As we continue to preach preparation here at Dr. Fantasy, we’ll shine our spotlight on the age old question of “when do you draft a QB?”
There’s plenty of different schools of thought on this one – I’m sure you’ve got the guy in your league who throws a second round pick at Aaron Rodgers every year. I’m not here to tell you that guy’s wrong. What I will tell you is that it’s often times far easier to secure a top 10 QB later in the draft while securing a stud RB or WR in that same spot than it is to hope you hit on all your mid round picks to make up for it.
There’s only a handful of QB’s that I’d consider “early” round picks. They are as follows:
- Aaron Rodgers (ADP 23)
- Tom Brady (ADP 29)
- DeShaun Watson (ADP 46)
- Carson Wentz (ADP 55)
- Russell Wilson (ADP 56)
- Cam Newton (ADP 58)
You can certainly waste an entire day arguing the merits of each of these QBs, but the fact is that if you want one of them, you have to prepare yourself to spend big time draft capital to acquire them.
Ignoring Wentz, Wilson, and Newton (because they all have decent value in the 6th round), we find ourselves debating second year QB DeShaun Watson, perennial #1 QB Aaron Rodgers, and a 41 year old Tom Brady.
Of this group only Aaron Rodgers is worth considering at their current draft point. Consider this; by selecting Rodgers at 23rd overall (his current ESPN draft price), you’re passing on the 2nd tier of receivers and the end of the starting running backs pool. Is it worth it to piece together a skill position group without a 2nd round pick? For an argument, here is what you can expect from Rodgers + an 11th round WR and what you can expect from 11th round Matt Stafford + a 2nd round receiver.
- Aaron Rodgers (20.3 points per game) + DeSean Jackson (6.1 points per game)
- Mike Evans (10 points per game) + Matt Stafford (16.6 points per game)
Consistency wise, there’s not much of an argument as DeSean Jackson is, at best, a flex play and bye week fall back. While you’re likely to have other wide outs on your team, you can instead draft a starting QB who’s 50% production (compared to Rodgers) is far more appealing that the 35% you’d get from Jackson (compared to Evans).
Now extrapolate that for Watson and Brady and there’s little argument that those guys are as valuable in the 3rd and 4th round as a 2nd back or wide receiver. If you’re not really sure how to piece together a team with high upside backups and sleeper wide outs, we implore you: wait on a QB.
It’s that time of year again folks; Mock Time! Sure, I may have been mocking for weeks now, but as last years fantasy owners wake from their off season hibernation, the lobbies are really filling up! If you’re like me, then you know how valuable mocking can be when setting your expectations.
Tonight I jumped into an 12 team standard mock and was pleasantly surprised by the crowd; most people stayed in and drafted. Over the course of 16 rounds we battled for pretend domination, and below are my thoughts on the draft. Dr. Fantasy selected 7th overall.
Right out of the gates we saw the draft stray from the normal expert projections with Odell Beckham being selected as the first wide out off the board at the 3rd overall spot. I may not have made the pick myself with Brown available, but we here at the Dr’s office preach “get your guy” so grabbing Odell at three is far from egregious. Saquon fell to me at 7, so I was excited to secure my bell cow back. Overall, there weren’t many surprises as all of these names deserved to be selected in the first round.
Best Pick: Leonard Fournette – Knowing the format can be all the difference between a contender and a pretender. In standard leagues, Fournette is a top 5 back in my opinion, and snagging him 10th is a steal.
The second round saw a few more deviations from the norm as Carson Wentz wins the dubious distinction of being the first pick that I don’t agree with. While I like his talent, he’s not a better fantasy option than Rodgers, Wilson, or Newton… and that’s not even taking into account that his season ended on a major injury. For my selection, grabbing a guy who could be a top 3 wideout at 18th overall is a steal. With Brett Hundley as his QB, Adams turned in a WR1 stat line. With Rodgers, his ceiling is as the WR1.
Best Pick: Devonta Freeman doesn’t get a lot of love these days, but he is still the lead back in what should be a top 10 offense again this year. Tevin Coleman will command passing downs again, but this is a standard league and Freeman should be a back end RB1 in 2018.
It was in round 3 that things got a little funny as “Team DM” selected his 2nd QB (Aaron Rodgers). I can only imagine this was an “auto pick” accident. Beyond that we had most of our high ceiling, low floor players start to trickle off the board. In true Dr. Fantasy fashion, we took a stab at a guy who could either see 350 touches or somehow play his way off my roster in Joe Mixon. I love his talent, but I hate the Bengals… not my favorite pick but Diggs (my original target) was sniped just one pick ahead.
Best Pick: I can’t say enough about Stefon Diggs and his undeniable talent. While Thielen was certainly a breakout performer (one that I was all over in 2017), he’s prime for regression and his draft price doesn’t give him much room for error. Diggs, on the other hand, has a real chance to put up spectacular numbers with the strong armed Cousins throwing him the football.
