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Regular Season, Updated: 9/6/16

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 Kirk Cousins, WAS (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 214   DOB: 1988-08-19   Age: 28
College: Michigan State   Draft: 2012 Round 4 (7) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013WAS581 155 854 4 7 4 14 0 60.1 12.0
2014WAS6126 204 1,710 10 9 7 20 0 127.5 21.3
2015WAS16379 543 4,166 29 11 26 48 5 359.1 22.4
2016 (Projected)WAS 372 581 4,355 27 16 20 39 2 341.7  

Outlook: Washington sent away a lot of assets for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III in Round 1 of the 2012 draft, a move many questioned at the time. The Redskins also drafted Cousins that same year in Round 4. Cousins is now being paid franchise tag money after leading the team to the 2015 playoffs while RGIII was allowed to leave for Football Siberia (a/k/a Cleveland). Head Coach Jay Gruden preferred Cousins’ pocket presence and conventional playing style from his first day on the job despite being forced into a relationship with Griffin, and he’s turned the former Michigan State Spartan into one of the league’s best young quarterbacks. Cousins threw for 4166 yards with 29 touchdown passes last season while most importantly limiting his interceptions (11). He was the most accurate quarterback in the league with a completion percentage of 69.8%, despite taking his shots downfield. After a terrific 2015, Cousins finds himself as the unquestioned leader of the team and surrounded by a talented and dynamic collection of skill players heading into the 2016 season. Cousins doesn’t impress anyone physically or even with his skill set, but even when he struggled early in his career, he showed the “it factor” that led many to believe he was capable of being a starting quarterback in this league. The team drafted TCU WR Josh Doctson in Round 1 of the NFL draft this season to give him yet another weapon in his arsenal. Cousins doesn’t yet have the name recognition of many of the other quarterbacks that he outperformed last season, which makes him a great target for those owners that like to wait out quarterbacks during their draft. He could easily see another top 10 finish.

 Derek Carr, OAK (Bye: 10)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 214   DOB: 1991-03-28   Age: 25
College: Fresno State   Draft: 2014 Round 2 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014OAK16348 599 3,270 21 12 30 87 0 256.2 16.0
2015OAK16350 573 3,987 32 13 33 138 0 341.2 21.3
2016 (Projected)OAK 376 597 4,176 27 14 26 121 1 334.9  

Outlook: Now entering his third season as the signal caller in Oakland, Derek Carr has begun to establish himself as a leader in this offense and he has all the attributes of a franchise quarterback. Carr fell just 13 yards short of 4,000 yards off of just 350 completions, adding an impressive ratio of 32 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. The improvements in the Oakland offense were some of the most dramatic of any team in 2015 and off-season workouts with star wide receiver Amari Cooper should help the two establish chemistry even earlier in the season. That duo, along with veteran Michael Crabtree, should once again be among the toughest combinations to stop for opposing defenses. Concerns with Carr’s fantasy value include the Raiders improved defense and the potential of a stronger running game, which could lead to fewer total pass attempts for the offense. Still, a more efficient passing game should lead to plenty of fantasy opportunities for Carr to again finish as a borderline QB1 by the end of the season.

 Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1982-11-24   Age: 34
College: Harvard   Draft: 2005 Round 7 (36) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013TEN11217 350 2,454 14 12 43 225 3 219.2 19.9
2014HOU12197 312 2,483 17 8 49 188 2 223.0 18.6
2015NYJ16335 562 3,905 31 15 60 270 2 358.3 22.4
2016 (Projected)NYJ 322 536 3,751 27 16 65 255 2 333.1  

Outlook: After an arduous contract battle, Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the New York Jets and to the offensive coordinator who has helped guide his most successful seasons, Chan Gailey. Shockingly, Fitzpatrick is now the Jets’ record holder for touchdown passes in a single season (31), which doubles a career high. He also achieved a career high with 3,905 passing yards while showing some of that #FitzMagic by adding 270 yards and two scores with his 33 year-old legs. While his raw numbers looked fantastic the truth is he was lucky to escape with only 15 interceptions, as many potential INTs were dropped by opposing defenses. He also benefited from his wide receivers more than any quarterback in the league. The Amish Rifle would often put the ball into tight windows and allow Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker to use their size and strength advantages to come away with the reception.

