News is rolling in from OTA's but it is still the offseason, so most of our thoughts about fantasy are still baking the oven. There's a lot swirling around Bloom's head these days, but I'll attempt to dump it all out so you can see what is going into my under construction rankings and draft strategy as we head into June.
SPLITS OR "You Get Shown The Light If You Look At It Right"
- Aaron Rodgers was far and away the #1 fantasy quarterback after the Packers centered the offense around him vs. the Bears in Week 7. His finishes were #3, #2, #2, #2, #1, #6, #13, #3, #16, #1.
- Russell Wilson was the #3 quarterback from Week 9 on, after head coach Pete Carroll decided to “turn him loose” after a loss to the Saints. The team had been conservative with him because of an early season leg injury. His finishes were #3, #4, #5, #30, #11, #27, #5, #2.
- Andy Dalton was the #13 quarterback or better in six of eight starts with AJ Green from beginning to end. He only had a healthy Green and Tyler Eifert for two games.
- Marcus Mariota was the #3 fantasy quarterback from Weeks 5-12 before tangling with the Broncos and Chiefs defenses and then getting hurt in Week 16.
- Derek Carr was good enough to be the #6 quarterback on a points per game basis last year if you don’t count his duds against the Chiefs and Broncos. He doesn’t get to duck them in Week 17 this year. If you’re looking for a quarterback to pair with Carr, Andy Dalton gets Cleveland in two of the weeks that Carr draws Kansas City or Denver (4, 7, 12 and 14) and Pittsburgh/Chicago in the other two. Ryan Tannehill gets the Saints, Jets, and Patriots times two in those weeks.
- Philip Rivers wasn’t as bad as Carr vs. those defenses, but three of his worst six games came against them. He gets Kansas City and Denver in Weeks 1, 3, 7 and 15. Carson Palmer gets Detroit, Dallas, the Rams and Washington those weeks.
- Cam Newton had as many games with at least 25 rushing yards before his concussion as he did after. He also had two of his five rushing touchdowns in those four pre-concussion games.
- Tom Brady with a healthy Rob Gronkowski (Weeks 5-8) would have been far and away the #1 fantasy quarterback last year.
On the Way Up?
- Tyrod Taylor is no longer under Rex Ryan and his low passing attempt thumb, but only has one proven target in Sammy Watkins, and one that can’t stay healthy. It’s not a sure thing that he finishes the year as the starter either.
- Ryan Tannehill could grow with a DeVante Parker breakout and the addition of Julius Thomas in the red zone.
- Brian Hoyer had seven multi-touchdown games despite only playing in 11 games in 2015. There could be more fantasy value there at quarterback in Houston than Brock Osweiler showed us last year. Hoyer is a name to remember in superflex and 2QB leagues now that he's reunited with Kyle Shanahan
- Andrew Luck had surgery to correct a shoulder injury that had bothered him since 2015.
- Andy Dalton added John Ross and Joe Mixon to an offense that already had one of the best wide receivers and receiving tight ends.
- Ben Roethlisberger will get Martavis Bryant back after missing Le'Veon Bell for three games and only having Ladarius Green for parts of six games and a healthy Sammie Coates Jr for five games.
- Philip Rivers will get Keenan Allen back after only having a healthy Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams for a little over half of the season.
- Carson Wentz had over 600 attempts last year but struggled to maintain fantasy relevance in even the deepest of leagues. This year, he gains Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
- Eli Manning added Brandon Marshall and first-round tight end Evan Engram, more receiving weapon than two-way player.
- Jameis Winston added DeSean Jackson and the team drafted strong two-way tight end OJ Howard in the first round.
- Russell Wilson should get a healthy Tyler Lockett back this year, and Jimmy Graham should be better one year removed from a catastrophic knee injury.
On the Way Down?
- The Jaguars should be more competitive on defense and rely on their running game on offense, lowering Blake Bortles’ weekly ceiling and floor.
- Andy Dalton’s offensive line is probably one of the league’s worst and will likely expose him to a lot of hits. He is also one of the weaker quarterbacks in the league when playing outside of structure.
- Kirk Cousins lost his two starting wide receivers and his offensive coordinator. The team did add Terrelle Pryor and both Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed could (should?) be healthier this year.
- Matt Ryan lost offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Most Likely Quarterbacks to be Replaced by Season’s End
Most Likely Quarterbacks to Miss Time With Injury
Ups and Downs
- Matt Ryan gets New Orleans twice in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 and 16), but also has to go to Tampa Bay in Week 15 and has at Seattle followed by home games vs Minnesota and Tampa Weeks 11-13.
- After an advantageous open of Week 1 and 2 against Dallas and Detroit, Eli Manning will have to travel to Philadelphia and Tampa, then face the Chargers, go to Denver, and square off against Seattle before his Week 8 bye. Count on him as your only quarterback at your own risk.
- Ben Roethlisberger’s frustrating home/road splits could test those that draft him with three road games in the first four weeks. At least two of them are Cleveland (Week 1) and Chicago (Week 3). Three of his last four games are out of the elements (Indianapolis, Detroit and Houston), and he has four home games between Weeks 11-15.
