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The 2016 free agent Quarterbacks peak my interest. That stands in sharp contrast to the 2016 Free Agent Wide Receiver and Free Agent Tight End options, which pretty much make me want to stab my eyes with a fork. That’s not to say that guys like Brock Osweiler or Matt Hasselbeck thrill me, but their potential production far exceeds their likely cost. The same cannot be said for the Rueben Randle and James Jones.

Also, unlike a professional GM, you don’t HAVE to draft a back-up QB. In most leagues you can wait until your starter’s bye and/or he gets hurt, and then grab someone on the waiver wire.

“Real football” GMs don’t have such a luxury and therefore the FA pool for quarterbacks goes pretty deep, possibly into some names that the casual fantasy owner doesn’t even know.

So let’s also start with two names you are not going to see on this list of 2016 free agent QBs—Case Keenum and Matt McGloin. Both are restricted free agents (RFAs), so just like the WRs, I am restricting the field to UFAs (unrestricted free agents) only.

Real or Fantasy, there are always far less QBs on a roster than there are WRs, so I will be going ten deep here (and 20 for WR). Here are my ten favorite 2016 free agent QBs.

2016 Free Agent Quarterbacks

No. 1 Kirk Cousins

29 TDs? Yes, I like that!

A completion percentage near 70% and 4,199 passing yards? I like that too.

I also like when a player ends strong, with 11 TDs in the last three weeks of the season, and that doesn’t include his strong showing in the playoffs either.

But here’s what I don’t like—when the bulk of your stats are bolstered by easy matchups. Cousins had five opponents (for a total of seven games) that were in the bottom third of teams, who gave up some of the most points to fantasy QBs including the three worst (Saints, Giants, and Eagles). See below:

Week Ranking Team Points Week Ranking Team Points
1 18 MIA 11.74 10 32 NOR 38.96
2 14 STL 14.12 11 4 @CAR 11.68
3 31 @NYG 20.64 12 31 NYG 26.18
4 30 PHI 23.7 13 11 DAL 15.36
5 12 @ATL 12.86 14 24 @CHI 26.18
6 6 @NYJ 11.94 15 16 BUF 45.86
7 26 TAM 39.18 16 30 @PHI 42.2
9 10 @NWE 13.68 17 11 @DAL 24.7

And if we take his six best games (or about a third of his total games), those games accounted for more than 60% of his total fantasy points, which means that his remaining ten games contribute only 4% of his total points on average.

That kind of inconsistency can dash many a Fantasy owners dream. I expect the Redskins to resign him so it’s not worth speculating where he might go. Cousins finished  as the 8th best QB this year, but that’s your absolute ceiling, and I would be very nervous drafting him as a QB1. I would feel great if he’s my QB2 to use when the matchup is good, but anything else? No “I don’t like that”.

No. 2 Sam Bradford

Let me tell you something I do like–Sam Bradford.

I might be in the minority, but Bradford showed me enough to end the season that I would take a chance on him and he has the highest upside of any of the 2016 free agent QBs. And unlike Cousins who flourished against mediocre teams, one of Bradford’s best games was against Arizona when he completed 28 of 41 passes for two TDs and over 360 passing yards.

He is the perfect “post-hype” candidate that I will be looking to invest in this season, whether he signs with Philadelphia (very likely) or not. Even if he signs with one of the QB-needy teams like Cleveland or Houston (the former will probably have both Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin while the Texans feature football magnet DeAndre Hopkins), he will have some great targets at his disposal.

I mention that because guess who was No. 1 in dropped passes? Of course, it was the Eagles. And we’re not just talking about the raw numbers where they lead (37 drops, the next closest was 32) but even the percentage (6%), which was nearly 20% higher than the next highest percentage.

Team Dropped Passes and Drops Percentage

Team Targets Drops Drops Percentage
1 Philadelphia Eagles 620 37 6.0
2 Oakland Raiders 601 31 5.2
3 Jacksonville Jaguars 601 30 5.0
4 New York Giants 615 30 4.9
5 Atlanta Falcons 617 30 4.9
6 New England Patriots 624 30 4.8
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 526 25 4.8
8 Carolina Panthers 494 23 4.7
9 San Francisco 49ers 525 24 4.6
10 New York Jets 602 27 4.5

Should Bradford stay in Philly, expect rookie Nelson Algoholor, with another year of experience, see his 9%+ drop rate decrease this upcoming year. From one quarterback who fell short of expectations to one who far exceeded….

No. 3 Ryan Fitzpatrick

Let’s not sugarcoat it—until this year, Fitzpatrick was never a QB1 on your fantasy roster (or at least for your benefit I hope he never had to be) and probably won’t be in the future. But how many people expected him to be a borderline QB1 this year?

Put your hands down, you liars! And even if you are one of our liars, would you have taken the “over” if I said Fitzpatrick tosses for 3500 yards and 25 TDs? Because all “Fitzmagic” did was blow away those benchmarks by passing for more than 3900 yards and 31 TDs.