While the Jets will face a far more difficult schedule this year, it’s unlikely that Fitz’ numbers will suffer all that much since he’ll still have Marshall and Decker to rely on and will add a healthy Jace Amaro and veteran running back Matt Forte to his arsenal of weapons in the passing game. Fitzpatrick has his limitations due to his weak arm but has mastered Gailey’s quarterback friendly system and knows that he can rely on his guys to make plays. Fantasy Football owners that like to take a QBBC approach should strongly consider Fitz in the later rounds, as his floor, barring injury, is fairly high given his team’s offensive system and skill position support.

 Tom Brady, NE (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1977-08-03   Age: 39
College: Michigan   Draft: 2000 Round 6 (33) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013NE16380 628 4,343 25 11 33 18 0 319.0 19.9
2014NE16374 583 4,109 33 9 36 57 0 343.2 21.4
2015NE16402 624 4,770 36 7 34 53 3 405.8 25.4
2016 (Projected)NE 305 476 3,667 26 6 26 39 1 297.3  

Outlook: Tom Brady is coming off one of his better statistical seasons throwing for 4,770 yards with 36 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. By now anyone playing fantasy football is probably well aware of the “Deflate-Gate” drama and the resulting four game suspension. Brady will be sitting the first four weeks, causing his draft stock to plummet which potentially makes him a value. Fantasy owners should be able to find adequate replacements for the first month of the season before bye week crunches hit. The 38 year-old veteran may be facing his football mortality but he’s adapted his style making him one of the highest floor, yet highest ceiling options at the position. His deep passing accuracy has declined in recent seasons but he’s mastered the short passing game where he takes advantage of Julian Edelman’s and Rob Gronkowski’s run after the catch abilities. This season he’ll welcome back a healthy Dion Lewis and also add hulking tight end Martellus Bennett into the mix which will leave opposing defense having to “pick their poison” making the Patriots’ offense even more dangerous. Fantasy owners are also likely well aware of the Patriots “scorched earth” mentality when they feel like they’ve been wronged by the league, so don’t expect Brady to remove his foot from the pedal even when the Pats have a big lead late in games. According to FFToday’s Consistency Calculator, Brady had more “elite” games (10 games over 25 FPts) than any other fantasy quarterback in 2015.

 Ryan Tannehill, MIA (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 221   DOB: 1988-07-27   Age: 28
College: Texas A&M   Draft: 2012 Round 1 (8) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013MIA16355 588 3,913 24 17 39 238 1 321.5 20.1
2014MIA16392 590 4,045 27 12 55 317 1 348.0 21.7
2015MIA16364 587 4,210 24 12 32 141 1 326.6 20.4
2016 (Projected)MIA 374 593 4,154 25 13 45 209 1 334.6  

Outlook: 2016 could be a make or break season for Ryan Tannehill. He hasn’t played that poorly over the course of his first four years as a starting quarterback in the league, however he hasn’t been overly impressive either. He’s shown poor footwork and pocket presence and has been unable to lead his team into the playoffs despite the Dolphins being among the “winners of the offseason” each year. Last season he completed 62% of his passes, accumulating 4,210 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air while tossing 12 interceptions. His career high in touchdown passes came in 2014 where he threw 27. Tannehill has shown above average mobility during his first three years in the league but last season only rushed for 141 yards after a career high 311 rushing yards in 2014. He has consistently failed to step up in big games which could ultimately be his downfall if he doesn’t lead the Dolphins to a playoff appearance in 2016. Tannehill has struggled with his deep accuracy in his young career, but he is coming off his best season in yards per attempt (7.2). On the plus side, the Dolphins hired former Broncos and Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be the team’s Head Coach, and Gase was largely responsible for resurrecting Jay Cutler’s career last season and orchestrated one of the best offenses in NFL history with Peyton Manning in Denver. Gase is expected to give Tannehill more freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage and is expected to have his team play at an up-tempo pace. Peyton reportedly worked with Tannelhill this spring in order to help teach him Gase’s offense, and that can only be viewed as a positive. Further, the Miami offensive line should see some improvement after using first round picks at the position during the last two years.

