Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders at the QB position for the upcoming season.
Matthew Stafford, who has ironed out mechanical kinks while learning OC Joe Lombardi’s playbook, passing yards this season 4,999.5
Scott – UNDER. Even with Calvin Johnson and pass-first Scott Linehan the last three years, Stafford only has season past that number. I also think the Lions threw at times because they had to, not because they definitely wanted to. If the defense shows any kind of improvement, volume likely takes a modest hit.
Dalton – UNDER. I respect the volume in which Detroit attempts passes, and it sure helps having the best WR in the NFL to throw to. But Stafford has surpassed this mark once in his career, when he threw for the eighth most yards in a season in NFL history. Going under here is a very safe bet.
Brad – OVER. Lombardi was one of the masterminds behind Drew Brees' incredible run in New Orleans from 2007-2013. You know, the stretch in which he finished a top-three QB every year. With the nuclear weapons around him, it's no pipe dream to think he surpasses 5,000 yards.
Fill in the blank. Johnny Manziel will start _______ games and finish with _________ (pass yds, pass tds, ints, rush yds, rush tds) line.
Dalton – 13; 2,795-17-17-520-4.
Brad – 16; 3,659-20-18-740-6.
Andy – 14; 3,040-19-18-485-3. Brad is basically alone on the Manziel bus. Johnny isn't on the must-draft list in leagues of standard size/shape.
Jay Cutler, spoiled with arguably the nastiest receiving duo in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, passing touchdowns this season 27.5.
Brad – UNDER. By a hair. During his sometime tumultuous five-year ride in Chicago, the finely coiffured QB has never thrown for 28 scores in a season. The offense and weapons offers a nourishing environment, but somehow, some way (Another injury perhaps?), Jay will fall short of the lofty expectations.
Andy – OVER with ease, assuming good health. This is a silly number, much too low. Cutler has never had receivers of this quality, nor has he ever had an O-line to reliably protect him in Chicago. He's also entering his second season in a terrific system. After six games last year, before Cutler was injured against Washington, he was on pace for 4,300-plus yards and 32 TDs. You don't have to like him personally, but you have to recognize a stellar situation when you see it.
Brandon – OVER. Bears QBs threw for 32 TD passes last season. This offense will remain pass heavy, and rightfully so given its ridiculous receiving weapons. If Cutler can stay healthy for 15 games, he'll reach this mark.
Andy Dalton, who Hue Jackson remarked will likely throw considerably less this season, pass attempts in ’14 474.5
Andy – OVER. I can see him finishing in the low-500s in a healthy season, but I don't think Dalton is going to lose over 100 attempts. That's too dramatic. We're still talking about an offense that features AJ Green, Marvin Jones and a terrific receiving threat out of the backfield.
Brandon – OVER. Cincy definitely should dial down Dalton's pass attempts, but I doubt they'll do so to this extent. I can see him losing roughly a half dozen pass attempts per game of his '13 pace, which still keeps him over this number.
Scott – OVER. Although Dalton is one of those purgatory quarterbacks (not a superstar, not a stiff), you don't have to hide him in the offense. And the targets are delicious here: a star in A.J. Green, an emerging stud in Gio Bernard, an improving WR2 in Marvin Jones, solid tight ends.
Eli Manning, off a wretched season and expected to be the centerpiece of Bob McAdoo’s revamped quick-hitting vertical offense, interceptions thrown this year 19.5
Brandon – UNDER. Each of the past two times Eli came off a season in which he threw 20-plus INTs, he was markedly improved at taking care of the pigskin the next season, reducing his picks by an average of 9.5. He's a Manning. You absolutely know that he's putting in the necessary work to get the '13 issues fixed.
Scott – UNDER, because it's hard to throw that many picks. And Reuben Randle can't be that clueless again.
Dalton – UNDER. This is a really good number, as Manning has averaged 18.0 interceptions since his rookie season, but that's with him missing zero games. I'm also betting on the new WCO system resulting in safer route running from Rueben Randle, who had eight of his 76 targets intercepted last season, which was the highest percentage in football.
