Under the Hat – Fantasy 2016 Review. The QB @jayhatton49

So as some of you may have heard, the Superbowl is on next week. This week is the hum drum and quite honestly boring Pro Bowl. Which, unlike it’s basketball opposite, doesn’t actually have all of the best players in the game because a good few of those players are playing in the Superbowl or fake injury so they don’t risk actually getting injured.However, if you caught the skills challenge this week, it actually looked really fun! Sort of like a weird ninja warrior for giant humans to play with. Should certainly stay for next year in my opinion and there is something quite satisfying about watching professional athletes playing dodgeball. Don’t know what it is….? Anyway.

On to the actual point of this article and setting the scene for the next few weeks. For many of you in fantasy land, the season finished in week 16 and there has been a bit of a void in your lives. Don’t be macho, admit it. You have been missing it. So I decided to go through the fantasy season and do a round up of sorts of and list the top players at each position and briefly examine if they will get better, get worse or or stay the same for next season. Please note that this will purely be based on the past seasons results and my gut feeling knowing what I know about football.

On to this week, quarterbacks. The position that is played by at least 32 players each year but only a handful seem to truly excel and dominate. From the top tier guys, there is usually quite a drop, further emphasising the point that if you don’t have a franchise QB then you are truly limited in how much success you will have. Unless you are Indianapolis.

1 – Aaron Rodgers 380 points – 4428 yards, 369 rushing, 44 total TD, 7 INT, 4 FUM

Anyone surprised? Nope. Didn’t think so. Rodgers providing a valuable return to anyone who took him between late 1st and early 3rd rounds. Most would never pick a QB so high, not with extreme value in the later rounds but if you did pick him, you probably weren’t going to complain. Scoring over 20 points 11 out of 17 games with a few 30 point efforts. No one came close to matching his production. No major changes to foresee, same core players coming back. Same Rodgers.

Next year – Stay the same

2, Matt Ryan 347 points – 4944 yards, 117 rushing, 38 total TD, 7 INT, 2 FUM

Anyone surprised? Yeah to be honest I think most of us are. Not because Ryan had flamed out all previous other years but just how many impressive games he put up week after week. He was more consistent than Rodgers over the course of the season and averaged 21 points a game. Leading the leagues highest scoring offense just might lead them to a Superbowl title. Next year however, might be different with playcaller Kyle Shanahan likely to leave and take over San Francisco. Even with the same players next year,  I think there will be some regression, not much, but some. His average ADP this year was round 15 so is easily the best value pick of 2016 but I guarantee in next years drafts that he gets massively overdrafted.

Next year – Worse

3, Drew Brees 332 points – 5208 yards, 39 total TD, 15 INT, 4 FUM

Like Tom Brady, Drew Brees is still at the top of his game. With a fresh bevy of pass catches to play with and a revived (sorta) backfield in Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower, Brees put up Brees-like numbers. Mass yardage (he now has 5 5000 yard seasons, no one else has more than 1) but his fantasy figures were hurt by all those turnovers. Even as he nears 40 years old. I think he has at least one more productive season left but I think a slight regression is due.

Next year – Worse

4, Andrew Luck 307 points – 4240 yards, 341 rushing, 33 total TD, 13 INT, 5 FUM

Okay so the whole Colts thing is getting a bit repetitive, finally the Colts owner axed their GM who had pretty much failed miserably putting a decent team around his superstar QB. The fact that Luck continues to put up big numbers despite a poor o-line, sub par running game and underwhelming wide receivers, is a testament to how good he really is. He finally stayed healthy (still missed one game mind) and we got great numbers. In the presumption that they address their obvious 2016 flaws and at worst, improve slightly, then his numbers should go up.

Next year – Better

5, Kirk Cousins 300 points – 4917 yards, 96 rushing, 29 total TD, 12 INT, 3 FUM

You like that?!?! Ok I’m sorry I hate that ridiculous catchphrase too. That being said, I did like Cousins’ production this year. Using a wide range of players at his disposal, he produced mass yardage but failed to hit the 30 TD mark. Although I think he has pretty much hit his ceiling, he was consistent scoring above 15 points in 12 of 16 games. Not bad if you drafted him in the double digit rounds, if at all. He should have most of the same players next year, hopefully with a good draft have some help in the running game but without OC Sean McVay I am not convinced that he puts up those same gaudy passing yards.