 Matthew Stafford, DET (Bye: 10)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 232   DOB: 1988-02-07   Age: 28
College: Georgia   Draft: 2009 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013DET16371 634 4,647 29 19 36 74 2 367.8 23.0
2014DET16363 602 4,247 22 12 43 93 2 321.7 20.1
2015DET16398 592 4,262 32 13 44 159 1 363.0 22.7
2016 (Projected)DET 365 570 4,159 25 16 30 68 1 320.8  

Outlook: Like Linus without his blanket, 2016 will be a big transition year for Matt Stafford as he begins his first NFL season without the security of recently retired Calvin Johnson. Teaming for several dozen touchdowns and thousands of yards over the past seven seasons, Stafford’s continued maturation as a quarterback will come without the aid of one of the all-time greatest receivers.

After getting off to a disastrous 1-7 start to the 2015 season, Stafford and the Lions’ offense was in shambles. He absorbed sack after sack, and the constant pressure led to just a 13-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. During the Week 9 bye week, Detroit made significant coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball. New coordinator Jim Bob Cooter changed the protection schemes, and worked to get the ball out of Stafford’s hands quicker. Everything clicked in a big way, as Stafford settled into a rhythm, throwing for 19 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions, leading the Lions to an impressive 6-2 finish to close out the year. Stafford finished 2015 with his highest career completion percentage (67%), and second-most touchdowns (32).

So, what do we make of Stafford’s 2016 prospects? Well, losing one of the most unstoppable receivers in NFL history certainly isn’t going to help. Gone from the offense are Megatron’s 88 receptions, 1200 yards, and 9 touchdowns, numbers that can’t be replaced by just newly signed Marvin Jones. Stafford is going to be forced to spread the ball more, a task easier said than done. A 6’5, 230-pound receiver covers up lots of mistakes, and Stafford is going to have to continue to mature as a pocket passer if the Lions and your fantasy team are going to benefit. Despite the solid finish to the year, I think Stafford regresses a bit as he and the offense adjust to the loss of Calvin, especially in the red zone. Back end QB1 status is where Stafford fits for me now, but this offense does have some potent potential, so he does provide a high ceiling.

 Andy Dalton, CIN (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1987-10-29   Age: 29
College: -   Draft: 2011 Round 2 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013CIN16363 586 4,296 33 20 61 183 2 377.1 23.6
2014CIN16310 483 3,398 19 17 60 169 4 286.8 17.9
2015CIN13255 386 3,250 25 7 58 141 3 294.6 22.7
2016 (Projected)CIN 311 494 3,755 24 11 56 157 3 317.5  

Outlook: With 25 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards passing in essentially only 12 games, Dalton turned out to be right on the cusp of QB1 status in 2015. Of course the year ended in embarrassing fashion for the Bengals, but it certainly wasn’t Dalton’s fault, as he missed the team’s final four regular season games, and their wildcard game with a broken thumb. In fact, Dalton was on pace for a very strong 4,000-plus yard, 30-plus touchdown season before going down, numbers than compare favorably with his elite 2013 season.

Before you get too excited and pencil Dalton in as a potential starter, there are a few things to consider. First, his pass catching options have been decimated, as Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu both left via free agency, and dominating tight end Tyler Eifert suffered an ankle injury that might cost him some regular season games. All-pro A.J. Green remains to dominate targets, but sloppy route-running, poor handed Brandon LaFell is the current No.2 option out wide. Also gone is the steady hand of former offensive coordinator Hugh Jackson. After ascending to the coordinator position in 2014, Jackson has helped guide Dalton’s development the past several years, so it could take some time for Dalton to adjust to a new voice in his ear. And finally, don’t overlook the potential improvement of the AFC North defenses. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland have overhauled their secondaries and should provide more resistance than the 90-plus quarterbacking rating all three defenses gave up last year.

If you couldn’t tell by now I’m pretty down on Dalton’s prospects this season. Sure, Eifert should be back to help out early in the year, but he’s already proven to be injury prone, and any additional missed time would be detrimental to the Red Rifle. Having Green to throw to will certainly open Dalton up to a few huge games, but he’s going to be too inconsonant overall to approach QB1 value again. Settle on Dalton as a high floor backup, and work from there.

