QB Big Board: First Glance at 2016
Hello 2QBers! Throughout the offseason and regular season, I will be monitoring the stock of relevant quarterbacks across the entire league as their situations change. Right now, it’s good to take a look back on the 2015 season while it is fresh in our minds and dig a bit deeper into the final numbers of the many quarterbacks who surprised and disappointed. With many situations remaining fluid for the next few months as free agency and the draft approaches, it’s important to both reflect on 2015 and look ahead to 2016. The QB big board is broken down into different tiers of QB1s and QB2s. As the offseason plays out, many quarterbacks will inevitably jump in and out of these tiers.
- Cam Newton (CAR) – Cam truly dominated in 2015. He finished as the QB1 five times, a top-three QB seven times, and a top-six QB nine times. He managed to do all of this with a below average offensive line (according to footballoutsiders.com), and subpar weapons. Oh yeah, he also gets his top receiver in Kelvin Benjamin back in 2016. He’s bound for some touchdown regression next season, but there’s plenty of room for him to improve as a passer.
- Aaron Rodgers (GB) – He finished as QB6 on the year, but 2015 represented one of the worst seasons of Rodgers’ career, with lows in completion percentage, passing yards, and quarterback rating since becoming a starter. With a healthy Jordy Nelson returning and a focus on Eddy Lacy to get healthy and in shape, there’s plenty of reasons to think 2015 was just a mirage for Rodgers and the entire Packers offense.
- Andrew Luck (IND) – Playing through rib and shoulder injuries and behind one of the league’s least effective lines, he still finished as the QB11 in scoring per game. With good health and a stable of talented, young receivers, Luck should be valued the same as he was heading into the 2015 season.
- Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Leading arguably the most potent offense in the NFL right now, Big Ben will probably go lower in drafts than he should next season as owners remember his injury-filled season. Don’t be the one to pass on him.
- Tom Brady (NE) – Brady continued to defy father time with stellar play nearly all season. He finished in the top-ten just twice over the final seven weeks, but his production only dipped when the offense seemed to lose key players seemingly every week towards the end of the season.
- Russell Wilson (SEA) – Even with his mediocre start to the season, Russell Wilson was the only other quarterback outside of Cam Newton to finish in the top-24 every single week. With Marshawn Lynch likely on the way out, the stage is set for Russell Wilson to truly make this his offense in 2016. Can the Seahawks find a way to incorporate Jimmy Graham to Wilson’s advantage?
- Carson Palmer (ARI) – Palmer’s one of four quarterbacks who had a starter worthy performance a whopping 15 games in 2015. It’s fair to wonder, however, if he can sniff his amazingly consistent season.
- Drew Brees (NO) – Remove his epic 505/7 game against the Giants, and Brees’ scoring per game drops a full 3 points. Much of his success stems from volume, and he’s no longer matchup proof, but he’s still a solid QB1.
- Andy Dalton (CIN) – Dalton was in line for a career year before missing the final three games, but the offense has grown around him. Losing Hue Jackson leaves cause for concern, but the Bengals won’t look to shake the offense up much after having Dalton realize his ceiling.
- Philip Rivers (SD) – In a lost season where nearly the entire offense faced significant injuries, including Rivers himself, he managed eight top-twelve finishes and ten in the top 24. While he’s another year older, I expect the Chargers offense to rebound in 2016 with a healthy offensive line, an actual running game, and healthy pass catchers on offense.
- Eli Manning (NYG) – Ben McAdoo (and Odell Beckham) have helped revive Manning’s career after two sub 4,000 yards seasons. The Giants will probably look to add more playmakers to an offense that lacks depth, which bodes well for Eli next season.
- Blake Bortles (JAX) – He’s growing on a young offense, but there is bound to be some regression in 2016, as much of his stats were padded due to playing from behind. Having said that, there’s much to like about Bortles, and if he can take another step forward, he’ll cement his status as one of the top young quarterbacks in fantasy.
- Tony Romo (DAL) – Romo is probably the biggest question mark at quarterback right now. He’s had some lingering health concerns, and now has fractured his collarbone three times. Let’s not forget he’ll be 36 heading into next season.
- Tyrod Taylor (BUF) – TyGod took the NFL by storm in his first year as a starter, finishing eighth in scoring per game among quarterbacks. While he rarely played with a fully healthy offense, Taylor was a QB1 with a solid floor. With another year of experience and the promise of more talent being put around him, Taylor may be one of the safest quarterabcks in 2016 yet again.
- Jameis Winston (TB) – How solid was he in 2015? He was one of four quarterbacks to have 15 weeks where he was at least a startable quarterback, joining Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Carson Palmer. Expect big things in year two for Famous Jameis.
