With the draft complete, every significant free agent having signed and the season inching closer, we’ll be looking at some Fantasy Quarterbacks that are rising and falling since the 2016 season.
The Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers will be broken down into a series. I will focus on one position at a time. Naturally, Fantasy quarterbacks will be first.
Fantasy Football players tend to have very strong feelings about when is the right time to draft a quarterback. Some believe that because of the depth at the position that there’s no good reason to pick a quarterback in the first three rounds, even if it is Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
If you tend to fall into that category and generally prefer waiting until the mid to later rounds to nab your starting quarterback then make sure to check out some of my Fantasy Football risers. They should be available later in your draft and they have a great chance of exceeding expectations.
If you find yourself on the flip side and instead find it crucial to nab one of the best Fantasy quarterbacks, we’ve tagged three quarterbacks that may not be worth the value in the round they’ll generally be drafted.
2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks
Jameis Winston, TB
There’s no quarterback that jumped up the Fantasy draft board more than Jameis Winston. First off, you need to assume that he’s going to just naturally get better with practice and experience. This is something that Winston has done every year since entering the league. He’s entering his third season which is generally when you see a big jump in player’s performance.
Secondly, did you see all the talent they added in their receiving department? Mike Evans is already a Top 5 receiver; he showed that last year. He’s a guy that you can just throw the ball up to and he’ll come down with it. He was the only factor last year in the passing game and still dominated.
Then they added DeSean Jackson who is still one of, if not the best deep ball threat in the NFL. Those two alone are going to give opposing secondaries nightmares. Add in tight end O.J. Howard (has drawn comparisons to Greg Olsen) and defenses will struggle to stop the Bucs.
But that’s not all. They added Chris Godwin, a 6’1″ receiver with 4.42 speed. He’s going to be a dynamic third receiver for them. With the uncertainty surrounding Doug Martin and the running game, the Bucs are going to throw the ball a ton and now Winston has a stable of weapons at his disposal.
Winston is my favorite quarterback that can be had in the middle rounds. If you’re one of those Fantasy players that refuse to pick a quarterback in the first six rounds, Winston is a guy that should be on your radar.
After throwing for just over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, a major increase can be expected. For one, he’s got a plethora of offensive weapons now and a running game that is completely up in the air. The game plan is going to be completely centered around Winston’s arm and because of that, I think he comes close to breaking 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Eli Manning, NYG
On a per talent basis, Eli Manning has two of the best wide receivers in the league. Odell Beckham, when his head is right, is borderline unstoppable and they added Brandon Marshall in free agency. He had a bad season last year, but he’s just one year removed from going over 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
You have to love how Marshall looks to fit inside this offense. The signing shifts Sterling Shepard to his more natural position of slot receiver. Those three guys are going to be tough to stop. Head Coach Bob McAdoo loves to spread out defenses and for the first time, he’s got the weapons to do it.
They picked Evan Engram in the first round who is a major threat in the middle of the field and a matchup nightmare for defenses. He doesn’t block well at all, but the Giants didn’t pick him to block. He was drafted to attack the middle of the field and he should be able to do that from day one. That’s not even mentioning Paul Perkins may be limited as a runner but is a good option out of the backfield.
The Giants lean on three wide receiver sets more than any other team in the league and Manning’s weapons were just substantially upgraded.
Manning had an up-and-down season last year and caught a decent amount of flak for it. But how much could he have done? His only real target was Beckham. There was no running game and his offensive line wasn’t good. Despite all of that, he still threw for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.
With the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, those numbers are going to go up. I have Eli penciled in for 4,500 yards & just a hair over 30 touchdowns.
Tom Brady, NE
It almost seems unfair to put Tom Brady here and really how much higher can he go, but there’s no doubt that the offense got scarier. First off, getting Rob Gronkowski back and healthy is incentive enough to draft Brady. Then they traded for Brandin Cooks who is a dynamic receiver and one of the best deep-ball threats in the league. Some would argue he’s the best.
Between Gronk, Julian Edelman, Cooks, their stable of receiving running backs and Belichick’s scheme, an offense that was practically unstoppable last year just got even better.
Despite missing four games in 2016, Brady still had over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns. With a full 16 game season, a healthy Gronk, the addition of Cooks and an offense without Blount may become even more pass-oriented, Brady should shatter those numbers.
Last season Blount had 18 touchdowns and he is now suiting up for the Eagles. The Patriots offense isn’t all of a sudden going to stop getting to the red zone. Given that they no longer have the big, bulldozing running back to cap off the drive, they may lean on Brady’s arm even more to find the end zone.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brady throw for over 5,000 yards and 45-plus touchdowns and cap off yet another MVP season.
Marcus Mariota, TEN
Marcus Mariota really seemed to turn a corner last year as a passer and that was with his best receiver being Rishard Matthews. Matthews isn’t a bad player, quite the opposite really, but he’s also not a true No. 1 WR. They added Corey Davis in the draft at the fifth pick to go along with Matthews and Delanie Walker.