 Matt Ryan, ATL (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1985-05-17   Age: 31
College: Boston College   Draft: 2008 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013ATL16439 651 4,515 26 17 17 55 0 335.3 21.0
2014ATL16415 628 4,694 28 14 29 145 0 361.2 22.6
2015ATL16407 614 4,591 21 16 37 63 0 319.9 20.0
2016 (Projected)ATL 384 572 4,236 25 15 41 78 0 319.6  

Outlook: Matt Ryan continues to be a good but not great fantasy quarterback. The problem is, he has been reaching his pedestrian fantasy output with the help of above average receiving targets and a completion percentage over 65 percent in each of the past four seasons. It is quite possible that we have already seen Ryan’s best fantasy season (2012) as he enters his ninth year at the helm of the Falcons’ offense. The yardage is right in line with the game’s top passers, yet his total number of 300-yard games has decreased in each of the past three years (he notched five in 2015). The down year (QB16) didn’t sit too well with Ryan because he made a point of holding his own camp this off-season to go over basic schemes and communication in the passing game to prepare for his second year in Kyle Shanahan’s system.

A glass half full fantasy owner will see an upgrade on the outside with Mohamed Sanu providing far more impact plays than Roddy White could in the twilight of his career. On the inside, the addition of center Alex Mack could prove to be a difference maker not only in the ground attack but in calling out pass protections. A few more passing touchdowns and status quo everywhere else seems to be the logical projection for Ryan in 2016. A lower ceiling than most of his peers will cause Ryan to slide down many preseason rankings, but he represents a more consistent option than most other fringe starting fantasy quarterbacks (Romo, Stafford, Tannehill).

 Marcus Mariota, TEN (Bye: 13)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 222   DOB: 1993-10-30   Age: 23
College: Oregon   Draft: 2015 Round 1 (2) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015TEN12230 371 2,818 19 10 34 252 2 254.1 21.2
2016 (Projected)TEN 312 487 3,652 22 12 53 313 3 319.9  

Outlook: Considering the lack of quality depth around him, Marcus Mariota had a good rookie year. The Titans have made it their goal to improve the supporting cast on offense and they’ve certainly made an effort at the running back position. The optimism is being fueled by the offense’s moniker of #ExoticSmashmouth and true battles are being played out at both the running back and wide receiver positions. The offensive line was helped by the No.8 pick in this year’s draft, Jack Conklin. He’s being deployed at right tackle while free agent acquisition Ben Jones is viewed as an upgrade at the Center position. On the outside, Tennessee added the dynamic Rishard Mathews to veteran Kendall Wright and developing Dorial Green-Beckham. The outlook for this trio is promising but somebody will need to step into a playmaking role in order for Mariota to emerge as a worthy fantasy starter. The improvements to the running game should also translate into more scoring drives and potentially less mistakes by the quarterback. As a result, it’s fair to project more consistency and a few more touchdowns out of Mariota’s sophomore campaign. Matt Cassel will take over for Matt Hasselbeck as the grizzled backup QB with diminishing skills. Cassel wasn’t very effective in eight games with Dallas last season and more of the same is to be expected if called upon this year.

 Alex Smith, KC (Bye: 5)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 217   DOB: 1984-05-07   Age: 32
College: Utah   Draft: 2005 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013KC15308 509 3,313 23 8 75 432 1 306.9 20.5
2014KC15302 463 3,268 18 6 50 254 1 266.8 17.8
2015KC16307 470 3,486 20 7 84 498 2 316.1 19.8
2016 (Projected)KC 308 482 3,469 23 7 73 386 1 310.1  

Outlook: After starting his career with one of the worst winning percentages in the league, Alex Smith has finally started to develop into one of the better game-managing, winning quarterbacks in with a 49-21-1 record over his last five seasons. Of course, those wins don’t mean much for fantasy owners, who likely have been taking a lot of losses if they’ve trusted Smith to be their starting quarterback in their season-long fantasy leagues. It’s not that Smith has been horrible – he just hasn’t been great. This past season, he threw for 3,486 yards and 20 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. The seven interceptions are elite among starting quarterbacks, but without many yards or touchdowns to go along with them, the fantasy points just aren’t there.

