By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It finally happened. A quarterback did not finish the year as fantasy’s number one overall player. I wrote during last year’s recap that some people look at QBs as the end all, be all and will draft them in the first round because quite simply they believe QBs score the most points.
If I didn’t debunk that theory for you last year, the above paragraph should finally do it for you!
All told, this was a rough year for QBs. Aaron Rodgers, the consensus number one QB going into this season, missed eight games (from Weeks 1 through 16 – that’s when the Club Fantasy season, and hopefully yours, takes place). Same thing happened to Cardinals QB Carson Palmer. Upstart rookie Deshaun Watson also succumbed to injury this year, missing another eight games. Eagles second-year phenom Carson Wentz was felled by an ACL injury just like Watson, but the Philly QB’s absence was far more impactful as he missed the fantasy playoffs in weeks 15 and 16.
We knew at least one of these guys (Rodgers) was going to be awesome this year. Palmer has been great in the past and with a superstar at both running back (David Johnson) and wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald), he was expected to put up serviceable numbers. Watson was a lottery ticket that fantasy owners would draft and stash with the hopes he’d win the starting job — he did and boy, did he shine — and Wentz was expected to make a jump in production.
Looking back on my preseason QB rankings, the only QBs that lived up to my top 10 billing were Patriots legend Tom Brady, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, and Seattle’s magician, Russell Wilson. Drew Brees remained his ever consistent self — more on him in a bit — but fell to QB12 this year with the Saints’ reliance on a newly discovered, dominant ground game. As far as the rest?
- Matt Ryan didn’t adjust well to a new offensive coordinator
- Derek Carr got hurt and couldn’t overcome his own change at OC
- Andrew Luck didn’t play a down as there was a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery
- Marcus Mariota failed to overcome his head coach’s lack of creativity and threw more INTs than TDs for the first time in his career
- Dak Prescott missed Ezekiel Elliott more than many of us suspected he would.
One thing we all learned about the QB position this year? It’s a crapshoot. I had Cam Newton ranked 15th heading into the season, largely because of the insistence of his team to limit his rushing ability. The additions of RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Curtis Samuel did little to change my thinking that Mike Shula would suddenly become a more creative OC. After struggling a bit to start the season, the Panthers brass finally let Cam be Cam and the former Heisman winner finished as QB5.
Alex Smith has been a rather consistent backup QB in fantasy for a number of seasons now. When with the Chiefs traded up to draft Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, either Andy Reid tweaked the offense to cater to Mahomes’ ability to throw the ball downfield — which was on full display in Week 17 — or Alex Smith felt a sense of urgency. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Smith took the threat and ran with it and finished as QB2 this season.
Carson Wentz and Jared Goff were 2nd year QBs heading in opposite directions at the outset of the season. Wentz showed flashes of stardom in 2016 and looked to lead a talented Eagles team to a playoff berth. He did more than that. At the time of his injury in Week 14, Wentz was QB2 and led the league in passing TDs. Despite missing the last two games of the fantasy season, Wentz still finished as QB3.
Goff welcomed a change at head coach and subsequently a new offense. HC Sean McVay revitalized the team and Goff was a major beneficiary, leading the Rams to not only the NFC West division title, but also a QB8 finish.
I think you get the point. One thing I always look for when I identify QB targets heading into the next season is consistency. Whether that is in supporting cast, coaches, or weekly performance, consistency is usually a good indication of what they’re likely to do in the upcoming fantasy season. Just because Rodgers got injured and missed eight games doesn’t make his season a waste. If you look at his points per game average, he would rank as QB6. I’m sure that increases over a full season, but you get the idea.
The most surprising part? Guess which QB finished number one on a per game average of fantasy points scored? Texans rookie Deshaun Watson. That’s right. He averaged a whopping 30.55 fantasy points over his seven games played this season, which in reality was six and a half. Number two on that list? Wentz. Apparently, quarterback is a young man’s game now.
