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Fantasy Football: Quarterback rankings 08.07.15 at 3:43 pm ET
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Fantasy football preparation is in full swing, and I’m kicking off my positional ranking articles with the quarterbacks. And why not? After all, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. I’ve broken them down into tiers for you, and you have viable options all the way through with the exception of the last tier, which should be avoided like discounted seafood. Still, even without the final tier, you have more quarterback depth than I have ever seen. The benefits of waiting to draft your quarterback have never been greater. As we move through August, there will be changes to these rankings. To keep pace with these changes, you can always go to Rotobahn. It’s 100 percent free and its updated on a daily basis.

If you missed Thursday’s article on players who can drastically outperform their draft-day cost, you can access it here.

I’ll be back next week with a look at the running backs and receivers. And, be sure to tune in this Sunday at 8 a.m., when Jim Hackett and I will be live on 93.7 with this season’s first edition of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Hour. Please join us! We’ll make it worth your while.

Andrew Luck is the surest bet at the quarterback position for fantasy owners.  (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck is the surest bet at the quarterback position for fantasy owners. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Tier 1

Andrew Luck
Aaron Rodgers

The elite are easy to spot this year. Luck and Rodgers stand alone atop the quarterback rankings. While they have as much upside as anybody out there, it’s their strong floors that make them such good bets. Both of these guys could have relative down years and still finish as QB1s. Injury is really the only concern I have for either of these studs, and I have more concern in that area with Rodgers, who has been banged up in both of the last two seasons. That’s why Luck gets the top spot.

Tier 2

Russell Wilson
Cam Newton
Ben Roethlisberger

Here we have three excellent stat producers who all got new toys this offseason. Cam Newton finally has respectable weapons in the passing game. And, what’s better is that his weapons are all tall targets. This works to minimize one of Newton’s biggest weaknesses — leaving too many passes up high. Roethlisberger is surrounded by outstanding skill talent, and that includes one of the best receiving running backs in Le’Veon Bell. The newest weapon, Sammie Coates, may not even be able to get on the field in 2015. That’s how incredibly deep Pittsburgh is when it comes to the skill positions. Russell Wilson has a lot of good young receivers, but the key addition obviously is tight end Jimmy Graham, who gives Wilson the kind of red zone weapon he’s sorely lacked throughout his young career. All three of these guys have up-pointing arrows. They are strong reasons to not go too early on a quarterback.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Fantasy Football, Tom Brady
WEEI QB Power Rankings: Training camp edition at 12:16 pm ET
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Aaron Rodgers is our No. 1-ranked QB as training camp begins around the league. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers is our No. 1-ranked QB as training camp begins around the league. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Quality NFL quarterbacks are hard to come by. Just ask the Browns. A QB doesn’t even have to be that good to get a long-term contract from the team that drafted him (see Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, etc.).

The top 18 players in this edition of the WEEI QB Power Rankings all started for the same team as they did last year. Unlike running backs, tight ends and pretty much all defensive players, the roster turnover only happens at the bottom of the talent pool. Only eight (maybe nine) franchises will see a new face under center in Week 1. It will be interesting to see who wins the Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade. On to the rankings:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers — There’s not a lot to criticize with Rodgers. He’s in his prime (31 years old) and is coming off a season with 38 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions. His athleticism allows him to roam outside the pocket and throw lasers on the run. Also, he does it all in a cold-weather stadium, which fans around here can appreciate.

2. Tom Brady, Patriots — We’ve come a long way since that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs. The (barely) 38-year-old is entering his 15th season. His last game was against the second-best defense of the millennium and he was nearly perfect. A minor offseason distraction likely will motivate him in 2015.

3. Andrew Luck, Colts — Luck is the best of a good group of young QBs. He’s fast, can take a hit and make all the throws, but most importantly, he sees the field and reads progressions as well as anyone in the league. He needs to throw fewer interceptions, but that usually comes with age.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — Last season Big Ben threw for almost 5,000 yards, the most of his career. At 33 years old, he’s got more than enough tread on the tires to keep up the pace.

5. Russell Wilson, Seahawks He doesn’t need to throw the ball 50 times a game for the Seahawks to win. Unlike many young QBs, he’s got the benefit of an outstanding defense and stellar running game.  Teams will have a harder time stopping him now that former Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a part of the offense.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady
Andrew Luck: Patriots ‘kings of the league right now and everybody would like to dethrone them’ 07.07.15 at 8:39 am ET
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The Patriots have knocked Andrew Luck and the Colts out of the playoffs the past two seasons. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Patriots have knocked Andrew Luck and the Colts out of the playoffs the past two seasons. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After hosting a Q&A event with fans in London last weekend, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck checked in with a British website, BritViewNFL.com, for an interview touching on a number of different subjects.

