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Forget an apple a day, the pair of quarter backs featured in this edition of “The Docs” require something you can’t get over the counter. According to current ADP data, neither Kirk Cousins nor Matt Ryan are among the first 12 QBs coming off of draft boards. Still, for owners who like to wait on the position or participate in a 2QB or Super Flex exercise, one of these players is likely to be considered. Evans is willing to bet his medical license on the talents of Washington’s signal-caller. Loza, on the other hand, thinks Ryan still has a pulse. Read their case studies below and declare a winner in the comments section.
Evans likes that: Debating a pair of secondary quarterbacks is akin to weighing death-by-bear or death-by-mountain lion, a verifiable lesser-than-two-evils argument. However, for those who subscribe to a late-round QB strategy or play in two-QB leagues (If you don’t, get with the program), only one is worth targeting in this "dilemma."
Put Kirk Cousins squarely in the cross-hairs.
The QB’s rise to prominence was nothing short of spectacular last year. After RG3 was officially buried on the depth chart, Cousins ran with the opportunity. In Jay Gruden’s high-flying offense, he posted remarkable numbers, ranking top-10 at the position in several categories including completion percentage (69.8), passer rating (101.6), yards per attempt (7.7), air yards per attempt (4.2) and fantasy points per dropback (0.53). Yes, some of his production was fueled by five fluky rushing touchdowns, but he finished as QB12 in points per game. And we can’t forget his legendary fantasy playoff run. His 29.5 fppg from Weeks 14-16, tops among passers during that span, took owners to title town.
Operating behind an offensive line that ranked No. 10 in pass protection according to Football Outsiders and with the addition of high-pointer Josh Doctson, it would be no shock to see Cousins crank out top-10 lines consistently this fall. Keep in mind his weapons outside Doctson (Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson) are quite good. Also, even with Josh Norman now manning the defensive backfield, Washington’s No. 28 ranked defense from a season ago (in total yards per game allowed) remains vulnerable. Another 4,000 passing yards with 35 total touchdowns seem inevitable.
Matt Ryan is the Ryan Mathews of QBs, a perpetual letdown. Despite throwing to one of the game’s premier receivers, Julio Jones, he almost always leaves owners unsatisfied. Over the past three seasons, he’s finished inside the QB top-14 only once. And I’m not confident Mohamed Sanu’s presence will suddenly reignite the signal-caller’s game. His deep ball and red-zone inefficiencies last year were glaring. He’ll surpass 2015’s unsightly TD total (21), but there’s no way he sniffs 30 scores. Frankly, he’s the most overrated QB in the game today, fantasy or reality.
Loza’s resistance is futile. Captain Kirk is unequivocally the better option.
Loza hits the floor for the Falcon: I get that “Captain Kirk” has that shiny new toy appeal. His late season TD surge (12 total scores from Week 15 through 17) helped bring many managers fantasy glory. But let’s get real about his ability to replicate those stats.
His weapons, while ripe with potential, have been far from consistent. Jordan Reed, in addition to possessing a dubious concussion history, has only started fourteen games in his three seasons as a pro. DeSean Jackson is a 29-year-old speed guy who averaged fewer than four catches per game in 2015. Pierre Garcon is an aging possession receiver with a 6 TD ceiling. Matt Jones averaged 3.4 YPC carry, committed five fumbles a year ago, and sat out the last two weeks of the year after getting banged up. And Josh Doctson is a rookie (who was kept out of OTAs last week because of a foot injury).
Matty Ice, on the other hand, has the privilege of lobbing the ball to Julio Jones, one of the most dynamic receivers in the league. The rest of the corps may not offer the same flashiness as the options in DC do, but at least they’re reliable. After all, Mohamed Sanu defined the word when he filled in for A.J. Green back in 2014, amassing 18 catches, 326 total yards, and score for the three weeks the stud was sidelined. And let’s not forget the pass-catching prowess of Devonta Freeman, who racked up the third most receiving yards among RBs in 2015, securing 73 balls via the air for 578 yards.
Plus, it’s not like Atlanta’s stable of options is completely devoid of upside. Second year man Justin Hardy has been impressing at OTAs. In fact, when asked about the slot man’s budding future, Jones noted the 24-year-old’s growth and stated that the youngster would, “make great plays [for us] this season.”
The reason Ryan is plummeting to the eleventh round of drafts is because he was so bad last year and fans of the virtual game are annoyed. So why not take advantage of the obvious recency bias and lean into the value? Ryan absolutely struggled to pick up Kyle Shanahan’s offense last fall and winter. But he’s also a cerebral talent who should be able to grasp the system’s nuances with sixteen starts now under his belt. And he won’t have to worry about trying to fill the void that Roddy White, whom Ryan spent eight seasons developing a rapport with, left when he fell off of a cliff in Week 2.
I’m not denying that Ryan’s appeal lies wholly in his floor. Nor am I trying to dismiss Cousins’ 2015 heroics. But the former BC Eagle is cheaper and more proven. He’s been a fantasy starter for five of the past six years. No, he’s never going to be a top-five commodity, but it’s more likely than not that he finishes in the QB10 - QB14 range, while also delivering consistent production on a week-to-week basis.
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