For years now, the trend has been to see the best of the rookie running backs start to pop up in round 4. With Guice and Penny, you have two rookies that should walk onto the field in their first NFL start as the top dog in each respective backfields. Selecting them here is akin to Kareem Hunt last year, and could be a great source of fantasy points. Unfortunatey for me, with both off the board, I was left grabbing the only wide out left that has the pedigree and opportunity to finish as a WR1. I don’t think Cooper’s 2017 was as destructive for his prospects going forward, but there is certainly cause for concern.
Best Pick: I wrote an article recently about how Demaryius Thomas may be the most underrated receiver coming off the board in the first 5 rounds. I’m sticking by that analysis. With a massive target share and a declining Emmanuel Sanders ensuring at least 140 targets, his floor his higher than all but a handful of the receivers in his tier.
Guys started taking chances in the 5th round (ignoring Team DM and his obviously silly selections), and it’s becoming clear this is one of those “Championship Winner” rounds in 2018. The running backs pool is slim pickin’s and a few of these selections likely caused their owners a bit of pain when making them. The Golden Tate selection did the same for me as I’ve been critical of his inconsistency. It’ll require a lot of week to week management to maximize his potential as he typically turns in “bust” weeks about 30-40% of the time.
Best Pick: Team Anderson did it to me again but selecting one of Dr. Fantasy’s favorite breakout candidates one pick prior. Corey Davis, the former 5th overall pick for Tennessee, never got it going last year as he and Mariota struggled to play healthy with each other. With no such concerns going into 2018, his talent should see him take a leap at the position.
In the 6th round, it’s important to target players who provide a larger opportunity for touches or targets. Seeing both Engram and Clay go before Jimmy Graham was quizzical for me as neither figures to see as high a percentage of scoring opportunities as Graham will. Of course, Engram’s got the talent to be a top 5 TE, but with so many weapons being added to the offense in New York, it’s going to be difficult to repeat those gaudy numbers he produced as a rookie.
Best Pick: I’ll have to give myself a little bit of love for the Pierre Garcon pick. While it was commented that Garcon was selected a little early, I maintain that he’s being severly undervalued by the fantasy community in 2018. In the 8 games he started, Garcon was targeted an average of 8.3 times per game, good for a 134 over a 16 game season. With Garoppolo, he may see even more.
If we played out this league, I’d argue this would be our “wish I had a mulligan” round as a lot of drafters were left taking players who offer a mediocre return on their investment. The RB and WR positions were pretty picked over at this point, and unless you really loved a player here, grabbing a 2nd tier TE or top tier QB was the better play.
Best Pick: With some owners making funny picks (read: Team DM), it’s amazing that Russell Wilson fell to the 7th round. As a threat to be the QB1 every year, he deserves to be selected along side Aaron Rodgers as the only two “Draft Early” QBs. I love his talent, and an effective run game should protect him from undue injury risks.
It’s only natural that after a disappointing round 7 that a run on excellent, underrated receivers and running backs would help the draft get back on track. Neither Burkhead nor Williams figures to be a traditional “bell cow” back, but the opportunity to be a large part of a top 3 offense means huge value as we approach the tail end of the “starter quality” backs pool. Likewise, my selection of Jamison Crowder came down to adding yet another high volume breakout candidate as he becomes Alex Smith’s favorite target. His ability to get separation should lead to a massive campaign.
Best Pick: With Jarvis Landry gone and Ryan Tannehill resuming his job as the starting QB in Miami, Parker should see a giant uptick in targets this season. It’s a safe bet in the 8th to grab a player with a solid floor, and Parker’s is one of the last guys left that I’m comfortable starting nearly every week.
I’m not thrilled with my pick in the 9th, but with my roster super heavy at the wide receiver position, it was time to take a back that has a chance to be a true lead back in the NFL in D’Onta Foreman. While he’s no safe bet coming off that rupture achilles, I love his talent and Houston is desperate to fill that lead back role as Lamar Miller continues to decline.
Best Pick: There’s a few really good picks in this round, but Marlon Mack at 100 overall is criminal, as stealing a starting NFL running back in a round that featured 5 other backs who currently sit 2nd on their depth charts could the pick that puts a team over the top. Ignore those that are arguing against Mack as the Indy offense will look very different this year should Luck start (as we expect).
It was another tough break as my plan to secure Ty Montgomery fell through just before the clock turned to my pick. I’m pleased, though, with the consolation prize as Kirk Cousin’s off season failed to produce much change in his average draft position. While he’s not someone who will challenge Rodgers and Wilson in the ELITE tier, he has the goods to finish as a top 5 QB. It’s interesting that Dez Bryant went here, as well, given that as we approach the season he’s still not signed. While I believe Bryant could offer a team in need some valuable red zone help, he’s likely not going to have enough time to integrate himself in an offense, leaving owners scrambling to replace him when it comes time to drop dead weight.
Best Pick: It’s dangerous selecting a Patriots running back, but James White is by far the most consistent. At this point, the passing down back has the kind of sample size that should alleviate fears, yet one of the few backs to see consistent top 5 targets over the last few years is still going far too late in drafts. With no Dion Lewis in New England, he’s a threat to lead all backs not named Johnson or Bell in passing down targets.
