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When to pick your quarterback

Jay Cutler will be hard-pressed to get close to his Denver numbers given the state of the Chicago Bears receiving corps.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - To pick a quarterback early, or not to pick a quarterback early, that is the eternal question which fantasy owners must ask themselves as Draft Day approaches.

Last year, there were four quarterbacks who seemed to be head and shoulders above the rest - Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tony Romo. As it turned out, just one of the four actually performed up to expectations - Brees.

Brees, led many a fantasy owner to the championship, including two of the three leagues I won, by throwing for 5,069 yards and 34 touchdowns. He had eight 300-yard games, two 400-yards games and had at least one touchdown pass in 15 of 16 contests.

On the other hand, Brady went down in the first quarter of the first game and it was a season-ending knee injury. Manning was solid, though unspectacular, going from Week 3 through Week 9 without throwing for 300 yards and Romo missed four games in the heart of the fantasy season (Week 7 - Week 10).

In their place near the top of the charts were: Kurt Warner (4,583 yards, 30 TDs), Jay Cutler (4,526 yards, 25 TDs, 2 rusging TDs), Aaron Rodgers (4,038 yards, 28 TDs, 4 rushing TDs) and Philip Rivers (4,009, 34 TDs).

If Brady and Romo stay healthy this year, it would now appear as if there are at least seven or eight solid quarterback options. although Cutler will be hard-pressed to get close to his Denver numbers given the state of the Chicago Bears receiving corps.

Unless you feel that Brees is so far ahead of the field given the fact that the Saints didn't do anything to improve the running game, it looks like the plan for 2009 should be to draft a running back and a wide receiver or two running backs with your first two picks and then come back for a quarterback in round three.

There should still be a solid choice left on the board, and that doesn't even take into account other possible No.1 quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub or Eli Manning.

Another benefit of delaying your quarterback pick would be the ability to anchor your receiving corps with a stud like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith or Calvin Johnson.

If you look in the receiver direction, be careful about selecting Brandon Marshall or Roddy White. I can easily make a case that both wideouts will not reach last year's numbers. For Marshal, it's the substitution of Kyle Orton for Cutler behind center and in Atlanta, I can see Ryan falling in love with his new tight end - future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez.

So for me, the early outlook on the quarterback situation is that I can look elsewhere early and still get a nice quarterback. Of course, if Brees is available when it's my turn, I'm a pretty loyal guy and I just might give him another chance to shine on my roster.

2008 Quarterback Fantasy Ranking
RankPlayerTeamPtsYardsTDs
1Drew BreesNO3355,06934
2Jay CutlerDEN2884,52625
3Philip RiversSD2754,00934
4Kurt WarnerAZ2714,58330
5Aaron RodgersGB2674,03828
6Peyton ManningIND2604,00227
7Donovan McNabbPHI2243,91623
8Tony RomoDAL2243,44826
9Chad PenningtonMIA2063,65319
10Matt CasselNE2063,69321
11Matt RyanATL1953,44016
12Tyler ThigpenKC1822,60818
13David GarrardJAC1703,62015
14Eli ManningNYG1673,23821
15Matt SchaubHOU1663,04315
Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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