By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Denver Broncos sign QB Case Keenum to a 2-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: Case Keenum has had a wild ride to start his NFL career. The former Texas Tech standout has played for three teams already and his new 2-year deal with Denver will make that number four.
What Keenum did last season was nothing short of miraculous. From 2013-2016, Keenum was a backup QB with a losing record and a 24-20 TD to INT ratio. He was benched for rookie Jared Goff in 2016 and Goff lost every game he started his rookie year. Not many teams had much confidence in his ability and the Vikings were able to sign him to a one-year, $2 million contract. His production mirrored that of a quarterback making close to $20 million a year. Suffice to say, the Vikings extracted excellent value out of their investment in Keenum.
Keenum was, according to Pro Football Focus, the 9th highest graded QB in the league last year. He finished 7th among qualified QBs in passer rating. He was also QB13 in a fantasy points/game basis. Does that at all sound like a guy who went 9-15 as a starter from 2013 to 2016?
The Vikings, just like the rest of the league, wondered if last year was a fluke. Keenum clearly developed a rapport with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer and grasped his offense in a hurry. Is he a product of the system? With Shurmer taking the head coaching job of the New York Giants, the Vikings weren’t privy to finding out, having signed former Redskins QB Kirk Cousins (more on him later) to be their starter for the next three seasons. That left Keenum to hit the market and see what was out there. I imagine this is how the following conversation took place:
John Elway: Hey Case, it’s John Elway.
Keenum: Um, hi Mr. Elway.
Elway: How would like to be the quarterback for the Denver Broncos?
Keenum: Don’t you have Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch?
Elway: They suck, that’s why I’m calling you.
Keenum: You want me? You really want me?
Elway: I can always call Kirk Cousins…
Keenum: No! You called me first! I agree! Sign me up!
Elway didn’t even make Cousins an offer, instead securing Keenum to a 2-year deal for $36 million. That’s low tier QB money but gives the Broncos the ability to move on in the event last year was a fluke and Keenum really is a backup masquerading as a starter. It also gives Elway time to figure out what the hell Paxton Lynch is and the freedom to either draft a QB in the top 5 or take a dynamic player to improve their slowly depleting roster.
I expect Keenum to be nothing more than a backup QB for fantasy’s sake. Even with dynamic weapons like Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Keenum still didn’t post top 10 numbers at the position. He’s trading Thielen and Diggs in for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, arguably a better duo, but also gets a much worse offensive line. Out of respect for his 2017 season, I’ll probably have Keenum ranked around QB18, but I don’t see a ton of upside. He probably has between 3,300 and 3,700 yards passing with around 20 TDs and 10 INTs. And that’s if he gets respectable line play and a solid ground game develops with Devontae Booker and whatever rookie they inevitably draft to compete. Needless to say, you can do better on draft day.