Quarterbacks taking on a greater role in fantasy football leagues

The NFL has become more of a passing league, so it's no surprise to see the value of quarterbacks rising in fantasy football. Whether it's Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, an elite signal-caller can make all the difference in that quest for a title. While there are few truly elite field generals in the league, fantasy owners who miss out on a superstar in the early rounds still have plenty of options. You never know when you'll find that hidden fantasy gem, like Matt Schaub in 2009, in the low middle rounds. Here's our look at the quarterback situations for all 32 teams.

Derek Anderson has taken over the reins of the Cardinals offense after the retirement of Kurt Warner. While the jury is still out on how successful he'll be in a prominent role, Anderson does have the tools around him to make some noise in fantasy land. Larry Fitzgerald is an elite wideout, and the duo of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower should offer support out of the backfield. Overall, Anderson is worth a late-round pick. If he falters, Matt Leinart would see a rise in value.

A breakout candidate in 2009, Matt Ryan missed two games due to injuries and failed to meet expectations. However, that could make him one of the better draft values in 2010. Remember, he still finished with 23 total touchdowns despite the fact that he didn't start 16 games. While he does have a tough schedule, Ryan also has a very talented core of weapons like Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. He'll be worth a low middle-round pick in drafts. Chris Redman remains behind him on the depth chart.

Joe Flacco started last season on fire, throwing eight touchdown passes in his first eight starts. His fortunes took a turn for the worse, however, as he failed to throw for multiple scores in all but two of his final 10 starts. While he does have an unfavorable 2010 schedule, Flacco is still a nice sleeper after the offseason addition of Anquan Boldin to what will be an improved pass attack. In fact, he could develop into a nice fantasy starter. Veteran Marc Bulger is behind Flacco on the depth chart.

Jim Kelly, where are you? The Bills enter the 2010 season with maybe the most unattractive trio of quarterbacks in all of fantasy football. Trent Edwards is the favorite to start, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm are also in the mix. The eventual winner won't be worth more than a late-round pick in larger leagues or in those formats that require two starting quarterbacks. The Bills will clearly be a run-first team under coach Chan Gailey, so owners shouldn't expect much production from their field general.

The Panthers took Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike in the NFL Draft, but Matt Moore remains the clear-cut favorite to start this season. He showed flashes of potential late last season, with a pair of three-touchdown games in two of his final three starts. Moore also threw just one interceptions in his five starts, so he's proven to make smart decisions. With a favorable schedule ahead of him, Moore is well worth a late-round pick and is a solid deep sleeper. Clausen's value is better served for dynasty leagues.

The addition of Mike Martz as the team's new offensive coordinator makes Jay Cutler far more attractive from a fantasy perspective. Despite the fact that he faltered for much of last season, the strong-armed quarterback is still a virtual lock to throw for 4,000 yards with 25-30 total touchdowns in 2010. With Martz running the show and a favorable schedule ahead, Cutler is a viable fantasy starter and well worth a middle-round pick in all drafts. Todd Collins will be behind him on the depth chart.

Carson Palmer was a disappointment for fantasy leaguers last season, finishing 18th in points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. His decreased production has much to do with the emergence of Cedric Benson and an offense that ran the ball much more often. The addition of Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham does make Palmer more attractive in 2010, but he's still more of a No. 2 fantasy quarterback in most drafts. J.T. O'Sullivan remains second on the team's depth chart.

The Browns have a new look at the quarterback position, adding Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace and Colt McCoy during the offseason to replace both Brady Quinn and Anderson. Unfortunately, none of the trio warrant serious draft consideration. Delhomme has been a turnover machine the last two seasons, Wallace is a career backup and McCoy has virtually no chance to make an impact as a rookie. Unless you're in a larger league that starts two quarterbacks, it's better to leave Delhomme to the waiver wire.

Few quarterbacks saw their fantasy appeal rise more than Tony Romo during the offseason, as the Cowboys added yet another weapon in rookie Dez Bryant to an offense that already boasts the likes of Miles Austin and Jason Witten. While he won't push studs like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers in terms of overall fantasy appeal, Romo has a favorable slate of games and the talent around him to become an even better No. 1 fantasy quarterback than he's been in the past. Jon Kitna remains behind him on the team's depth chart.

The Broncos added both Quinn and Tim Tebow during the offseason, but Kyle Orton remains the favorite to start in 2010. Unfortunately, the Purdue product lost a lot of his fantasy luster when the team dealt Brandon Marshall, his top option in the pass attack, to the Dolphins. If the Broncos are out of the playoff hunt down the stretch, coach Josh McDaniels could decide to give Quinn or Tebow a look. That potential scenario makes Orton worth little more than a late-round pick in most leagues.

