By: Jake Hinson (Twitter: @JakeHinson11)
Player Projections and Breakdowns: Quarterbacks
After playing fantasy football for almost a decade, I relied on a wide amount of information to succeed. ESPN analysis, Yahoo analysis, different websites dedicated to fantasy football, and a variety of podcasts were all in my repertoire. But it wasn’t until this year that I wanted to test my football acumen by compiling stats, data, and my own analysis into player projections. I did just that.
The following projections are geared towards redraft. There may be some stats that you may heavily disagree with. For example, I have Drew Brees outperforming Tom Brady by a hair this year. I think there is a high chance Brees leads the league in attempts this year and the Patriots try to minimize Brady’s attempts as he nears 40 years of age. These stats were compiled based on last year’s performance, this year’s outlook, and my predictions as well.
4 points per touchdown is the format that I’ve decided to include, as it is known as the “standard.” In 6 points per touchdown leagues, guys like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning get a boost, while running quarterbacks such as Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor are knocked down a bit. On the far-left column of the players are colors that are given to players to designate different characteristics, such as high-volume guys or volatile players. Players can have more than just two characteristics, but the two colors that are given are the main ones that these players are known for. The color key is given below.
Another thing I added in my projections are yellow boxes to list who is leading that certain category. For example, Philip Rivers will have a yellow box filled under interceptions, as he is prone to throwing to the other team quite a bit. Now that we have the color key for reference, let’s take a look at the first group of guys.
Nobody is dethroning Rodgers this year. He is such an efficient passer that finds a way to throw almost 40 touchdowns a year consistently. He is still the leader of the quarterback position. Andrew Luck is a reach, but if his health maintains, he is due for a big season. I see him putting up similar numbers to his breakout season three years ago. Once again, Drew Brees barely edges out Tom Brady simply due to volume. It is also hard to predict touchdowns for immobile quarterbacks like Brees and Brady, so everyone basically gets a goal line touchdown.
I think my projections show that I love Russell Wilson this year. After an injury-plagued season that severely hindered his mobility, he finished strong last year. I like for him to continue his pace last season and put up similar numbers that he produced two years ago. The reigning MVP is slightly lower on my list than most projections have him, but Matt Ryan should still be an excellent quarterback. I may get some backlash for Matthew Stafford being at 7, but I love what he could do this year. On a pass-first team with two pass-catching backs, talented receivers, and a promising tight end like Eric Ebron, Stafford can be a top 10 quarterback. Kirk Cousins will continue to do what he does best and put up big yardage numbers. The emergence of Jamison Crowder, the arrival of Terrelle Pryor, the introduction to Josh Doctson, and the dominance of Jordan Reed leads me to believe Cousins can lead the league in yardage.
This was an interesting tier to create, as the leader of the tier and the bottom of the tier are only separated by 10 points. Dak Prescott will see his efficiency decrease but should throw a little more than last year. He also gives you that consistent floor with rushing yardage and the chance for a rushing touchdown. The fantasy community knows about Andy Dalton and his regression to the mean. He had an incredibly low touchdown rate (percentage of throws that resulted in touchdowns) last year and should see that normalize. He has a track record of finishing inside the top 10 and has the talent around him to do it again this year.
Jameis Winston finds himself with several new weapons that can only help his development. Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard should all help Winston become a startable quarterback every week. Marcus Mariota leads a talented and hyped offense and can give you a huge game any given Sunday. His rushing ability can win you the week, much like the former MVP, Cam Newton. Cam will give you decent rushing numbers, but may not give you much in the passing game. Take him with caution. Derek Carr was well on his way to an MVP season until he broke his leg late towards the end of the year. The touchdown numbers can easily go up and he provides efficiency and stability at the quarterback position.
This is an interesting tier of quarterbacks, as they are popular to grab in the later rounds as a late QB strategy or as their second quarterback in superflex leagues. Philip Rivers has a plethora of weapons (even after the Mike Williams news) and will continue to have big games passing. Tyrod Taylor gives you excellent rushing numbers every week and if he throws two or three touchdowns, it’s an added bonus. Eli Manning leads a pass-first attack that features stars on the outside and excellent pass catchers in the middle, including the running backs. He should give you startable weeks as well. It is known that Ben Roethlisberger plays amazing at home and horrible on the road. He is still being taken very high, but if you can predict which game he throws for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, then you are a smarter person than I am. Blake Bortles has a stink about him, but people forget that he finished as a top quarterback last season. He is free in drafts and can win you a week if he proves he has fixed his mechanics.
The final two tiers consist of guys that can give you a spot start and can be a bye week filler. Carson Palmer leads an air raid offense that loves to throw deep. Mix in Larry Fitzgerald underneath and David Johnson coming out of the backfield and Palmer can make a convincing argument to be higher. Carson Wentz had a decent rookie season but didn’t throw a lot of touchdowns and that hurt his stock for this year. The signings of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith give Wentz new targets that could elevate his growth. Ryan Tannehill will continue to be the game manager he is and do his job. He has potential to have big games but will give you 200 yards and 2 touchdowns more often than not.
The final tier are quarterbacks that can be spot starts but don’t expect much out of them. Sam Bradford is a hyper-efficient quarterback, but is also ultra conservative and will struggle to reach 25+ touchdowns. Joe Flacco lead the league in attempts last year and while he likely won’t do it again, he will still throw a lot. The problem is that he doesn’t throw many touchdowns. If the addition of Jeremy Maclin and the emergence of Breshad Perriman improve Flacco’s touchdown numbers, he will finish higher than 24th. I actually like Brian Hoyer this year a lot, and while he has 23 fewer points than the quarterback above him, I think he is a legitimate starting quarterback and has Kyle Shanahan with him now. The weapons around him are less than inspiring, however, and that is why he will not have the gaudy numbers like some of the quarterbacks in front of them.
That concludes the quarterback portion of my projections. Keep your eyes peeled for the running back, wide receiver, and tight end projections as well. If you have any questions or would like to see my 6-point scoring projections, you can find me on Twitter at @JakeHinson11 and I can send it to you there. Also on my Twitter, I will be updating these projections based upon any incoming news.