As we continue to barrel towards the NFL season, value players for your fantasy draft become clearer with each passing day. Even at a position as loaded the Fantasy QB, there are some great bargains to be had. It’s always a great feeling to draft an Aaron Rodgers or a Drew Brees. However, it’s usually hard to surrender the draft capital needed to draft one of the best QBs in the NFL. There are three options (one option in each tier of starter) that stand out to me along with three honorable mentions for you to target in your drafts. These options can be useful in either 1 or 2QB leagues so you can load your team with other talents.
Top Shelf Fantasy Quarterback
Why is everyone so high on Mariota?
From Weeks 5-12 in 2016, Mariota racked up 2,073 passing yards and 21 TDs to just 3 INTs. On top of that, he added 238 yards on the ground and 2 scores. Tennessee returns WR Rishard Matthews and TE Delanie Walker. The Titans also did a fabulous job of surrounding their franchise QB with more weapons this off-season. They spent a top 5 draft pick on WR Corey Davis and then drafted WR Taywan Taylor and TE Jonnu Smith later on. They also signed free agent WR Eric Decker which should help Mariota continue to be lethal in the red zone.
While Taylor and Smith most likely won’t be fantasy relevant this season, Mariota has an absurd amount of talent around him at this point. The running game is excellent with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry as a 1-2 punch. The offensive line was ranked as the #1 unit by Pro Football Focus. Even though Mariota suffered a broken leg in Week 16, it appears mostly behind him. Mariota says he still needs to trust his leg but that’s what the preseason and training camp are for. There is very little that Mariota is missing this year to finish as a Top 5 QB, and I have him ranked as such. The only QBs I’d take ahead of him are Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. The Titans offense is going to be dynamite this season and Mariota is going to lead the way.
- Honorable Mention: Matthew Stafford
Mid-Range Fantasy Quarterback
Taylor might have one of the most surprising ADPs of 2017 at this point. While I can understand his low ADP if you play in a six point per passing TD league, there’s no reason he should be at 18th among QBs. In a standard four point per passing TD league, Taylor finished 8th in 2016(he did finish just 16th in six point leagues).Taylor doesn’t fare as well in six point leagues because his passing TD numbers aren’t great. He’s definitely been propped up by his rushing totals, which was near 600 yards in 2016. His QB8 finish was ahead of QBs such as Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton.
While that’s an accomplishment of its own, it came mostly without #1 WR Sammy Watkins. It was an awful year for Watkins, as he accounted for just 28 receptions and 2 TDs. Taylor also was forced to sit out the season finale after former head coach Rex Ryan was fired. In addition, Taylor only attempted 436 passes in 2016. That was the lowest within the top 20 at QB with the exception of Tom Brady who was suspended for 4 games. The QB8 finish is vastly more impressive when you realize these factors.
The Bills drafted rookie WR Zay Jones and while he may not have a huge fantasy impact, he does represent a threat opposite Watkins. Even TE Charles Clay should be a factor. New offensive coordinator Rick Dennison also has a history of doing things a lot differently than Buffalo has the past 2 seasons. Taylor is poised for a breakout in 2017.
- Honorable Mention: Carson Palmer
Back End Fantasy Quarterback
2016 turned out to be a pretty bad fantasy year for Wentz. He stormed out of the gates the first four weeks, throwing for 1,007 of his 3,782 yards and 7 of his 16 TD passes. Then offensive lineman Lane Johnson was suspended for 10 games for PEDs and the wheels came off for Wentz. While Johnson was suspended, Wentz only threw 6 TDs. Five of those games saw Wentz throw zero TDs. Our friends at Pro Football Focus show us just how important it was to keep Wentz clean in the pocket his rookie year
Carson Wentz was a different quarterback when he had time to throw pic.twitter.com/9f81cXucmS
— PFF (@PFF) July 6, 2017
With Johnson suspended and a lack of playmakers around him, Wentz finished outside the top 20 QBs in 2016. While WR Jordan Matthews and TE Zach Ertz are fine players, defenses can figure out how to limit them. The Eagles knew they had to add some talent on the offensive side of the ball and did so for 2017.The Eagles spent most of their draft on the defensive side of the ball and only took two WRs and one RB. Philly did their heavy lifting for upgrading the offense via free agency this past off-season. They brought in not only WR Torrey Smith but also WR Alshon Jeffery. Smith may not make the biggest impact in the box score, but he helps open up space for other players. Jeffery is coming off an injury-riddled 2016 and a PED suspension of his own. Seeing as he only has a one-year contract, Jeffery absolutely needs to play well. These two signings should put Jordan Matthews back into his most comfortable role, the slot.
The Eagles also upgraded their backfield with the signing of LeGarrette Blount. He almost certainly won’t find the end zone a ridiculous 18 times like 2016, but he gives Philly a proven bruiser in the run game. He should pair well with Darren Sproles who will handle most of the passing game work. All indications are RB Ryan Mathews will be cut as soon as he’s cleared medically to play. The combo of Jeffery, Matthews, Ertz, and Smith alongside Blount and Sproles form what could be quietly a pretty good offense. Wentz needed more weapons and the Eagles management went out and got good players. If things go right, I think Wentz will finish in the top 15 and could even creep into the top 12 if everything clicks right away.
- Honorable Mention: Sam Bradford
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