The draft season is in full swing, and fantasy owners are perusing rankings across sites, making their notes and perhaps giving players their own “eye test” by watching some preseason action. One of the players that keeps popping up in discussions about his positional rank is Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.
This phenomenon occurred before his dissection of the Cincinnati defense on Thursday night in the nationally televised game on FOX. It’s the same, old argument of years past. We like this player, but do we like him more than … (insert quarterback here)?
The crux of the argument in favor of boosting Ryan’s stock in your QB list is this: White, Jones & Gonzalez.
Now in his fifth NFL season, the man called “Ice” looks to build on his best statistical output to date. Ryan posted 4,100 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. Proponents of boosting his stock point to the growth of Julio Jones in his second year. He’s big, physical and fast, and teamed with White should terrorize opposing secondaries. But, it seems in the push to get Ryan up to the top of the heap, owners are failing to account for the pile of rushing touchdowns scored by Michael Turner.
We separate the elite on the draft board. The holy trinity of Rodgers, Brady (I’ll make the case for him in the top spot in the rankings – my resolve on Rodgers has weakened) and Brees top the list. Next come Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton.
Once you get to the sixth slot, things start to get a little jumbled.
Ryan finds himself in the mix with the brothers Manning, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger.
Let’s look at the resumes:
Eli Manning: Plays every game and has topped 4,000 yards in 3 straight. Tied Ryan for sixth with 29 touchdown passes last season.
Michael Vick: Decidedly disastrous season in 2011. Rushing touchdowns disappeared and timing w/ Jackson & Maclin was off downfield. You know the inherent risks associated with his selection. He’s not finishing 16 games.
Peyton Manning: New team and receivers to learn, perhaps more of a balance with the run game and that pesky neck situation. I counter with … aren’t all quarterbacks “one good hit” away from the sidelines? Thomas and Decker are working tirelessly to get in step with his timing, and Tamme offers a solid security blanket.
Philip Rivers: The Chargers are always set up to disappoint you if you’re looking for a Super Bowl run. Still, they’ll post tremendous offensive numbers. Rivers has averaged 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in the past four years. The loss of Vincent Jackson doesn’t phase me. My lone concern is the health of Antonio Gates.
Jay Cutler: He’s reunited with Brandon Marshall and gets a mighty intriguing rookie wideout in Alshon Jeffery. Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Kellen Davis, not to mention tailback Matt Forte, round out the receiving corps. The upside is immense if Mike Tice’s offensive line thrives in the simplification of the offensive scheme. I remain somewhat nervous about that unit’s aptitude, but there’s tremendous upside here.
Ben Roethlisberger: Mike Wallace remains a holdout, so that’s a challenge yet to overcome. I’m intrigued to watch Roethlisberger operate in Todd Haley’s system with Antonio Brown, Wallace and Heath Miller (51 receptions last year) working downfield. Of course, health concerns (the shoulder tear?) and offensive line play have to be considered here as well.
Tony Romo: Romo has thrown for at least 4,100 yards in three of the past five seasons. Of course, he’s been beset by health concerns of his own, and the 2012 preseason has been chock-full of bad news. Miles Auston’ hamstring is barking again. Dez Bryant had his off-field issues and favorite target Jason Witten is out indefinitely after sustaining an injury in the team’s first preseason game.
I’ll throw in a bonus player. Robert Griffin III is starting to fly up draft boards as well. With Moss, Davis, Garcon and Hankerson at the ready and the ability to make plays with his legs, where does he stack up?
See? It’s not so easy to vault Ryan to lofty heights. Are you banking on a Rodgers-esque ascent in 2012? Remember, Rodgers had averaged 28 touchdowns in three seasons prior to last year’s heroics? Is that what we’re envisioning here?
I say no. Look at No. 33. The Packers couldn’t run the ball. Turner works the goal line.
I’ll consider moving Ryan a spot or two. Romo seems the most likely to dip in my list, but for now, Ryan stays at No. 13.