In 12 team leagues, missing out at the running back position will leave you in the position I found myself in; tossing darts at high upside back ups and handcuffs in order to supplement an uninspiring unit. Gio Bernard represents a pure handcuff for Mixon, and could be used as a waiver dump should a player arise that I’m interested in. Should Mixon get hurt or lose ground early, I think Bernard has the kind of talent that will keep me from losing too much ground.
Best Pick: I put too much faith in the ADP data to secure me CJ Anderson in the next round as he dropped about 6 picks before I was planning on grabbing him. It’s clear that Carolina doesn’t plan on using McCaffrey on first and second downs as much as we’d like, and Anderson figures to be an underrated bench player in standard leagues.
Our first Jimmy G sighting! It’s all excitement these days in San Francisco, but it’s Patrick Mahomes who excites me in this block of picks. With one of the best skill position groups on the field, the 2nd year Kansas City signal caller should have every opportunity to capitalize on an offense that somehow helped Alex Smith finish as the QB4 last year. Unfortunately for me, I was left throwing darts at the RB position, and Chris Carson is a flyer at best. The Seattle Seahawks back up running back may have a hard time taking the job from Rashaad Penny, but has the talent to run away with it if he does.
Best Pick: His injury history is undeniable, but Tyler Eifert represents the unique situation that his talent and opportunity trump and risk of injury. At 144, and well behind far less talented backs, he will be a steal (when he plays) for whatever team has him.
More running backs, are you surprised? I’ll be honest, though, and say I just really dislike this pick. Had I the chance to do it over, I’d have grabbed DJ Moore and hunted the waiver wire for a 5th running back. Instead, I have Wilkins, who’s best suited as a handcuff for Marlon Mack. I’m not convinced Nyheim Hines is a three down player, so only Mack stands between Wilkins and a surprise arrival as a starting NFL RB.
Best Pick: I say it year in and year out; wait on a QB. Selecting last year’s QB4 all the way at pick 156 is proof that this strategy works, and works well. While there’s certainly value in trotting out Russell Wilson every week, it’s just as valuable to pair Alex Smith with a player like Brandin Cooks (similar draft price to Wilson).
At this point, teams are taking backups and flyers, and my selection of Doug Martin checks off all the boxes. We all know that Marshawn Lynch is well past his prime, and with Oakland promising to run the football this year, Martin could be the surprise recipient of coach Gruden’s plan to roll back the clock.
Best Pick: I can’t decide between Michael Gallup and Jordan Matthews, so I’ll take the easy way out and say both. With Gallup, the chance to inherit the targets vacated by Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are enticing, and I personally don’t think Hurns is a true NFL #1WR. Matthews, on the other hand, profiles as the kind of player Tom Brady turns into a super star. Sure handed with crisp route running skills, the slot receiver will have every opportunity to become one of Brady’s favorite targets while Julien Edelman sits for a PED suspension. Even when he comes back, the 32 year old Edeleman is no safe bet to be the same player he was in years past.
Not much to talk about here as D/ST and Kickers are the bulk of the picks. Tucker is the kind of kicker I like to have every year; he’s as consistent as they get.
Best Pick: I’ve been bullish on Mitch Trubisky all off season, and as my QB19 (and rising) he’s likely to out perform a handful of the QB’s selected before him. He’s equipped with a borderline elite talent in Allen Robinson, a very talented rookie in Anthony Miller, and a backfield that should protect him from having to do too much too soon. In the second to last round you can’t do much better.
This is where you really reach into your bag of tricks if you’re not drafting a defense or kicker. The now-sober Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is our Mr. Irrelevent (we don’t count kickers here at the Dr’s Office), and profiles as one of the true breakout candidates at the TE position.
Best Pick: If you gathered from the brevity of the previous sentence that Austin Sefarian-Jenkins was my favorite pick in the last round, then kudos. A lot has been said about his talent, and the truth is that we’ve never even really seen him at 100%. After battling substance abuse issues, ASJ made the effort to get sober and has rededicated his life to football. I’m expecting big things from the new Jaguars’ Tight End.
My Final Roster
- QB: Kirk Cousins
- RB: Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, D’Onta Foreman, Gio Bernard, Chris Carson, Jordan Wilkins, Doug Martin
- WR: Davante Adams, Amari Cooper, Golden Tate, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder
- TE: Greg Olsen
- D/ST: Bears D
- Kicker: Justin Tucker
This isn’t the strongest mock I’ve had, but I only know one way to draft; like I’m trying to win the league. With so many of my targets disappearing just before my picks, I was left piecing together a mediocre backfield that I’m hoping features one or two breakouts. I don’t recommend drafting seven running backs either, but if you find yourself lagging behind at the position, it’s important to remember that two of them are wholly expendable. I want to secure a solid backup for Olsen given his age and the mileage, and I want to re-evaluate early on with the “back ups” as they shouldn’t stay on my roster longer than they need to be.
If there’s any advice I can give you going into your own twelve team drafts, it’s to not panic. A quick glance around the league leaves me with the impression that too many unproven commodities are being drafted too early. Leagues are never won at the draft – their won by expert management over the course of a long fantasy season.
