Fantasy Football Quarterback Punts by Division
Fantasy football has grown to exclude the quarterback role in the draft.Though, the most profiled position in sports, it’s not that way to the fantasy football lovers. Once fantasy football started dropping quarterback touchdowns to four points we’ve seen a major decline in their ADP. The prolific ones (Rodgers, Brady, Brees) will always be selected earlier in drafts by those who feel confident in their early picks to grab them. Many experts, or non, have adopted the ‘draft a quarterback late’ strategy. But once the top 5-8 quarterbacks are off the board, it becomes quite the toss up.
In 2016, Cam Newton was one of the highest regarded quarterbacks. He finished the season ranking around 15th in fantasy points per game. Matt Ryan, barely being drafted, finished his career year as one the top in the league. Russell Wilson was being evaluated as a top tier quarterback, but with injuries, found himself near the 20th rank at the end of the season for fantasy points per game. Dak Prescott was not being drafted (outside of Dallas) and finished in the top 10.
In this article I’m going to highlight certain quarterbacks that should be around when you finally get the guts to take the man at the top spot of your weekly starting roster.
AFC East – Tyrod Taylor: The mobile quarterback in the division ruled by Tom Brady has now experienced nearly 2 full seasons at the helm of the Buffalo Bills. In each season, he threw only 6 interceptions. 24 total touchdowns in 2015 regressed slightly to 23 in 2016. True, his completion percentage, passing yards and QB rating dropped ever so slightly, but he seemed to be finding his way posting a QB rating over 100 in 4 of his final 5 weeks and ending his season with a 300+ yard passing day in a loss to the Dolphins, in week 15. Though the Bills couldn’t come away with Maclin or Decker they still did their best in the draft by getting wideout Zay Jones in the second round. Taylor is about to be starting his third year and which should be most comfortable year to date, giving him the possibility, with a healthy Watkins and McCoy, to breakout as a top 10 quarterback in 2017.
AFC North – Andy Dalton: The Red Rifle threw a career low in touchdowns (18) in 2016. On the other hand, he threw a career second best in yards (4,206) and tied his career high in rushing touchdowns (4). He’s my biggest “sleeper” out of all eight quarterbacks mentioned in this article. Hopefully, Joe Mixon will add an elusive run game making defenses commit more to the run allowing A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Tyler Eifert to find more holes available in the secondary. In return, that would allow for Dalton to get his touchdowns back up and continue throwing for over 4,200 yards. Dalton experienced his first losing season since entering the league and don’t expect it to become a trend. Dalton should be throwing darts all over the field accumulating for career highs in touchdowns and yards in 2017.
AFC South – Blake Bortles: Much to what I was expecting last year, we saw a digression in Bortles stats. His sophomore year was getting all the attention throughout the off season. The Jaguars were trying a new approach last year: run the ball to control game management but it didn’t work. Bortles seemed to lose his mojo and we saw it on the field and in the win column. Another offseason has come and gone and more strides have been made to enhance their defense to give them a better chance of winning, so Bortles won’t feel all the pressure to win games by himself. In late April, the Jaguars used the fourth pick in the draft to get one of the most sought after running backs coming out of college. None of this has to do with Bortles per say, but as we all know a good quarterback needs a great supporting cast. I don’t see too many games where Bortles will have the chance for ‘garbage time’ points, though, I do see plenty of games going into shootout mode while playing in the AFC South. I’m liking Bortles as a nice comeback candidate so I’m not afraid of going back to the well for the fourth year quarterback out of University of Central Florida.
AFC West – Philip Rivers: Given his name and popularity there is always someone who may reach for Rivers. However, given his age and his career high in interceptions (21) last year, there may be a chance for you to sneak a late round pick for Rivers. Always a possibility as a top-tiered quarterback, Rivers is being drafted in the tenth round currently as the 14th quarterback off the board. If you are going to wait to get a quarterback I’d keep my eye on Rivers. The return of star wide receiver Keenan Allen and the top draft pick Mike Williams, with a healthy Melvin Gordon and an up and coming tight end in Hunter Henry, I see no reason to shy away from the veteran quarterback. He’s thrown for over 4,200 yards in seven of his last eight years and will consistently find a way to get the ball out, even with his unusual throwing style.
NFC East – Carson Wentz: Wentz had an interesting rookie season. It started out great, then slid into some rookie mistakes. Starting out three straight games with no interceptions and a total of five touchdowns, he then managed to not throw an interception in 4 of his final 13 games. He had a not so impressive streak of 6 straight games with an interception (weeks 10-15). Still, promise was shown and now entering his second season the Eagles did a lot to help Wentz out. Additions like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Legarrette Blount proves the Eagles are in a win now mode and have all the faith in Wentz to lead them away. I’m liking a strong sophomore year in an extremely tough division from Carson Wentz.
NFC North – Matthew Stafford: Oh, to not be biased in this segment. You’ll want to get Stafford because as the Lion’s fans always say “This is our year”… is all I want to write here, but I won’t. I’ll say that in 2016 Stafford had his best TD/INT ratio while still posting over 4,300 yards, without Calvin Johnson. Normally, Stafford would be trying to learn a new system around this time, but will have Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays for the second consecutive year. Stafford has an ADP in the 10th round, yet, he seems to consistently finish in the top 10 of quarterbacks. He did lose a big red zone threat in Boldin but the Lions drafted Kenny Golladay who has done nothing less than impress in camp, so far. With a healthy Abdullah returning, it will only add to the slew of weapons for Stafford. We also can not forget, Theo Riddick, when talking about weapons, one of the best receiving backs in the NFL, which is just another reason Stafford has been so successful in fantasy. Detroit is turning into a smart football team lead by a smart commander entering his 9th year in the NFL.
NFC South – Jameis Winston: This division has an abundance of star studded quarterbacks. All four quarterbacks are being drafted in the first 8 rounds. The latter of them all is Tampa Bay gunslinger Jameis Winston. With the additions of veteran, speedster DeSean Jackson and first round draft pick O.J. Howard, Winston looks to be in prime positioning to take his skills to the next level. In his sophomore campaign, Winston set career records in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He did regress in rushing touchdowns from 6 in 2015 to 1 last year. He improved his completion percentage and QBR so it shows the game is slowing down for him. He may owe a little credit to star receiver Mike Evans, as the tandem hooked up 96 times for 32% of Winston’s yards. They’ll be right back at it come 2017 with another year of experience under their belt. I’m buying high on Winston and the success of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
NFC West – Carson Palmer: One of the top fantasy producing quarterbacks in 2015 with 35 touchdowns, 4,671 yards and only 11 interceptions, fantasy owners were ecstatic with the addition of Palmer onto their team. Last year, people were buying in on the Cardinals and Palmer, seeming rightfully so, as Palmer threw 5 touchdowns with no interceptions and 575 yards through the first two weeks. Then, things started to falter out, as he threw for 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions from weeks 3-8. Owners were furious and sold on him to try to keep their fantasy championship dreams alive. Palmer then changed his ways finishing the season with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, throwing 2 or more touchdowns in every week, but one, starting in week 9. Now with a healthier John ‘Smokey’ Brown (who I have mentioned as a late round flier we all need to be drafting) and Larry Fitzgerald on the outside, plus an amazing superstar behind him in David Johnson, I am fully expecting Palmer to keep things rolling from last year. Being drafted in the 13th round right now, this could be the best ‘steal’ of the draft.