To wait on a quarterback, or to not wait on a quarterback?
That is the age-old fantasy question that players ask each year around draft time. Simply put, both strategies can work and work very well. Most fantasy players are on one end of the spectrum, or the other. They don’t sway much from their beliefs.
Personally, I lean more towards waiting on my quarterback. That way, I can load up on receivers and running backs in the early rounds, while other players take their quarterbacks. This benefited me greatly two years ago when I landed Carson Palmer in the twelfth round. Palmer ended that season as a top six fantasy quarterback. Last season, I took Drew Brees early when he fell to me in the fifth round. In this league, I never thought that he would be there for me in the fifth round. I didn’t love any of the other players available, so I took Brees early. Brees ended up working out great for me too.
Both strategies can work, as long as you don’t reach for players, or wait too long. Taking Aaron Rodgers in the first round of a one-quarterback league sets you up for failure. Waiting to take a quarterback until the last round, when everyone else already has two, is not the route to take either.
This season, the consensus top two quarterbacks are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Everyone’s rankings are different after that. You can see my pre-training camp rankings here.
I’m going to get into some of the guys that I like or dislike based off of their current average draft positions (ADP). Before I do so, I will run through some terms that I will use when describing players.
Boom – A player who will exceed expectations according to their current ADP. Not to be confused with a breakout. Boom players have produced in the past but are most likely being undervalued.
Bust – A player who will fail to live up to expectations according to ADP.
Breakout – A player who will have a career year this season and exceed expectations. This player has possibly not lived up to expectations so far in their career, and is most likely still early on in their career.
Lets dive into a few players and their outlooks for this season.
Andrew Luck – Luck is an interesting player heading into the season. He’s currently on the PUP list and is noncommittal on providing a date for his potential return. After Luck underwent shoulder surgery back in January, the Colts announced that he would be ready for the start of the season. At this point, one would think that Luck should at least be throwing. Reports indicate that he hasn’t begun throwing footballs at this time.
Luck isn’t a player that will need preseason game reps in order to be ready to play week one, but it would be nice to see him out there. If you are drafting early in the preseason, be cautious with Luck. Uncertainty is something that I tend to steer clear of in fantasy. Therefore, I will not draft Luck at his current ADP (ESPN: 60.2; Yahoo: 45.7). If, by the time I draft, Luck returns to practice and shows signs of being ready for week 1, he will be in play for me.
Kirk Cousins (Boom) – Cousins is a guy, who is currently being undervalued. His current ADP sits at 95.1 on ESPN and 98.7 on Yahoo. I understand the hesitation from some people with Cousins. He lost his offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, to the Los Angeles Rams. He also lost two 1,000-yard receivers in Pierre Garçon and Desean Jackson. However, taking over for McVay at offensive coordinator is Matt Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh joined the Redskins coaching staff prior to the 2016 season as the quarterbacks coach, and has a good working relationship with Cousins. In free agency, the team signed Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick in an attempt to replace Garçon and Jackson. Pryor could turn out to be a huge addition for this offense. Let’s not forget that 2016 rookie Josh Doctson and 2016 breakout player Jamison Crowder will also return this season. Doctson struggled with injuries during the 2016 season but showed off during offseason workouts and into training camp so far.
Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis will line up at tight end to help out Cousins in the short passing game Davis and Reed make up a good red zone duo. Last season, the two combined for top-of-the-line tight end numbers. They should do close to the same this season if there avoid injury. I fully expect Cousins to pick up right where he left off at the end of last season end up as a draft day steal this season.
Matt Ryan (Bust) – I am avoiding Matt Ryan this season. After last season’s career year, fantasy players will most likely over-draft Ryan this year. Sometimes, you simply have a hunch about certain players, and Ryan is one of those players for me this season.
Losing his offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, will hurt Ryan from a production standpoint. Shanahan is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Going into the season, we don’t know what new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will bring to the Falcons offense compared to Shanahan.
The uncertainty at offensive coordinator, combined with Ryan coming off a career year, is scary. Nobody in fantasy should be completely off limits. However, Ryan will have to slide quite far from his current ADP (ESPN: 40.6; Yahoo: 49.7) for me to take a chance on him.
Marcus Mariota (Boom) – Mariota might seem like a given to some people but I feel as though he needs to be pointed out. For his career, Mariota has thrown 33 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the redone. The Titans added Eric Decker and Corey Davis to their receiving corps this offseason which adds two great redone targets for Mariota. Add in Mariota’s running ability and you have a valuable fantasy asset on your hands. I would not be surprised at all if Mariota ends this season as a top five fantasy quarterback. At this time, in my opinion, he is being accurately valued on Yahoo (ADP: 58) but is extremely undervalued on ESPN (ADP: 119.1).
Dak Prescott (Bust) – Let’s get something straight with Prescott: I think he is a very solid quarterback. In a few years, he will be a darn good quarterback. This year, he will be a fantasy bust.
Last season was made possible by Ezekiel Elliott. The ability to run the ball effectively in an NFL offense helps out the passing game tremendously. The Cowboys will not have a problem running the ball this season, but when they do need to pass, defenses will stifle Prescott. With a full season of film on Prescott available, defensive coordinators will be prepared. At his current ADP (ESPN: 72.2; Yahoo: 81.4) I am not willing to take a chance on Prescott. He is currently being drafted ahead of quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins, and Jameis Winston.
Carson Wentz (Breakout) – As a rookie last season, Wentz wasn’t supposed to see the field. The Eagles forced him into action when they traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings a week before the season started. Wentz ended up playing surprisingly well, and I think that he can continue to build off his success from last season.
Contrary to Prescott, the Eagles improved the pieces around Wentz. They signed Legarrette Blount, Alshon Jeffery, and Torrey Smith during free agency which should help Wentz out tremendously. With a full season of NFL experience under his belt, along with some key additions to the offense, I look for Wentz to have a breakout season in 2017.
Jared Goff (Breakout) – I will keep this short and sweet. The new head coach for the Rams is the one responsible for Cousins. I believe that he can do the same with the former number one overall pick. That being said, don’t over draft Goff. I would not draft Goff as anything more than a second quarterback, but I do expect Goff to have a breakout season with Sean McVay now as his coach.
Image Credit: NY Post