2017 was a strange year for quarterbacks in fantasy, as some of the familiar names that littered the top 12 throughout the years were pushed down the pecking order and supplanted by some young guns. Injuries took their toll this year on some of the usual suspects like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Year two progression saw players like Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz. But familiar names liked Rivers, Roethlisberger, Brees, and Brady still showed they have plenty left in the tank. Let’s get into the year that was for the quarterback position…
Carson Wentz – 265/440, 3296 yds., 33 TD, 7 INT; 299 yds. rushing (QB #5)
Starting with that downright silly throw in the opener against Washington, Carson Wentz really set the tone early for his ascendant season in 2017. Wentz really improved his yards per attempt from year 1 (6.2 to 7.5) and the emergence of his offensive line and playmakers around him helped him develop from a small school prospect to a bonafide star in the NFL. His ACL injury in Week 13 really put a damper on his 2017, which really should have ended in Wentz winning league MVP, but his 2018 should shine even brighter. As a fantasy quarterback, his ceiling could be the top quarterback chosen, but realistically, he should be the 2nd or 3rd quarterback taken, depending on your preference between Wentz and Tom Brady.
Deshaun Watson – 126/204, 1699 yds., 19 TD, 8 INT; 269 yds. rushing, 2 TD (QB #26)
Deshaun Watson started training camp backing up Tom Savage, who was the anointed starter by Bill O’Brien, and by halftime of Week 1, O’Brien had seen enough and made the move to go with Watson for the 2nd half. Watson had some growing pains in a Week 1 loss to Jacksonville, but was starting to show flashes in Week 2, rushing for 67 yards and a touchdown. In a Week 3 loss to New England, Watson put it all together as a force to be reckoned with, throwing for over 300 yards and adding 41 yards with his legs. The next 4 games he would throw for 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, showing the dynamic playmaking ability he showed at Clemson. A torn ACL in practice leading up to week 8 abruptly ended his season, but with the rapport he was showing with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, combined with year 2 in the offense, Watson has a ceiling as high as any QB in the league, Wentz included. I’d have no issue taking him 3rd after Rodgers/Wentz are gone, but it would certainly be a decision between high floor in Brady and high ceiling in Watson.
Jared Goff – 296/477, 3804 yds., 28 TD, 7 INT; 51 yds. rushing, TD (QB #12)
After Jared Goff’s 2016, his status going forward was very much in question. The team has brought in Sean McVay to replace Jeff Fisher as head coach, and it was a legitimate decision whether the new staff would commit to Goff going forward. Jared came in the middle of the season in 2016 to supplant Case Keenum and go through his growing pains (0-7 the rest of the 2016 season). Looking back on his 2017 however, the questions about Goff have quieted down as he turned in a season that got him to the Pro Bowl. Goff turned around every single meaningful quarterback statistic and turned in a 4:1 TD to interception ratio. His 12.9 yards per completion was tops in the NFL, as he found castoffs Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins deep, along with rookie Cooper Kupp. It certainly also helps when you have all world running back Todd Gurley to hand the ball off to. Without an elite weapon to throw to, I honestly can’t see Goff trending much higher than the numbers he showed in 2017, although he can creep into the 4000 passing yard mark with some deviation in his touchdowns and could hit 30. That could vault him just into the top 6 of fantasy quarterbacks, but when all is said and done, I see him as a startable QB in 12 team leagues but outside the elite must-starts at his position.
Matt Ryan – 342/529, 4095 yds., 20 TD, 12 INT; 143 yds. rushing (QB #15)
Matt Ryan fell off the wagon in 2017, as every meaningful statistic from 2016 trended lower in 2017. Touchdowns went down by almost half, in fact he never threw for more than 2 touchdowns in a game in 2017. To put it in raw numbers, he threw for almost 850 yards less on 5 less passing attempts from ’16 to ’17. His yards per attempt and yards per completion tanked, showing that in the Steve Sarkisian led offense, he really didn’t throw the ball deep that often and showed slightly more reliance to the run game than last season. Do I think that Ryan’s 2017 is an anomaly? Partially, yes. I think expecting somewhere between his 2016 and 2017 (4250 yd., 26 TD, 10 INT) would be a fair projection and should put him between #8-#12 in the QB rankings, slotting him as a low end starting QB in most leagues.
Dak Prescott – 308/490, 3324 yds., 22 TD, 13 INT; 357 yds. rushing, 6 TD (QB #11)
Playing behind the 8 ball as far as uncertainty about his most trusted backfield option Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott had to shed the game manager label and make plays for Dallas to win football games, which was suspect at best. Prescott throw 1 less touchdown from 2016, but his interceptions increased to 13 this season from 4. Prescott’s value comes from his efficiency and his legs (6 touchdowns in each of his seasons), so when he has Elliott available, he does not have to take as many chances with the football as he did in 2017. I do like Dak going forward as a starting quarterback in fantasy, but when he has his full complement of weapons at his disposal. If he were to get back to his 2016 level, I would slot him at the back end of starting quarterbacks and a stronger start as the matchups dictate.
WAY TOO EARLY 2018 FANTASY QB RANKINGS
- Aaron Rodgers, GB
- Carson Wentz, PHI
- Tom Brady, NE
- Deshaun Watson, HOU
- Russell Wilson, SEA
- Drew Brees, NO
- Matt Ryan, ATL
- Jared Goff, LAR
- Marcus Mariota, TEN
- Jameis Winston, TB
- Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
- Philip Rivers, LAC
- Cam Newton, CAR
- Kirk Cousins, WAS (for now)
- Dak Prescott, DAL
Stay tuned for the Year in Review: Running Backs coming in the next couple days as we look back on 2017!