Welcome to the inaugural QBlist.com rankings article. Our sister site, Pitcherlist.com, has been around for a while, and it’s been growing. So much, in fact, that our readership was begging — begging! — us to expand into fantasy football. We’re happy to oblige, friends.
There’s plenty of rankings sites to choose from, so why spend your time here? Because we’re free for one. We’re also not afraid to be contrarian if the stats don’t back the herd. With that in mind, let’s look at 2017’s slate of quarterbacks.
Tier 1: Cheese
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) – The reigning QB king from 2016 returns with his merry band of ball-catching misfits. Barring injury, Rodgers is as reliable as they come. He struggled a bit in the beginning of the season last year, but that was far from his fault and more because no one would get open for him. But this year he’s back with the same crew from yesterday and the addition of Martellus Bennett at tight end, which should definitely help the passing game. While T.J. Lang is gone, which is a significant loss for the Packers offensive line, Rodgers should still put up the numbers to be the top quarterback in fantasy football.
Tier 2: The Old Guys
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) – There are three things certain in this life, death, taxes, and Drew Brees airing it out. Since 2011, he has led every QB in passing yards every year except one: that magical 2013 season where Peyton Manning wrecked every curve. Brees came in second that year. It’s understandable if you think Brees will see a bit of regression with the loss of Brandin Cooks, but Michael Thomas and Willie Snead have proven to be more-than-capable wide receivers, and with the addition of Adrian Peterson in the running game, the Saints should have a nice, balanced offense for Brees to thrive in.
3. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) – Some have Brady ranked as high as this year’s QB2. I find that hard to justify since he’s going to be breathing the rarefied air of the quadragenarian this year. In other words, he old. This concern should not be taken lightly. There have only been a handful of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL who have even taken the field at 40 years old. Of those, only Brett Farve who produced at a high level. That’s it. Brady is attempting something that has only ever been done once in the history of the NFL . I get that Brady is special, he’s the best quarterback who has ever played the game. Still, being good at football has no bearing on the fact that there is a very real limit to how long a player can continue to produce. Peyton Manning is also a good player. He had the best single season by a quarterback ever in 2013 at age 37. In 2014 at age 38, he threw for almost 1000 fewer yards than he had the year before. In 2015 at age 39, he barely crossed the line as the QB32! The numbers do not lie. There is a very real cliff — a point at which a quarterback’s body and mind say ‘No more!’. Is Brady at that point? I don’t know, but it is worth mentioning that he is one year older than Manning was when he imploded. In any case, when extrapolated to sixteen games, Brady’s 2016 production would still have only been good enough for a QB5 finish. True, he’s getting Rob Gronkowski back, and Brandin Cooks is certainly a fun new toy, but will they be enough to significantly improve on last year’s totals?
Tier 3: Mid Round Value
4. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) – Since finishing the year as QB1 overall in 2014, Luck was brutalized by injuries and poor line play in 2015. Last year he began to claw his way back with a fourth place finish. On a per-game basis, Luck outscored a rampaging Brady. If he stays healthy, Luck is going to produce points. He is not without risk, however since, you know, he’s still not cleared to throw as of this writing, and there’s no guarantee he’ll start in Week 1. Still, with QB#1 upside, Luck may well be worth the gamble at his current pick 58 ADP (per Fantasy Football Calculator).
5. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) – If you decide to draft Wilson, know that he has scored nearly two thirds of his fantasy points in the second half of the season each of the past three years. You may be better off drafting Phillip Rivers (who always starts hot then fizzles) and trying to trade him to the frustrated Wilson owner in October.
6. Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins) – Quietly the QB5 last year, Cousins is the victim of low sex appeal. Don’t sleep on him. Surrounded by weapons in a pass-first offense, Kirk gon’ eat, the guy had at least 300 yards or two touchdowns 14 times last year, he finds ways to get you fantasy points. Cousins’ ADP is hovering around the mid 80s – he is easily the best value of the top QBs and someone I’ll be targeting in every draft.
7. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) – Even though Tennessee is a run-first offense, Mariota has a lot going for him. His O-line is fearsome, and his receiving core is stacked, with rookie Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, and Tajae Sharpe — and that was before Tennessee brought on TD maven Eric Decker, an addition that should be fantastic for Mariota considering he’s awesome in the red zone, with 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions on his career there. The red zone is Decker’s strength, and Mariota seems to be the perfect quarterback to play to it. Not to mention he’s got DeMarco Murray in the backfield to balance things out. The sky is the limit here, especially considering from Week 5 to Week 12 last season, no player in fantasy football score more points than Mariota.
8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) – I used to think that Matthew Stafford was really just Haley Joel Osment hiding in plain site. Why would a famous actor be playing football in Detroit? Perhaps he was method acting in preparation for his first sports movie: Secondhand Lions II. Now I know better. After a year and a half under offensive coordinator and walking euphemism Jim Bob Cooter, we’re starting to see a different side of Matt Stafford. It’s kinda pleasant. On a pass-first offense loaded with weapons, there’s real upside here. Matt Stafford investors, however, will be quick to remind you that he was not very fun to own in 2016, since his white-hot start gave way to a very slow finish.
9. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Matt Ryan was on a lot of winning fantasy teams in 2016. Unfortunately, the difference between his QB2 caliber 2016 season and his QB19 caliber 2015 seems to have been nearly 100% offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is now gone. Ryan is a safe bet to take a big step back this season.
