Dynasty Ultimatums: 5 QBs Entering Make-or-Break Fantasy Seasons

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The 2023 NFL season is finally just around the corner, bringing with it a plethora of unanswered questions for many notable players. As dynasty managers, it is crucial to maintain honesty with ourselves regarding realistic expectations for these players. It can be challenging to lose faith in a player we once acquired with high hopes. One effective strategy is to establish dynasty ultimatums for players on our rosters who face considerable uncertainties. In this article, we will discuss controversial quarterbacks who are entering make-or-break years, highlighting the specific goals that they need to accomplish in the upcoming season to fulfill their current expectations.

For more on this subject, check out more of our dynasty content including Dynasty SuperFlex Rankings & The Strategy Behind Them.

Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos

It has largely been a luxury to roster Russell Wilson in dynasty leagues throughout his illustrious career. Despite displaying some cringey antics on a daily basis, Wilson has been consistently among the top quarterbacks in the league for the past decade. However, his first season with the Denver Broncos turned out to be a complete disaster. The team traded a boatload of assets to acquire the services of Wilson, followed by a five-year extension worth over $240 million. With Mile High expectations, Wilson proved to be a complete bust in 2022 by delivering the least productive season of his 11-year career.

Despite his dismal debut in Denver, there is still hope for a rebound in 2023. Wilson is only 34 years old and the team has already taken steps to rebrand their identity for the upcoming season. Sean Payton, who had great success with the New Orleans Saints alongside Drew Brees, will be the new head coach in Denver. With renewed energy and improved coaching, there is optimism that Wilson can put the 2022 season behind him and return to his previous form.

While there is now a glimmer of hope for Wilson’s bounce back, this season is undoubtedly a make-or-break year for him. However, he did show signs of a resurgence late last season, with three top-five finishes to conclude the year. It is worth noting that Wilson threw for fewer than 20 touchdowns in a season for the first time in his career (16). With his rushing upside diminishing with age, he will need to significantly increase that number to improve his fantasy upside moving forward. To regain the faith of dynasty managers, Wilson must finish as a top-12 quarterback in 2023. Can he stage a comeback? Let’s ride and find out.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns

Russell Wilson was not the only elite quarterback who had a forgettable debut with a new team last year. Deshaun Watson also struggled to find his previous form in his first season with the Cleveland Browns. After being suspended for a significant portion of the 2022 season, Watson faced considerable challenges upon his return. He very much looked like a player who had not seen the football field in a season and a half. To put things into perspective, Brock Purdy outscored Watson in total points by a quarterback, despite both making their season debut in the same week. However, Watson managed to slightly salvage his disappointing season by finishing within the top 10 at the position in consecutive weeks to end the year.

Although he was ultimately outplayed by Jacoby Brissett in Cleveland last season, Deshaun Watson is still in the prime of his career and has plenty of productive seasons ahead if he can get back on track. Setting aside legal and moral dilemmas, Watson is poised for significant success in 2023. He has a talented group of weapons on the current roster, including Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman, and David Njoku. Furthermore, playing alongside the best pure runner in the league Nick Chubb provides Watson with a valuable advantage. Having a complete offseason with his new team could prove to be a crucial factor in his return to form.

Examining Watson’s passing metrics from last season reveals significant room for improvement. He fell short of 200 passing yards in four out of six games and had a disappointing completion percentage of 58.2%. On a positive note, he showcased his rushing ability by accumulating 175 yards in just six games. If he can present a weekly rushing floor, coupled with improved passing production, Watson will regain his status as an elite fantasy asset. It is worth noting that he was a top-five quarterback from 2018 to 2020. To meet his dynasty ultimatum for 2023, Watson must finish within the top 10 in his position. With more experience in the system and a talented supporting cast on offense, there are significant reasons for optimism that Watson can reclaim his status as an elite dynasty quarterback.

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Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

While not reaching the elite status of the aforementioned quarterbacks, Goff has experienced a remarkable career resurgence with his new team. This is an underrated achievement that proceeds to elude both Watson and Wilson. The lingering question now is whether this career resurgence is actually sustainable. Entering his eighth professional season and approaching 29 years old, Goff should still have plenty of productive years ahead. He initially displayed great promise as one of the league’s better young quarterbacks, leading the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance. However, the Rams eventually lost faith in him and traded him to the Detroit Lions. While his first season in Detroit left room for improvement, last year he delivered the second-best statistical performance of his career. Benefiting from one of the league’s top offensive lines and a promising supporting cast, Goff is determined to carry his success forward in Detroit in 2023.