I do expect the Jets to resign him (although it does beg the question what are the Jets going do with Geno Smith?) and with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker at his disposal, I see no reason why Fitzpatrick can’t be a dependable QB2 again this upcoming season. In fact, I’d rather be Mike Maccagnan than John Elway, who has a question or two at QB…

No. 4 Brock Osweiler

I was the driver of the Brock Osweiler Bus this season, predicting he would be a viable starter this past year. And Osweiler gave us a lot to like (like the 296 passing yards and four total TDs vs Pittsburgh earlier this year) as well as plenty to not like (like the one TD and only 166 passing yards against San Diego).

The big question is how does Denver feel? Are they ready to part ways with Peyton Manning and hand the reigns to Osweiler? Or will they release him?

I honestly can’t say either way, but Osweiler will probably be one of the best backup quarterbacks next year, whether it is Denver or somewhere else. I don’t see him being drafted outside of the Rockies in standard leagues, but I’m guessing he’s drafted in every single 2-QB league this upcoming year. But I cannot say the same for…

No. 5 Matt Hasselbeck

I am guessing that the Colts resign the 11-year veteran to back up Andrew Luck again. Hasselbeck has one of the lowest ceilings of any of the QBs on this list, but should he start, he also has one of the highest floors of any of the 2016 free agent QBs. Of course not all backups are created equal…

No. 6 Luke McCown

Fact: Luke McCown has never started more than five games in one season.

Opinion: And he never will.

Fact: Drew Brees got injured this past year and once again will be one of the oldest starting QBs in 2016.

Opinion: Unless the Saints draft Brees’ heir, I think they’ll resign McCown, making him Brees “handcuff”.

Fact: In the one game he started, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards.

Opinion: McCown looked pretty good in that start, especially given that it was against a Carolina defense that was the fourth stingiest in giving up fantasy points to QBs.

Fact: McCown has played for ten years and has nine total TD passes,

Opinion: So, let’s not get too carried away. However, he is extremely likely to be somebody’s backup QB and as far as QB “handcuffs” go, you could do a lot worse. For example….

No. 7 Jimmy Clausen

So I saw two NFL games in person this year and one of them was Jimmy Clausen’s “audition” for the rest of the league against KC.

In that game, he went 26 for 45 and put up a solid 281 yards and two TDs against the league’s No. 1 defense. At times he looked surprisingly very good.

And other times he did not. Such as this play

There’s still potential here and if I’m an NFL GM I’d be happy to sign him as my backup and I can think of at least 25 teams that might do worse for their backup. I’m sure one of those will sign him. But if I’m a fantasy owner, I’m not taking that gamble. But speaking of gambles I would take…

No. 8 Chase Daniel

Daniel is more under the radar than anyone else on this list, and what makes fantasy great is hidden gems like him. I’ve talked about Chase Daniel before and nothing has changed. He’s on my radar, put him on yours.

No. 9 Michael Vick

We all know the upside of Vick, and yes it’s tantalizing. And it was just two years ago that under Chip Kelly that Vick put up some monster games, including the 428-passing yard-day with two rushing TDs and two passing TDs against SD.

But two years is a long time (remember what Peyton Manning was like two years ago?) and the Michael Vick Experience is now in its 35th year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vick reunite with Kelly in a back-up role in San Francisco. If he ends up there, he will probably be atop my back-up QB list. But that means he’ll be my team’s QB5 at best. And if ends up somewhere else, and there are enough teams that will sign him as a backup, he drops even further down my rankings.

If you decided to invest, it could pay huge dividends, just be sure to consider the opportunity cost as well which could be even greater. If you’re still looking at 2016 free agent QBs at this point, you or your league is hard core! But I appreciate you deep leaguers, so one last one….

No. 10 Drew Stanton

I’m not sure if Stanton gets re-signed by Arizona, but Arizona knows as well as us that Carson Palmer is not exactly fresh off the assembly line or built to last forever.

The last time Palmer played 16 games in back-to-back years folks were wondering if Jack and Hurley would get off the island permanently (i.e. 2010). But given how “lost” Stanton has looked (I know, I know. I’m sorry I couldn’t resist!)–he has a career TD:INT ratio of 12 to 16, it will enable either the Cardinals or some other team to sign Stanton to a very cap friendly number. Of course Stanton was a quarterback at Michigan State, just like some other free agent we know who just came off a season of nearly 4200 passing yards, so you never know….

And that of course brings us full circle on the 2016 free agent QBs!


Also please check out the rest of our 2016 Free Agent Reviews

| Running Backs | Wide Recievers | Tight Ends|

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg remembers making Jerry Rice his first round selection as well as taking a flyer on a young pitcher named Doug Drabek. His Fantasy analysis has spanned multiple sports including football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. A FSWA finalist, his fantasy analysis has been featured in various outlets including but not limited to SI.com, USA Today national magazines, Yahoo! and RotoExperts.

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