Andrew Luck's injury-riddled season will
drive his price down making him a relative bargain in 2016.
We know the NFL has been trending toward the pass the last few years
and a quick look at recent run/pass ratios confirms the thinking.
7-7-8-12 – that’s the number of teams that sport at
least a 60-40 pass/run ratio the last four years. As you can see,
the number of teams chucking the ball more often than not took a
significant leap in 2015. The result? A deep quarterback position
that should give you all the confidence in the world to “wait
until late” to draft a quarterback in 2016.
These rankings will change as we push forward through free agency
and the NFL Draft, but these are currently my top 12 quarterbacks
Newton – Newton is coming off his best fantasy season
since his rookie year (2011) and appears to be hitting his stride
as a quarterback. His 35 passing touchdowns in 2015 were a career
high and he didn’t have the services of his best receiver, Kelvin
Benjamin. Newton’s involvement in the rushing game, especially
at the goaline, makes him an easy choice as a top five fantasy
QB in 2016 and puts him in the conversation for the first quarterback
off the board.
Luck – A lacerated kidney and rib injuries limited
Luck to seven games in 2015 but the team hasn’t changed its offensive
philosophy. The pass-first gameplan and suitable outside receiving
threats makes Luck a solid QB1. However, his subpar season, offensive
line concerns, and how he “burned” many fantasy owners may land
Luck in 6-8 range in most 2016 quarterback rankings. I still like
Luck’s youth, rushing ability and given he hadn’t missed a game
in three-straight seasons; I’m willing to give him the benefit
of the doubt on his injury-riddled 2015 campaign.
Rodgers – You know you’re a good fantasy quarterback
when 3800 yards, 31 TDs and 8 INTs is a “down” season. Rodgers
finished 12th among fantasy quarterbacks in 2015 but continues
to sport one of the best TD-INT ratios (170-33 over the last five
years) and will get his best deep threat, Jordy Nelson, back in
2016. The Packers offense seemed unsure of itself at times and
lacked a running game but Rodgers rushing ability, relative health
and consistency makes him a good bet to bounce back into the high-end
QB1 class this upcoming season.
Brees – Brees has hovered around the 4900-yard passing
mark and 32 TDs the last two seasons making him a consistent QB1.
Speaking of consistency, Brees has finished in the top six among
fantasy QBs (standard scoring) every year since 2006! The loss
of Jimmy Graham didn’t slow the Brees machine down and losing
the aging Marcus Colston won’t either. He may be the safest, low-risk
QB1 in fantasy football.
Wilson – Wilson could’ve been considered a bust halfway
through the season, then Week 10 came along and he and Doug Baldwin
caught fire, making Wilson the most valuable fantasy quarterback
down the stretch not named Cam Newton. His 34 passing touchdowns
will be difficult to duplicate but with Marshawn Lynch literally
hanging up his cleats, this will be Wilson’s offense in 2016.
Brady – Brady has started every game since 2009 and
just finished off his fifth-straight 4,000-yard passing season.
He’s 5th in QB consistency the last two seasons despite dealing
with a mediocre and often injured wide receiver group. It does
help to have the most dominant tight end the game has seen in
many years and any kind of upgrade on the outside would only increase
Brady’s sky-high fantasy value.
Roethlisberger – The biggest concern with Big Ben is
injury. He missed four games in 2015 and the guy has taken such
a beating the last couple years you have to give serious consideration
to his injury risk when compiling your rankings. Big Ben was due
for a regression coming off his best season as a pro in 2014 and
while the regression occurred, it was only because of the games
missed. The Steelers QB likely would’ve matched his 4952-32 line,
(averaging 23.6 fantasy points) had he played the entire season.
He’s more volatile than Drew Brees or Tom Brady but has a weekly
ceiling of six touchdowns that both daily and season-long players
Bortles – I rode Bortles to a championship in two leagues
last season so it’s difficult not to rank him higher. With stability,
above-average talent at the receiver position and a play-making
redzone target at tight end, Bortles will likely be in the 5-8
range once ADP rankings get cranking this summer. However, he
needs to curtail his mistakes (35 INTS the last two seasons) and
an upgrade in competition this season (AFC West vs. NFC South)
means no games against the soft defenses of the Bucs, Falcons
Manning – Does Eli getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment
from fantasy players? He finished 8th and 7th among fantasy quarterbacks
the last two seasons, but my general sense is he won’t get the
respect he deserves and will likely be spotted in the 12-15 range
in ADP rankings this summer. Why? Is he too inconsistent? Perhaps.
But, he’s got one of the best young receivers in the NFL and quarterbacks
an offense that lacks the talent and desire in the running game.
Unless the Giants make an emphasis shift of offense, Eli will
be a nice mid-to-late round target for fantasy owners.
Palmer – A perfect fit for Bruce Arian’s downfield
approach, Palmer stayed healthy and finished as a top five fantasy
quarterback in 2015. While he has legitimate playmakers at receiver,
Palmer’s age (36) and injury concern, a potential workhorse running
back, and what appears to be a tougher schedule slips him into
low-end QB1 status for me in 2016.
Carr – Carr made significant strides in his second
season, tossing 32 scores while keeping his INT total (13) to
an acceptable level. While de didn’t post the stats of fellow
second-year QB Blake Bortles, he has similar upside given the
above-average talent at wideout and the willingness to pull the
trigger on difficult throws. The Raiders inconsistency on offense
and defense are the major factors keeping Carr outside of the
fantasy top ten.
Rivers – Nobody had more passing attempts in 2015 than
Rivers. The lack of running game and poor defense allowed Rivers
start the season fast but his teams’ inconsistency and poor defense
eventually led to a downfall in the quarterbacks’ production that
landed him in the low-end QB1 tier by season’s end. Antonio Gates
is another year older, the offensive line needs rebuilding and
the receivers need to stay healthy. If those question marks can
be overcome, Rivers could find his way near the top of this list
by the end of 2016.
Just Missing the Cut: Andy Dalton,
Matthew Stafford, Marcus Mariota