Football is right around the corner! In less than 60 days, the Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Foxborough to face the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, and officially kick off another season of America’s favorite sport. It’ll also mark the beginning of the 2017 fantasy football season, and over the last few years, that’s become almost as important as the NFL season itself. The scouting and mock drafting have already begun for some fantasy GM’s, so let’s start looking forward at some of the top QBs for the upcoming fantasy season.
15. Phillip Rivers
Our first entry on the list will drive you nuts, but he’s also too good to pass up in the later rounds. I owned Rivers last season, and it was a roller coaster ride throughout the entire year. River did pass for 4,386 yards and 33 TD’s last season. However, turnovers were an issue. His 21 interceptions, and 5 fumbles, last season brought his total fantasy points down to only 258.9, per ESPN standard scoring. That’s not a bad point total, but when you pass for over 4,000 yards and throw over 30 TD’s, you should be scoring a bit more points. The return of Keenan Allen should provide Rivers with another reliable target out there. Rivers is an excellent option for those who chose to wait on QB, just be aware that he’s going to be bringing a lot of turnovers to your team with him.
Where I’d draft him: 10th round or later. Rivers will no doubt put up some big points for you during the season, but be warned, he’s going to throw his fair share of heart breaking, and potentially game losing, interceptions as well. The later you can get Rivers, the better. He’s a good complimentary QB to have on a team with a lot of talent. Just don’t expect to be able to anchor your entire team with him. He’s a solid option, but he does present a risk.
14. Eli Manning
From one turnover machine to another. In all seriousness, Eli Manning is probably going to catch some people by surprise this year. Manning has never really been an eye popping fantasy QB. He turns the ball over a lot, and he’s not much of a runner, so you’re not getting any unexpected points from him. This season, however, I feel like Eli is going to shock a few folks with his numbers. last season Manning put up 4,027 passing yards and 26 TD’s, but 16 picks and 4 fumbles aren’t ideal. He ended last year with only 224.2 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. That’s a low total for a QB. I expect that number to go way up though, especially considering that Brandon Marshall’s 6 foot 4′ frame will now be running across the middle of the field, and pulling defenders away from Odell Beckham Jr. That probably has Manning itching to get out there and start throwing the ball around. The Giants still don’t have a strong running game, which means Manning will probably be passing early and often.
Where I’d draft him: 9th or 10th round. I’m a believer in Manning’ upcoming season, but I’m not insane. There’s obviously plenty of safer options out there other than Manning, but if you find yourself scrambling to find a decent QB in the later rounds, you should definitely consider kicking the tires on Eli. Be prepared for some mind numbing interceptions, but also know that some big games are bound to come with the type of weapons that Eli will have at his disposal.
13. Kirk Cousins
This one was a tough decision to make. Last season, Cousins had a magical run. He passed for 4917 yards, 25 TD’s, and 12 interceptions. He also added 4 rushing TD’s, which brought his season total to 300.3 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. So why do I have Cousins outside my top 10? Call it a hunch. I just feel like the contract disputes between Cousins and Washington are going to have a negative effect on him. Football is hard enough without dragging contracts into it. That’s not to say he’s going to have a bad season. The addition of Terrell Pryor is very intriguing to me, but the health of Jordan Reed is always an issue, and DeSean Jackson took his home run hitting abilities to Tampa Bay with him, so Cousins could be looking at a down year.
Where I’d draft him: 8th round. I understand that I’m a bit low on Cousins, so the odds are he won’t be around til the 8th round in your league. If somehow he is though, consider it a gift and snatch him up. Whether he has a down year or not, Washington is pretty much reliant on his passing to create offense. The only problem is, opposing defenses are aware of that too. DeSean Jackson not being there to “take the top off the defense” is going to take some getting used to for Cousins, but all in all he should still have a solid year. Just don’t expect him to repeat his performance from last season.
12. Marcus Mariota
I’m excited about Mariota’s upcoming season. I see him having a career year. Last season Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 TD’s, and 9 interceptions. He added 349 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground, bringing his total to 259.9 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. His season ended early due to a broken fibula in week 16. Had he played in week 17, perhaps his numbers would’ve been bit higher? The addition of veteran wide receiver, Eric Decker, during the off season, will provide Mariota with a bit more fire power, and a sure handed playmaker to go along with Delanie Walker. I’d feel comfortable rolling Mariota out as my starter next season.
Where I’d draft him: 7th or 8th round. I feel confident that Mariota will take the next step this year, but he still presents some risk. Eric Decker is a solid addition to the offense, and he’s going to help, but he’s not the kind of star wide receiver that can cover up his young QB’s mistakes. The Titans possess a solid running game, so that could pose a potential problem for Mariota owner’s, but if he takes the next step-year like I think he will, there should be plenty of points to go around.
11. Matthew Stafford
Remember when everyone thought Matthew Stafford was only good because he had Calvin Johnson? He obliterated that narrative last season, throwing for 4327 yards, 24 TD’s, and 10 interceptions, totaling 279.8 fantasy points, per ESPN scoring. I don’t see any reason why Stafford wouldn’t be able to repeat that performance again this year. The Lions still don’t have anything solid in terms of a running game, so you have to figure it’s going to be the Matthew Stafford Show. I expect him to pass, and pass a lot.