They also added Taywan Taylor who fits the mold of a dangerous slot receiver. He’s fast, a good route runner and extremely slippery in the open field. Jonnu Smith is another draft day addition who is an athletic tight end that will allow the Titans to run some two tight end sets. Mariota went from having only two options in the passing game that he could depend on to having 4-plus.
The only downside is that with their strong offensive line and the combo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry at running back, they’re still going to lean heavily on the running game. Last year he had just over 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns. With the weapons they added and a full season, I expect Mariota to come close to 4,000 yards and to easily break the 30 touchdown mark.
Philip Rivers, LAC
Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense was already pretty good last year and that was with a suspect offensive line and Tyrell Williams as the leading receiver. Through the draft, they went a long way to rectify both of those problems.
First off, they added Mike Williams, the top receiver in the draft. He’s a big-time player and there’s very little doubt that he’s going to produce early. They get Keenan Allen back who is a Top 15 receiver in the league when healthy. And then their leading receiver from last year, Tyrell Williams, is still there and he’ll slide into the No. 3 role.
We haven’t even touched on the red zone master, Antonio Gates and one of the biggest up-and-coming tight end, Hunter Henry. They signed Okung who will be an upgrade over Dunlap at left tackle and drafted two of the best guards in this draft to help the offensive line.
Last year Rivers threw for over 4,300 yards and 33 touchdowns without Williams and Allen. I expect Rivers to throw for over 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns and in the process flip the AFC West upside down.
Matt Ryan, ATL
Matt Ryan was the NFL MVP last season. Last year also marked the first time in Matt Ryan’s career that he finished as a Top 5 quarterback. The Atlanta Falcons focused once again on their defense in the draft and free agency. That leaves Ryan with Julio Jones and not much else in the cabinet.
To put Matt Ryan’s Fantasy ascension into some type of context, he was drafted in the double-digit rounds last year and you can expect to see him come off the board sometime after Rodgers and Brady. He may even leap frog Drew Brees, which is crazy.
Ryan put up an incredible year last season, no doubt about it. The reason he ends up as one of my fallers is that I don’t think he repeats on that performance. Over his career, he has never had such a good season and I do not see a repeat.
The other downside in Atlanta is their offensive coordinator (Kyle Shanahan) is now the head coach in San Francisco. The new offensive coordinator (Steve Sarkisian) has generally employed a run-first attack when he wasn’t drinking. Between learning a brand new offense, having little in terms of receivers outside of Julio Jones and a career history that doesn’t scream Top 5 quarterback, he finds himself as a faller.
Kirk Cousins, WAS
Kirk Cousins is not going to like this, but this has very little to do with Cousins as a quarterback. His name and his brand have sky-rocketed and because of that, you’ll see his draft value rise. He’s become a big name and he was a Top 5 quarterback last season, so what’s not to like?
For starters, the Redskins didn’t re-sign Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson. These were his two starting receivers and they both went over 1,000 yards. They did sign Terrelle Pryor and that was an excellent addition. However, there are still a lot of personnel changes that Cousins has to get used to. Josh Doctson is going to be expected to shoulder a big load after the departure of Jackson and Garçon. Keep in mind that he was a rookie last year and missed the vast majority of the season.
Jordan Reed is perpetually injured. In his four NFL seasons, he’s played in over 50% of the games just one time. While he’s a top-tier talent when healthy, he finds himself on the shelf more than on the field.
Their offensive coordinator also left in the off-season. After employing an offense that was largely focused on the passing attack, we may see an offense that tries to be more balanced with Robert Kelley and recently drafted running back Samaje Perine.
All in all, there’s just too much uncertainty surrounding the personnel and coaching changes for Cousins to be drafted as a Top 7 quarterback, which is certainly going to happen this year.
Russell Wilson, SEA
Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, but there’s no denying that the Seahawks aren’t doing him any favors. It just takes one look at his stats from last season to see that he was not the same type of player he was in years past.
Surely part of the reason was his nagging injuries and while that injury may be healed, have the Seahawks fixed the real cause of it in the first place? The offensive line in Seattle is about as bad as the Washington Nationals’ bullpen. Not a baseball fan? In all seriousness, the San Francisco 49ers have a better offensive line than the Seahawks. Wilson is going to be running for his life again.
I was also a little disappointed that they didn’t really give Wilson any new weapons at the receiver position. We all know Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are excellent, but who else is there? Tyler Lockett? Jermaine Kearse?
They did add Eddie Lacy to pair with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosie, but that also should have you a bit concerned. The Seahawks were at their best when they were a ground and pound offense. When they neglected to improve their passing game in favor of Lacy, it’s clear they want to get back to that style of play. This doesn’t fit with big Fantasy numbers for Wilson.
The quarterback position is one of the deepest across Fantasy Football and it leaves each owner with plenty of options, as well as questions. Do you use a high round draft pick on one of the big three or do you sit back, collecting assets at other positions before taking a stab at a lower ranked quarterback later.
Chances are neither decision will doom your Fantasy season as the supply of quality Fantasy starting quarterbacks out-weighs the demand for them so in the end we should all be on the look out for the best valued quarterback. Does Aaron Rodgers fall to the fourth round because if he does, that’s a steal. It’s at least comforting to know that the quarterback position isn’t likely to make or break your Fantasy season.
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