With Patriots beating the Colts 45-7 in last year’s AFC championship game on their way to winning the Super Bowl, as well as knocking them out of the playoffs the year prior, Luck discussed the Patriots, noting how the Colts “respect” them, but also with them winning the Super Bowl, every team would like to take them down.

“€œThe Patriots are obviously the defending Super Bowl champs and our defending conference champs so there’€™s a high amount of respect for that team and what they do,” Luck told the website. “They’€™re the kings of the league right now and everybody would like to dethrone them –€“ we’€™d like to dethrone them but you have to look at the season as 16 games. There are fans and media who will hype up certain games and circle them in red on the calendar but, as a player, you lose sight of what’€™s important if you get into that mode.”

The Patriots will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts Oct. 18 in the Patriots’ fifth game of the season, which if Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension holds, it would be his first game of the year.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Andrew Luck,
Andrew Luck: Deflategate controversy ‘blown out of proportion’ 01.22.15 at 12:55 am ET
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Andrew Luck said the Deflategate controversy had been "blown out of proportion." (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck said the Deflategate controversy has been “blown out of proportion.” (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Andrew Luck shrugged off the Deflategate controversy, saying that “€œthings in the media tend to be blown out of proportion.”

Speaking at the Pro Bowl draft, the Colts quarterback appeared to dismiss the uproar of underinflated footballs that were reportedly used by the Patriots in the AFC title game last Sunday in Foxboro.

“Everybody has a preference and our equipment managers sort of handle our footballs in a sense,” Luck told reporters. “I get them as they are, I guess.”

When it came to how he felt about preparing for the Pro Bowl instead of the Super Bowl, Luck appeared to fire off a good Deflategate one-liner, even if it reporters who were present believed it might have been inadvertent.

“The energy is sucked out of you. You feel deflated,”€ he said before perhaps realizing his gaffe, smiling, and adding, “Aww, shoot”€ with a sheepish laugh.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Andrew Luck, Deflategate, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck had ‘long day’ in worst statistical game of NFL career 01.19.15 at 1:29 pm ET
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Andrew Luck had the worst statistical game of his NFL career in Sunday's loss to the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck had the worst statistical game of his NFL career in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — While Andrew Luck has proven he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Sunday’s AFC championship proved Luck is not ready for the big stage just yet.

Luck has his worst statistical game of his career Sunday in the Colts’ 45-7 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

The 25-year-old was 12-for-33 passing for 126 yards with two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 23. The quarterback rating was by far the worst in his three-year career, as his previous low was Dec. 21 of this year in a 42-7 loss to the Cowboys, where he had a rating of 41.7.

His 36.4 completion percentage was also the worst of his career, and his 126 passing yards were second-fewest, only to the Dec. 21 game against the Cowboys.

“Long day, they obviously outplayed us and deserve to move on,” Luck said afterwards.

Luck and the Colts have struggled in his four games against the Patriots. He is 0-4, including two playoff losses, and has been outscored 189-73 in those games. Luck and the Colts have also struggled away from home against good teams. Over the last three seasons in games on the road against teams finishing .500 or better, the Colts are 2-12 and have been outscored 486-265.

The Patriots defense wasn’t necessarily surprised with the outcome Sunday night.

“Not at all,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “They’€™re a great team, but we are a good team as well. We had a great game plan, we came out and we executed. I mean there were a couple of plays that we obviously wanted back, but I think we played really good out there.”

A major part in the Patriots’ success was their ability to take away Luck’s receivers and the passing game. T.Y. Hilton finished with just one catch for 36 yards — a spectacular catch on the sidelines — and Reggie Wayne was not even targeted. Hilton was the leading receiver with tight end Coby Fleener being the next closest with three catches for 30 yards. Hilton finished the regular season with the sixth-most receiving yards in the NFL — 1,345.

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Andrew Luck, Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Arrington
Andrew Luck, Colts will have to overcome past trends to upset Patriots in AFC championship 01.18.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Andrew Luck will have to overcome past trends if he wants to beat the Patriots. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck will have to overcome past trends if he wants to beat the Patriots. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck is one of the best up-and-coming young quarterbacks in the NFL. After being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft, Luck as been as advertised, throwing for 12,957 yards and 86 touchdowns in his three seasons in the league.

But, Sunday will be his first AFC championship game appearance, and the game will be outside at Gillette Stadium — away from his home indoor confines of Lucas Oil Stadium — which may be an issue for Luck and the Colts team come Sunday night.

