Though Cam Newton fell from his perch high atop the QB ranks, other position mainstays continued to soar as usual suspects Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, among others, finished well inside the position’s top-10. Meanwhile, young guns Dak Prescott and Marcus Mariota joined the ranks of elites, establishing themselves as sure-fire QB1s. In another pass-happy year for the NFL, value, as usual, dominated the position for fantasy purposes … With 2016 in the books, it’s time to gaze into the Magic 8-Ball for what’s to come in the New Year.
This year’s free agent QB class ranks alongside “dinner at Dairy Queen” on the excitement scale. If we expand the field to include possible trade acquisitions, what old face could find fantasy success in a new place?
Brad — JIMMY GAROPPOLO. It’s unlikely Jimmy G is Matt Cassel the sequel. The two-game taste the fantasy community received opened a window into his potential. He was comfortable, accurate (68.9 completion percentage) and took chances downfield (8.2 ypa). If the Patriots truly believe Tom Brady’s avocado ice cream will fuel him until his mid-40s, the backup will be dangled for draft picks this offseason. Strike a deal, possibly with Cleveland, an organization New England already laid a foundation with, and Garoppolo could chuck balls to Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor next season. Much of this is speculation, but thrust into the right situation, he’s more than capable of landing in the QB12-QB15 range, maybe higher.
Dalton — TONY ROMO. He’ll be 37 years old and is quite clearly injury prone, but we are talking about a QB tied for the sixth-highest career YPA (7.9) in NFL history (fourth-highest adjusted). Romo is going to be given a starting gig next year somewhere, and the quarterback position is one in which you can play later in age. Romo could easily land in the right spot and be a QB1 for fantasy purposes in 2017.
Scott — I’m excited for the next TONY ROMO act. Denver could be a fit — John Elway’s played this card before; it’s a win-now defense, along with two strong wideouts. I also think Mike Glennon is good enough to start for somebody, and he’ll get that chance in 2017. He’ll be quickly thrown under the Osweiler suspicion, but I think that’s a little misguided.
The 2016 rookie class provided numerous highlights. OK, mostly Dak Prescott. The rest of the bunch – Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch – rarely invigorated the masses. When Sam Bradford outpaces you in per game average, you know you failed to clear a fairly low bar. Looking ahead to the 2017 Draft, which rookie-to-be piques your interest most?
Brad — MITCH TRUBISKY. As an incessantly depressed Illinois fan, I had the unfortunate privilege of watching Trubisky dissect my beloved college team in pre-conference play. He possesses the size (6-foot-3, 220-pounds), athleticism, arm strength, smarts and touch to develop into a franchise cornerstone, and rapidly. Similar to Aaron Rodgers or Marcus Mariota, he’s also a passer who can pad the bottom line with rushing yards. If there’s a Dak Prescott-level producer in this year’s class, the North Carolina product is it.
Andy — I realize DeSHAUN WATSON’s name no longer sits atop many draft boards, but, for me, that kid has checked all the important boxes. He’s been a relentless winner over multiple seasons, and we’ve already seen him in action against the best defenses in college football. Watson has completed over 67 percent of his passes, gaining 8.5 yards per attempt, delivered a career TD-to-INT ratio of nearly 3-to-1. He’s a terrific dual-threat QB as well, having run for over 1,600 yards in the past two seasons. If he lands in the right spot, with a creative coaching staff and competent receivers, he’ll have a path to fantasy relevance very early in his pro career.
Brandon — DeSHAUN WATSON. Size, arm strength, running ability – when it comes to fantasy impact upside, I’d put my money on Watson being able to make his presence felt early on over the others in ’17 QB class.
Analyze the tarot cards, supposed fantasy soothsayer, which quarterback is set to make the greatest value leap from this year to next? In other words, who could be the next Mariota?
Dalton — PAXTON LYNCH. There’s very little evidence of this since he’s barely played, but I’m certainly not a believer in Trevor Siemian, and you still have to love the weapons Denver possesses at wide receiver. Lynch has a pedigree of being drafted in the first round, and he will be basically free during drafts next year with some upside.
