Fantasy Football: Midseason QB Review
This summer we spent time diving into “Who Can Be a QB1?” after digesting all of 2016’s numbers. It’s midseason and time to review where we are at in the QB landscape and assess what could happen going forward. Let’s take an in-depth look how 8 weeks of 2017 has turned out in terms of getting an overhead view of fantasy scoring.
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The numbers can be deceiving when we factor in bye weeks. For instance, you might look at this list and Cam Newton‘s name jumps out as a value for those that took him as the QB9 off the board. However, other than an awesome run between Weeks 4-6, Newton has not been a top 12 QB for his other 5 starts. His numbers are more about compiling and the fact the Panthers will be on bye Week 11.
We asked some of our writers their thoughts on the QB landscape going into Week 9.
1. Who were you most right & most wrong about on this list coming into the season?
Most right: Russell Wilson. Yes, he’s in line with his ADP, but I saw a lot of “regression” talk to start the year and he’s right where I’d thought he’d be. Most wrong: Isn’t everyone most wrong about Josh McCown? I’ll throw in Matt Stafford, I thought he’d be Top 6 and he’s in danger of missing the QB1 ranks altogether. –Ryan Weisse
Most right: I’d like to say, Deshaun Watson, as I actually boldly predicted that he would have a Russell Wilson-esque rookie season, but losing him for the year puts a damper on that. Instead, I’ll go with Wilson himself, who I claimed would be the No. 1 fantasy quarterback out of the NFC. So far I’m right, and I expect him to continue carrying the load in Seattle and putting up elite numbers. Most wrong: Can anyone not say Alex Smith here? I would have ranked him somewhere between 15-20 at best — like just about everyone else — and he’s currently sitting at No. 3 in points per game, chuckling at our befuddlement.- Matt Okada
Most right: Carson Wentz. I currently start him in my 2 main leagues after basically getting him for free. I mostly saw passing volume in play with the Philly running game looking average at best going into the season. But no way did I see him leading the league in passing TDs. Most wrong: definitely Kirk Cousins. I thought the entire offense would tank, which is technically correct. I wrote an article on The Case Against Kirk Cousins. However, he has still found a way to produce as a viable fantasy starter and 7th overall in fantasy points per game. –Kyle Borgognoni
Most right: In the preseason, I put Dak in the top 10 quarterback discussion for this year. It was evident after closely watching him in 2016 that he was going to be more than just a rookie who had one good season. Cowboys fan or not, I was extremely impressed with the maturity, poise, accuracy, patience, and much more attributes that Dak Prescott possesses. Most wrong: Let’s face it, Alex Smith wasn’t even drafted in most leagues as his ADP was the QB25 before the season. In 2016, Alex Smith finished the season with 15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Half-way through the 2017 season and Smith already has 16 touchdowns and is the only starting quarterback without an interception on the season. He is protecting the ball, accurate with his passes, mobile, and has really turned the page this season. –Nate Hamilton
2. Who will not finish the year inside the top 12?
Newton had a couple huge games earlier in the year that is keeping him in the QB1 conversation but has otherwise looked pretty poor. He just lost his best WR in Kelvin Benjamin, and while Greg Olsen‘s expected return should help balance that a bit, Newton is still working with an underwhelming receiving corps. Additionally, the increase in rushing that presents Newton’s only real chance at QB1 upside also carries a high risk of injury. Newton is a high-risk asset who’s currently not playing at a high-reward level. -Matt Okada
I can’t see Josh McCown ending this thing well. Mike always says McCown was born to die on the football field because he’s such a competitor. He’s bound to get injured or see some major turnover regression. -Kyle Borgognoni
I can’t imagine a world where a 38-year-old quarterback for the New York Jets ends up as a QB1 on the season. Josh McCown doesn’t have the easiest schedule to finish the season and oh yeah, he’s on the Jets. Have you ever heard “one of these is not like the other”? Josh McCown’s name on this list is certainly not like the others. -Nate Hamilton
Philip Rivers has 2 brutal matchups coming out of his bye week. Unless he balls out to end the year, I think he misses the top 12. He’s only thrown for 300 yards once this season so far. –Ryan Weisse
3. Which player currently outside the top 15 has the best shot at finishing the year on this list?
He’s not far off at the moment and has been better over the last couple weeks. If Amari Cooper can fully right the ship it will help immensely, and matchups against the Dolphins, Patriots, under-performing Giants, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles all hold fantasy promise. I never had Carr in the top eight as many did entering the season, but I believe in his ability to squeeze into the QB1 territory. –Matt Okada
Carr has a great pair of wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, a top 12 tight end in Jared Cook, and the run game hasn’t been anything special so this offense will have to insert more passing plays into their game scripts. Derek Carr has a favorable schedule to finish out the season including 3 defenses who rank inside the top 10 in most points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (Patriots, Giants, and Chiefs). Carr has big-play ability and is more than capable of finishing inside the top 12 QBs on the season. –Nate Hamilton
I’m gonna g0 with Jameis Winston. It’s been a strange season with a Week 1 bye, an A/C joint injury costing him one game, and a reinjury making him play terribly in another. But when you look at his box scores for the games he did play 4 games with 300+ yards and 3 games with multiple TDs. He has resumed a more regular practice schedule and we should start seeing more of those numbers. -Ryan Weisse
“I could see Matt Ryan turn this thing around with some enticing divisional matchups coming his way especially Tampa Bay twice. The Falcons shockingly have yet to play anyone from the NFC South this season. The offense has definitely stalled especially in the red zone but there’s room for some positive regression in the TD department. Top 12 is more than doable for Ryan.” –Kyle Borgognoni
4. With Watson out for the year, which player possesses the most upside and ability to finish as THE QB1?
The NFC trifecta of Wilson, Wentz, and Dak certainly look tough to beat, but I’m going to stick with my preseason prediction: Tom Brady. Brady has been Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated quarterback from a real-world perspective all season, and the only reason it has translated to No. 1 fantasy production is the game script. As the Pats’ defense has improved, Brady has had less reason to constantly battle for points. With five divisional matchups and a game against the Steelers left on the schedule, I think the G.O.A.T. will look to end the season and enter the playoffs firing on all cylinders. –Matt Okada
Safest bet is Tom Brady but I’ll say my guy Russell Wilson has a good shot at QB1. He’s already had his bye and clearly, the Seattle run game is doing them no favors. They’ll need him to throw to win so I think he could put up some nice numbers to end the season. -Ryan Weisse
I’d have to say, the quarterback that has the best chance at finishing the season as the top quarterback is the quarterback I was most wrong about, Alex Smith. He is currently ranked as second-best best fantasy QB and by default, slides into the #1 spot with Watson out. He has been a very consistent quarterback and has not made many mistakes as I mentioned earlier, he has not thrown an interception in his first 8 games of the season. Smith just looks different this year and his confidence is palpable. I fully expect Alex Smith to continue to roll as the top QB this season. –Nate Hamilton