A big thank you to the several mockers who stuck around and made this draft fun and insightful. As always, mock often, and enjoy the 2018 season!
- Aaron Rodgers, GB
- Russell Wilson, SEA
- Cam Newton, CAR
- Drew Brees, NO
- A quiet yet efficient season has bred this idea that Brees is no longer elite. Expect a return to the top 5, especially with Ingram missing time.
- Carson Wentz, PHI
- Deshaun Watson, HOU
- Tom Brady, NE
- This off season has been difficult for the Patriots as they have faced infighting, suspensions, and denatures. Brady will likely still be elite on the field, but his fantasy prospects take a hit.
- Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
- Kirk Cousins, MIN
- Matthew Stafford, DET
- Philip Rivers, LAC
- Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
- The 5 game stretch to finish the year was impressive, but too many quarter backs have wilted under the pressure after securing the big contract. If reports of Jimmy G’s struggles at camp are correct, caution should be taken.
- Jared Goff, LAR
- Matt Ryan, ATL
- Jameis Winston, TB
- Patrick Mahomes, KC
- The weapons are there in this high powered offense, but the difference between the potential floor and potential ceiling is where the questions begin. As likely as he is a top 10 QB, he’s a bottom tier guy who struggles in his first real action.
- Alex Smith, WAS
- Mitch Trubisky, CHI
- Dak Prescott, DAL
- Marcus Mariota, TEN
- Eli Manning, NYG
- The age is a real concern as Manning turns 38 this year and has tons of mileage on his tires, but his situation has improved immensely. Getting back OBJ and Shephard, receiving better protection, and having an effective run game should have him back in the top 20 conversation.
- Derek Carr, OAK
- Case Keenum, DEN
- Andrew Luck, IND
- This is likely to change as we approach the season and his availability becomes clearer, but for now we have him ranked conservatively, should he start the season on the roster.
- Blake Bortles, JAC
- Andy Dalton, CIN
- Ryan Tannehill, MIA
- Jacoby Brissett, IND
- Joe Flacco, BAL
- I would once have defended Flacco against the haters but I can no longer ignore the writing on the wall. One year older, and an early round addition in Lamar Jackson give Flacco very little room for error.
- Tyrod Taylor, CLE
- Sam Bradford, ARI
- Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ
- Sam Darnold, NYJ
- Josh Rosen, ARI
- Of all the rookie QB’s, Rosen feels like he’s the closest to a starting gig, mainly because Bradford is a safe bet to get injured. If you’re drafting in re-drafts, most of these rookie QB’s aren’t an option, but Rosen may be the best of the bunch.
- Baker Mayfield, CLE
- Nick Foles, PHI
- Josh Allen, BUF
- A.J. McCarron, BUF
- Neither McCarron, nor Allen, excite me much, but it’s likely McCarron’s offense for now. If you need a really deep play – he may be worth a look in the last round of your draft. Ideally he’d be a waiver wire pickup, though.
- Lamar Jackson, BAL
- Josh McCown, NYJ
Every year I run an article where I examine the what I consider to the be the most rewarding same team pairings in fantasy football. The idea, if you’re not familiar, is that by adding high tier quarterbacks with elite wide receivers or running backs you give yourself a larger share of the available points. Of course, this works best with high scoring offenses.
Last year I missed the mark a little bit with my go to; Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, as both disappointed. Luckily I planned well enough that it didn’t impact me too much (I won the league after all), but the same risks exist for any strategy as some guys just don’t show up.
But this year presents a different challenge, as the number of elite quarterbacks have dropped precipitously and the number of sure fire fantasy studs is at a questionable level. Let’s begin:
Earl Round Pairs ( Most Difficult To Manage)
Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams: Adams is finally getting the respect he deserves, ranking 7th among wide receivers. Pairing the #7 WR with the #1 QB is a healthy strategy regardless of what team they play for, but getting extra point for yards and touchdowns shared has this pairing at the top of list. Still, it’ll cost you two of your first four picks to assemble this pairing.
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown: While the jury seems to be out on Roethlisberger every year in the off season, Big Ben grinds his way to a top ten finish at the position. What’s NEVER a question is how good Brown will be when he’s on the field. The easy answer is that Brown is the safest pick in fantasy, but it will require you have a top 3 or 4 pick.
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas: Despite still playing at a high level, Brees has sort of slipped behind Thomas and Alvin Kamara as the top targets in the New Orleans offense. That in no way diminishes his ability to produce in fantasy, and I’d argue is a better option than both Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but that’s a different article all together. Getting Michael Thomas, though, is the hard part. His ADP of 15 will mean drafting 1-5 will preclude you from drafting him unless you get lucky. If you do get lucky, a 6th or 7th round pick will land you Brees, who’s ADP of 69 is criminally low.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski: Draft Brady at your own risk, but if you’re confident that the off season malaise in New England won’t affect Brady’s ability to perform then have at it. The truth is that Rob Gronkowski could set records this year as the only reliable pair of hands left for Brady to chuck it up to. Sure, Edelman will be back in 4 games and Hogan has shown he can play with Brady, but Gronk should see the end zone 10-15 times this year on top of a ton of yards. Grabbing him in the 3rd round to pair with Brady in the 7th gives plenty of time to add skill players besides.
