Preseason Rankings Explained (Updated 7/15)
(QB1) Aaron Rodgers - QB7 weeks 1-6 in 2017 before getting hurt, Rodgers has finished as QB1 two of the past three seasons before 2017, and one of those seasons he didn't have Jordy Nelson. Geronimo Allison will surprise people this year, him and Jimmy Graham.
(QB2) Russell Wilson - QB1 last year, Wilson has finished at a top 12 fantasy QB the last four years, including finishes as QB3 in 2014 and 2015. Don't worry, new run-focused OC Brian Schottenheimer's offenses when he was the OC for the now Los Angeles Rams attempted at least 500 passes in all three seasons. Both of Wilson's no. 3 finishes came with Wilson attempting less than 500 passes, while he attempted 546 passes in 2016 (QB11) and 553 last year (QB1). With a more balanced offense like in 2014 and 2015 with Marshawn Lynch at RB, Wilson proves to be more effective. The Seahawks drafted RB Rashaad Penny in the first round of the NFL draft.
(QB3) Tom Brady - QB2 two of the last three years, Brady finished as QB12 in 2016 after playing in 12 of 16 eligible games. Brady's top WRs last year were Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan (weeks 1-8, 14), and a departed Danny Amendola. Brady lost Cooks and Amendola (200 targets), but he'll get Julian Edelman back in week 5 after a four-game suspension, Macolm Mitchell, who showed promise his rookie season but missed all of last year, and a healthy Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski.
(QB4) Drew Brees - Before 2017 in which Brees finished as QB12 in fantasy, Brees was a top 6 fantasy QB 13 years straight. That's not a typo, including finishing as QB3 in a season as recent as 2016. Mark Ingram is suspended the first four games and Alvin Kamara's small stature at 5'10, 215 LBs suggests the Saints will throw more in 2018, after attempting less than 550 passes in 2017, a drop off from their annual 650 + pass attempts the five prior years before that. Ben Watson and Cameron Meredith are sleepers based simply on volume.
(QB6) DeShaun Watson - Weeks 1-8 (7 games) Watson was QB2, only behind Alex Smith, and he would've been QB1 if you take away Alex Smith's PPG of 21.3 from his points total to knock him down to 7 games played like Watson. Defenses now have film on Watson and his tendencies, but the Texans are installing an entire new offense to stay on top of things when defenses adjust. I wouldn't be surprised to see Watson pop again in 2018. Weeks 2-8 when he was the starter, Watson was QB1.
(QB18) Eli Manning - Manning has finished outside the top 15 the last two years, but he was top 12 in 2014 (QB11) and 2015 (QB8). Honestly, Manning was initially ranked as QB29, but the argument for Manning is if his starting RB, WR and TE are all projected to finish in the top 15 at their position, so should Manning. Let's look at 2017 for evidence. Brady was QB2 (Dion Lewis was RB15, Cooks was WR15 and Gronk was TE2). Alex Smith was QB4 (Kareem Hunt was RB4, Tyreek Hill was WR9 and Travis Kelce was TE1). Phillip Rivers was QB8 (Melvin Gordon was RB5, Keenan Allen was WR3 and Hunter Henry was TE14). Case Keenum and Drew Brees are special cases. Keenum was QB14 (Adam Thielen was WR8, Kyle Rudolph was TE8 and Jerick McKinnon didn't get an increased workload until week 5 when Dalvin Cook was lost for season and was RB10 weeks 5-17). Brees was QB11 (Alvin Kamara was RB3, Mark Ingram was RB6, Michael Thomas was WR6, but he didn't have a TE finish in the top 15). Oh by the way, the OC that helped Keenum finish as QB14, Pat Shurmur, is now Manning's HC.
(QB20) Blake Bortles - Bortles has been a top 13 fantasy QB the last three years. More impressively, he was QB13 last year on 523 pass attempts, a decrease from the annual 600+ he was putting up under former OC Greg Olsen. In addition, Bortles had six games of less than 18 fantasy points. Bortles didn't have Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns for much of last year, so their departures have a minimal impact on Bortles' 2018 fantasy outlook. Jaguars still have talent at the WR position with the following: Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook. Again, QB is deep when you have a top 13 fantasy QB the last three years, respectively, ranked as QB20.