Where I’d draft him: 7th round. Stafford is a safe pick to me. The departure of Megatron made him a better overall QB, he spreads the love around evenly, and he managed to avoid too many turnovers last year. The usage is going to be there. If he can keep taking care of the ball, Stafford could easily end the season as a top 10 QB.
10. Jameis Winston
This one might seem a bit high to some people, but I’m pretty excited for Winston’s upcoming season, and I actually wanted to rank him higher. The addition of DeSean Jackson and the continued improvement of Mike Evans should help the young QB reach career highs this season. Last year Winston had 28 TD’s and 18 interceptions, passed for 4,090 yards, and scored 256.1 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. With a home run hitter like DeSean Jackson in Tampa Bay now, those numbers should go up. As long as the TD’s go up a bit without dramatically increasing the interceptions, Winston should be a bargain in most drafts.
Where I’d draft him: 6th or 7th Round. I’m not the only one high on Winston, so someone in your league might jump on him early, but I think if you can get him in the 6th round or later, you’re going to end up getting a steal. I could see him ending the season as a top 5 QB.
9. Ben Roethlisberger
This one could turn out to be low. Anytime you have the weapons that Roethlisberger has, you’re gonna put up points, but Big Ben has a bit of an injury history, so assuming that he won’t play all 16 games of the season isn’t much of a stretch. Ben will get a very big weapon back this year though, in the form of Martavis Bryant. Last time we saw Bryant on the field, he looked every bit like a potential #1 WR. Adding him to the combo of a bona fide #1 WR like Antonio Brown, and possibly the best RB in football, Le’Veon Bell, has to boost Big Bens numbers if he can stay on the field. Last year, Roethlisberger threw 29 TD’s, 13 interceptions, passed for 3,819 yards, and put up 252.2 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. He also added 1 rushing TD. My advice would be to just make sure you have a solid back up if you’re going to draft Big Ben. You wouldn’t want your fantasy season depending on his health. That has the potential of ending badly.
Where I’d draft him: 7th or 8th Round. He’s too much of an injury risk for me, but when healthy he’ll put up some big numbers. He could possibly win you some games by himself. Just don’t be shocked if he misses any time. I’m personally not a fan, but then he’s a solid QB option.
8. Russell Wilson
I’m a huge fan of duel threat QB’s, and now that we’re getting into the top 10, we’ll be coming across a few. The first one on the list, Russell Wilson (Winston isn’t really a rushing threat). Last season, Wilson threw for 4,219 yards, 21 TDs, and 11 interceptions. He also added 259 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, and a receiving TD, for a total of 270.1 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. Wilson took more control of his offense last season, after the departure of Marshawn Lynch, and with still no solid running game in town (Eddie Lacy is hardly solid), we’ll most likely see a repeat this season. Wilson has improved as a pocket passer every season since he’s been in the league, assuming that he continues that trend this season, he should be an excellent option at QB.
Where I’d draft him: 5th or 6th round. I’m a big believer in Wilson. I expect him to be even better than he was last season. Plus, a returning Jimmy Graham could finally give Wilson an elite receiving option, something he’s sorely lacked during his entire career. His interceptions were a bit higher than I’d personally like last season, but he’s historically been very stingy with the football. As long as he gets back to that, I’d be ecstatic to have him as my QB.
7. Andrew Luck
Speaking of duel threat QB’s, here’s one of the best in the league. Last season Luck passed for 4,240 yards, 31 TD’s, and 13 interceptions. He added 341 rushing yards, and 2 rushing TD’s, to bring his total to 307.7 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. Luck could be ranked a little higher. After all, he’s got elite talent, and Elite weapons to throw the ball to. T.Y. Hilton will no doubt be the recipient of a couple Andrew Luck bombs during the season, and that just means fat points for all Andrew Luck owners.
Where I’d draft him: 3rd or 4th round. Like I said, Luck has elite talent and plenty of targets. My one knock on him is actually one of the attribute that makes him special, his ability to run. It’s awesome when he scrambles and creates point generating opportunities, but sometimes in the process of doing that, he opens himself up to hits that other QB’s simply aren’t exposed to. He’s an elite option at QB, just be aware that his injury risk is slightly higher than even your average running QB. If you take him, you’ll most likely be happy. Just get a good back up.
6. Derek Carr
I’m expecting big things from Carr this year. A broken fibula in week 16 (apparently that was a common occurrence that week) cut Carr’s season short last year, but before it did, he managed to pass for 3,937 yards, 28 Td’s and 6 interceptions. He scored 268.5 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. The addition of Marshawn Lynch over the off season, will no doubt create a few ideal play action situations for Carr, and his talented receiving duo of Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree, to take advantage of. I expect the Raiders to be competing for a playoff spot next year, so Carr should be playing meaningful games down the stretch, and that’s always good for fantasy owners.