Middle Round Pairs (Easier To Coordinate)
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin: This one isn’t as impactful in terms of fantasy because Wilson tends to supplement his passing stats with his legs. Unfortunately for this exercise, his rushing statistics can’t be taken into account. Still, Doug Baldwin is one of the leagues best slot receivers, and as a 4th round pick has a lot of value regardless. Without Jimmy Graham in the red one, he may even see a few more looks there. This one may not be the sexiest pair on the list, but they may be the most effective.
Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz: It may seem strange to see another WR/TE combo, but the fact is Wentz and Ertz seem to share a brain in the red zone, meaning a ton of points are up for grabs between the two of them. While Alshon Jeffrey may be the #1 wide out on the team’s depth chart, the true number one is Ertz. if you miss out on Gronk but you want a stud tight end, pair a 4th round Ertz with a 7th round Wentz and reap the benefits.
Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs: Wait, you say. This should be Thielen and Cousins! I’m here to tell you, not so fast. Now, I can see a scenario like in Denver years back with multiple 1,000 yard receivers, but the guy I’m targeting is Diggs in the late 4th round. He was excellent last year even though he wasn’t the top target for the Case Keenum led Vikings. Now, he has Cousins tossing the ball to him. A classic gunslinger, Cousins’ game best fits the strengths Diggs brings to the table. This is one of the least expensive pairings you can get as a 4th and a 10th gets you both players.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones: You may have to spend a 2nd round pick on Jones, but the wait on Ryan is a bit longer than the other QB’s on this list. As the QB13, he’s being drafted in the 11th round, and I’d argue his value is sky high this year as a bounce back candidate. If you’re like me, and you see more value in grabbing high end skill players to pair with the later round QB, Matt Ryan is a slam dunk. Have him and Julio, and you’ll reap the rewards for all those yards.
Odell Beckham and Eli Manning: If you’re nervous about drafting either of these guys, I’d say you’re hardly alone. Beckham is an otherworldly talent when he’s right, but the combination of recent injury woes and an inability to stay level headed means he may fall towards the end of the first round. What I will say is that if you manage Beckham, Manning is a wonderful pairing if you waited a bit long on your QB. In the 16th round of drafts (current ADP is 152) Manning presents a conundrum. He was awful last year but much of it could be logically blamed on the terrible circumstances around him. With healthy weapons, an upgraded offensive line, and an elite RB to draw the attention, and Manning could be a surprise top 15 QB this year.
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen: Allen proved last year that when he’s healthy, he’s every bit the stud we thought he was. Rivers remains one of the most under appreciated QB’s in fantasy, and his ADP of 112 presents tons of value. Without Hunter Henry, even more weight will be given to Allen, meaning these two could hook up for a ton of points.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Carr and Amari Cooper (a new coach could help get these two back on track). Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks (it’s a new look for Goff, but Cooks could be his go to early and often). Jameis Winston and Mike Evans (This requires a bounce back year for both, but not guaranteed). Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis (There’s so much talent between these two, it’s hard to imagine both of them laying duds this year).
It’s not always a skill issue, but every year there’s several players that turn into monumental busts. Having one of these guys eating up roster space halfway through the season is demoralizing, but sometimes unavoidable.
Adam Thielen, WR – Minnesotta: It’s funny how fantasy football tends to have fairly predictable ebbs and flows, and after the monster for Thielen (92 catches for 1276 yards) the fantasy community has gone all in on the 27 year old. Currently ranked 11th at his position and 30th overall, I’d argue to exercise caution when selecting Thielen that early.
Between a new quarterback that seemed to favor the long ball (Kirk Cousins) and an OC in John DeFilippo that has shown a commitment to their down field targets (examples; Travis Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, Alshon Jeffrey) the expectation should be that regression is coming. Now, I’m not suggesting that Thielen falls completely off the map, but expect a far less consistent stat line. A more reasonable expectation would be roughly 1,000 yards and 5 TDs; similar to his 2016 numbers.
T.Y. Hilton, WR – Indianapolis: This one certainly feels like low hanging fruit, but Hilton continues to see an ADP of around 33, good for 13th among wide receivers. What’s disconcerting is that Hilton seems to have enough monster games each year to hide the fact that he’s more likely to bust than he is to boom.
With 9 weeks of 50 or fewer yards and 7 weeks with 30 or fewer, the reality is that Hilton is no better than a flex start. Regardless of how confident you may be at identifying when Hilton is set to go off, it’s still a waste of a pick in the fourth round when you can only reasonably rely on Hilton 25% of the time.
Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay: I’d like to preface this portion of the article by saying I believe Rodgers, pound for pound, is still the best signal caller in the NFL. Still, at 34, and returning from a near-season ending injury, he’ll have the most difficult fantasy schedule among all QBs with 7 of his first 11 games coming against the top 10 stingiest defenses in terms of QB scoring.
