Written by Mikey Ostrowski
Now that the 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, I suppose all we have to look forward to is next season! I mean, I guess there’s always real-life playoffs… but I just really miss fantasy football already. My name is Mikey Ostrowski, and this will be my first official post for the Loaded Box Podcast.
I don’t know about you, but I personally wouldn’t take much fantasy advice from someone that I don’t really know or trust to guide me in the right direction, so let me tell you a bit about myself before we get into this. I have been playing fantasy football for about twelve years now, played in multiple leagues each season, and have and will continue to commish for a dynasty league with myself and eleven of my closest friends. Though my name is only on that trophy once (league was founded in 2013), I have made the finals three times and competed in the playoffs every single year so far… so as you can imagine, I’m that guy in the league that everybody else in the league roots against.
I have learned many things about fantasy football over the years, but none has taught me as much as this past season. The 2017 season taught me that rookies CAN be trusted, the “Zero RB” strategy can no longer be a real thing, and how easily a fantasy season can come crumbling down due to injury (I lost Antonio Brown and Rex Burkhead in the semi-finals… as much as I’d like to rant about that one I’ll show some restraint here). With all of that in mind, I have been putting some thought into early rankings and different strategies to use next season.
But for now, enjoy my “way too early” top 10 rankings for fantasy quarterbacks:
- Aaron Rodgers (GB)
- Russell Wilson (SEA)
- Carson Wentz (PHI)
- Cam Newton (CAR)
- Tom Brady (NE)
- Deshaun Watson (HOU)
- Jared Goff (LA)
- Jameis Winston (TB)
- Matthew Stafford (DET)
- Alex Smith (KC) and Kirk Cousins (WAS)
Looking at this list, I don’t think there are very many surprises (aside from the fact that half of this list didn’t play every single game in 2017). I started off with the obvious one: Aaron Rodgers. I don’t think I need to argue with anyone on why he will be the first QB off of most draft boards in 2018. He averaged just under 20 fantasy points a game over the span of seven games (including the game where he went down with injury after only four passing attempts), and in the one game he played back from the IR he managed to put up 25 points despite throwing three INTs.
Russell Wilson at #2 might surprise some of you, but he averaged just under 23 points in 2017 which was second best to only the rookie extraordinaire from Houston. His passing game has gotten better and better and it is bolstered by his abilities in the run game. Seattle may also rebuild their offensive line in the offseason which would give Wilson every opportunity to keep producing like an elite QB.
Next we have Carson Wentz who also averaged just under 23 points in 2017. He was arguably going to be the NFL MVP before going down with an ugly ACL injury. As long as he can make a full recovery, he should continue to make the Eagles look like a stellar football team and should be drafted with confidence as a potentially top-three quarterback.
Cam Newton is a guy that I will have higher than most other analysts. Maybe it’s just because I’m a Panthers fan, or maybe it’s because he is an insane talent that ran for over 700 yards and six touchdowns on top of his 3,000+ passing yards and 20+ passing TDs. From a fantasy (and real life) perspective, he is inconsistent. He will have weeks that will break your heart; but more often than not, he will at least meet expectations. Every single week is a potential boom for Newton, as he could pop off for upwards of 30 points at any given time. If you like to play a little risky, treat Newton as a top-five QB and reap the benefits.
If you like to play more conservatively, go with Tom Brady. He is a safe bet to get at least back-end QB1 numbers each week, while also having upside most of the time. He gets Edelman back next season, and if the rest of his receivers stay healthy (we’re looking at you Gronk), he should be a solid QB1.
Honestly, I think Deshaun Watson will get the star treatment in fantasy drafts in 2018, and rightfully so. Although the sample size was small, Watson was thrown into the starting lineup in Houston and proved that he is a complete baller. Watson averaged over 25 points per game over the first seven of his career, and showed no signs of slowing down. He was a prime rookie of the year candidate before tearing his ACL, and should bounce back in a big way.
Jared Goff comes in at #7 on my list, but honestly this next bit of guys I am going to cover should all be treated about the same. Goff had a pretty good year for a second-year QB, and he’s on a team that is improving each day. Not to mention he has 2017 Fantasy MVP Todd Gurley running between the tackles and taking the attention away from him. He should be a mid-range QB1.
Jameis Winston was a prime breakout candidate in 2017, and if you eliminate everything before week 13, he was! Maybe it was his injury, or maybe he was too busy eating crab legs, but Winston was not a good quarterback the first half of the season. He took some time off to get healthy and get his head clear and when he returned, he balled out. Winston averaged over 20 points after returning to the Bucs’ lineup. He could be a bargain in 2018.
Want a bigger bargain? MATT FREAKIN’ STAFFORD!!! Matthew Stafford puts up QB1 numbers more often than he is given credit for. He’s always treated as a “solid backup for your fantasy squad”, but I think 2018 is the year that people finally give him the respect he deserves. He’s not going to have many huge games, but he’s going to stay consistent for you, and you’ll probably be able to get him late in the draft.
Lastly, I have Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins. I don’t have a definitive answer because it all depends on how the offseason goes. One of these guys has a rookie chomping at the bit, and the other will most certainly see free agency. Nonetheless, these guys are both really good quarterbacks. The biggest issue though is that they get most of their yearly points from just five or six games. They’ll both go off like monsters a couple of times, have a few better than average weeks, and then the rest will be average at best. The quarterback market in fantasy doesn’t have the depth that we wish it would, so if you miss out on an elite guy, it’s kind of a crap shoot.
Stay tuned for more Way Too Early Rankings for running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, as well as updated rankings as we get a little closer to the 2018 NFL season. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments regarding my rankings or anything football, I’m always down for some sports talk!
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