One thing to note, however, is that Smith’s rushing numbers (498 yds) were better than ever in 2015. He’s never been one of the elite runners at the quarterback position, but he’s certainly better than average, if for no other reason than that he’s willing to take off and pick up a first down with his legs – something that many other QB’s are simply not willing or able to do. This past season, Smith’s 84 attempts were nearly double the number of attempts that he had in 2014 when he ran the ball just 49 times on the season. It’s important to note that Smith might have been running a bit more often because Jamaal Charles was injured, but even that wouldn’t account for his high total. It appears as if the Chiefs are not overly concerned with Smith getting injured by running the ball, which definitely bodes well for his fantasy potential.

Still, Smith is not much more than a reliable QB2, bye week fill-in or short-term replacement for those who opt to take Tom Brady. The Chiefs simply don’t pass often enough for him to make a real push to be an elite fantasy quarterback and the best case scenario is that he finishes the season as a low-end QB1.

 Brock Osweiler, HOU (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’7”   Weight: 242   DOB: 1990-11-22   Age: 26
College: Arizona State   Draft: 2012 Round 2 (25) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013DEN211 16 95 0 0 3 2 0 5.0 2.5
2014DEN44 10 52 1 0 8 0 0 6.6 1.7
2015DEN8170 275 1,967 10 6 21 61 1 150.5 18.8
2016 (Projected)HOU 315 524 3,775 24 15 52 131 1 303.9  

Outlook: One of the most underrated elements of a team’s preseason and overall outlook for the year is the lack of a quarterback controversy. After scuffling with the quarterback situation a year ago, the team has an undisputed starting quarterback. Brock Osweiler has already impressed the coaching staff and his noted work ethic makes the burden of learning a new offense a clearable hurdle. Having DeAndre Hopkins split out wide makes life much easier and having a sturdy running back will keep defenses more honest. Unfortunately, Houston remains a run-heavy team and Osweiler won’t be asked to win games through the air thereby limiting his passing yardage to a league average level. Considering the team is better equipped to punch the ball into the end zone via the ground and doesn’t possess multiple quality red zone targets, Osweiler’s touchdown potential also takes a hit. Five times last season a Texans’ quarterback finished as a QB1 (top 12), and never higher than QB6 for the week… seems about right. He may provide a nice game or two if Hopkins gets loose, but more often than not, Houston’s new signal caller will fail to be anything more than an average backup to use a few times during the fantasy season.

 Jay Cutler, CHI (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1983-04-29   Age: 33
College: Vanderbilt   Draft: 2006 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013CHI11225 356 2,619 19 12 23 118 0 218.8 19.9
2014CHI15370 561 3,812 28 18 38 198 2 334.4 22.3
2015CHI15311 483 3,659 21 11 38 201 1 293.1 19.5
2016 (Projected)CHI 331 525 3,731 23 15 41 185 1 303.1  

Outlook: I don’t think there is any doubt that Cutler has improved his quality of play at the quarterback position over the last two years, but will the fallout of having his 3rd offensive coordinator in three seasons leave him in a dire fantasy position?

Under Marc Tressman in 2014 Cutler threw for a career high 28 touchdowns, but those also came along with 18 interceptions, many of them being the ugly variety. With Tressman getting the boot, new head boss John Fox brought in Adam Gase to reign in Cutler and remake the offense into a more balanced, run influenced approach. Gase did what many thought was impossible, getting Cutler to play within the framework of the game plan, and less on sandlot football. The result was fantastic for the team, as Chicago went from turning the ball over the sixth-most times (29) in the league in 2014 to turning it over the 18th-most (21). Cutler led the offense to a respectable 18th overall finish, and this was without dynamic rookie Kevin White, who missed the season with a leg injury, and Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery who missed seven games. Despite all the missing pieces, Cutler didn’t force throws, and had only one multi-interception game, the Week 17 loss to the Lions.

Even with Adam Gase moving on to be the head coach for the Dolphins, Cutler will enjoy some continuity as his former QB coach Dowell Loggains slides into the coordinator role. This is a huge positive for Cutler, as is the healthy return of Jeffery, White and slot man Eddie Royal. I feel like Cutler is being overlooked, and can envision a 25-28 touchdown season, and a push for 4,000 yards. If he can continue to keep the turnovers in check, and most importantly stay healthy, Cutler could have sneaky low end QB1 value, or at the very least be a solid QB2 that you wouldn’t feel bad about starting a few games. He could be worth a look for Brady owners, as Cutler faces the Texans, Eagles, Cowboys and Lions to start the year.