Matthew Stafford endured a difficult, injury-shortened rookie season, but he did show flashes of potential. Based on his own physical upside, not to mention a favorable schedule and the addition of Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler, Stafford now has legitimate sleeper value in fantasy drafts. While he won't develop into a weekly option, the Georgia product can be a matchup-based starter and is well worth a low middle-round pick. Veteran Shaun Hill is the favorite to finish second on the depth chart.

Rodgers led all quarterbacks in fantasy points on NFL.com last season. In 2010, he could lead all players in fantasy points. The talented field general has one of the most favorable schedules in the league, not to mention a boatload of talent around him in Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley. Rodgers is one of the few non-running backs who's well worth a first-round pick in the majority of fantasy leagues. Matt Flynn remains second behind Rodgers on the Packers depth chart.

One of the best draft values of the 2009 season, Matt Schaub finally avoided injuries and posted career bests in an explosive offense that includes fantasy superstar Andre Johnson. He also finished fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. Expectations will now be very high for Schaub this season, and he'll no doubt be one of the first six signal-callers taken in all 2010 drafts. If Schaub happens to revert back to his previous injury-prone form, Dan Orlovsky would be the favorite for additional snaps.

Peyton Manning continued his reign as one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks in 2009, throwing for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also started all 16 games for the 12th consecutive season. With a talented core of receivers that includes Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie (not to mention Anthony Gonzalez), Manning should continue to find statistical success and is worth a first- or second-round pick in drafts. The now infamous Curtis Painter remains behind him on the depth chart.

This is a very important season for David Garrard, who has been challenged by coach Jack Del Rio and owner Wayne Weaver to step up his game. While that motivation is a positive, fantasy leaguers shouldn't expect a breakout season. Garrard appears to have hit his statistical ceiling (3,500-3,700 passing yards, 16-20 total touchdowns) over the last two seasons, so don't consider him as more than a No. 2 fantasy quarterback on draft day. Luke McCown remains second on the Jaguars depth chart heading into 2010.

All of the components are in place for Matt Cassel to find increased success in 2010. He'll have new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to aid in his development, the support of an improved backfield and Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and rookie Dexter McCluster in the pass attack. Still, a difficult schedule and last season's mediocre totals will limit Cassel's appeal to that of a late-round No. 2 fantasy option with upside. Brodie Croyle is slated to back him up once again this season.

Chad Henne will be one of the more popular fantasy sleepers at the quarterback position this season. He showed flashes of potential in his 13 starts of 2009, and the addition of Marshall gives Henne one of the league's best playmaking wideouts at his disposal. While he won't break out and become the second coming of Dan Marino, the Michigan product is a much more attractive No. 2 fantasy quarterback and matchup-based starter. Tyler Thigpen and Chad Pennington are in the mix for backup roles.

Brett Favre has announced that he'll come back for his 20th NFL season, so he'll remain a viable fantasy starter in most leagues. Even at his extended age, Favre still finished third in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com in 2009. With immense weapons around him and a favorable schedule, Favre will be worth a middle-round pick. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are behind him on the depth chart, but neither is worth drafting in seasonal leagues.

The top fantasy player in 2007, Tom Brady's first full season back from reconstructive knee surgery was a successful one. While he didn't duplicate his previous 2007 totals, Brady still posted close to 4,000 passing yards and 29 total touchdowns. While a few quarterbacks have moved ahead of him in terms of overall fantasy value, Brady is still a top-notch option and worth a second- or third-round selection in drafts. Brian Hoyer is expected to open the season ranked second on the Patriots depth chart.

Brees will no doubt be the first quarterback selected in countless fantasy drafts, and he's one of the few non-running backs who's worth a first-round pick in all leagues. In his last two seasons, the current Super Bowl MVP has thrown for a combined 9,457 yards and scored an amazing 70 total touchdowns. Unless he succumbs to the dreaded "Madden curse," it's hard to envision a scenario where Brees wouldn't find continued success in 2010. Patrick Ramsey appears to be the favorite to back him up entering training camp.

Eli Manning is coming off the best statistical season of his career, throwing for career bests in yards (4,021) and touchdowns (27) while finishing 10th in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. With a talented core of receivers that includes Steve Smith, sleeper Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, Manning is in a good position to find further success and remains a viable low-end fantasy starter. With Jim Sorgi injured, Rhett Bomar will occupy the second spot on the depth chart.

