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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Gurley and Robert
Woods. If the Rams can add one more impact pass catcher (because
Watkins is not him), Goff’s ceiling could be as high as anyone’s.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.