While Jimmy Graham should help, there’s also a possibility that he’ll get off to a slow start and an aging Rodgers may resume running for his life. A healthy Aaron Rodgers is a valuable fantasy asset, no matter how you look at it, but in the 2nd rounds of drafts, there’s little chance he pays off in terms of the return on that investment.
Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts.
While plenty of fantasy teams featuring an early QB selection as their starter have gone on to win their leagues, there are more borderline great QB’s available in the middle rounds than ever. Waiting on a QB has never made so much sense as the tiers below will show you.
Elite Tier (1)
- Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
- Tom Brady – New England Patriots
- Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
The only question surrounding these three QB’s is where to take them. Rodgers will inevitably go early (round 2) but even Brady and Brees could see selections in the first 40 picks. Waiting even for these guys only makes sense.
Very Good Tier (2)
- Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
- Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
- Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
- Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
- Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Can Matt Ryan duplicate his 2016 season? I doubt it but he’ll still be very effective with those weapons. Cam Newton scares the hell out of me looking at 2017 as his corp of wide receivers didn’t really improve while the team drafted backs to help ease the pressure of running the football. If Newton finishes as a top 10 QB I’d be surprised.
Decent Tier (3)
- Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
- Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
- Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
- Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers
- Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
- Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills
- Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
- Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Eli Manning – New York Giants
- Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles
This is the money maker tier for quarterbacks as most of them can be had in rounds 8 or later. The top of this tier are borderline Tier 2 guys so draft with confidence. The bottom, most importantly Ben Roethlisberger should be viewed as a lower end QB2 as injuries are sure to take a tole on the aging QB. Carson Wentz has a real chance to make a leap this year but Philadelphia figures to continue it’s balanced attack with Blount in the fold. He offers a modest ceiling with a pretty high floor.
Make a Prayer Tier (4)
- Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
- Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals
- Sam Bradford – Minnesota Vikings
- Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
- Jay Cutler – Miami Dolphins
- Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
Uninspiring? Sure. Cost you much? No. These guys are the back end of your draft, either as an insurance policy on an aging QB or as streaming option for the more adventurous owners. Joe Flacco’s schedule and enhanced weapons (Woodhead+Maclin > Smith+Pitta) make him a really safe streaming option. Jay Cutler may be fine in an offense he’s familiar with, but the gunslinger is being asked to QB a team that’s very likely to run the football a lot, so don’t over draft the un-retired QB hoping for some kind of magic.
Worth a Flyer Tier (5)
- Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars
- DeShaun Watson – Houston Texans
- Mike Glennon – Chicago Bears
- DeShone Kizer – Cleveland Browns
- Brock Osweiler – Cleveland Browns
- Brian Hoyer – San Fransisco 49ers
- Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos
- Josh McCown – New York Jets
- Mitchell Trubisky – Chicago Bears
- Chad Henne – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jimmy Garoppolo – New England Patriots
If you’re drafting one of these guys, then odds are you like em a heck of a lot more than I do. Bortles may lose his job to Chad Henne (who isn’t exactly draftable himself), Trevor Siemian couldn’t lose this job if he tried (and I argue that he has), and Trubisky and Garoppolo are future starters with either not enough weapons to work with or no road to starting in sight.
The age old adage “wait on a QB” is easy to preach this year with so many viable quarterbacking options in the middle rounds. If you do swing early on a Rodgers or Brady, don’t worry but just be aware of what your pick may cost you in the other positions.
Updated 6/26 (numbers in parenthasis are change in ranking from 6/1 rankings)
- Aaron Rodgers, GB (E)
- Tom Brady, NE (E)
- Drew Brees, NO (E)
- Matt Ryan, ATL (E)
- Andrew Luck, IND (E)
- Jameis Winston, TB (E)
- Kirk Cousins, WAS (E)
- Dak Prescott, DAL (+1)
- Russell Wilson, SEA (-1)
- Cam Newton, CAR (E)
- Derek Carr, OAK (+1)
- Tyrod Taylor, BUF (-1)
- Marcus Mariotta, TEN (+2)
- Philip Rivers, LAC (E)
- Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (-2)
- Matthew Stafford, DET (E)
- Andy Dalton, CIN (E)
- Carson Wentz, PHI (+3)
- Eli Manning, NYG (E)
- Blake Bortles, JAC (-2)
- Ryan Tannehill, MIA (-1)
- Joe Flacco, BAL (E)
- Sam Bradford, MIN (+2)
- Carson Palmer, ARI (-1)
- Alex Smith, KC (-1)
- Deshaun Watson, HOU (E)
- Mike Glennon, CHI (+1)
- Paxton Lynch, DEN (+1)
- DeShone Kizer, CLE (-2)
- Cody Kessler, CLE (E)
- Jared Goff, LAR (+1)
- Josh McCown, NYJ (-1)
- Christian Hackenberg, NYJ (+2)
- Brian Hoyer, SF (-1)
- Mitch Trubisky, CHI (+3)
- Tom Savage, HOU (E)
- Trevor Siemian, DEN (-3)
- Patrick Mahomes, KC (+3)
- Jimmy Garoppolo, NE (+8)
- Landry Jones, PIT (+4)
- C.J. Beathard, SF (-1)
- Cardale Jones, BUF (-3)
- AJ McCarron, CIN (E)
- Drew Stanton, ARI (+1)
- Case Keenum, MIN (+1)
- Brock Osweiler, CLE (-9)
- Bryce Petty, NYJ (-5)
A suprising start and all-too-familiar finish for the Minnesota Vikings was only major surprise from a division that’s had clearly defined roles for it’s four teams for the last 5 – 6 years. Green Bay is the class of the division and Minnesota looks like it’s ready to push them, but Detroit and Chicago both look to toil at the bottom of the standings for some time yet.
