On Second Thought: Quarterbacks

A discussion of how my early preseason expectations have changed as we near the start of the regular season

It's hard to believe that we're just a week away from the start of the NFL regular season. For many fans, they're just now starting to pay attention. But for fantasy owners, for FOOTBALLGUYS, we're already many months into our preparation. As one of the contributors to the site's projections, I have had the entire league modeled and projected since late April. Needless to say, a LOT of things happen between then and the beginning of September. I, along with the other staff, tweak our projections and expectations as we go along. But it occurs to me that very little is ever said about the way our opinions change. This article, and others like it, will highlight in a qualitative manner the assumptions that went into my initial projections that have since changed considerably. Enjoy.

On Second Thought...

Joe Flacco (BAL) is going to break the 4,000-yard mark for the first time

Don’t confuse this proclamation for a fantasy endorsement; I see Flacco as a mid- to low-end fantasy QB2. Yet, I do think he’ll be prolific enough to warrant consideration in deeper leagues, DFS lineups and as a bye week fill in. The Ravens preseason has been an odd one as they had incredible depth at all the skill positions but no discernible stars. With Justin Forsett waived and Kenneth Dixon healing from a preseason injury, the Ravens may have no choice but to throw a lot.

Tony Romo (DAL) will not lead the Cowboys back to elite fantasy status

Romo has been a Top 10 fantasy passer every year he’s been healthy, and this year would’ve been no different given the superior offensive line and seasoned supporting cast. Unfortunately, the back injury has sent Romo to Injured Reserve and now the Cowboys are left hoping Dak Prescott is the real deal.

Mark Sanchez (DAL) is going to start games this year, but not for Denver

Mark Sanchez was released by the Broncos after he couldn’t beat out Trevor Siemian. He was snatched up by Dallas to be Dak Prescott’s backup. Here’s the thing – we all love what Prescott did in the preseason but he was going against plain vanilla defenses. The notion that Prescott will flourish as a rookie bets against history. Unless Romo gets back on the field by mid-year, Cowboys fans (and fantasy owners) need to steel themselves for a few weeks of The Sanchize.

Trevor Siemian (DEN) wasn’t just a smoke screen

The coaches said from the beginning of training camp that the quarterback battle was a wide open contest; yet most of us assumed the inclusion of Trevor Siemian was coachspeak to make the 2nd year player stay motivated. How wrong we were. Siemian enters the season as the starter, and Mark Sanchez was released. Paxton Lynch is Denver’s future, but Siemian is the Broncos present.

Matthew Stafford (DET) is a fantasy QB1 (and a great value)

Entering the preseason, I was telling everyone to avoid Stafford for three reasons: 1) Stafford has been a bit of a compiler, 2) Calvin Johnson retired, and 3) Marvin Jones was not capable of being a high impact starter. Over the preseason, I’ve completely turned around on the situation. Jones has been incredible and has unmistakable rapport with Stafford. And a more careful analysis of the Lions last year showed a far more efficient offense under Jim Bob Cooter. I’m now all in on Stafford as a Top 10 guy you can draft later than equivalent alternatives.

Brock Osweiler (HOU) might be a pleasant surprise

My projections and ranking don’t show Osweiler much higher than he was in my initial set of projections, but he’s certainly moved to the top of that last tier of guys you target as your QB2 late in drafts. I remain suspect of his film and the big contract for what amounts to a handful of league-average starts in Denver, but then I look at what the Texans 4-headed hydra achieved last year (4,079 yards, 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) combined with the stellar play of rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, and it shouldn’t surprise any of us if Osweiler is a fantasy starter this year.

Andrew Luck (IND) is the highest risk QB1 on the board

I haven’t dropped Luck out of the top 10 at the position, but I’m recommending you avoid him at his ADP. Luck is healthy, but the sorry state of the Colts offensive line and the lack of a capable ground game have me thinking it’s only a matter of time before the Stanford Cardinal alum is playing hurt again.

Sam Bradford (MIN) will start for the Minnesota Vikings

Talk about a jaw dropper. Just days before the start of the season, the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick and a 2018 4th round pick. Bradford was 100% set to start in Philadelphia but this move gets his contract off the books and accelerates the Eagles commitment to Carson Wentz. Teddy Bridgewater’s injury forced Minnesota’s hand, but fantasy owners need to remember that Bradford isn’t much better than Shaun Hill historically.

…The Carson Wentz (PHI) Era starts soon…perhaps very soon

With Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel on the roster, Wentz seemed a candidate to red shirt as a rookie, at least until late in the season. The Bradford trade (to Minnesota) and Daniel’s struggles this preseason have accelerated Wentz’ timeline. If his ribs are healthy, he could start as soon as Week One.

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) is not a Top 10 fantasy quarterback

Probably the most controversial call in this article, but I’m standing by the idea that Roethlisberger is overrated. I’m not willing to accept that Eli Rogers, Markus Wheaton and Jess James are adequate replacements for Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller. Combined that with Roethlisberger’s injury history and his physique, and I see warning signs.

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