Quarterback is the most important position in sports, but oddly enough not the most important position in fantasy football. Due to most leagues only requiring one starting QB, and most leagues containing 10 or 12 teams, it’s not too difficult to find a competent starting QB for your team. The typical strategy these days is to wait to draft a QB, potentially into the double digit rounds, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any advantages to pouncing on one of the top guys a little early. Having a stud QB as an anchor can make up for weaknesses elsewhere on your roster. You’ll have to pay up to get one though. Some leagues will see QBs start coming off the board as early as round 2 or 3 when there are still some big names available at RB or WR. Would I recommend it? No. But it’s your team and you have to be pumped about your roster, so if you’re dying to have Aaron Rodgers on your squad and he’s there in the 3rd, do it! Speaking of…
1) Aaron Rodgers (GB): Not much to say on Rodgers that hasn’t already been said. He’s still the best QB in the league and should still be the first QB drafted in fantasy. The Packers let Jordy Nelson walk, but brought in Jimmy Graham who should, at the very least, be a monster in the red zone even if he’s lost a step. Rodgers doesn’t offer as much rushing upside as some of the other top QBs, but he doesn’t really need to.
2) Russell Wilson (SEA): Russ basically spent all of last season running for his life and still managed to finish as fantasy’s top QB. Most QBs wouldn’t survive the season with the Seattle o-line in front of them, but that’s what makes Wilson such a great fantasy option. In addition to a strong arm, he can escape when a play breaks down in front of him which leads to some great highlights and, more importantly, rushing yards. He put up double-digit rushing yards in every single game last year, along with 3 rushing TDs. There aren’t really any elite receiving options in Seattle, but with Wilson it doesn’t really matter.
3) Deshaun Watson (HOU): Might seem like a little bit of a surprise to have Watson this high over some of the usual suspects, but anyone that watched him play (or owned him in fantasy) last year can understand. Watson put together a 6 game run last year that, spread out over a full season, would have made him the clear #1 QB in fantasy. Some people might worry that it wasn’t enough of a sample size, and some people might worry about him losing some explosiveness coming off an ACL injury. I’m not one of them. He offers upside that some of the safer picks simply can’t touch.
4) Drew Brees (NO): Brees performed slightly below expectations last year, but that’s expected when you have two stud running backs running wild all year. He didn’t have to air it out as much as usual with Ingram and Kamara trampling every defense they faced, but with Ingram out for the first 4 games of the season, I expect Brees to get back to his old ways of slinging it. Cameron Meredith is a sneaky good addition for the Saints, and Kamara is basically another WR for Brees to target, so he has plenty of options at his disposal. His TD numbers should get back to normal.
5) Tom Brady (NE): I know, it’s Tom Brady, he’s the best of all time, blah blah. He’ll be fine this year, but who’s catching the ball in New England this season? Gronk is there but always a risk to miss games, Edelman is suspended, and Amendola is gone, so I don’t see enough good options here for a huge fantasy season. New England will probably run the ball more than people are used to this year. Of course, since it’s Tom Brady he’ll probably prove me wrong and put together the best season of all time. Either way, let’s enjoy one of Tom’s finest moments:
6) Cam Newton (CAR): Cam is an elite athlete, but I still don’t consider him a great NFL quarterback. That leads to some frustrating weeks if he’s in your starting lineup. When he does put it all together, the potential for huge numbers is there, it just won’t happen on a weekly basis. His rushing numbers keep him afloat, and that’s where his real value is. He’s coming off a career high in rushing yards, averaging almost 50 a game with 6 rushing TDs on the season. Sounds great right? He also threw for less than 200 yards in 9 of 16 games last year. That’s the ‘not so great’.
7) Carson Wentz (PHI): If he’s starting week 1, I might move him above Brees on this list. For now, I’m factoring in possibly missing a game or two to start the season. Wentz was on an MVP pace last year before an ACL tear in week 14. The timing of the injury doesn’t give him the ideal amount of time to rehab, and I expect the Eagles to err on the side of caution and not rush him back. When he’s under center, however, he showed that he’s one of the best in the league. Watching his backup win a Super Bowl last year should only add fuel to the fire.
