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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Top 10 Dropouts - Quarterbacks
Which QBs will fall from the fantasy top ten in 2017?
8/21/17

With drafting season upon us, it’s time, in true cynical Shot Caller fashion, to start throwing out caution flags. Repeatable stellar performance seems to elude even the best and the brightest the league has to offer and this year, if history holds, will be no exception to that role. It will. It always does. Put another way, the guys everyone’s talking about this August will be the same guys we’ll be talking about next August in this column as we autopsy what went wrong. Let’s just save a step and future grief by talking about them now, shall we?

Note: All rankings are based on FFToday’s default standard scoring.

  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2015
Rank Player
1 Cam Newton
2 Tom Brady
3 Blake Bortles
4 Russell Wilson
5 Carson Palmer
6 Drew Brees
7 Eli Manning
8 Matthew Stafford
9 Kirk Cousins
10 Philip Rivers
  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2016
Rank Player
1 Aaron Rodgers
2 Drew Brees
3 Matt Ryan
4 Andrew Luck
5 Kirk Cousins
6 Philip Rivers
7 Matthew Stafford
8 Blake Bortles
9 Dak Prescott
10 Jameis Winston


Who Missed the Cut in 2016 (5/10): Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning

This class of dropouts is more notable for the “who” than the “how many” as four of the top five QBs from 2015 failed to scale their previous heights in 2016. Even excepting Tom Brady’s predictable freefall ? the result of a hotly debated suspension ? it’s shocking to see the sport’s most prolific producers tumble so far so quickly. Perhaps even more shockingly, the only one of those five to retain Top 10 status was none other than Blake “Keep That Sh*t Inbounds” Bortles, the oft-criticized scattershot/turnover machine who isn’t even guaranteed a future in Jacksonville (or anywhere else).

I didn’t predict Newton’s struggles but, in hindsight, they probably surprised me the least. Prior to his magical 2015 campaign, the Panthers’ franchise man had never thrown for even 25 touchdowns, let alone 35. Now he’s coming off shoulder surgery and a career-low 4.0 yards per rush average. When Cam doesn’t run well, he’s a lot less interesting. The same could probably be said of Russell Wilson, though he almost managed to overcome career-worst rushing numbers (259 total and 3.6 per) to reclaim his Top 10 status last season, thanks primarily to a career-best 4,219 passing yards.

There was nothing career-best about Carson Palmer’s 2016 campaign, but it wasn’t as bad as most people think. 4,000+ yards and 26 TD strikes? We’d have been happy with that if only he hadn’t notched almost 4,700 yards and 35 touchdowns the year prior. Eli Manning’s 2016 regression was eerily similar to Palmer’s (also down to 26 scores after 35 in 2016), strange considering how good his receivers were and how punchless New York’s running game was. Speaking of running, neither Palmer nor Manning do that. Like, ever. Just something to bear in mind as QBs get more and more versatile every year.

Most Likely Candidates to Fall from the Top 10 This Year:

Kirk Cousins

Numerous changes on offense on and off the field could lead Cousins to drop from the fantasy top ten.



Kirk Cousins, WAS: Remember when Cousins’ contract status and Washington’s racially insensitive mascot passed for moderately topical and controversial subjects inside the Beltway? SMH. It’s hard to say how much longer the Sparty product will ply his trade in our nation’s capital, but he sure is being paid handsomely to do so again this season, at least (just over $23 million). Of course, he’s traded longer-term security for that upfront cash and many still wonder if he’s truly worth locking down for years to come. Consider me one of those wonderers, though I seem to be on increasingly shaky statistical footing.

Simply put, Cousins has played really well the last year and change and the numbers seem to support the Washington brass’ decision to fully commit to him, should they finally end up doing that next summer. Since Week 14 of the 2015 season, he’s averaged precisely 25 fantasy points per regular season game, placing him solidly in the Top 5 at the position during that stretch. Top 5, not Top 10. And yet….

There are things about him that make me uneasy. For starters, he scores an inordinate number of rushing touchdowns for a guy averaging fewer than three yards per career tote. Would you believe Tyrod Taylor has only scored once more with his legs the last two seasons despite logging exactly a THOUSAND more rushing yards? Sustainability alert! I’m also worried Washington subtracted two players who accounted for 216 of Cousins’ 2016 targets and almost half his passing yards (DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon). Can a recovering Jordan Reed and the newly acquired Terrelle Pryor fill that breach? Finally, Cousins also lost his offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, the wunderkind who will attempt to reverse the Rams’ flagging fortunes. Lots of change in not much time. Be wary.

Philip Rivers, LAC: I’m literally shaking my head as I’m typing this. Rivers is, without a doubt, one of my favorite fantasy players. Actually, he’s one of my favorite NFL players, period. He doesn’t miss games. He wins more than he loses despite often dubious talent around him. He plays with a zest for the game others lack. He does all this, moreover, while supporting a wife and eight kids at home. Ha! Eight!!!

Though he’ll walk away as one of the game’s most consistent producers of fantasy points (and children), it’s fair to suggest the tailing-off period is beginning. For one, Rivers is possibly the least mobile quarterback in the league, meaning he gives you nothing in the way of rushing production. He also faces two of the NFL’s most dangerous defensive ends, Von Miller and Khalil Mack, twice each. Immobile QB + below-average offensive line + lethal edge rushers = possible end to an 11-season stretch of consecutive starts. I’m not saying it will happen, just that it could.

Even if he delivers another 16 starts, there are questions about the guys Rivers will be playing catch with. “Talented but untrustworthy” would be the charitable way of describing them. Keenan Allen, when healthy, is a Top 10 target. Unfortunately, he’s been as unreliable health-wise as Rivers has been reliable, having played in 9 of a possible 32 games since the start of the 2015 season. Not to be outdone, Mike Williams, a top 10 pick in April’s draft, will miss at least the first month of his rookie season. After those two, there’s raw talent (Tyrell Williams), raw speed (Travis Benjamin), and a ready-made replacement for the venerable Antonio Gates (Hunter Henry). In other words, Rivers has everything he needs to prove me wrong. I hope he does.

Blake Bortles, JAX: The question doesn’t seem to be if the Jaguars will move on from Bortles any longer, but when. Tom Coughlin now has complete control in Jacksonville and the former Giants’ head man is famously intolerant of mistakes, something Bortles seems to specialize in. Coughlin’s old-fashioned approach may seem anachronistic in today’s millennial-heavy NFL, but it’s hard to argue with what’s on the dude’s resume: two Vince Lombardi trophies. He knows he’s not adding another one by indulging the wild inaccuracy and killer picks of a QB he didn’t draft.

And yet, this causes some measure of consternation in the fantasy community because…Bortles is a straight-up erner in our world! I doubt there’s a player since I’ve been playing fantasy football, in fact, whose real football value is so drastically different than his pretend football value. I’ve already told you he was the only Top 5 QB to remain in the Top 10 rankings in 2016, but think about what that really means. It means Blake Bortles, despite being terrible and standing a pretty good chance of losing his job before Week 1, has been a Top 10 fantasy quarterback two years running!

There’s always an outside chance the lightbulb could come on for the Jags’ embattled signal caller this season and he could keep this job. I’m not convinced that would be enough to prevent a Top 10 tumble, however, and here’s why: Tom Coughlin is going to reinvent Jacksonville football and he’s going to do with a promising young defense and a promising young feature back, Leonard Fournette. It may not translate to more wins immediately, but I’m guessing it will at least translate to tighter games and way fewer pass attempts for Bortles or Henne. He topped 600 the past two seasons. Not happening.

Next: Running Backs





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