Green Bay Packers
Notable Fantasy Stars: Aaron Rodgers (QB1), Jordy Nelson (WR6), Martellus Bennett (TE9), Ty Montgomery (RB23), DeVante Adams (WR18), Randall Cobb (WR44)
Synopsis – Aaron Rodgers looks to pace the QB field again this year, and GB finally gave up on the TE experiments and signed big name free agent Martellus Bennett to provide an additional weapon on one of the NFC’s best offenses. Jordy Nelson will be his regular studly self, but DeVante Adams and Ty Montgomery figure to be the middle ground players who may put up better numbers than expected. Unfortunately that means Randall Cobb’s time in the spotlight is likely at an end as he drifts further down the depth chart.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Kyle Rudolph (TE9),Sam Bradford (QB24), Dalvin Cook (RB26), Stefon Diggs (WR28), Latavius Murray (RB36), Adam Thielen (WR46)
Synopsis – Now entrenched as the starter, Sam Bradford returns his top two targets in Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs as Minnesota looks to improve on a disappointing collapse. The addition of Latavius Murray and draft pick Dalvin Cook suggest that the Vikes should have a more balanced offense despite the departure of AP to New Orleans. This team also features one of the better sleeper candidates in Adam Thielen whos’s being drafted as a WR5 but has potential of Minnesota throws the football to approach WR3 numbers.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Eric Ebron (TE12), Matthew Stafford (QB16), Golden Tate (WR24), Ameer Abdullah (RB24), Theo Riddick (RB37), Marvin Jones (WR52)
Synopsis – Detroit figures to be a better fantasy team than real life football club again with Matt Stafford likely to approach 600+ attempts for the 5th time in his career. The duo of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones is going to be difficult to quantify as Stafford tends to lean on one or the other but rarely together; Tate should be the more consistent option despite the lack of TDs. Those will be Eric Ebron’s calling card as this team lacks a true bruiser in the goal line area. Abdullah, if healthy, will carry the bulk of the carries, but Theo Riddick remains one of the best PPR options in all of football.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Jordan Howard (RB6), Mike Glennon (QB27), Mitch Trubisky (QB37), Cameron Meredith (WR42), Kevin White (WR57)
Synopsis – With any bottom feeder team, one must exhibit caution when selecting players. Jordan Howard is the safest bet, and in standard scoring could be a top 5 back this year. Mike Glennon showed flashes in Tampa Bay, but neither Cameron Meredith nor Kevin White can be relied upon as a true number one receiver. If either or are healthy to start the year you can risk a late round pick but temper your expectations.
In preperation for my personal position rankings, I’ll be taking a look at the top of the list at each offensive fantasy position.
- Cam Newton – Newton was a Fantasy stud last year, owning the feild with his arm as well as his legs. Adding a top teir WR back into the fold with the returning Kelvin Benjamin
will mean good things for Super Cam this year.
- Aaron Rodgers – His 60% completion percentage was his career low as a starter, and much of that can be attributed to a lackluster run game and losing his number 1 receiver in Jordy Nelson for the entire year. He still managed nearly 4,000 yards and 30+ TDs in 15 games. If Nelson is ready to go and Lacy is even remotely the player he has been in the past, expect a return to greatness.
- Russell Wilson – If you believe the loss of Marshawn Lynch will make this offense a bit too one dimensional, then you’d be wrong. When he’s called on to make plays, all Wilson does is produce. He may not break records, but his ability to add 500-800 yards on the ground make him elite in terms of Fantasy.
- Drew Brees – A model of consistency, Brees again led the league in yards while completing nearly 70% of his passes. Another year with animproving O-line and 4 capable receivers means Brees can be counted on again to win Fantasy games.
- Andrew Luck – It’s not secret that Luck struggled mightily last year, missing significant time due to a plethora of injuries. Still, Luck has the goods – and the weapons – to produce at a high level. If they can keep him healthy, theres no reason to believe he’ll return to the elite signal caller we know he is.
- Ben Roethlisberger – The ceiling was raised a few years ago, and with Antonio Brown lining up to catch passes, you can’t expect too sharp a decline even as father time inches up behind Big Ben. He’s fallen a bit on my list with the news that Bryant will miss the entire season and his saftey blank in Le’Veon Bell will miss 4 games, and he may fall farther still.