Another statistic to keep in mind throughout the offseason leading into your 2018 drafts: there were only three QBs to post more than 10 fantasy points in every game they played this year. Care to venture a guess? Wentz (over 14 games), Brees, and Matthew Stafford. That’s right. Matthew Stafford. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Stafford also finished in the top 10 so drafting him was certainly worth it.
I think the biggest takeaway from this season is that you can’t sleep on the waiver wire. Four of the top 10 QBs this year spent considerable time on waivers before blowing up — Alex Smith, Wentz, Goff, and Philip Rivers. Others that had top 10 weeks throughout the season include Blake Bortles (finished as QB13), Case Keenum (QB14), Josh McCown (QB17), Tyrod Taylor (QB19), Jacoby Brissett (QB20), Watson (QB24), and even Browns rookie DeShone Kizer (QB27). Yes, it’s a season long league, but you still play week-to-week. Any of these non-top 10 options could have helped you win any given week and propelled you into the postseason.
As always, you can wait for a QB. Some of the rookies from this year’s class — Mahomes, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky, and Kizer — could make a considerable leap in 2018, a la Goff and Wentz. They can be drafted as backups. Some veterans who had down seasons — Mariota, Carr, Ryan, and Jameis Winston — could see an increase in production depending on how the offseason shakes out. The skill positions will inevitably be hit hardest by injuries — more on this topic in my other posts throughout the month — and it’s important to stockpile lottery tickets as the long season progresses.
Below are how the quarterbacks of 2017 finished. Scoring is from Weeks 1-16 and follows the Club Fantasy format:
|Rank||Player||Points Overall||Avg Pts/Game|
|1||Russell Wilson (SEA)||398.48||26.57|
|2||Alex Smith (KC)||363.18||24.21|
|3||Carson Wentz (PHI)||357.74||27.52|
|4||Tom Brady (NE)||347.28||23.15|
|5||Cam Newton (CAR)||330.38||22.03|
|6||Kirk Cousins (WSH)||326.10||21.74|
|7||Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)||323.74||21.58|
|8||Jared Goff (LAR)||321.26||21.42|
|9||Matthew Stafford (DET)||301.52||20.10|
|10||Philip Rivers (LAC)||299.42||19.96|
|11||Dak Prescott (DAL)||295.94||19.73|
|12||Drew Brees (NO)||294.56||19.64|
|13||Blake Bortles (JAX)||290.46||19.36|
|14||Case Keenum (MIN)||274.32||19.59|
|15||Matt Ryan (ATL)||250.02||16.67|
|16||Derek Carr (OAK)||245.62||17.54|
|17||Josh McCown (NYJ)||245.44||18.88|
|18||Andy Dalton (CIN)||240.02||16.00|
|19||Tyrod Taylor (BUF)||233.00||16.64|
|20||Jacoby Brissett (IND)||227.56||15.17|
|21||Marcus Mariota (TEN)||227.12||16.22|
|22||Eli Manning (NYG)||225.44||16.10|
|23||Jameis Winston (TB)||215.94||17.99|
|24||Deshaun Watson (HOU)||213.86||30.55|
|25||Joe Flacco (BAL)||202.92||13.53|
|26||Jay Cutler (MIA)||197.60||15.20|
|27||DeShone Kizer (CLE)||169.00||12.07|
|28||Aaron Rodgers (GB)||161.60||23.09|
|29||Trevor Siemian (DEN)||150.10||13.65|
|30||Mitchell Trubisky (CHI)||141.20||12.84|
|31||Brett Hundley (GB)||134.06||14.90|
|32||Carson Palmer (ARI)||120.32||17.19|
|33||C.J. Beathard (SF)||98.80||16.47|
|34||Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB)||87.92||17.58|
|35||Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)||82.32||16.46|
|36||Brock Osweiler (DEN)||79.92||13.32|
|37||Blaine Gabbert (ARI)||75.64||15.13|
|38||Brian Hoyer (SF/NE)||71.68||10.24|
|39||Tom Savage (HOU)||60.68||8.69|
|40||Drew Stanton (ARI)||52.76||13.19|