Andy — Well it ain’t Brock Osweiler, I can tell you that much. It’s easy to imagine CARSON WENTZ making a leap in his second season, even though he was a turnover machine in the second-half. If that team reunites with DeSean Jackson as rumored, then Philly will have a dangerous collection of receivers, stressing defenses at all levels. I didn’t love Wentz entering his rookie season, but I give him full credit for treading water in a better-than-expected division.
Scott — In 2014 and 2016, just about everything went wrong for ANDY DALTON. Specifically to this year, he received partial seasons from three critical pieces — A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and (to a lesser degree of importance) Gio Bernard. Dalton was a Top 5 fantasy QB in 2013, and he was plenty valuable two years ago before busting his thumb. You can name your price next year, there’s zero buzz attached to Dalton. A good target if you’re building the position on a budget.
Conversely, who’s going to be the Blake Bortles of 2015, the consensus QB1 we should all dodge?
Andy — Before I commit to KIRK COUSINS, I’d like to know who his wideouts are going to be in 2017. D-Jax and Pierre Garcon are headed into free agency, and Josh Doctson was barely a rumor as a rookie. Cousins has been a fun fantasy asset for a season and a half, but I don’t consider him the sort of QB who can elevate any old collection of receivers.
Brandon — Since Behrens is taking Cousins (who I can get on board with being the top ’17 top dive candidate), my fallback is DEREK CARR, who I don’t find to be as MVP-worthy as many thought he should be in ’16. His YPA (7.0) is the same as it was last season, and sits as only the 20th-best among signal callers this season, and his fantasy points per game in a Yahoo default setup (17.3) is actually lower than it was last season (17.6).
Brad — DEREK CARR. The MVP candidate – it’s craziness he’s a likely frontrunner considering his statistical mediocrity – is an overpriced ‘luxury’ vehicle that’s a true lemon. Yes, his hand injury limited him late in the season, but his unexciting YPA and completion percentage in consecutive seasons rubber stamp his overrated status. People will reach for him due to mainstream media takes, but analyze the metrics and he’s nothing more than a middling QB2. His devastating fibula injury suffered in Week 16 only complicates matters.
Scott — I wasn’t even asked this question, but I think we need some straight talk on CAM NEWTON. Are we sure the running is going to bounce back? The accuracy problems don’t concern you? All the hits he’s taken? Newton was an easy fade at a lofty price last summer, but I’m not going to talk myself into his 2017 ticket, either. If you can’t confidently bet on the rushing production, what’s left?
Let’s get down to the brass tacks. Please rank your top-12 quarterbacks for 2017, if we were drafting today…
Dalton — 1) Aaron Rodgers 2) Drew Brees 3) Tom Brady 4) Andrew Luck 5) Cam Newton 6) Ben Roethlisberger 7) Kirk Cousins 8) Matt Ryan 9) Russell Wilson 10) Derek Carr 11) Philip Rivers 12) Marcus Mariota
Brandon — 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Tom Brady, 3) Drew Brees, 4) Andrew Luck, 5) Cam Newton 6) Russell Wilson, 7) Matt Ryan, 8) Marcus Mariota, 9) Ben Roethlisberger, 10) Matthew Stafford, 11) Dak Prescott, 12) Kirk Cousins
Scott — 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Drew Brees, 3) Matt Ryan, 4) Andrew Luck, 5) Tom Brady, 6) Russell Wilson, 7) Ben Roethlisberger, 8) Kirk Cousins, 9) Cam Newton, 10) Derek Carr, 11) Marcus Mariota, 12) Matthew Stafford
Andy — 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Cam Newton, 3) Tom Brady, 4) Drew Brees, 5) Andrew Luck, 6) Ben Roethlisberger, 7) Marcus Mariota, 8) Matthew Stafford, 9) Dak Prescott, 10) Russell Wilson, 11) Matt Ryan, 12) Derek Carr. (But if Tony Romo lands in Denver, I might talk myself into him at 11 or 12.)
Brad — 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Marcus Mariota (assuming fibula recovery is smooth), 3) Tom Brady, 4) Drew Brees, 5) Cam Newton, 6) Andrew Luck, 7) Dak Prescott, 8) Matt Ryan, 9) Russell Wilson, 10) Ben Roethlisberger, 11) Matthew Stafford, 12) Jameis Winston