The offseason was much like Christmas for Mark Sanchez, who will have LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes at his disposal in 2010. The Jets will remain a run-first team, but Sanchez should still improve on his rookie totals. If he can tone down the turnovers, the Southern California product should develop into an attractive No. 2 fantasy quarterback and matchup-based starter in most leagues. Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemens will compete for the right to serve as Sanchez's backup in training camp.

The Raiders made a huge addition at quarterback during the NFL Draft, acquiring Jason Campbell from the Redskins. He'll take over the starting role and is a major upgrade over Bruce Gradkowski and Kyle Boller. His presence also makes Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, Louis Murphy and Zach Miller more attractive in fantasy leagues. Consider Campbell a viable No. 2 fantasy quarterback and worth a late-round pick on draft day. Gradkowski and Boller figure to battle for depth-chart positioning and have no draft appeal.

The Eagles moved on from Donovan McNabb and will start the Kevin Kolb era this season. The Houston product showcased some real fantasy potential last season, throwing for a combined 718 yards and four touchdowns in two starts. With a favorable schedule and a ton of talented weapons at his disposal, Kolb has a pile of sleeper potential in the pass-laden offense of coach Andy Reid and warrant middle-round attention. If Kolb falters, though, the fantasy value of Michael Vick could skyrocket during the regular season.

Ben Roethlisberger will miss at least the first four games of the season due to a league-imposed suspension, so Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich will battle to start in his absence. Leftwich is our favorite, and attractive matchups against the Falcons, Titans and Buccaneers in the first three weeks make him a low-end sleeper pick in larger leagues. As for Roethlisberger, he should be considered a risk-reward option in the middle rounds on draft day with no chance to duplicate his solid 2009 totals.

The Rams took Sam Bradford as their franchise quarterback with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, and chances are he'll be under center sooner than later for coach Steve Spagnuolo. First-year field generals typically don't make a major fantasy impact, however, and Bradford will be no different. If he does beat out A.J. Feeley for the starting job out of training camp, Bradford will be worth a late-round look in larger fantasy leagues. His greater immediate value is in long-term and dynasty formats.

Philip Rivers has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football under coach Norv Turner. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged an impressive 4,131 passing yards and scored a combined 63 total touchdowns. With Vincent Jackson (post suspension), Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd in the pass attack, not to mention a potential star in Ryan Mathews in the backfield, Rivers should continue to post solid totals for fantasy owners in 2010. Veteran backup Billy Volek will remain second on the team's depth chart.

The 49ers showed confidence in Alex Smith during the offseason, signing David Carr as a backup and deciding not to take a quarterback in the NFL Draft. Smith also has two new behemoths to protect him, as the Niners added Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati in the NFL Draft to strengthen the offensive line. With a fairly favorable schedule and the likes of Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis at his disposal, Smith should develop into a nice fantasy backup and occasional matchup-based starter this season.

Matt Hasselbeck, once a valuable fantasy starter, has seen his numbers and value drop over the last two seasons. During that time, he's missed a combined 11 games and has more turnovers (30) than touchdowns (22). He's still considered the favorite to start in 2010, but new coach Pete Carroll did bring in Charlie Whitehurst as the team's quarterback of the future. As long as Hasselbeck retains the top spot, he'll be worth a late-round pick. But the battle with Whitehurst in training camp is one to watch.

Josh Freeman will open the 2010 season as the Buccaneers' No. 1 quarterback, but he has much to prove before he'll warrant serious fantasy consideration. Not only does he have to cut down on turnovers, but Freeman will also likely have rookie Mike Williams and potentially Sammie Stroughter and Maurice Stovall as his best wideouts in an offense loaded with question marks. Unless you're in a much deeper league, Freeman won't be worth more than a late-round look in drafts. Josh Johnson figures to fill in as his immediate backup in 2010.

Vince Young has re-claimed the top spot on the Titans depth chart after a 2009 season that saw him win eight of 10 starts. He also became a viable fantasy option, and his presence under center helped improve the production and value of Chris Johnson. Young will have little competition for his starting job in training camp, as Kerry Collins and Chris Simms are considered no more than reserves. Now an attractive No. 2 fantasy quarterback in most leagues, Young is worth a low middle-round look in most drafts.

McNabb lost some of his luster after being traded to the Redskins, as he left behind a pass-laden offense with a ton of offensive weapons. However, the veteran has a very favorable schedule ahead of him and is still a viable low-end fantasy starter. The move to acquire McNabb will have a domino effect of sorts on the value of Santana Moss, Devin Thomas and Chris Cooley, all of whom now have more value in fantasy leagues. Newly-acquired Rex Grossman figures to fill in as the team's No. 2 quarterback in 2010.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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