- Carson Palmer – Old age seems to be an antiquated reason to skip on NFL QB’s in your fantasy leagues as Carson Palmer returns to the top 10 as a 36 year old. He’s got three fantasic receivers, a very good line, and a running game to help take off the pressure. Did we mention he takes care of the football? He may not be a flashy name, but he’ll get the job done.
- Philip Rivers – Rivers seems to never get the love that he deserves, but in the end he’ll throw the ball a ton which will mitigate any issues that may surround this offense. They’ll likely continue to easy Melvin Gordon into a larger roll, so expect games with 35+ attempts early on.
- Blake Bortles – I hear that we shouldn’t expect a repeat of the fantastic year we saw out of Bortles last year. I disagree. Hurns and Robinson are both great weapons and adding a successful down hill running in Chris Ivory will free up some plays over the middle. His legs can help him add another 250+ yards to what will likely be a 4,000 yard 30 TD campaign.
- Eli Manning – I’ll preface my inclusion in my top ten by saying I don’t really like Eli Manning. Not in the least, but he manages to find a way to put up fantasy numbers even while he’s managing ways to lose real NFL games. OBJ is Elite, Cruz (even at 50% of what he was) will attract some of the defense, and the kid they drafted, Sterling Shephard should give him more weapons to work with.
Missed the Cut
Tom Brady (his supension moved him from the top 10), Matt Ryan (so much hate for no reason. Has a top 3 WR catching the football), David Carr (close, but not there yet. Another up year in Oakland and he’ll be tough to deny), Tony Romo (he’s Eli Manning if Eli Manning got hurt every year. He’ll put up massive numbers when he’s healthy… which is likely less than 12 games).
In the world of fantasy, we all want to be the best. I find myself checking to see how my teams members are scoring against the other elite of the world, and it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to see my guys excel. Obviously there are week to week fluctuations, but in the end, only one can be crowned the best at his position.
QB: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – At only 25 years old, it’s impressive to see the poise and talent that Luck brings to every NFL game. At at time when the Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s of the world are entering the twinkling twilight of their careers, Luck hasn’t even entered his statistical prime. Still, after throwing for 4700 yards and 40 TD’s, it’s hard to imagine him being any better. Then he got new weapons to offset his already elite talent. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore may not be top 10’s anymore, but Luck certainly won’t regress with them added to the roster. I fully expect Luck to repeat his numbers, if not improve on them.
Runner Up: Aaron Rodgers – He has the same tools as Luck, but still has a bit of an injury history and Green Bay can be a more balanced attack with Eddie Lacy in the backfield. Still elite, Rodgers will push Luck at the top of the totem pole for a few more years.
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Tomlin loves a balanced offense, and Bell is a rare blend of speed and power. Playing all three downs, Bell will be the focal point for the offense going into the year despite missing time due to a suspension. Like Luck above, Bell has already established himself as elite despite only being 23. The difference this year is that from his first snap to his last, he’ll be a top option in a powerful Pittsburgh offense. Between his use in the passing game and his dominance on the ground, expect a few huge weeks and numbers that come close to last year even minus the two game suspension.
Runner Up: DeMarco Murray – Many will list Murray over Bell, and you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. This is a 1A, 1B situation, but I dock Murray a bit being in a new location running behind a line that couldn’t open up quality lanes for another elite back in LeSean McCoy the year before. He’ll be used a lot, but my concern is that he won’t duplicate the health or the numbers after a stellar year in Dallas.
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos – As steady as they come, being the number one option for Peyton Manning doesn’t hurt either. I’ll argue that as Manning’s skills regress, his smarts become his strength and he’d be stupid to not rely on the elite talent he’s got in Thomas. With the offense shifting a bit (no Welker or Julius Thomas) Demaryuis will be called upon to do even more, and he’ll be up to the challenge. As a WR, he’ll pace the league and I’d be surprised if he didn’t push the single season TD record for WRs.
Runner Up: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers – Consistency is a boon in the world of fantasy football, and Brown finished at the top of the list for WR’s last year. As great as Brown is, he’s still relying on Ben Roethlisburger to remain elite and for Le’Veon bell to not shift the balance to a run first team. A lock to be top 3 WR, you can’t go wrong with Brown either way.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots – The big gifted TE in New England had to prove he could stay healthy after a rash of injuries in consecutive years. All he did was return and pace the leagues TE’s with 1,100 yards and 12 TD’s. If you account for a few rough weeks during the first few weeks of the season as Brady acclimated himself and Gronkowski returned to form, it’s not hard to imagine Gronk putting up a full year similar to his second half numbers. As a TE there is no other weapon in the league like Gronkowski and he should continute to be Brady’s primary target, especially in the red zone.
Runner up: Greg Olson – TE is a murky position going into the season. Antonio Gates continues to perform like a young stud, but the wheels will fall off soon and Ledarius Green is waiting in the wings. Jimmy Graham has pushed Gronk for the top spot in the past has left NO and gone to Seattle, where there’s no garuntee Wilson will use his as judiciously as Brees did. That leaves Olson who showed flashes and remained consistent throughout for fantasy owners. A healthy Cam Newton should see Olson’s numbers improve slightly while the other two mentioned should decline.