Buy Low, Sell High: Pre-Free Agency QBs

A look at quarterbacks to buy low and sell high on before free agency

The offseason is officially here, which means trade desks are open in dynasty leagues. During the season we live week to week and often lose the big picture. After the season, we can too swayed by narrative or the most memorable stretches of the previous campaign and lose the big picture. This is a great time to take advantage of gaps between perception and reality of long term dynasty values.

Buy Low 

Matthew Stafford, DET - Stafford (and Detroit’s) 2015 was widely seen as a failure, but in reality the arrow is pointing up for the Lions offense and their quarterback, even if Calvin Johnson does retire. Stafford was a top 10 fantasy quarterback after Jim Bob Cooter became offensive coordinator, and if you don’t count the debut debacle in London and only include games after the bye, Stafford was a top six quarterback. Stafford just turned 28, and he still has room for growth even without Johnson, who was only sporadically playing like his old self during that stretch.

Drew Brees, NO - Brees was actually a top five fantasy quarterback last year, and that’s while he was playing through a shoulder injury and getting used to life without Jimmy Graham. Talk of the Saints moving on from him and Sean Payton has subsided, and as players like Willie Snead IV and Brandon Coleman improve and mature, Brees should only get more comfortable. While Peyton Manning has reminded us that the clock can strike midnight at any time, but until then Brees will still be one of the few everyweek set it and forget it options at quarterback in fantasy leagues.

Jay Cutler, CHI - Cutler’s 2015 is mediocre at best from a fantasy perspective, but that outcome masks that he found his comfort zone and played some of the best football of his career. Change will surely come with Adam Gase now in Miami, but new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was Cutler’s hand-picked quarterback coach. Alshon Jeffery should surely be back on a franchise tag at worst, and he was barely healthy last year. The best stretch of health for the big receiver was Weeks 6-10, when Cutler was a top 10 fantasy option. The return of Kevin White will only help Cutler knock on the door of the QB1 ranks this season.

Teddy Bridgewater, MIN - How bad was Bridgewater’s 2015 for fantasy? He didn’t even rank among the top 30 quarterbacks on a points per game basis in most systems. Bridgewater shouldn’t be held completely responsible for this, as the offense was hyperconservative, limiting him to 447 attempts, the fewest of any quarterback that played in all 16 games. When Bridgewater did have over 30 attempts in a game during 2015, he was solid, save for the opening Monday night disaster in Santa Clara. In the other five games with at least 31 attempts, Bridgewater had around 20 points or more in a standard scoring system in four of them, including a game against the vaunted Broncos defense. We saw Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger brought along slowly before settling in as a QB1 for fantasy and Bridgewater is likely on a similar path.

Sell High

Marcus Mariota, TEN - Mariota came out of the gate hot and was a much bigger fantasy factor than expected. When you factor in his lack of weapons at wide receiver and relatively low running game usage, Mariota clearly has upside to spare. A good stretch as a QB1 in probably in his future. That being said, quarterback is still the easiest position to “punt” at and still win your league. The relatively cheap cost of replacement level quarterback production makes “withdrawing” from your quarterback capital and re-investing it elsewhere a good move during the offseason. Mariota is one of the more likely young quarterbacks to draw interest in the offseason dynasty trade market.

Jameis Winston, TB - Winston was already a low QB1 from Weeks 11-16, so his dynasty value is established as the top young quarterback to own after Newton, Luck, Wilson, and Rodgers. That’s exactly why you should be open to trading him. Often going in the mid or late second last year, if you can get a first for Winston now, do it.

Blake Bortles, JAX - Most people would not be surprised to learn that Bortles scored over one-quarter (9 of 35) touchdowns when the team was down by more than a score, he was the most efficient when he down big, and he only piloted the team to three touchdowns when they were ahead and three when the game was tied. He was a massive beneficiary of game script. Bortles does have good receivers and the Jaguars aren’t likely to execute a massive turnaround in 2016, but the raw numbers, age, and supporting cast still give Bortles trade value in the offseason. Be willing to deal him at market value.

Derek Carr, OAK - Carr had a prodigious run of three games with eleven touchdowns in Weeks 7-9, but that was still only good enough to propel him to mid QB2 numbers. Carr has a good foundation in the Bill Musgrave offense with a developing Amari Cooper (and Clive Walford and Seth Roberts) and a signed-for-the-long-term Michael Crabtree, and that plus age should be enough to create more trade value than he should have at a devalued position.

Matt Ryan, ATL - Going into last year, Ryan was considered part of the mass of low QB1/high QB2 types that make it easy to wait on quarterback in redraft leagues and get away with it. He was a disaster in 2015, performing roughly on the level of Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, and Blaine Gabbert as a fantasy quarterback. Help is not really on the way, and Ryan should be treated as mere depth at this point. Deal him for anything of value.

Brock Osweiler, DEN - Osweiler is probably just a throw-in at this point, but in leagues with two starters or a superflex, he could still be coveted. He will get a chance to start in 2016 and likely choose his team based on that opportunity. Denver would be the best destination, but we’ve already seen that the system will limit his value. His value may never be higher, even though it’s not much right now.