2015.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams ranked 17th in pass percentage (58.7) last season, finishing 23rd in pass attempts (513), 20th in completions (325), 22nd in passing yards (3,658) and tied for 22nd in touchdown passes (20). ... New coordinator Frank Cignetti, who had served as the team's quarterbacks coach, has never held an OC position at the pro level. His last run came at Rutgers (2011), but he also had a successful tenure at Fresno State (2002-2005) in the same role. ... New starter Nick Foles will struggle to repeat the totals he posted in Philadelphia under Kelly, especially in an offense that will focus on Todd Gurley, Tre Mason and the ground attack. At best, he's a No. 2 option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers recorded a pass percentage of 62.3 last season, which ranked seventh among NFL teams. However, their quarterbacks finished no better than 21st in pass attempts (23rd), completions (26th), passing yards (23rd) or touchdown passes (19th). ... New coordinator Dirk Koetter has had success with quarterbacks in his time at the NFL level, though, which is good news for rookie Jameis Winston. In his last seven seasons as an OC between the Jaguars and Falcons, he hasn't had a signal-caller finish worse than 15th in fantasy points (David Garrard, 2009). Koetter has also had three quarterbacks (Garrard - 2008, Matt Ryan - 2012, 2014) finish in the fantasy top 10.
In their first season under new coordinator Jason Michael, the Titans offense threw the football on 61.3 percent of their offensive snaps. This unit also finished near the bottom of the league in pass attempts (24th), completions (27th), passing yards (20th) and touchdown passes (25th). ... The good news is that the team will move on to rookie Marcus Mariota, who has shown an impressive level of accuracy during camp. Where he could be an asset for fantasy fans is as a runner, as the Oregon product put up a combined 2,237 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns (41 games) in three seasons at the collegiate level. Mariota will be worth a late-round look in re-drafts.
In their first season under coach Jay Gruden and coordinator Sean McVay, the Redskins threw the football 60.1 percent of the time. While their quarterbacks ranked eighth in passing yards (4,461), their lack of touchdown passes (17) was a huge issue for fantasy fans. In fact, their top fantasy quarterback (Kirk Cousins) finished outside of the top 30 at the position. ... In Gruden's previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Dalton finished no worse than 15th among fantasy field generals. ... Kirk Cousins will open 2015 as the starter, but he needs to improve on his level of consistent production before he can be trusted as more than a matchup-based starter.