Drew Brees is coming off his worst fantasy
season since 2005. Should you trust him in 2018?
If you are very old, like me, you may remember a game show from
the 1950s starring Johnny Carson called “Who do you trust?”
In fact, it was on this show that emcee Carson was first teamed
with announcer Ed McMahon. But I digress. It was a question and
answer quiz show.
For the 2018 version of who do you trust, it’s a question
of whether you “trust” these players for the upcoming
season. Today’s episode will cover quarterbacks. No rookies
are on the list, because all rookies are suspects with potential
and therefore, by definition, can’t be trusted.
Rodgers, Green Bay (FFToday Preseason Rank 1) – I trust
Rodgers and his No. 1 receiver Davante Adams. I trust new tight
end Jimmy Graham will score red zone touchdowns. He’s the safest
pick based on past performance, though he has missed significant
time in two of the last five seasons.
Newton, Carolina (Rank 4) – I trust Can Newton’s legs,
but I do not have faith in his right arm. I trust tight end Greg
Olsen, but don’t trust the Panthers receiving corps led by Devin
Funchess, Torrey Smith and rookie D.J. Moore. I also don’t trust
OC Mike Shula to fix the passing game.
Brees, New Orleans (Rank 5) – I don’t trust Brees to
be elite anymore. Good … absolutely, but he is elite no longer.
The Saints found success as a run-first team behind Mark Ingram
and Alvin Kamara and despite the upcoming four-game suspension
to Ingram they will again be a balanced team. Here is a note that
I’m sure Sean Payton has seen – In the only two seasons since
2008 that Brees threw for less than 4,500 yards, the team won
the Super Bowl once (2009) and should have at least played in
the NFL Championship game the other (2017). The new mantra in
New Orleans should be balance is good, 600+ passing attempts bad.
That’s good for the Saints win total, but bad for Brees’ fantasy
Winston, Tampa Bay (Rank 8) – Winston’s progression
from rookie season to sophomore season was solid, but in Year
3 his game took a nosedive. He certainly had the weapons; Mike
Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. The team
added RB Ronald Jones on offense, but he probably won’t help the
passing game. I’m not ready to trust Winston until he can post
at least one 4,500-yard, 30+ TD season. And what happened to the
QB who rushed for six touchdowns as a rookie?
Watson, Houston (Rank 10) – In the seven games he played
(six as a starter) I saw enough to make me trust him. As soon
as they tell me he’s 100%, I’m all in. He’s a younger Russell
Wilson with possibly the best receiver in the game (DeAndre Hopkins).
Mahomes, Kansas City (Rank 11) – How can you trust
a guy who has started just one game, in Week 17, which meant nothing
to either team? Surprisingly, I like him to be a breakout player
in 2018 because the Chiefs have so many dangerous weapons; Travis
Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt. Trust no, but
he’s going to be a high-risk, high-reward selection.
Cousins, Minnesota (Rank 13) – Cousins, who has never
led an NFL team to 10 wins in a season, will join the most talented
team of his career. They have very good receiving options (Stefon
Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph) along with a running back
in Dalvin Cook, who can also catch the ball. But with their great
defense, they won’t have to play much catch up and probably won’t
need a lot of points to win games. Under HC Mike Zimmer, the Vikings
have never thrown the ball 600 times and, in fact, have only thrown
530+ times once in four years. Minnesota might win 13+ games with
Cousins, but I don’t trust him to be any better than a low-end
Tannehill, Miami (Rank 15) – I don’t trust Tannehill
at all, either from injury or a production point of view. He missed
the end of 2016 due to injury and all of 2017. I don’t trust the
receiving corps, though they do have a little talent (DeVante
Parker, Kenny Stills Danny Amendola) and I think the offense will
feature running back Kenyan Drake.
Prescott, Dallas (Rank 16) – I don’t trust Prescott.
