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2018 Hidden Gems: QB

Last year I was 1 for 3 on my hidden gems with Carson Wentz success keeping me from a shutout after Eli Manning and Joe Flacco both stunk up the join. This year we plan to do better.

bigbenBen Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP 119 – QB 15 |

While the clock is ticking on Big Ben’s career, his current ranking feels like a premature declaration that he’s no longer elite in fantasy terms. His per game performances over the last three years prove that he’s still producing at a high level and my expectation is that he continues to rack up points on the backs of his elite supporting case. Prediction: 4,400 – 35 TD – 12 INT

Mitch Trubisky – Chicago Bears | ADP 178 – QB 24 |

Don’t look too closely at the lack of success Trubisky had last year following his promotion to starter. His numbers were mainly a product of a conservative approach and lack of weapons. This year, new head coach Matt Nagy will be tasked with improving the passing game, and additions like Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency and Anthony Miller during the draft mean Trubisky has a true stable of receivers to play with. While I won’t predict the same jump as Goff, something similar is in the cards. Prediction: 3,900 yards, 27 TD – 10 INT

Case Keenum – Denver Broncos | ADP 143 – QB 19 |

Going into the off season, I expected Case Keenum’s price to rise into the “no way no how” territory, but a very quick glance proves that this is not the case. Despite being rewarded for his success in 2017, the newest starting QB for the Broncos is being ranked as a mid level QB2. In Denver, he’ll have a very good receiving corps that still features studs like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as well as a capable backfield headlined by rookie Royce Freeman. I don’t expect a QB1 finish for Keenum, but wouldn’t be surprised to see plenty of teams benefit from having him come playoff time. Prediction: 3,700 yards, 25 TD, 7 INT

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Early QB Rankings

  1. Aaron Rodgers, GB
  2. Russell Wilson, SEA
  3. Cam Newton, CAR
  4. 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.
  5. Carson Wentz, PHI
  6. Deshaun Watson, HOU
  7. 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.
  8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
  9. Kirk Cousins, MIN
  10. Matthew Stafford, DET
  11. Philip Rivers, LAC
  12. 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.
  13. Jared Goff, LAR
  14. Matt Ryan, ATL
  15. Jameis Winston, TB
  16. 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.
  17. Alex Smith, WAS
  18. Mitch Trubisky, CHI
  19. Dak Prescott, DAL
  20. Marcus Mariota, TEN
  21. 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.
  22. Derek Carr, OAK
  23. Case Keenum, DEN
  24. 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.
  25. Blake Bortles, JAC
  26. Andy Dalton, CIN
  27. Ryan Tannehill, MIA
  28. Jacoby Brissett, IND
  29. 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.
  30. Tyrod Taylor, CLE
  31. Sam Bradford, ARI
  32. Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ
  33. Sam Darnold, NYJ
  34. 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.
  35. Baker Mayfield, CLE
  36. Nick Foles, PHI
  37. Josh Allen, BUF
  38. 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.
  39. Lamar Jackson, BAL
  40. Josh McCown, NYJ

Keep It In The Family: Pairing Same-Team Combo’s

RodgeAdamsEvery 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).

Navigating the Middle: QB Edition

The Quarterback position is arguably the easiest position to navigate during your pre-draft research. After all, save for injury, we’re reasonably certain that the top 10 QB’s are going to perform somewhere near our expectations.  But when waiting on a QB like every good fantasy guide tells us, who should we target in those middle rounds, and who should we avoid.

Using the consensus rankings at Fantasypros.com I’ve highlighted three quarterbacks who might far out produce their draft positions and three to avoid.

Good Value

Derek Carr – QB, Las Vegas Oakland Raiders

If you cringed at the mention of the Raiders signal caller due to his leg injury suffered at the conclusion of last season, then you’re one of the reasons the talented QB has slid into round 8-10 following what can only be described as a breakout season. With a talented cast of receivers and Beast Mode in the backfield, a now-healthy Carr looks to build on a 2016 that saw him finish as the QB10 despite missing the final week of the season.

Tyrod Taylor – QB, Buffalo Bills

His name doesn’t inspire confidence like you’d expect out of a guy who finished as QB7 in standard ESPN scoring, but the truth is that Taylor in the 11th round is a steal. Buffalo could have added a QB in the offseason or at the draft; but they didn’t. What they did do was add weapons to an offense that is already returning the ultra-talented Sammy Watkins to the fold after a lost season in 2016. While he’ll likely only throw for 3,200 – 3,500 yards, his ability to put another 400+ on the ground really rewards owners. Draft him after round 10 with confidence.
Eli Manning – QB, New York Giants

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Eli is poised to bounce back after an awful 2016 that saw him finish with a paltry 199 fantasy points (12.5 per week). It didn’t help that the offense was a dysfunctional mess while OBJ worked out his personal problems on the field and a new system failed to maximize on the wealth of talent lining up on offense. Still, the Giants are committed to winning through the air, and adding talent at WR in the draft only helps to alleviate the pressure of throwing to Beckham Jr. every other attempt. You’ll still have to deal with the gunslingers disease (15-18 INT) but I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll throw for 4,200 yards or more and 28 TDs or better.

STAY AWAY!!

Ben Roethlisberger – QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Before I say something stupid, I’ll preface this by saying I do like Big Ben as a QB. He’s the ultimate competitor and does what he can to help his team win. Unfortunately that’ll continue to hamper his ability to stay on the field. At 35, and recently considering retirement, the odds are greater that he falls off the proverbial cliff rather than treads water. Still, he’s being drafted ahead of guys like Mariota, Dalton, and Taylor, who all offer a modicum of safety when compared to the aging QB.

Carson Palmer – QB, Arizona Cardinals

While I will continue to root for Palmer the QB, it will be from a distance as I won’t be adding him to any of my rosters. Its fate that the wheels are bound to come off for the aging gun slinger. His WR core is nearing retirement age (L. Fitzgerald) hasn’t proven themselves (J. Brown) or are gone (M. Floyd) and Bruce Arians is committed to putting the rock in David Johnson’s hands as often as he can. This amounts to a rough year for owners.

Ryan Tannehill – QB, Miami Dolphins

I once felt that Tannehill was the best value amongst QB’s. That was before Matt Moore became a better starting option for the dreadful Dolphins last year. Could the former college WR bounce back? Sure, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Instead, I would avoid him altogether and let him be someone else’s’ headache this year.

Of course, every year there’s a surprise from each tier, and I implore you to use as much of your own research to reach conclusions of who to draft and when, but when in doubt; hold off on Quarterbacks. Don’t get caught up in the inevitable early round runs that may hamstring you when it comes to filling in your position players.

Top 10 (Quarterbacks)

In preperation for my personal position rankings, I’ll be taking a look at the top of the list at each offensive fantasy position.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 wilsonreturn to greatness.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).