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Jason Katz | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Early 2018 Quarterback Rankings

Deshaun Watson

Elite production in a small sample will make Deshaun Watson a compelling player in drafts in 2018.

It goes without saying that much will change between now and August. Much will change between now and the end of March once free agency begins. We’ve already seen Alex Smith change teams. We know Kirk Cousins will be playing somewhere else. Between the Vikings’ three quarterbacks, two of them should start somewhere in 2018. And then there’s Andrew Luck. Does he ever play football again? I think it’s a legitimate question we need to ask.

The QB position saw a significant overhaul in 2017. We had a handful of new stars emerge, while the guys that have run things for the better part of a decade were not in their usual positions. As we ever so gingerly begin to dip into the 2018 NFL season, here are my way too early top 12 QBs.

1. Aaron Rodgers While the failure of other elite quarterbacks last year was due to a number of on field factors, Rodgers’ absence from the top was not. The man broke his collarbone…again. Other than that, he looked like Aaron freaking Rodgers. He’s still the best QB in the NFL and although he’s now broken both collarbones, these aren’t soft tissue injuries that have a tendency to recur. Rodgers is not injury prone and there’s no reason to think he’ll get hurt again. If he’s on the field, he’s the best in real life and fantasy.

2. Russell Wilson OC Darrell Bevell is gone. Great! Brian Schottenheimer replaces him. Ugh. This is a lateral move, at best, but even with an offensive game plan that made no sense, Wilson still finished as the top fantasy QB in 2017. The reality is that as much as Seattle wants to run the ball, they simply can’t. They don’t have an offensive line. Wilson will continue to throw a lot and continue to be running for his life. That’s not great for Wilson winning football games, but fantastic for his fantasy prospects. 2018 should be more of the same.

3. Tom Brady Here’s the thing – I don’t even want to put Tom Brady here. I don’t think he’s an elite fantasy QB anymore. He only had five games of three or more touchdown passes in 2017. That’s fine for a normal QB, but not the GOAT. Brady finished the season with a 6/5 TD:INT ratio over his final five games. Don’t let the playoffs fool you – Brady is not the same regular season force we’re used to seeing. His ranking is more of a reflection on the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the position.

4. Carson Wentz I am ranking Carson Wentz assuming he is ready for Week 1. If not, obviously he will drop precipitously. The only reason Russell Wilson finished as the top fantasy QB is because Wentz tore his ACL after just 13 games played. If Wentz is ready to rock, I see no reason he can’t continue what he was doing before he got hurt.

5. Cam Newton I did not see the Cam Newton rebound coming. But it happened. Newton ran more last year than he did the previous year, bucking the trend of his diminishing rushing numbers. Newton needs to run to be fantasy viable and if 2017 is any indication, he will continue to do so. His high weekly floor makes him one of the safer picks at the position.

6. Deshaun Watson We have a seven game sample size of Watson producing at an elite fantasy level. By average points, Watson was the best QB in fantasy last year and it wasn’t close (2.3 more FPts/G than the next guy). Watson thrived running a relatively simple spread offense that was reminiscent of what he did at Clemson. Maybe NFL teams figure him out with half a season of film. Maybe not. We know his upside is overall QB1. While I’m still skeptical on his real life effectiveness, I’m more a believer than not for fantasy purposes.

7. Jared Goff After surprising everyone with a massive second year leap under Sean McVay, Goff proved why he was the top pick in the 2016 draft. He finished as a back-end QB1 and there is no reason to expect him to do anything other than continue to improve in his third year in the league. Goff has legitimate weapons in Todd Gurley and Robert Woods. If the Rams can add one more impact pass catcher (because Sammy Watkins is not him), Goff’s ceiling could be as high as anyone’s.

8. Kirk Cousins Gun to my head, Kirk Cousins ends up in Arizona. I just feel it coming. Regardless, wherever Cousins go, I expect it to be somewhere he can win. If not Arizona, then Denver or Jacksonville is probable. I don’t anticipate him ending up in Cleveland. Cousins has more than proven himself and should put up at least back-end QB1 fantasy numbers regardless of where he ends up.

9. Ben Roethlisberger So much for the retirement talk. Roethlisberger is back and it’s fair to say he has the best supporting cast in the entire league. Big Ben isn’t as efficient as he was in his younger years, but his offense is too explosive for him to not at least be a back-end QB1.

10. Matthew Stafford I never like taking Stafford, but he’s been a fantasy QB1 almost every year of his career. He doesn’t have league winning upside, but you can plug him in and know he won’t derail your season. He’s a safe, if unspectacular selection.

11. Jimmy Garoppolo Yeah I’m doing it. Jimmy Garoppolo is a QB1. His actual 2017 numbers are deceptive. Jimmy G drove the 49ers into the red zone time after time while throwing to the likes of Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, and Kendrick Bourne. I’m certain he will have a better supporting cast in 2018 as well as a full season to really learn the playbook and develop a rapport with his teammates and coaches. I am all in on the franchise.

12. Philip Rivers The Chargers’ starting QB hasn’t missed a start in his career. He protected the ball much better last season after throwing 21 interceptions in 2016. Rivers is a safe bet for around 4200 yards and about 30 touchdowns. From a fantasy standpoint, he’s like an older version of Stafford.

Just Missing the Cut: Andrew Luck (off the board until we hear something positive about his shoulder), Dak Prescott, Marcus Mariota, Drew Brees