8) Andrew Luck (IND): Another guy we’re playing the wait and see game with, if Luck is able to start week 1 then he should be a value at this spot. The way his shoulder injury went down last year was odd, as it seemed like the Colts weren’t being completely honest about what was going on behind the scenes. He’s reportedly throwing in camp so that’s encouraging, but he basically couldn’t throw a football for a year straight. He also hasn’t played a game since 2016 so there will likely be a little rust early on.
9) Kirk Cousins (MIN): Cousins managed to be productive throughout his career in Washington even though he never really had a great team around him. No reason to think his numbers shouldn’t improve on a much better Vikings team with two stud WRs. The only possible downside is that the Vikings might be ahead in a lot of games due to a pretty dominant defense, so he might be handing the ball off a lot in the 4th quarter.
10) Philip Rivers (LAC): Annually underrated, Rivers is coming off of 5 straight seasons of at least 4,280 yards passing and at least 28 touchdowns. He’s got some great established options in Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon to throw to, along with the expected emergence of 2nd year receiver Mike Williams out of Clemson. The loss of Hunter Henry hurts a bit because Rivers has shown he loves to throw to his tight end. He also offers zero rushing upside with only 3 rushing TDs over his 14 year career.
11) Matthew Stafford (DET): The Lions chuck it more than almost any team in the league, so by default Stafford will produce. On the flip side, his options at receiver aren’t the most dominant, and he struggles with consistency, so those factors keep him out of the elite fantasy QB tier. The Lions lack of defense should lead to some shootouts and a lot of garbage time points, however.
12) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): Big Ben has two of fantasy’s best options at his disposal with Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell, along with an up and comer in Juju Smith-Schuster, so why isn’t he higher? A slight lack of consistency mixed with a slight injury risk and a new offensive coordinator in town pretty much sums it up. Ben didn’t surpass 2 passing TDs in a game until week 11 last year, and talked about retirement after last season. I just don’t see a ton of excitement here, so in this range I’d rather roll the dice on someone with more potential.
13) Patrick Mahomes (KC): If you wait this long to draft a QB, why not take a guy with the potential to blow up? The Chiefs were comfortable enough with Mahomes as their starter to let Alex Smith walk coming off the best season of his career. While the QB is changing, the elite weapons he has at his disposal are not. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt are all returning healthy after big seasons, and the addition of Sammy Watkins shouldn’t hurt. Mahomes has a huge arm, and also managed to punch in 12 TDs on the ground in his last college season, so the rushing upside is there as well.
14) Matt Ryan (ATL): Ryan followed up his MVP-winning 2016 with a pretty dismal 2017 that saw him put up his fewest passing yards and touchdowns since 2010. Exactly what we all expected, right? But all is not lost for Matty Ice, and I’m expecting a rebound this year. For one, Julio Jones’ touchdowns are guaranteed to increase. There’s no way a receiver that good only gets in the end zone 3 times again. New addition Calvin Ridley provides another threat opposite Julio to open things up, and both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are elite receivers out of the backfield. Matty’s ice isn’t completely melted just yet.
15) Jimmy Garoppolo (SF): #1 in the Handsome rankings, Jimmy G finally got a chance to prove he’s a stud ON the field instead of just off. Following a mid-season trade from the Patriots, Garoppolo went on to win all 5 of his starts in San Fran, leaving many excited for what he can do with a full offseason in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s got weapons in receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, and a new RB in Jerrick McKinnon who happens to be a pretty solid receiver himself. I don’t know if you want to rely on Jimmy as your main fantasy starter just yet, but if you’re the type to wait on a QB (which is recommended) he’s a good late round flier that could play his way into the top 10.
– The Elder
Follow me on Twitter @joeybaconbits and Instagram @joeb55 for more content and QandAs during the season.