Things have changed over the past two or three decades in Fantasy Football, and those things affect our 2016 Fantasy Football quarterback rankings.
Back when I started playing, quarterbacks were some of the most important pieces of the draft puzzle because we were playing in Basic TD-only leagues. That meant you didn’t score points if a player rushed for 140 yards, but didn’t score, or if you caught 12 passes for 169 yards and no touchdowns. But a quarterback was almost always guaranteed to throw for a touchdown or two in a game, and if you could get one like Jim Kelly or Jim Everett, you were way better off than the guy that gets stuck with Bernie Kosar or Vinny Testaverde.
Then in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, it was all about running backs, as yardage became a much bigger deal in Fantasy scoring systems.
Fast forward into the late ‘00s and the first half of the 2015s, and now we’re seeing wide receivers become a much more valuable asset than before, with PPR leagues and 3-WR lineups.
In the end, though, quarterbacks have been neutralized for the most part, becoming the third-most important position in Fantasy Football.
Consider the fact that there aren’t many quarterbacks that usually make big jumps in Fantasy value from one year to the next, and you’ll see that getting a mid-level Fantasy starter (5-8) at this position is not as smart as getting a lower-level Fantasy starter (9-12), depending on where both sets end up being drafted.
Last season, we saw both Blake Bortles and Carson Palmer make huge leaps in Fantasy value from the teens and beyond up to being top-five Fantasy Quarterbacks in 2015. It remains to be seen if they’ll stick around in that area, but we think they’ll at least produce top-10 Fantasy stats.
Nearly as impressive was the jump made by Tom Brady (who was supposed to be suspended for four games) and Cam Newton (who lost star WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) for the entire year.
Something else that’s interesting to note is that you rarely see big free agent quarterbacks go from one team to another. Remember a couple years ago, seeing a quarterback like Peyton Manning on the free-agent market was such an oddity.
Consider that the top free-agent quarterbacks in the past offseason were Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Robert Griffin III.
2016 QB Changes Since 2015
While it remains to be seen where “The Beard” will play quarterback this fall (we all know Fitzy will be back with the Jets, right?), Cousins and Bradford are back with their 2015 teams.
Robert Griffin III has a chance to start for Cleveland, but that team seems cursed. He’ll need Josh Gordon to come back from suspension just to have a chance at being a Fantasy-worthy choice.
Osweiler, meanwhile, becomes a very interesting Fantasy player for 2016 because he joins a Texans team that will boast one of the best wide receivers– and one of the speediest tailbacks — in the NFL. If Osweiler can make some good connections with DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller, he could end up as a top-15 Fantasy quarterback.
Osweiler’s old team is dealing with the loss of himself and future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning, making Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch the next players in line. While this should remain a ball-control offense, head coach Gary Kubiak will not let the talents of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders for granted.
My point is that the changes you saw at the Fantasy position last year were rare, and you can normally set your watch by which Fantasy quarterbacks will rank among the top 10 at the position year after year.
Throughout the 2016 NFL Preseason, players will get hurt and depth charts will shift, so we’ll be updating our 2016 Fantasy Quarterback rankings regularly. Here are some reasons for changes in some of our recent rankings.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, San Francisco
Colin Kaepernick is dealing with a shoulder injury keeping him out of preseason games, which essentially makes Gabbert the de facto starter in Chip Kelly’s first season with the 49ers. In Kelly’s offense, quarterbacks throw the ball a ton, which is a good thing for Fantasy owners, but you’ll be hard-pressed to consider owning Gabbert in Fantasy outside of 2QB leagues in 2016. At least Kaepernick also offered some Fantasy points via his running game.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia
The rookie out of North Dakota State suffered a hairline fracture to his ribs in the first preseason game against the Bucs, but he played pretty well before coming out. Unfortunately, the injury could keep Wentz out for the remainder of the exhibition season. Sam Bradford was considered the starter anyway, but we do like Wentz to overtake him at some point this season under new head coach Doug Pederson.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas
Oft-injured Tony Romo’s backup this season was supposed to be Kellen Moore, but he went down with a broken ankle at the start of training camp, and now the rookie out of Mississippi State is slated as the No. 2 guy in Dallas. The Cowboys are expected to bring in a veteran (possibly Josh McCown?), but until then, Prescott is the guy behind the guy. He started his pro career with a big preseason game against the Rams, and his ability to improvise on the run makes him someone to consider in 2QB leagues. (I’m a fan!)
2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings
These Fantasy rankings are based on standard, non-PPR Fantasy leagues.
Keep an open mind when it comes to drafting a Fantasy quarterback this offseason. As you look at our 2016 Fantasy Football quarterback rankings, you might want to pull the trigger on one of the top quarterbacks early on in your drafts.
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