OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings - Quarterbacks

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings - Quarterbacks

QB is an interesting position in fantasy this year because I feel like the value of the top guys will be depressed a little because of the surplus of good options. I’m more of a “wait to draft a QB” guy but if I see Drew Brees going in round six like I have in many drafts, I’ll take my chances with that. That’s one example but there are great values in every tier that is listed if you watch close enough. With all that said, here’s how I view them this season.

Elite Tier - These are the guys who I feel are a threat to finish as the overall QB1, and should be a matchup advantage most weeks.

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB- I fully expect Rodgers to rebound this year with a healthy Jordy Nelson to throw the ball to. He was the seventh best fantasy QB in arguably the worst year of his career. Draft him confidently.

2. Russell Wilson, SEA- In Seattle’s final seven games, Wilson averaged 272.4 passing yards with 24 TD and 1 INT. Clearly that pace isn’t sustainable but I believe Wilson took strides in his game from a real football standpoint that will help him take strides in the fantasy football standpoint. I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts together a 40 TD type of year.

3. Cam Newton, CAR- Cam Newton is great and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another QB1 season. That said I don’t think he’s throwing 35 touchdowns again. If it falls to 27 or so, he should still firmly be a top 3 QB given his rushing capabilities.

4. Andrew Luck, IND- Andrew Luck has all the weapons in the world, and Indy tried like hell to improve their OL to keep him alive and ticking. I don’t think the Colts defense is going to shock everybody and become competent. Andrew Luck is a good bet to be top three in the league in pass attempts. He probably won’t be very efficient but they don’t give you brownie points for efficiency.

5. Drew Brees, NO- Right now on ADP(Average Draft position), Drew Brees is going behind Ben Roethlisberger and I can’t figure out for the life of me why that is the case when Brees has had higher fantasy finishes in each of the last EIGHT years.  Death, taxes and Brees throwing for 4,000+ yards and 30 touchdowns in a season are three things you can take to the bank. Eight straight seasons of that for #9.

The not so bad consolation prize tier - these are the guys I feel can find themselves in the top five if circumstances break in their favor.

6. Carson Palmer, ARZ- Carson Palmer, from a performance standpoint, is probably the safest QB listed. He doesn’t present the highest ceiling but his floor is higher than the rest and that’s why I have him #6. He had 4671 yards and 35 touchdowns last season and he has his full stable of weapons ready to rock. Palmer will pretty much never have a week that outright sinks you.

7. Tom Brady, NEP- The only reason Tom Brady is in this tier is because of the four game suspension. As for the rest of the guys in this tier, they are all relatively interchangeable. 4770 yards, 36 touchdowns and 7 INTs for Tom Brady last year. Ho hum. Rob Gronkowski is still alive so why would I expect this to change? Brady will probably be a top 4 guy on a PPG basis by year’s end.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT- To me, there isn’t a more overdrafted fantasy QB than Ben Roethlisberger at the current juncture (current ADP is at the beginning of R6). As I said earlier he’s currently going earlier than Drew Brees. He came off a year where he threw 21 TDs and 16 INTs while losing his talented #2 WR (Martavis Bryant). We also hear a lot about home/away splits when it comes to guys like Brees while in the case of Ben Roethlisberger he has his own splits that are pronounced. Roethlisberger threw 16 touchdowns at home compared to 5 on the road last season. And over the last three seasons, he has thrown 53 TDs at home compared to 28 on the road. I’m just puzzled by the idea of drafting him shortly after guys like Wilson and before a guy like Brees.

9. Philip Rivers, SD- Philip Rivers will probably be my default QB this year. Tony Romo has had that title for like a decade now but I can’t do it with him and his clavicle. In the first half of the season, Keenan Allen was healthy and operating at full bore. Rivers was the second best QB in fantasy in that time frame (Brady). When Allen was lost for the season, Rivers subsequently was the QB24 from that point to the end of the year. It’s not really ideal when your QB is that reliant on an injury prone target to succeed statistically. With that being said the value is just too good to pass up.

10. Kirk Cousins, WAS- Kirk Cousins threw 20 touchdowns and three interceptions over the final nine games of the season. Between Jordan Reed/Desean returning and the coaching staff’s commitment to opening the offense, Cousins has many reasons for his second half explosion. He’s risky in the sense that he might be a substandard real life QB and if a few of those prayers that were dropped by DBs turn into INTs, his fantasy value might drop off. But even if that happens, the Washington football team has so many weapons that it might not matter. He’s probably the most polarizing QB in the NFL from a fantasy perspective. He has played 24 full games in his NFL career and averaged 279.8 passing yards per day in them. In the history of the NFL, only one qualified QB averages more and that is Drew Brees (280.7).

11. Eli Manning, NYG- With Cousins and Manning, it was a virtual toss up and I ranked Cousins higher because he has a higher ceiling. I do think Manning has a higher floor though and he has finished as a top 10 QB in each of the last two seasons. Although I mentioned the higher seasonal floor, Manning’s weekly floor is bound to make you nauseous in certain weeks so be mindful of that.

