Offseason moves don’t ripple into fantasy value changes nearly as instantly as inseason developments, but they will ripple to the surface in time. Like castles made of sand, our dynasty rankings will be washed into the sea eventually by free agent moves and the draft, but it’s always good to have some place to start when we set out capture the effect of the all of the plate tectonics in motion that will we experience before the 2016 season launches.
1. Cam Newton, CAR - What will he do for an encore? Now that Newton has transcended Riverboat Ron and one of the most underwhelming wide receiver corps in the league to produce truly elite fantasy value again, the only question is how high is too high to take him in 2016 redrafts?
LOW QB1 WITH CAREER UPSIDE
Neither one had nearly as many shaky moments as expected in their first season, and Mariota in particular overcame some tough offensive circumstances to actually create fantasy relevance as a rookie quarterback. Neither is a set it and forget it everyweek starter (yet), but with many of the names on that list in their 30s, the second-year ascendant starters are as good as it gets outside of the top five in dynasty leagues.
SOLID QB1 BUT CLOCK IS TICKING
Peyton Manning reminded us that all good quarterbacks must come to an end, but none this group have had neck surgery as serious as Peyton’s, and they all have arrows pointing up for 2016. Roethlisberger didn’t get to play with a full arsenal all season, Brady’s offensive line disintegrated, Brees struggled early in 2015 with a shoulder injury, and Palmer should be even better with a full year of David Johnson as the lead back. They are all great “win now” targets.
QB1 WITH UPSIDE IN THEORY
Dalton, Bortles, Carr, and Cousins were viable fantasy quarterbacks for good stretches of 2015. Whether they will stay there long term, or even grow from that place is not a sure thing, but the arrows point up for the group based on offensive design, supporting cast, or both.
Right now, Tannehill and Bridgewater are risky quarterbacks to play in any given week, but Tannehill is paired with Adam Gase and Bridgewater should get more opportunity to have the offense right through him as he develops.
You know what you have with this group, and you can easily get by with a couple of them if you have to. None will approach mid-high QB1 over an entire season, but they’ll do in a pinch and could get hot for multiple games at any point in 2016. Cutler in particular could be a surprise if Alshon Jeffery returns and Kevin White looks like he did in 2014 at West Virginia.
DUAL THREAT ON SHAKY GROUND
Taylor greatly exceeded expectations in 2015, Kaepernick greatly underperformed. Both are in prove it years, and both should get enough running attempts to be at least a viable streamer in 2016. On the other hand, either could lose their job by the end of the season the competition on the roster is up to the task. Both would have a great payoff if they level off and Greg Roman/Chip Kelly are about as well-equipped to pull that off as any offensive coaches in the league. Consider them upside bets in the offseason trade market.
Fitzpatrick is only here because he’s a free agent, but if the Jets retain him, he’ll move up to the Rivers/Romo tier. Ryan, Flacco, and Smith are quarterback with a high weekly upside, but also a low weekly floor. They’re bench fodder.
YOU NEVER KNOW
Bradford’s play is uninspired, Griffin hasn’t been himself since 2012, we honestly might have seen the last of Manziel in the NFL, Osweiler has limited upside, and Smith’s demise is written into his playing style. Still, look, we haven’t even gotten to 32 quarterbacks. There’s room for anyone who can play, and Griffin/Manziel in particular have fantasy intrigue if they do get another chance to play.
DEEP BENCH STASH
I don’t like to spend dynasty bench spots on developmental quarterbacks except maybe in 16-team leagues, or of course 2QB/Superflex leagues. Petty could be interesting this year if Fitzpatrick walks in free agency. Mallett could be interesting if Flacco has trouble coming back from his knee injury. Glennon will become interesting as a free agent in 2017. Otherwise, you’re looking at at least two more years to see production from the rest of this group.
RETREAD STREAMER POTENTIAL
The nature of the quarterback position means that previous failures or underwhelming quarterbacks often get another shot. McCown is the most interesting name with Josh Gordon due back and a good run as a streamer in 2015.