Campfire Chat: Plant a Flag, QB

Footballguys staff members take a stand on a quarterback

It's time to take a stand. Make a call on a quarterback. Who will surprise - either good or bad? Why?

Chad Parsons: Eli Manning is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy quarterbacks - he gets no respect. Since Odell Beckham's 2014 breakout, Manning has regularly been a top-10 option. 2017 marks Manning's best set of weapons of his career with Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. Plus Shane Vereen is one of the better receiving running backs in the NFL. Yet, Eli Manning is outside the top-15 in positional ADP and regularly available in the double-digit rounds of stock drafts. Manning is one of the key reasons to wait on the quarterback position in 2017.

Ryan Hester: I'm not seeing the top-five quarterback upside many are seeing in Jameis Winston. In 2016, Winston started out white-hot, with eight touchdown passes in the first three games. From there, he averaged just 1.5 touchdowns per game the rest of the way, ending with 28 total.

Much of this was due to Tampa Bay's offensive philosophy shift to a more balanced attack. Winston's 19.3 fantasy points per game average over the first 10 games fell to 14.5 in the last six games. It coincided with Tampa winning games and ending the season successfully, at one point reeling off five straight wins and ultimately winning six of their last eight.

Derek Carr is being selected in a similar place in drafts, and his upside appears to be similarly limited. Carr was very touchdown-dependent in his breakout season last year. With Oakland's acquisition of Marshawn Lynch, their rushing touchdowns may go up at the expense of passing touchdowns.

In one-quarterback leagues, the quarterback is one of the least valuable positions, and it's the most predictable based on the matchup. There's no need to invest significant capital in Winston or Carr when other players with similar prospects can be had later in drafts.

David Dodds: For a quarterback that can likely be had after everyone has taken two of them, veteran Alex Smith represents maximum value at bargain-basement pricing. He scored 270 FP in 15 games last year and added 309 FP in 16 games in 2015. I will gladly forfeit a few points per game to lock up better talent at running back and wide receiver which is vital to winning a championship.

Andy Hicks: There is lots of value at the quarterback position in 2017. I could make a case for any of Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning or Andy Dalton. Matthew Stafford is the one I will focus on this time. In five of the last six years, he has finished between fourth and ninth in fantasy rankings, yet he is going well into the backups this year? Everyone was rightly concerned what effect the retirement of Calvin Johnson would do for Stafford, but he threw for over 4300 yards and still managed 24 touchdowns. These are almost worst-case scenario numbers for Stafford, who still hasn't turned 30, despite 8 years in the NFL. His receiving group is hardly an all-star cast, but he still turned that into a 7th ranked fantasy season last year.

Stephen Holloway: Philip Rivers has his best stable of receivers at all positions by far in 2017. He has finished as QB5, QB11, QB11 and QB8 over the previous four seasons with not nearly the talent surrounding him. The only possible downside to Rivers production is the Chargers running the ball more. Melvin Gordon III seems to be a fantasy darling this year, but he has averaged only 3.7 YPC in his two seasons with the Chargers so the strength remains in the passing attack. If injury strikes Gordon (he’s missed five games already) the depth chart is weak behind causing even a greater dependence on the passing game. Rivers is an outstanding bargain at his current ADP of QB15 and 100 overall.

Alex Miglio: In terms of undervalued quarterbacks with a legitimate shot at a top-five season, Ben Roethlisberger sticks out like a sore thumb. True, he is one tumbling defender away from being declared out for the year only to come back three weeks later, but that's what good backup quarterbacks are for. If he and his skill players can stay healthy and not-suspended, the Steelers offense is going to score a ton of points this season. Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant are arguably the best trio of weapons any quarterback has in the league. The best part about Big Ben is his ADP--he is currently the consensus QB12, barely a starting quarterback on average.

Honorable mention for me would be Philip Rivers, but Stephen already planted his flag there. Rivers and Roethlisberger would make for a fabulous QBBC tandem, in fact.

Phil Alexander: At this time last year, Russell Wilson was routinely drafted in the fourth round and was the number one overall quarterback on many expert's draft boards. Now his ADP is down in the seventh round (QB6) and I don't see what has changed.