Heading into the upcoming season, Goff profiles more towards a reliable QB2 in superflex leagues rather than a guaranteed starting option. However, if he can demonstrate that last year’s success was not a mere fluke, he has the potential to enter the lower tier of QB1 territory. He finished last season as the QB10, a significant improvement from his QB24 finish in 2021. Goff benefits greatly from playing alongside rising star, Amon-Ra St. Brown. The team also made strong efforts to bolster the passing game through the draft with additions like Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta. Despite a rocky start to his career, Jameson Williams possesses the athletic profile to become a dominant force in the league as well. With these assets, it feels possible to envision Goff once again exceeding 4,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns in the upcoming season.

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Despite having tremendous success with the Lions, there seems to be a gigantic elephant in the room. There is a looming concern for Goff with his expiring contract, as the team could save up to $26 million by parting ways with him in 2024. Additionally, the team has already drafted Hendon Hooker as a potential replacement. These factors make the future uncertain for the veteran quarterback. While it would be fantastic for Goff to repeat as a top-10 quarterback this season, his dynasty outlook is heavily tied to his next contract. To maintain his current dynasty expectations, Goff must earn a new deal with Detroit and prove himself as the long-term solution for the team. If he succeeds in doing so, he could remain in the low-end QB1 range for the next few years. However, his potential fantasy outlook could vanish entirely if he gets replaced.

Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Geno Smith had an incredible bounce-back season with the Seattle Seahawks in 2022. Despite being overlooked due to a career filled with mediocrity, Smith proved his critics wrong last season. He ended up leading the league in completion rate (69.8%) and touchdowns of 20+ yards downfield (14). Surprisingly, he showcased some rushing upside as well by running for 366 yards on 35 attempts. With over 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, he finished the year as the QB5, a significant improvement from his previous ranking as QB40. Stepping into the shoes of Russell Wilson, Smith exceeded all expectations and appears poised for continued success in 2023.

Despite rumors of potentially replacing him in the draft, Seattle opted to extend Geno Smith‘s contract for three years. Additionally, they decided to draft Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is widely considered the best wide receiver prospect in this year’s class. He is set to join D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in Seattle, forming a formidable wide receiver trio. This is a promising development for Smith’s fantasy outlook in 2023, positioning him as a low-end QB1 for the upcoming season. While his impressive statistics from last season may seem like an anomaly, Smith currently possesses the perfect weapons to deliver another strong fantasy finish in 2023.

Although there are many positives surrounding Geno Smith at the moment, his future is not entirely without challenges. Seattle structured his contract with the ability to void the following two years if he fails to meet their expectations. This puts immense pressure on the 2023 season as a make-or-break year for him. While it may be unrealistic to expect a consecutive top-five finish, Smith must consistently prove that his success last year was not a total aberration. His dynasty ultimatum is to finish as a top-12 quarterback in 2023. As long as Smith continues to lead the offense to victories, there is little reason for the team to part ways with him. The entire planet may have written Geno Smith off, but he did not write back.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Daniel Jones experienced a remarkable career resurgence last season, defying his previous reputation. He stood out as the only quarterback in the league to surpass 3,000 passing yards while throwing five or fewer interceptions. After finishing as the QB27 the previous year, he elevated his performance and ended the season as the QB9. Additionally, Jones showcased his rushing abilities by accumulating a career-high 708 yards on the ground, ranking fifth among all quarterbacks. In his fifth professional season, he and new head coach Brian Daboll led the New York Giants to their first playoff berth since 2016.

Jones’ remarkable season led to the Giants rewarding him with a substantial four-year, $160 million contract. Notably, the deal includes an impressive $82 million in guaranteed earnings. The team’s decision to extend their current franchise quarterback also allowed them to utilize the franchise tag on the talented Saquon Barkley. This was crucial in order to help relieve some pressure on Jones for the upcoming season. Despite these positive developments, the Giants built some flexibility into the contract, providing an escape option after the 2024 season that could yield $21.5 million in cap savings if they choose to part ways with Jones. While Jones is still only 26 years old, the weight of high expectations now rests on his shoulders as he strives to meet the team’s new standards.

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The current state of the Giants’ receiving corps leans more toward quantity than quality. The team possesses a plethora of mid-level wide receiver talent, all with similar skill sets. This group includes Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, Sterling Shepard, and Wan’Dale Robinson. While it may be challenging to determine who will emerge as the primary target among them, this uncertainty does not significantly impact Jones’ fantasy outlook. Additionally, this season Jones will have the privilege of playing alongside one of the league’s premier tight ends, Darren Waller. Although Waller has faced injury issues recently, he remains an exceptional talent when healthy. Looking ahead, the lingering question for Jones is whether Brian Daboll was able to unlock his untapped potential or if his success last year was unrepeatable. In terms of his dynasty ultimatum, Jones will need to finish as a top-12 quarterback in 2023. Ultimately, his future may hinge on his ability to lead his team to victories over the next two seasons.

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