In Luck’s three years (including five postseason games) he is 680-for-1148 passing, with 62 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in games played indoors, with a 24-8 record. This compared to games outdoors, where he is 503-for-838 passing with 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, with a 12-9 record.

The biggest thing that stands out is his touchdown-to-interception ratio indoors compared to outdoors. He has a 2.21 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home, but in games outdoors that number goes down to 1.18.

Turning the ball over, which Luck does a great deal of (16 interceptions this year, 43 for his career), could come back to hurt the Colts on Sunday night. The Patriots finished the regular-season tied for second in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-12, including 25 takeaways. They also finished with 13 giveaways, tied for the fewest in the league.

Indianapolis turned the ball over 31 times as a team, which tied for the third-most in the NFL. The Colts cannot afford to turn the ball over against the Patriots.

In 18 games this year, the Colts won the turnover battle only five times and in the postseason since 1970, the Patriots are 18-1 when winning turnover battle.

Since Luck came into the league, the Colts as a team have not done well away from Lucas Oil Stadium when playing against good teams. In the last three seasons (including the playoffs), on the road against teams that finished the season with records .500 or better, the Colts had a record of just 2-11, which includes last week’s win in Denver.

In 10 of those 13 games, the Colts have allowed 24 points or more, and in seven of those 13 games they allowed a remarkable 40 points or more. In those 13 games they have been outscored 441-258.

This also plays into the Patriots’ hands as they are a perfect 11-0 this season when scoring 23 points or more, and in the Bill Belichick era (since 2000) including the postseason, when scoring 23 points or more they are 158-12.

Lastly, knowing this is Luck’s first AFC championship game, Belichick is 3-0 in AFC title games against quarterbacks playing in their first AFC championship game.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Andrew Luck, Bill Belichick,
Most memorable Patriots-Colts games of Tom Brady era 01.17.15 at 3:10 pm ET
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Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Nov. meeting between the two teams. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots’ win over the Colts in November. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On Sunday evening, the Patriots will face the Colts in the AFC championship game. These teams are quite familiar with one another, and though the intensity of the rivalry may have waned when Peyton Manning played his final game for Indianapolis in the 2010 season, the game should prove to be an exciting one. Since 2001, when Tom Brady made his first start against Manning, the Patriots have edged the Colts in 12 of 17 meetings, outscoring them 545-401 in that time.

Brady guided the Patriots to wins against the Colts in his first six tries, but Manning followed that up with a little streak of his own, recording four victories in the next five meetings. During his last start as a Colt, Manning lost to the Pats and helped spawn a five-game New England win streak that stretches back to 2010 and is still alive. In the three games Brady and newcomer Andrew Luck have squared off, the Patriots have not scored fewer than 40 points.

In the teams’ matchup this season on Nov. 16, little-known running back Jonas Gray was the star. After noticing that using Gray in the run against Indianapolis proved just about unstoppable, the Patriots did it all game. All four of Gray’s touchdowns came from inside the 4-yard line, but he compiled 201 total yards throughout the course of the game on 37 attempts. Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright each added a receiving touchdown and the Patriots recorded 503 total yards in the 42-20 victory.

Here are the most memorable games between the teams since Brady took over.

10. Nov. 18, 2012: Patriots 59, Colts 24

Andrew Luck‘s first tilt against the Patriots could have probably gone better. The rookie quarterback had led his team to a 7-3 start to the season, but New England proved to be too much for him to handle. The Colts jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, but from then on, New England took over. The Pats held Indianapolis to 10 points over the remaining three quarters while they put 52 more points on the board. The 59 points tied a franchise single-game scoring record.

Tom Brady was 24-for-35 for 331 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while Luck had 27 completions in 50 attempts, 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — two of which were returned for touchdowns — and a sack.

Julian Edelman and Gronkowski each recorded a pair of touchdowns, including Edelman’s 68-yard punt return. Brady found both Gronkowski and Wes Welker seven times for 137 yards and 80 yards, respectively.

9. Nov. 7, 2005: Colts 40, Patriots 21

After six losses to Brady, Manning finally got his first win against him in 2005. Injuries to important players on the Patriots as well as a perfect Colts team that was only getting better spelled an unfortunate outcome for the back-to-back Super Bowl champs.

Manning finished 28-for-37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne each had nine receptions for the Colts for 128 yards and 124 yards, respectively, combining for three touchdowns. The Patriots also allowed 132 rushing yards and surrendered two touchdowns to the run game, giving Indianapolis 453 total yards.

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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
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