Pick-a-Player: Brees, Cousins, Newton - Footballguys

Footballguys staff and Facebook answer a dilemma at the 7.10 spot

The premise of a Pick-a-Player question is as follows:

  • You need a player at that position and all three are available.
  • The draft is at a stage where these players are usually drafted, and none of their bye weeks are duplicated on your current roster.

We ask two groups of people: the Footballguys staff, and the great people following the Footballguys Facebook page. If you'd like to answer a future Pick-a-Player question, there are still some open ones on our page. Plus, there is a lot of other content there as well. Like and Follow us, and you can join the great discussions taking place every day.

In this case, it is a PPR league, and you are up at Pick 7.10. Would you take Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, or Cam Newton? Or would you pass on all three?

The Results

And the winner is a split. See the percentages below.

Group
Percentage Picking...
Brees
Cousins
Newton
None of the Three
Footballguys Staff
9.1%
9.1%
45.5%
36.4%
Footballguys Facebook
30.8%
19.2%
23.1%
26.9%

The Reasons (from the Staff)

Jason Wood: I'm fine with any of this trio as my starting quarterback, but Brees is on the bottom. Brees' pass attempts and touchdown passes plummeted last year and fantasy managers are treating it like an anomaly. It wasn't. Sean Payton remembered how well the Saints ran the ball in their lone Super Bowl year, and finally went back to a run-heavy attack. Brees completed an astounding 70% of his passes last year and was hyper-efficient, but his days of 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns are gone.

Cousins is my favorite of this group, and someone I've been targeting. What Cousins did in a less-than-enviable situation in Washington bodes well for his career in Minnesota. He's got a better coaching staff, better receivers, a healthier tight end, and a stadium ideally suited to any weather conditions.

I would draft Newton over Brees, but he scares me because his play regressed last year as a passer, and he was never particularly good at throwing the ball to begin with. While his rushing ability should be enough for another QB1 season, it's worth noting new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has never had a successful rushing quarterback under his watch. It's probably a non-issue, but we can't completely discount the risk.

Daniel Simpkins: I am fine with taking any of these three here, but given the choice, I would take Newton over Brees and Brees over Cousins. I am confident that no matter what the coaching staff says, Cam Newton will not change his playing style and get a fair share of rushing touchdowns. While I know his career is winding to a close, I don't believe this is the year that massive decline will hit for Drew Brees. Even in a down year, he managed to finish within the top ten quarterbacks. Passing touchdowns are variable from year to year, so I could see some positive regression for Brees as teams key on stopping Alvin Kamara. I'm not a huge Cousins fan in terms of his talent, but I think the receiving group in Minnesota can keep him producing.

Chad Parsons: I am more likely to take my first quarterback at 14.10 than 7.10 in a stock start-one format. The potential No.1 receivers are preferred in this range and even some running backs on uncertain depth charts reside here. If taking a quarterback, I would go Cam Newton as his weapons are improving (Greg Olsen back healthy, Devin Funchess coming off his best season, D.J. Moore drafted Round 1) and he offers NFL-leading rushing upside for the position.

Will Grant: This year the gap between the top tier quarterbacks is pretty small. The difference between No. 1 and No. 6 is less than two points per fantasy game. That screams QBBC to me which means I'm passing on all three at 7.10. I'll look to grab two lower-tier quarterbacks later in the draft and look start the guy with the highest weekly projection to make up the difference.

Matt Waldman: I think several receivers in the range of Rounds 3-6 are overvalued this year. It has me thinking twice about considering quarterbacks earlier than I have in many years, especially because the trend to wait is past its tipping point of popularity. There's reason to fear that the quarterback run will be a feeding frenzy that can take a fantasy GM off his draft plan.

If you look at the variety of paths your draft might take, you should simulate that quarterback frenzy and see how it shakes out for you. If you find that it could get too volatile for your liking, going early at quarterback could be the answer.

While Cousins was productive last year at a level that he established a fantasy tier between himself and those below him, it was with a different team. New receivers to a system aren't as big of a deal if they have a veteran quarterback to acclimate them. This situation is just enough of a gamble that I'm knocking him out of the conversation.

Newton remains in the same system despite the addition of Norv Turner, but he gets a stickler of a personality coaching the scheme and other than Greg Olsen, his receivers are young and unproven. Funchess took steps last year and I was impressed with him, but he's not a primary guy the way we want to define it in fantasy football.