Who will he throw to? No Dez Bryant. No Jason Witten. He has newcomers
Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup, but this team will try
to dominate on the ground behind Ezekiel Elliott and the big offensive
Goff, LA Rams (Rank 17) – His turnaround from rookie
season (1,089 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs) to sophomore year (3,809 yards
28 TDs, 7 INTs) was stunning. But this team is still led by its
defense and the running of Todd Gurley. Replacing Sammy Watkins
with Brandin Cooks is a plus and Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp
make for a potent offense. Goff will have some big games, but
like Cousins he probably won’t need to force the issue very often.
He’s a low-end fantasy starter who probably works better in a
week-to-week situation … perhaps with Cousins.
Garoppolo, San Francisco (Rank 18) – He jump started
a moribund franchise winning the last five games of the season.
Garoppolo QB rating was 96.2. Still, are you excited about a receiving
group led by Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, rookie Dante Pettis
and George Kettle? Jerick McKinnon will catch more passes than
Carlos Hyde, but I’m concerned that with an offseason, defenses
will catch up to him. I trust him to have a high floor, but unfortunately
a low ceiling.
Keenum, Denver (Rank 21) – Keenum posted “career year”
numbers in 2017, though they were still just pedestrian by fantasy
league standards (19.2 FPts/G). That was 20th among all quarterbacks.
His new receiving corps is not any better, or worse, than the
one he left, so what reason is there to believe he’ll continue
to improve his fantasy value? I trust him to be a viable fill-in
for bye weeks and injuries, but not as an every week starter.
Wentz, Philadelphia (Rank 23) – Wentz’ MVP-type season
was derailed by an ACL injury in Week 14 against the Rams, but
as of the first week in June he is already participating in 7-on-7
drills. He should be ready for Week 1, just 267 days after surgery.
The Eagles running game is weaker with the loss of LeGarrette
Blount and will rely more on the quarterback and receivers. I
trust Wentz to play to elite standards once he’s inserted into
Manning, New York Giants (Rank 24) – Manning should
be much improved this season. The Giants addressed one huge need
with the signing of LT Nate Solder and drafting of LG Will Hernandez.
That was to fix the OL and keep Eli upright. Then they selected
the best RB in the draft - Saquon Barkley. The return of Odell
Beckham Jr. from injury and improvements from youngsters Sterling
Shepard and Evan Engram, could make the Giants offense very potent.
Barkley’s ability to catch passes will help too and I trust Manning
to return to a point where you can play him at least half of the
16 weeks thanks to a last-place schedule.
Carr, Oakland (Rank 25) – Carr suffered a back injury
in Week 4 of 2017 and probably never returned to full health.
Meanwhile, the starting receivers dropped more passes than they
should have. Michael Crabtree is gone, replaced by Jordy Nelson
which is good, but most concerning appears to be new HC Jon Gruden’s
plans to play “old school” football. He added Doug Martin to Marshawn
Lynch. Gruden signed a free agent fullback! I thought fullbacks
were extinct, like the dinosaur and truth in politics. I expect
a bounce back season from last year’s disaster, but he’s not a
starting fantasy option. No, I don’t trust Carr.
Trubisky, Chicago (Rank 27) – I didn’t see a lot in
12 games last season that said “I’m a top NFL quarterback.” His
receiving corps was a shambles, however. Tight end Adam Shaheen
(it’s OK to say who) led the Bears with three touchdown catches.
Kendall Wright led the team in targets (91), receptions (59) and
yards (614) and is probably a third or fourth receiver on most
teams. While the team addressed the needs by adding Allen Robinson,
Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller, I don’t believe that
Trubisky is ready to use his new weapons. I don’t trust Trubisky.
Bradford, Arizona (Rank 30) – OK, this one was just
in here for humor. The only thing you can trust here is that he
WILL hurt one of his knees at some point in time either during
OTAs, training camp, pre-season or early on in the regular season
and Josh Rosen will get a chance to start.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.