Tier 4: Late Round Value
10. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) – One of these years, the Chargers offense might stay mostly healthy. Of course I hadn’t even finished writing that sentence before news dropped that Mike Williams, the Chargers’ new first round wide receiver is missing all of training camp and might need season ending back surgery. When I was a kid, my dad and I once caught a mix of cockroaches and crickets and put them in a sealed mason jar, you know, just to see what would happen. At the end of a week we came back and all that was left was one cricket with three legs and a pile of insectoid husks. This is my fear for the 2017 chargers– that by week 6 all they’ll have left is a partially maimed Tyrell Williams. If, somehow, most of this crew stays healthy, Rivers has top-5 upside.
11. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – There’s a ton of talent on this young Tampa Bay receiving corps, but an inconsistent run game to compliment it may limit Winston’s ceiling. That being said, Winston has thrown for 4,000 yards or more the past two season, his issue has just been consistency, but with the addition of Desean Jackson to the wide receiving corps (which will hopefully take some pressure off of Mike Evans) and rookie O.J. Howard as starting tight end, Winston has some potential, it’s just risky.
12. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) – Stop trying to make Cam Newton happen, he’s not going to happen (again). Excluding his QB1 2014 season, Newton has scored fewer fantasy points in every season since his arrival in 2011. He’s a terrible passer (he had the sixth-worst completion rate in NFL history last season) which is fine, since he’s always made his money through his legs. In 2016 the Carolina coaching staff shut down Cam’s run game down the stretch. This is a problem for his fantasy outlook.
13. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills) – Coming into his third year as starter, Taylor has been weirdly fantasy relevant given he leads a run-first team with the league’s second-worst stable of receivers. He’s a safe bet to crack the top-twelve again in 2017, and his ceiling is top-seven if Sammy Watkins’ surgically repaired foot holds together. Having rookie Zay Jones is a nice add to his potential too.
14. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) – The newly crowned ‘highest paid player in the NFL’ is a very average quarterback. The arrival of Marshawn Lynch is worrisome, as it may signal a desire on the part of the coaching staff to move the balance even further towards the run in Oakland, however another year of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should help his value.
Tier 5: The Guys Who Used To Be Good
15. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Roethlisberger has missed ten games in the past six years. At this point you have to factor in a missed game or two into his projections, which I’ve done here. Still, he’s talented, and he has many studs to throw to. If Big Ben plays all 16 games, he may well be top ten at his position.
16. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) – Like Most QBs in this range, Palmer has the potential to finish much higher by years’ end. He has plenty of weapons to rely on, including his world-beating WR2. No, I’m not talking about John Brown, I’m referring to David MOTHAFLIPPIN’ Johnson, who had an obscene 123 targets in 2016. It’s important to keep in mind though, Palmer is 37 and has had injury problems, which limits his potential.
17. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) – Prescott’s 2016 QB5 finish came on the back of the league high in rushing TDs (6) and the league’s second lowest number of interceptions (4). I think both categories regress to the mean a bit, and defenses do a better job of keeping Prescott in check with a year of his tape to study. As goes Ezekiel Elliott so goes Dak, and Elliott now projects to be out half the year with a suspension– there’s no way Dak performs as well with Darren McFadden in the backfield. And not only that, the Cowboys lost Ronald Leary off the offensive line, which means Dak isn’t going to have the elite protection he had last year.
18. Eli Manning (New York Giants) – Let’s get this out of the way– Eli Manning is not good at football. I mean, he’s just a turd out there. In 2016 Manning barely limped into a QB21 finish after making marked declines in QB rating , yardage, and touchdowns. To even potentially be fantasy relevant, he’ll need to improve markedly. Where will that improvement come from– Brandon Marshall? I mean, sure, if you’re a Marshall truther, bump Eli up a couple of spots. I personally won’t be owning any shares.
19. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars) – After his magical garbage time fueled 2015 season, Bortles took a big step back in 2016, mostly because there wasn’t as much garbage time because the Jaguars’ defense improved. He’ll do better this year, but stiff competition puts him outside the top 12.
20. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) – Dalton has some shiny new rookies but it’ll take him at least a year to break them in. He’s being heralded by many as a sneaky late-round pick, and he’ll probably finish the year strong, but his putrid o-line and uncertain run game are likely to take their toll early on.
Tier 6: Two QB League Only
21. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles) – Wentz may be a passable fantasy play in a few years, but he needs to put up real numbers before he can be trusted. That being said, he’s got Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith now to go along with Jordan Matthews, so he has the weapons now, we just have to see if he has the skills.
22. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) – Flacco’s picked up some new offensive weapons this year which should bump him up a bit from 2016. He’s still Joe Flacco though—let’s not go nuts. It’s also important to note that he’s dealing with a back injury now, and as of this writing, he’s expected to miss training camp and potentially Week 1, however the Ravens are treating it as not-so-serious (the same thing they did with Breshad Perriman in 2015, and he ended up missing a whole season). Who knows what the truth is with Flacco’s injury, but if the Ravens do end up signing Colin Kaepernick (and they might), Flacco might have some competition.
23. Brian Hoyer (San Francisco 49ers) – Hoyer has been a somewhat productive fantasy quarterback in the past, and if there’s one advantage he has playing on the 49ers, it’s garbage time. The 49ers are not a good team, and as such, Hoyer’s going to be throwing quite a bit because the 49ers are going to be behind often. The team may be bad, but garbage time can often be good for fantasy.
24. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) – Losing Maclin is a big hit, and it’s not like Smith was blowing the doors off the stats barn in the first place. He’s an overall mediocre real-life quarterback, and is exactly that in fantasy too.
25. Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings) – Sammy sleeves is an average QB with injury problems on a low volume passing team with inconsistent receivers and a mediocre offensive line. He’s not much of a fantasy option. He also has crazy eyes.