Third tier - Guys I’d be happy to draft and leave as season long starters given they play the majority of the year

12. Blake Bortles, JAX- Blake Bortles is one of the more prime regression candidates in the NFL. I still think he will be good as he has too many weapons not to but he ain’t throwing 35 touchdowns again in all likelihood. Bortles had the perfect storm of things to be a fantasy star last season. Jacksonville sucked and was always behind, and Bortles threw 13 fourth quarter touchdowns while trailing which is the most in NFL history. He had two top 25 wide receivers on his team and he threw more than anyone when his team was in the redzone (96 times). Yes I think Jacksonville will be better but I do think their improvement is a tad overstated and Bortles will still have a lot of chucking to do while behind. Bortles will still be a solid fantasy starter. Just don’t find yourself paying for last year’s production because the chances of him repeating it are slim.

13. Tyrod Taylor, BUF- Tyrod Taylor was the #10 QB in PPG this past season. Sammy Watkins situation is one to watch closely if you want to roster Taylor. If Watkins misses any type of significant time, Taylor might be waiver fodder.

14. Tony Romo, DAL- Tony Romo is one of the greatest QBs in the history of the NFL. Go argue with the old dude who shows up at the bar by himself every Saturday if you disagree. Even acknowledging all of that, he’s probably the most unsafe QB of this group because the chances of him missing time are HIGH. If he plays anywhere near the level of 2014 and plays at least 14 games, he should be a damn steal in every draft. Who knows what the chances of that actually happening are at this point though.

Fourth tier- High upside guys who I would need a full bottle of pepto bismol to start consistently.

15. Derek Carr, OAK- Derek Carr is so weird from both a reality and fantasy perspective. Why? If you watch him with any regularity, you’ll see that sometimes he looks like Aaron Rodgers. A lot of other times, he looks like his older brother did. Some of that can be attributed to him being a young QB, and he clearly has the highest fantasy ceiling of anyone in this group.

16. Matthew Stafford, DET- I want to like Matthew Stafford more this year. I honestly do. I feel like the old adage “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” fits here though. Stafford has fooled the hell out of me for many years. If you want the positive, Stafford was great down the stretch for new OC Jim Bob Cooter. I really just wanted to type out his name. In all seriousness though, from week 10 on, Stafford was the #5 fantasy QB (#3 over the last month) even if he did have the benefit of playing a bunch of weak ass defenses. The Lions running game is still largely “meh” and I don’t think they’ll be good. Stafford should have plenty of pass attempts. Good luck if that’s the route you take.

17. Matt Ryan, ATL- If not for the plethora of good fantasy QB options, I would be banging the gavel for Matt Ryan this year. I feel like last year he was being overdrafted and this year his draft stock is being overcorrected. Matt Ryan’s pass TD totals from 2009-2014: 22, 28, 29, 32, 26, 28. Last year that number plummeted to 21. He still threw for 4600 yards as well. He was a top eight QB for the previous four seasons. And if he does the same thing he did last season but throws 28 touchdowns instead of 21, he’s probably a top 12-14 option. Depending on the context of my team I’d trot Ryan out there pretty confidently.

18. Jay Cutler, CHI- With Jay Cutler it’s pretty simple. I think his ceiling was limited last year because he spent most of the year throwing to Marc Mariani and Josh Bellamy. Adam Gase adjusted and called plays as such. If Jeffery stays remotely healthy and Kevin White emerges in his first pro season, Cutler could prove to be a top shelf bargain on draft day.

19. Jameis Winston, TB- Winston was 13th in fantasy points last season. Evans should be better, Martin hopefully won’t stop caring now that he got paid, and a year 2 leap could be in order.  That said, he’s still a young guy who’s bound to have frustrating games and the early season schedule isn’t exactly enticing. The fact that he’s 19 is a testament to just how many startable options there are, though, because this wouldn’t be the case in other years.

20. Ryan Tannehill, MIA- Adam Gase did wonders for Jay Cutler last year by simplifying things but at the same time giving Cutler the latitude to adjust based on what he sees at the LOS. I could see him doing the same for Tannehill and they have the weapons in place to help engineer a bounce back season for him.

The “That’ll be a no for me, dawg” tier.

21. Joe Flacco, BAL- Marc Trestman should throw the ball a lot in Baltimore. If living dangerously is your thing, Flacco as a QB1 is for you.

22. Andy Dalton, CIN- Andy Dalton lost damn near everybody. Cincinnati has spent years trying to load the deck to undermine the fact that he’s not that good. Well, they lost quite a bit of that foundation. On the plus side, AJ Green is going to see ALL of the targets. That should be fun.

23. Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ- Ryan Fitzpatrick won’t face the series of cupcakes he did last season and if he keeps playing like he’s the only person who isn’t aware of his limitations, some of those INTs that were dropped all of last year will turn into INTs.

24. Alex Smith, KC- Alex Smith is an ideal QB2 in 2 QB formats if you absolutely load up the rest of your squad. He runs any time his first read and the checkdown are covered. He has a safe floor even if the floor and the ceiling are in the same place.

25. Marcus Mariota, TEN- Why am I so low on Marcus Mariota? His coach said, “I want to run an exotic smashmouth offense”. Keep that nonsense away from me and my loved ones.

26. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN- Teddy Bridgewater is a better real life QB, even if he is pretty universally shitted on at this point, than fantasy QB. Don’t bother.

27. Robert Griffin III(CLE)- He has an interesting set of weapons. He could be a good bye week streamer.

Like Roberto Duran, no mas - I’m not listing the rest. Sorry if that offends you. Ok, I’m not really sorry.

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