Where I’d draft him: 3rd round. I see a big year coming for Carr. If he can keep his turnovers as low as he did last season (9 total), then I see no reason why we Carr can’t follow up and improve on his great 2016 campaign. If he falls to you past the 3rd round, consider yourself lucky.
5. Matt Ryan
The blown lead in the SuperBowl is going to do one of two things. It’s could haunt Matt Ryan, and the Falcons, all season long, preventing them from focusing on the season at hand. I don’t subscribe to that notion. I think the blown lead will serve as motivation for Ryan, and his favorite weapon Julio Jones. Last season, Ryan threw for 4944, 38 TD’s, and 7 interceptions, totaling 347.5 fantasy points, per ESPN fantasy scoring. I fully expect ‘Matty Ice” to go out there and wreck the league next season. Ryan is going to try his hardest to erase the memory of 28-3. I for one, wouldn’t mind him doing that on my fantasy team. I could see Ryan ending the year as the #1 QB.
Where I’d draft him: 2nd or 3rd round. Ryan has been a solid fantasy QB for nearly his entire career. Even if he doesn’t go on the tear I expect him to go on, he’s worth an early round pick. Ryan will rarely ever cost you a game, and when he’s feeling it, he can be just as lethal as any other top 5 QB. Draft him with confidence, he won’t burn you very often.
4. Dak Prescott
This one hurts me the most to have to rank. I’m an Eagles fan and absolutely hate the Cowboys, but I have to be impartial. I see big things on Dak’s horizon. Last season, Dak Passed for 3,667 yards, 23 Td’s, and only 4 interceptions. He also added 282 rushing yards, and 6 rushing TD’s, for a total of 286.7 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. All that was without a full off season to prepare as the starter. This year he’ll have that time to prepare, so assuming that he’ll be that much better doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.
Where I’d draft him: 2nd round. Legitimate passing threat. Legitimate rushing threat. Best line in football. Potentially the best RB in football, and an elite WR in the form of Dez Bryant. Enough said.
3. Drew Brees
My top 3 QB’s are honestly interchangeable. If you manage to land either of these guys you should be happy, and very hopeful about your upcoming season. That being said, they’re all flawed, so it just depends on how you personally feel about them. To me, Brees is the 3rd best out of them. Last season he passed for whopping 5,208 yards, 37 TD’s, and 15 interceptions, totaling 332.3 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. Those are impressive numbers, but the addition of Adrian Peterson might inspire the Saints to run the ball a bit more this season. Plus, the departure of a home run hitter like Brandin Cooks can’t be expected to go unfelt. Despite all that, Brees will be an elite QB again this year, just like he always is.
Where I’d draft him: 1st or 2nd round. I don’t typically agree with taking a QB early, then again I’ve never owned Drew Brees. The volume he gets makes him a desirable QB, but he does turn the ball over a bit, and unless Michael Thomas lives up to all the hype he’s entering the season with, Brees doesn’t have an elite receiving option. He’ll probably still overcome all that and pass for close to 5,000 yards, and over 30 TD’s.
2. Tom Brady
Starting in week 6 of last season, Tom Brady passed for 3554 yards, 28 TD’s, and only 2 interceptions, scoring 258.6 total fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. If my top 3 are interchangeable, then that goes double for my top 2. You can’t go wrong either way. The way I picked it was fairly simple, age. Brady is getting up there in age now, and despite the amazing season he just had last year, I can’t comfortably invest my season in an aging QB. Even if he potentially is the best QB ever. All that said, if he’s sitting right there in front of me, I’d probably be a hypocrite and draft him. I mean cmon, it’s Tom Brady.
Where I’d draft him: 1st round. Barring a freak injury, you’re most likely not going to regret anywhere you draft Brady. The combo of Julian Eddleman, Rob Gronkowski, and newly acquired, Brandin Cooks is going to make Brady that much more lethal. the best way to make sure you’re not in Brady’s path of destruction? Draft him.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Is anyone surprised? Rodgers is a bad man. Last season he passed for 4,428 yards, 40 TD’s, and 7 interceptions, totaling 380 fantasy points, per ESPN standard scoring. He’s not always going to go on the type of tear he went on to end last year, but he’ll come close on many occasions. Rodgers has everything you want in a fantasy QB. He has elite weapons and just got another one in the form of Martellus Bennett. He plays in a tough division, which forces him to usually play out the whole season. Oh yeah, and he also possesses the mobility to stretch plays, and make something out of absolutely nothing. just ask the Cowboys about that. Last season Rodgers rushed for 369 yards and punched in 4 TDs too. That type of versatility is rare in such an elite arm talent. Needless to say, if you land Rodgers, you have a player that will keep you in most games by himself.
Where I’d draft him: 1st round. You might be able to get him in the 2nd round depending on your league, but I wouldn’t risk it. If he’s there in front of you, take him. If you pass on him, you might regret it. As far as when in the first round to take him, I’d say whenever you feel like it. I do not endorse early drafting of most QB’s, but if you insist on doing it, there is absolutely no one better than Rodgers. Draft him, and you won’t have to worry about your QB position all year.
Baseline Times NFL Fantasy Insider