Quarterback Controversy Ahead?
- Tyrod Taylor opens at home against the Jets, then faces Carolina, Denver, Atlanta, and Cincinnati before the Bills Week 6 bye, with only Denver coming at home. If the Bills are 1-4 after that stretch, a quarterback switch might be on the table during the bye.
- Chicago opens with Atlanta, at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, at Green Bay, and Minnesota. Consider the Mitchell Trubisky watch on if he doesn’t outright win the job in the preseason, as the Bears could easily go 0-5 to open the season.
- If the Jets make a quarterback switch in their Week 11 bye, the new starter will face Carolina, Kansas City and Denver as their first three starts. Good Luck.
- After a rough 2016, Cam Newton opens with two defenses undergoing major changes - San Francisco and Buffalo - and then gets the Saints in Carolina. He should get off on the right foot after offseason shoulder surgery.
- The schedule makers did Sean McVay a solid, as his team opens with Indianapolis, Washington, San Francisco, and Dallas, giving Jared Goff a real chance to build some momentum heading into a brutal six-game run of Seattle, Jacksonville, Arizona, (BYE), the Giants, Houston, and Minnesota.
- Russell Wilson faces three secondaries with a lot of transition at corner this year to open - Green Bay, San Francisco, and Tennessee, and then he will be able to pick on the #2 corners for Indianapolis and the Rams in Weeks 4 and 5.
- Dak Prescott opens with a Giants defense that gave him trouble last year and then goes to Denver and Arizona. He could be an excellent buy low candidate by October and perhaps he should be paired up with a quarterback that has an easier first three weeks like Palmer.
- Detroit opens with Arizona, at the Giants, Atlanta, at Minnesota, and Carolina. Their offense isn’t the most potent, so this present rough seas early in the voyage for anyone who drafts Matthew Stafford.
- The Chargers open at Denver and then go through a stretch of Miami, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and at the Giants that includes no pushovers. The end of the fantasy season is almost the inverse, with only Week 15 at Kansas City presenting a stumbling block in a sequence of Dallas, Cleveland, Washington in Weeks 12-14 and at the Jets in Week 16.
- Marcus Mariota opens with an Oakland defense that frustrated him last year, then has to travel to Jacksonville, then comes home to face Seattle, and closes the first quarter of the season with a trip to Houston, who shut him down in Week 4 last year.
- Miami draws Denver in Week 13, travels to Buffalo in Week 15 (which has never been a fun trip for Ryan Tannehill), and then has to go to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 16.
- Starting in Week 12, Derek Carr faces Denver and the Giants at home, travels to Kansas City, then gets a breather against the Dallas, before heading to Philadelphia in Week 16.
- Kirk Cousins second half of the season might not make Washington’s decision on what to do with him in the long term any easier. Week 9 he travels to Seattle, then comes home to face Minnesota, before an easier matchup at New Orleans in Week 11. Week 12’s matchup against the Giants could be rough, but Week 13 against Dallas promises to be easier before he faces the Chargers, Cardinals, and Broncos lethal combinations of pass rushers and ballhawking defensive backs in the fantasy playoffs.
- If you wanted a reason to target Drew Brees, New Orleans is indoors for Weeks 13-16 and faces Carolina, Atlanta (road), the Jets, and Atlanta.
- Except for the potential brick wall at Carolina in Week 16, Jameis Winston will have smooth seas for the Pirate Ship in the second half of the season. From Week 9 on he has at New Orleans, the Jets, a bye, at Atlanta, at Green Bay, Detroit, and Atlanta. The only downside is that most fantasy owners will miss his Week 17 game vs New Orleans at home.
A Draft Plan For Everyone
If you don’t mind taking the first quarterback off of the board: Aaron Rodgers in second or third round
Rodgers provided the kind of weekly upside that gives teams an unfair advantage at quarterback after Week 7 last year and the team did little to make us think they will change that approach and revert to the more balanced offense they had with Eddie Lacy in the past.
If you don’t mind taking a quarterback early, but don’t want to be the first: Andrew Luck in the fifth round
Luck has been a consistent top five fantasy quarterback when he has been at least somewhat healthy and he should be as healthy as he has been in three years entering 2017.
If you don’t mind taking one of the top ten quarterbacks but want to be one of the last teams to take one: Russell Wilson in the seventh round
As long as Wilson doesn’t get hurt again this year, he should provide top five scoring at a major discount. This would be my plan A going into drafts unless Rodgers falls too far.
If you want to draft one quarterback outside of the top ten and stick with him except in his bye week: Marcus Mariota in the ninth round
Mariota has an easier schedule and better targets this year.
All of these quarterbacks have reasons for optimism in 2017.
If you like to stream quarterbacks and spend as little as possible on the position: Carson Palmer in the 13th or later
Palmer will open the season with Detroit, Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco. Sam Bradford opens with New Orleans and Pittsburgh if you miss on Palmer. As long as he is named Week 1 starter, Deshaun Watson also fits this plan until teams get a good book on him in Bill O’Brien’s offense.