Fantasy Football Quarterbacks: Rising Stars

Bradford, Stafford and Freeman on their way up

Bradford, Stafford and Freeman on their way up

Making a Case for the New Class ...
Three young quarterbacks have quickly ascended into the top half of fantasy QBs to own. Here’s why you shouldn’t shy away from them this year.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Bradford was thrown into the fire as a rookie and threw the third-most passes (590) in the league last year while finishing as the No. 20 fantasy quarterback. The Rams used the draft to upgrade the weapons around him, and they hired Josh McDaniels to coordinate the offense. McDaniels has called the plays for some of the top fantasy offenses in recent seasons, which is good news for Bradford. Throw in an enhanced group of weapons, and Bradford is set to improve his numbers from last year. Bradford still has room to grow, but Steven Jackson is getting older, and the offense will be shifting more toward the pass. As long as the Rams protect him, Bradford will grow into an every-week fantasy starter.

- Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
The eyeball test is where it starts with Stafford, as there may not be a stronger arm on the planet. The Georgia product can make every throw in the book and has elite options to target with Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, Brandon Pettigrew and a slew of stellar rookie talents. Stafford certainly has health concerns, but when healthy, he has produced big numbers. He was averaging 20.2 fantasy points through three games last season, which would have landed the rocket-armed passer as the No. 8 fantasy quarterback in the league had he kept that pace — and remained healthy — all year long. With the weapons around him and the continued progress of the defense, Stafford has a chance to be the next elite fantasy option under center — if he can stay healthy.

- Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He’s one of football’s up-and-comers at the quarterback position, and he should move his way into fantasy starting consideration this year. After a tough rookie season, Freeman blossomed in 2010, throwing 25 touchdown passes against only six interceptions in an impressive sophomore campaign. Freeman’s play got even better down the stretch, with 15 TD passes and only one pick in Tampa Bay’s last eight games. He also added 364 rushing yards on the season — a total that ranked second among quarterbacks. The future looks bright for the Buccaneers’ offense, with a solid offensive line and another emerging star in running back LeGarrette Blount. Freeman achieved his efficient statline without much experience at receiver. Rookie Mike Williams became his favorite target, catching 11 touchdowns. Those two should be even better in their second year together, and the Bucs have other young, athletic targets in Arrelious Benn and Dezmon Briscoe. Add in tight end Kellen Winslow, and Freeman will have plenty of weapons to work with as he piles up numbers in the wide-open NFC South.

- Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter


More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

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