2018 fantasy quarterback preview: Elder statesmen Brady, Big Ben risky options

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/5228/" data-ylk="slk:Tom Brady">Tom Brady</a> fell off a cliff fantasy-wise to end 2017. Will the handsome geriatric rebound next fall? (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Tom Brady fell off a cliff fantasy-wise to end 2017. Will the handsome geriatric rebound next fall? (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Whether you’re basking in glory or wallowing in defeat, the 2017 fantasy season is officially in the books. Because owner minds never rest, the Yahoo Fantasy crew looks ahead to what the New Year may hold. Today’s position under the microscope: Quarterbacks.

Among passers that finished inside the position’s top-12, who do you believe could experience a decline in 2018?

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Brad – TOM BRADY. Last checked, Father Time is still undefeated. No amount of avocado ice cream and bottomless tanning can fend off his erosive effects. Brady rewrote the record books in multiple categories for a forty-something QB, but entering his Age 41 season while coming off a languid finish (6 TDs Weeks 13-17) and overall inefficient red-zone campaign (’16 RZ cmp%: 69.2; ’17: 58.3) one has to wonder if he’ll survive another 3-5 seasons. Because fantasy owners are typically obsessed with name brands, he’ll likely be overpriced entering 2017 drafts.

Liz – ALEX SMITH. It’s staggering, but Smith was a top-three fantasy producer in 2017, averaging 8.0 YPA and logging the eighth most plays over 20 yards. Those are very anti-Alex Smith stats. While there’s still one year left on his deal, it seems unlikely that he’ll return under center for the Chiefs. Not only is first-round pick Patrick Mahomes seeing his first pro action in Week 17, but OC Matt Nagy is reportedly being courted by numerous teams in need of a new head coach. The stars certainly aligned for Smith in 2017, but miracles don’t often happen twice.

Scott – Alex Smith is such a good answer to this question; if I were the Chiefs, I see no reason not to start the Patrick Mahomes Era in 2018. Remember, they traded up to draft Mahomes last spring.

I’m also leery on BEN ROETHLISBERGER, one of the two remaining stalwarts of the Class of 2004. We’ve seen Eli Manning crash and burn in recent years, and I’d rather be a year early on an aging star than a year late. It’s not that I necessarily see Big Ben completely cratering, but there are so many sound options at the quarterback position, there’s no reason to talk yourself into someone. You miss the subway, another car is coming within 10 minutes. For all the sunshine thrown at Roethlisberger throughout his career (and for all the fun skill players he runs with), he’s finished QB9 or better just three times in his career.

[Early position previews for 2018: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs]

Conversely, what signal caller outside the 2017 QB1 ranks do you think leaps in value next season?

Scott – Regression hit hard with MATT RYAN, though new OC Steve Sarkisian didn’t help by removing the easiest yards in the book, the passes to their uber-talented running backs. The Falcons ranked second in RB receiving yards back in 2016, but a laughable 21st in that stat this year. But here’s the good news — the Falcons showed an uptick in that part of the playbook over the last month of the year, so perhaps Sarkisian has, finally, seen the light. Ryan will probably never challenge for another MVP award, but he’s set up to be an easy profit player next year. His touchdown rate in 2016 was remarkably fortunate; in 2017, it was comically unlucky.

Liz – BLAKE BORTLES. A true Garbage Time All Star, Bortles was a top-eight producer in 2015 and 2016. While he’s likely to finish just outside of the top-twelve producers in 2017 (QB14), his play over the last month has been solid. Averaging a YPA of 9.4 and a completion percentage or nearly 70 since Week 13, Bortles has produced top-five FF numbers in three of his last four outings. With a solid running game in place, improved efficiency, and emerging receiving threats, Bortles is set to keep naysayers in their place come the fall… and to become a fantasy asset for the right reasons, rather than the wrong ones.

BradJIMMY GAROPPOLO. Once freed from New England, Jimmy G invaded the Bay Area, seized the opportunity and instantly proved his mettle. With one finger snap, he transformed the Niners from weaklings to warriors. From Weeks 13-16, he completed 68.5 percent of his attempts, notched a sick 8.74 yards per attempt and finished QB9 in per game fantasy production (312.5 pass ypg, 8 total TDs, 17.32 fpts). And that was accomplished with an arsenal equivalent to a Dollar General Bowl participant. Give him new toys this offseason and Garoppolo soon explodes in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Based on skill set alone he certainly has the look of a top-five contributor.

Listomania. Scribble down your initial top-10 quarterback ranks for next season.

Liz – 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Russell Wilson, 3) Jimmy Garoppolo, 4) Cam Newton, 5) Kirk Cousins, 6) Deshaun Watson, 7) Tom Brady, 8) Matt Stafford, 9) Jared Goff, 10) Drew Brees

Brad – 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Russell Wilson, 3) Deshaun Watson, 4) Cam Newton, 5) Jimmy Garoppolo, 6) Dak Prescott, 7) Kirk Cousins, 8) Drew Brees, 9) Tom Brady, 10) Big Ben

Scott – 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Russell Wilson, 3) Cam Newton, 4) Tom Brady, 5) Matthew Stafford, 6) Kirk Cousins, 7) Matt Ryan, 8) Deshaun Watson, 9) Carson Wentz*, 10) Jimmy Garoppolo

Bring the blitz. Follow Brad (@YahooNoise), Liz (@LizLoza_FF) and Scott (@Scott_Pianowski) on Twitter.

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