Next year – Worse

6, Dak Prescott 286 points – 3667 yards, 282 rushing, 29 total TD, 4 INT, 4 FUM

Dak’s rookie season of 286 points is the third highest point total ever (behind Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III in 2012). Again I don’t think you were looking his way but if you picked him up after the first few weeks of the season, you could virtually plug him in each week thanks to his ability to score with his legs (6 TD) He did not make mistakes at all and although I like his chances to improve, defenses will have a full year of game tape to study in the off season and the Cowboys will be on everyone’s radar thanks to a 13-3 campaign. Unless he gets lazy in the summer, which by all accounts he does not seem to be that sort of guy, I think his numbers will roughly be the same and he will be one of the next 5 QB’s to get drafted after Rodgers.

Next year – Stays the same

7, Matthew Stafford 279 points – 4327 yards, 207 rushing, 26 total TD, 10 INT, 2 FUM

My early pick for MVP kind of faltered as the season went on. After 3 20 point outings in the first 6 weeks, he only hit more than 20 once in the next 10 games. He didn’t have much in his favour with brittle running backs a leaky defence and broken finger on his throwing hand. Much of his impressive play goes beyond stats and he carried his team all year by dragging them along and winning games all by himself. He did the best that he could with what he had so coming in at QB7 is generally impressive. He still has Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays and you would presume that having Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick healthy will help improve his draft stock. Personally though, I wouldn’t draft him until at least the double digit rounds. Plenty of value elsewhere with less pain on your heart and nerves.

Next year – Better

8, Tyrod Taylor 270 points – 3023 yards, 580 rushing, 23 total TD, 6 INT, 2 FUM

I love Tyrod Taylor. He doesn’t get half the credit that he deserves. He led all QBs in rushing yards and rushing TDs and only had 2 lost fumbles and just 6 interceptions. No his yards weren’t great but playing in a run heavy system with little to no help from his wide receivers, it’s amazing he hit 3000 yards. He has one of the prettiest deep balls in the league and if the Bills don’t retain him, another team will and you can bet they will use him much more effectively. With his uncertain future it is difficult to gauge his success next year. I am going to guess he moves on to a different team and gets the starting gig but maybe takes a year or so before marked improvement kicks in.

Next year – Better

9, Blake Bortles 270 points – 3905 yards, 359 rushing, 26 total TD, 16 INT, 6 FUM

So. If you watched football at all this year, you will know that Bortles coming in at QB9 is an utter farce. He was easily one of the worst players in football and he still ranked 14th in the whole league in fantasy scoring. Thanks to many garbage time points when games were clearly over, his mechanics and lack of desire despite one of the best wide receiver trios in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marquis Lee. Considering how bad he was, there is literally nowhere else to go but up.  A new coach, new system and hopefully some kind of offseason work on his throwing motion would surely get Blake back on track. However, he is not a lock to be the starting QB in Jacksonville so at best he is on a short leash. I wouldn’t draft him next year at all because although his ceiling is very high, his floor is extremely low so he will be a guy to stream once the season gets going.

Next year – Worse

10, Derek Carr 268 points – 3937 yards, 28 TD, 6 INT, 3 FUM

In almost the polar opposite of Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr’s play far exceeds his numbers and had him leading his Raiders teams towards the number 2 seed in the AFC rankings. But once he got hurt, the Raiders bombed out and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. With another season under his belt and the same system, I would expect Carr to improve to over 4000 yards and 35 scores. He rarely gets sacked thanks to a great offensive line so these numbers are sure to improve. His body of work so far and marked improvement each year. I would consider him a top 5 QB next year.

Next year – Better

11, Russell Wilson 268 points – 4219 yards, 259 rushing, 22 total TD, 11 INT, 2 FUM

Thanks to Wilson’s legs and improvisational skills, he is usually in the top 10 of QBs. This year was very different for him. A noticeable drop off in their run game with Marshawn Lynch retired and ongoing poor line play, forced him to pass more and as a result, passed for decent yards but his touchdowns were all down. The Seahawks struggles on offense affected Wilson the most and his 13 total turnovers were very uncharacteristic. Barring a monumental change with their defence, their focus will surely be on the offensive line and running game so Wilson’s numbers should at least stay the same, if not improve. His lack of production with his legs however is worrying.