- Derek Carr (OAK) – After going on a mad tear midseason, Carr cooled off, failing to finish as a QB 1 during the entire fantasy playoffs. Still, with a budding star in Amari Cooper and the re-emergence of Michael Crabtree, the Raiders suddenly have a dangerous passing attack.
- Matthew Stafford (DET) – Stafford’s splits with and without Megatron aren’t all that different over the past two seasons. It was encouraging to see him post five top-12 finishes down the stretch with a largely ineffective Megatron, but the loss of Calvin’s presence will affect the offense as a whole.
- Jay Cutler (CHI) – Cutler was remarkably consistent for the first time in his career, but unfortunately it didn’t lead to much production. Part of that can be blamed on injuries to his pass catchers, but even when they were playing, he wasn’t exactly lighting it up.
- Matt Ryan (ATL) – At this point in time, Ryan is more of a QB2. He had only four QB1 finishes all season, and now is playing with an emerging Devonta Freeman and a lackluster receiving corps outside of Julio Jones.
- Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – After a disappointing 2015, there is yet again promise for Tannehill with the addition of Adam Gase and a coaching staff that is built to support him in a make or break year. Will he turn the promise into production?
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (NYJ) – After a phenomenally consistent season where he had an impressively high floor, Fitzpatrick showed he can be an elite option in the right situation. He stands to move up or down depending on his landing spot, but even if he is back with the Jets, the schedule looks much more difficult in 2016. He’s a journeyman in his 30s who is bound for some regression.
- Marcus Mariota (TEN) – Mariota showed he has the talent to compete. Unfortunately, that came mostly against poor competition, as he averaged 28 points against bottom ranked pass defenses as opposed to 12 against top ranked pass defenses. A new coaching staff is also concerning for his development.
- Joe Flacco (BAL) – Flacco was having an impressive season before tearing his ACL in week 11. In ten games, he had five top-12 finishes and eight in the top-24. With another year of development for Maxx Williams, the return of Breshad Perriman, and another year with Marc Trestman, Flacco is on the sleeper radar for 2016.
- Alex Smith (KC) – He doesn’t have the ceiling you look for at quarterback, but he certainly has the floor. Smith finished outside the top-24 just once all season.
- Kirk Cousins (WAS) – After a breakout 2015, it’s likely he’s back in Washington even though he’s scheduled to be a free agent. The offense may have a complete makeover in 2016, however, with the likely departure of Alfred Morris, and the possibility of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon being cap casualties. Depending on how the offseason goes, Cousins can rise or fall a good amount.
- Colin Kaepernick (SF) – He wasn’t dreadful from a fantasy perspective in 2015 given what a dumpster fire the entire team was. Chip Kelly brings hope as he would be the best quarterback Kelly has gotten to coach in the NFL, but there are legitimate concerns about if he will be back with the team and if Kelly plans on bringing in another quarterback to compete.
- Peyton Manning (DEN) – Chances are Manning will sail off into the sunset after Super Bowl 50, but on the off chance he doesn’t, there is more than enough evidence to show he’s cooked. His highest finish all year was QB12, a feat he met only once.
- Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) – Teddy was a huge bust in 2015, averaging a little over 13 points per game. In a great situation, he managed only three top-12 finishes, and four outside the top-24. Can he grow as a passer, or is he just good enough to be a game manager?
Where Will They Land?
- Brock Osweiler (DEN) – When he played, Osweiler was nothing more than a low end QB2 in an optimal situation. His situation for 2016 is very murky given that he is a free agent, the Broncos can opt to bring in a quarterback, and he simply hasn’t shown much promise.
- Sam Bradford (PHI) – In terms of ceiling, Bradford had a 2015 very much like Teddy Bridgewater. After an offseason of hype, Bradford is now one of the least valuable quarterbacks in fantasy football heading into 2016. Chances are he’s be back in Philadelphia which in all likelihood is the best situation for him.
- Brian Hoyer (HOU) – In an odd season for Hoyer, he was an extremely serviceable QB2 when he got the nod. He outscored the likes of Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, and Colin Kaepernick on a per game basis. Even if the Texans draft a quarterback, Hoyer has a shot at being a bridge starter, but chances are last season was his ceiling.
- Robert Griffin III (WAS) – Robert Griffin III played zero snaps in 2015. Likely on the outs in Washington, he’ll have to land in a situation where he can compete to be the starting quarterback or land in a situation like Dallas to have any real value for 2016.
Honorable Mentions: Josh McCown (CLE), Case Keenum (STL), Nick Foles, (STL), Jared Goff, Carson Wentz