I'll stick with Brees if one thing develops as I hope (see below). Considering that he didn't have a quality tight end, Ted Ginn Jr, and Michael Thomas, Brees performed well. Ginn is not an all-around talent whose route tree is unpredictable. Thomas is good but the Saints need more talent around him. Ben Watson performed well after rehabbing an Achilles injury and returns to a system where he was a Pro Bowl option three years ago. He's a freakish athlete despite his age. The real difference between Brees and Newton will be the health of Cam Meredith. If Meredith is ready, he'll take a lot of pressure off the other receivers. If he's not, I may lean towards Newton.

Ryan Hester: This is really easy; the answer is none of the above. In a league that starts one quarterback, there's no reason to use a pick here on a quarterback when there are so many viable options still remaining. Other players being drafted in this area include Julian Edelman, Pierre Garcon, Corey Davis, Chris Thompson, Robert Woods, Duke Johnson Jr, Cooper Kupp, Rex Burkhead, and more.

While those players may not outscore the quarterback trio on a gross points basis, they play more valuable fantasy football positions. Multiple running backs and receivers are required for each week's starting lineup, making depth at those positions important.

I'd prefer any of those players listed above to any of the quarterbacks in this range. A player I mentioned above with a quarterback four or five rounds later would be a better duo than a quarterback here and a flex-eligible player four or five rounds later.

Bob Henry: I'm looking at this in two ways. First, at 7.10 I'm also passing on all three and the only one I'd even tease at that spot is Newton. Like others have expressed already and I am passing on all three at that spot. If I'm building a strategy and picking between these three then I'm more likely to target Cam if he falls into the 8th round or later.

All three have worthy ceilings, but Newton easily has the safest and highest floor with his rushing contributions, the addition of D.J. Moore, a viable deep threat in Torrey Smith and the return of Greg Olsen.

With about 15 MFL10s under my belt, I haven't selected Kirk Cousins once. I'm not even sure he's an upgrade for the Vikings from what Case Keenum did for them last year. That said, there's no question he has an excellent supporting cast but with the depth of talent and lack of separation among the top 18 quarterbacks, there's no reason to chase Cousins' inflated ADP.

I'm probably not touching Brees either unless I have picks at the turn and grab some combination of QB1+Brees. With a vastly improved defense and running game, he's unlikely to return to the years where his volume and efficiency carried him to numerous top-five finishes. The efficiency remains, but unless his touchdown efficiency spikes above his career norms, he's unlikely to be a top-five quarterback again. In fact, he's more likely to be in the 10 to 15 range with a price tag driven by his previous volume and some expectations that will be the case again.

Phil Alexander: The answer here for both floor and ceiling is Cam Newton.

He has finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in five of his seven seasons as a pro. In the two years he failed to post top-five numbers, he was either playing through severe ankle, chest, and back issues (2014) or a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery (2016).

Newton proved last year by setting a career-high in rush attempts (139) he's more willing to run than ever and he enters this season with an improved supporting cast. His top target, Greg Olsen, is returning healthy after missing nine games last year. First-round pick D.J. Moore has after-the-catch ability the Panthers were sorely lacking in 2017. Torrey Smith is no great shakes, but he can still do a passable Ted Ginn Jr impersonation on deep routes. And the backfield combo of Christian McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson is one of the best in the league.

It wouldn't be shocking in the least to see Newton finish as the overall QB1. The same can't be said of Brees or Cousins with a straight face.

Justin Howe: Newton is the play here, with a similar flow to the other two but more of a realistic ceiling. Cousins is on the bottom, but only due to being on a new team. He's got strong upside in his own right.

But generally speaking, this question is entirely about value, and which of the three falls farthest. One of them will tumble into Round 8 or 9, and that one is the correct answer.

Andy Hicks: If I had to take one guy it would be Cam Newton, but this is not where I would be looking at a quarterback unless he is called Aaron Rodgers.

The New Orleans Saints are transitioning very carefully away from relying on Drew Brees by investing in the running game and defense. He could regress significantly at this stage of his career.

There will be no quarterback under more pressure this year than Kirk Cousins. All the pieces are in place for a Super Bowl run in Minnesota. His game will be picked apart and any failure on his part will be magnified. I would be very wary of relying on him to anchor my fantasy team.

Cam Newton isn't a sure thing given the change in offensive coordinator, the advancing age of Greg Olsen and Generally shaky receiving group. Newton has proven he is a very good fantasy quarterback if things roll his way through.

Ultimately I would use this pick elsewhere unless I felt very good about my first six picks.