Efficiency trumps volume when it comes to quarterback fantasy scoring and Wilson was cumulatively the most efficient fantasy quarterback on a per attempt basis from 2012 (his rookie year) through 2015. It's true he barely finished inside the top-20 in fantasy points per attempt last season, but it shouldn't take a genius to spot the outlier or the reasons why.

Wilson was hurt. It's as simple as that. He played through a multitude of injuries that would have cost most other players weeks. Without his trademark mobility, Wilson's numbers (particularly his rushing totals) tanked, but during the second half of the season, he was who we thought he was (RIP Dennis Green). From Weeks 9-17, Wilson was the cumulative QB3 in fantasy.

With the exception of Andrew Luck, who is a huge question mark due to off-season shoulder surgery, there isn't another quarterback (or player for that matter) being drafted in Round 7 who has a realistic chance to finish as the top overall player at his position. Landing Wilson after you've already solidified your running backs and wide receivers is the stuff championships are made of.

Jason Wood: I can always count on David bigging up Alex Smith.

Respect to Chad on the Eli Manning pitch. I was all in on that call earlier this summer. Unfortunately, as the guy who covers the NFC East for the site, the Giants are the same as they ever were. Ereck Flowers could be the worst left tackle in football. It's a MAJOR concern. And Bobby Hart isn't a world beater at right tackle, either. The line cannot protect Manning and cannot open holes for the least-inspired ground game in the NFC last year. I want to buy into Manning, but I can't particularly in leagues that penalize for interceptions

My guy is another NFC East quarterback. Dak Prescott. Full disclosure, I was 100% wrong about Prescott at this time last year. I made a gentlemen's bet with about half the staff that Prescott would be benched for Mark Sanchez at some point. Needless to say, I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'm going to borrow from what I wrote in our Value Plays article:

"Prescott’s ADP is absurd. In spite of being inserted into the lineup late in the preseason, Prescott finished as the 6th best fantasy quarterback. As a rookie. Prescott’s accomplishments last year were historic:

  • 335.6 fantasy points = 4th most in NFL history for a rookie passer
  • 7.99 yards per attempt = 2nd best among qualified rookies
  • 67.8% completion rate = 1st among qualified rookies
  • 5.0% touchdown rate = 5th best in NFL rookie history
  • 0.9% interception rate = 1st all-time among qualified rookies
  • 104.9 passer rating = 1st all-time among rookie passers

The knocks on Prescott revolve around two issues: 1) his six rushing touchdowns are hard to repeat, and 2) he wasn’t asked to make difficult throws often. Both concerns are ridiculous. These SAME arguments were made, verbatim, about Russell Wilson after his rookie year. Wilson ranked 11th as a rookie and has finished 9th, 5th, 3rd, and 10th in the four subsequent seasons. Let’s be clear, Prescott has the best rookie PASSING season (from an efficiency standpoint) in NFL history, and it came with a gimpy star in Dez Bryant and no credible second receiver. It would be odd for a quarterback to peak as a rookie. Prescott is going to get better this year. The speed of the game will slow down. He has his entire supporting cast back including the league’s best offensive line. And he’s already established a baseline as a fantasy QB1. Depending on how quickly the team takes the reins off Prescott, he could push for the overall top spot at the position sooner rather than later."

Chris Feery: I’m on board with Stephen: Philip Rivers offers up outstanding value at his current ADP. While I agree that Melvin Gordon III is on the ascent to provide more balance to the Chargers offense, Rivers is still going to throw the ball a ton. Add in the fact that he has a ridiculous amount of talent around him at the skill positions, and I view him as a virtual lock for Top 10 quarterback production. I’m perfectly content to wait on drafting a quarterback this year, and my confidence in that is bolstered by the fact that Rivers is still hanging around as drafts move to the middle rounds. Rivers is underrated, both for what he brings to the table in terms of leadership and for fantasy purposes. I’m more than happy to take advantage of that oversight.

Clayton Gray: I came here to mention this year's No. 1 quarterback - Russell Wilson. If he had already been mentioned, I was going to stand with Philip Rivers. It's a bummer being late to the party.

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