Josh McCown, whose situation in Tampa eerily mirrors what he experienced last season with the Bears, total touchdowns this fall 24.5
Scott – UNDER. I'd love to see him do it, but I don't want to confuse what's possible with what's probable. And let's also remember Marc Trestman isn't walking through that door. How much of a slump would be needed before Mike Glennon got a chance?
Dalton – UNDER. Don't get me wrong, I like McCown's setup, and he's one of my favorite late round QB2 fliers. It wouldn't shock if he surpassed this number. But let's not forget he's 35 years old and last year's 13 touchdown passes were his career high.
Brad – OVER. The journeyman was spectacular in his short stint as Chicago's starter last year. With Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to throw jumpballs to and at the helm of what will be a pass-heavy Tedford offense, he should finish in the 25-28 TD range.
Mad Dash. Who runs for more yards this season: Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson or RGIII?
Dalton – RGIII. He ran for more yards than any of these other QBs ever has during his rookie season over just 15 games. Now back with a fully healthy knee, Griffin could go crazy in 2014. Even while playing with a brace coming off major knee surgery last year, he's averaged 46.6 rushing yards per game during his career compared to 42.3 by Newton.
Brad – RGIII. He's healthy, has a full offseason under his belt and will be allowed to play uninhibitedly under Jay Gruden. Don't expect another 800-plus yards, but 600-700 should lead the above pack.
Andy – CAM. I realize he's coming off ankle surgery, but he remains a dangerous runner and a goal-line beast. He's led all quarterbacks in rush attempts in each of the past three seasons.
Overrated or Underrated. Philip Rivers, who finished top-10 among passers in fantasy points per game in ’13, at his current 93.8 Yahoo ADP (QB14).
Brad – UNDERRATED. Mike McCoy promises a more balanced attack featuring Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, which should reduce Rivers' workload some. Still, the Bolo Tie is a strong candidate for 4,200-plus yards and 29-32 TDs. Chip in a low INT rate, and he's a fringe top-10 QB. Bargain.
Andy – UNDERRATED, somewhat. This is a very good passer/field general coming off an impressive bounce-back year. Keenan Allen is a star, which certainly helps. I rank him just ahead of Wilson, Brady and Big Ben, just behind Cam, Luck and Cutler.
Brandon – OVERRATED, I guess. He's not among my top 14 QBs for '14, and I hate to waste a bench spot on a backup QB, so I won't be drafting him at 93.8 or anywhere even close to that unless I'm playing in a very deep format.
Nick Foles, whose banner 2013 has driven a wedge between many in the fantasy community, final fantasy rank among QBs 10.5 (In other words, will he be a firm QB1 in 12-team leagues?). –
Andy – OVER. C'mon. We all like the offense, but if you can't see regression coming here ... well, I'd like to invite you to play in all of my money leagues..
Brandon – UNDER. I liked him in college, and I don't think he's a fluke at all. The offense is friendly, and Year 2 of the Machine Gun Kelly regime should only be better. I think that will cancel out some of the luck factor that helped Foles in '13.
Scott – UNDER. Chip Kelly's offense was a pinball machine as expected, and the weapons look upgraded to me (DeSean Jackson was never what you'd call reliable).
Brandon – OVER. I think the Pats learned a lesson last year that you can't just run a bunch of underwhelming and/or inexperienced receiving options out onto the field and expect Brady to be able to work his magic without skipping a beat. But at least guys like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins gained some seasoning, and if Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola can stay reasonably healthy, Brady should cruise right past this number.
Scott – He'll probably squeak over that number, but I still don't want him (barring some silly discount). Rob Gronkowski can't be trusted for a full year and the wideout group is below average. Brady must cry himself to sleep looking at the wideouts in Denver and Green Bay. (What's that you say? Ah, gotcha. Brady doesn't cry himself to sleep.)
Dalton – OVER. By a lot. Last year was the first season in which he failed to reach this mark (aside from when he tore his knee in Week 1 of 2008) since 2006, a span in which he averaged 35.3 TD passes. Brady is aging, but this year's receiving options should be a massive upgrade over last season, when he still was able to get 7.8 YPA with 16 touchdown passes over the final eight games.
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