Next year – Stay the same

12, Andy Dalton 260 points – 4206 yards, 184 yards rushing, 22 total TD, 8 INT, 3 FUM

Andy Dalton was on fire for the first half of the season, scoring more than 15 points in 7 of his first 8 games of the season Injury to superstar AJ Green and failing run game limited him to scoring less than 15 points in 5 of the next 8. Dalton did not have a single game where he passed for 3 or more touchdowns. The loss of several key playmakers clearly affected this team and they were simply not built to cope with it once AJ Green went down. A healthy Green, Tyler Eifert and extra off season of work for Tyler Boyd should hopefully get Dalton back in to the top 10.

Next year – Better

13, Marcus Mariota 259 points – 3426 yards, 349 rushing, 28 total TD, 9 INT, 5 FUM

Mariota had a very up and down season. Starting slowly, exploding in the middle of the season and then flaming out just as hard till culminating in his devastating injury. Averaging just 10 points a game in the first month of the season, he went on a tear over the next 8 weeks averaging just over 23 points a game up until their bye week.Sadly, when it mattered, he failed to top 10 points in the last 3 weeks and the Titans subsequently dropped out of the playoff race. Mariota, just like Derek Carr, has shown considerable improvement year on year and is almost certain to build on his success and be given more opportunity to lead his team and win games. I would expect he would continue to be a dual threat and out of the bevy of young signal callers in the league, you should hedge your bets on Mariota getting better with another year in the same system.

Next year – Better

14, Philip Rivers 258 points – 4386 yards, 33 TD, 21 INT, 5 FUM

Rivers both amazed and angered fantasy owners in 2016. His struggles in the second halves of seasons are well documented now and his interceptions really hurt his teams chances of reaching the playoffs. Yes they had all their injuries which would have led him to force throws he probably wouldn’t have had to make but his struggles cannot be ignored. That being said, should they stay healthy, he will have a really deep WR corp to throw to. A new coach with an emphasis on the run game along with his age doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence so although I don’t see a major regression, I don’t think he gets any better either.

Next year – Stays the same

15, Tom Brady 258 points – 3554 yards, 28 TD, 2 INT 

Not much else needs to be said about the 39 year old Tom Brady that hasn’t already been said. He missed 4 games and cracked the top 15. He is visceral and lethal in the pocket and if you drafted him, knowing you would have to plug someone else in for the first month of the season, he was well worth the wait. I don’t want to say that he can’t improve at age 40 next year but I am not sure that he plays THIS well. Presuming he plays at least one more year, hopefully with more Gronkowski and ongoing development of guys like Malcolm Mitchel, Dion Lewis etc. Why not?!

Next year – Stays the same

Honourable mentions

16, Jameis Winston 256 points. Considerable improvement this year, trending upwards

24, Carson Wentz 212 points. Tough rookie campaign with no weapons, will be better with more experience and some good additions in the offseason

25, Colin Kaepernick 200 points. Ridiculous upside with his running ability. 4 great games but low low ceiling thanks to below average passing yards. Viable guy to stream but he might not even be starting next year depending on where he ends up.

Disappointments

17, Cam Newton 254 points – QB1 and MVP last year. Heck of a drop off but should improve.

18. Ben Roethisberger 252 points – asked to do less but still threw silly interceptions that cost his owners crucial points. Apparently flirting with retirement (puuuuurlease).

19, Carson Palmer 243 points, 20, Joe Flacco 242 points, 21, Eli Manning 224. Just disappointing. Avoid.

Sleeper pick next year

Jimmy Garopollo – 4 TDs and no picks in 2 games for the heir apparent to Tom Brady before getting injured. Not much to work with but showed exceptional poise and accuracy. Depending on the team he gets traded to, IF he gets traded, he will be worth a look in the later rounds.

Final notes – of the 15 QBs above, 10 were drafted in round 8 or later. Only 2 QBs had multiple 30 point games (Rodgers and Brees). 25 QBs had over 200 points but overall, there were 56 less TDs thrown compared to 2015, which were fewest since 2012. Despite missing 4 games, Tom Brady was QB 15 this year and his 21 points a game average were only beaten by Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Colin Kaepernick was second in QB rushing yards with 468 despite only playing 12 games.

@jayhatton49

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