2017 Never-Too-Early Rankings: Quarterbacks

2017 Never-Too-Early Rankings: Quarterbacks

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Mar 21, 2017

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Below you'll find my first stab at 2017 rankings for the quarterback position. I don't generally like to publish rankings prior to free agency and the draft, but I know that early mocks/drafts have already started up, MFL10s are close behind, and 4for4 subscribers may be wondering where I stand on certain players heading into the offseason.

These rankings will go up one position per day this week, so be sure to check the front page if you’re interested in seeing the other positions.

The rankings are based on PPR scoring systems. I’ve included 2016 points per game, two-year points per game (where applicable) and two-year Coefficient of Variation (CV) which measures how consistent a player is on a week-to-week basis. (The lower the CV, the more consistent the player.) I’ve also included the difference (DIFF) between my rank and the player’s current rank at Fantasy Football Calculator, a site that compiles ADP data for early mock drafts. A positive number means that I'm relatively high on the player while a negative number means -- you guessed it -- that I'm relatively low on the player.

Below the rankings you'll find some discussion about a few players that jump out as particularly good or bad values heading into the spring.

# Player Name Team 2016 PPG 2YR PPG 2YR CV DIFF
1 Aaron Rodgers GB 22.9 20.8 38% 0
2 Tom Brady NE 21.2 22.0 31% 0
3 Drew Brees NO 20.8 20.7 45% 0
4 Andrew Luck IND 20.4 19.7 33% 0
5 Matt Ryan ATL 20.9 17.6 36% 0
6 Dak Prescott DAL 19.0 19.0 31% 2
7 Kirk Cousins WAS 19.3 18.7 44% 2
8 Cam Newton CAR 17.3 20.6 40% 2
9 Russell Wilson SEA 16.8 18.9 43% 2
10 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 17.6 17.5 51% -3
11 Philip Rivers SD 16.5 17.2 36% 5
12 Marcus Mariota TEN 17.4 17.3 54% 1
13 Derek Carr OAK 17.2 17.3 44% -7
14 Matthew Stafford DET 17.2 17.5 42% 0
15 Tyrod Taylor BUF 17.8 18.5 35% 5
16 Blake Bortles JAX 16.8 18.8 36% 5
17 Andy Dalton CIN 16.5 17.5 36% 2
18 Jameis Winston TB 16.0 16.6 32% -1
19 Eli Manning NYG 14.5 16.2 46% -7
20 Tony Romo DAL - 10.2 99% 3
21 Carson Palmer ARI 15.8 18.0 30% -3
22 Joe Flacco BAL 15.0 15.4 41% 2
23 Ryan Tannehill MIA 14.6 15.2 39% 4
24 Alex Smith KC 13.9 15.4 39% 2
25 Sam Bradford MIN 14.2 13.9 37% -
26 Carson Wentz PHI 12.7 12.7 36% -4
27 Colin Kaepernick SF 15.5 14.7 63% -2
28 Trevor Siemian DEN 13.5 13.5 57% -

The QB position continues to be loaded with productive players, so my approach – to wait on a quarterback – heading into 2017 fantasy drafts won’t change much. Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota were all drafted outside the top 12 and ended up finishing inside the top 12 by season’s end.


Tyrod Taylor

Until Sammy Watkins’ foot injury, my primary target in 2016 drafts was Tyrod Taylor and he still produced top 8 numbers with Watkins in and out of the lineup. He was a top 10 quarterback on a per game basis in 2015, so he has now produced starter-caliber numbers in two straight seasons. Below you’ll find that his numbers are pretty comparable to Russell Wilson’s, and Wilson is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league:

I’m very anxious to see where he lands and have no idea why the Bills aren’t locking him up long-term. If I knew he was guaranteed a starting job with a decent receiving corps, I’d have him a few spots higher.


Eli Manning

I’m not sure why FF Calculator drafters are viewing Manning as a low-end QB1 after he finished QB21 in 2016. This could be a Matt Ryan situation, since Ryan followed up career-worst fantasy finish with his career-best, but Manning and the offense were worse this year when everyone expected both to be better in his third full season in Ben McAdoo’s offense. One encouraging stat is that the Giants have finished in the top 9 in pass attempts in three straight seasons under McAdoo.


Ben Roethlisberger

I’m a bit low on Big Ben, whose home/away splits are becoming the stuff of legend. Over the last three seasons, Roethlisberger is averaging 340 passing yards, 2.9 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions at home, while posting 270 yards, 1.1 touchdowns and 1.0 interceptions on the road. Normally, I don’t put too much stock in small sample splits, but this 42-game sample is pretty eye-opening. He’d be an ideal quarterback to have as part of a committee – start him at home, sit him on the road – but his 6th/7th round ADP is far too expensive for that. He’ll probably go in the 8th/9th in a sharp league, but that still feels too early.


A Few Random Thoughts

  • Kirk Cousins has averaged 284 yards and 1.7 passing touchdowns in his last 32 starts. He has the #9 PPG over the last two seasons. He’s a free agent, but is likely to play at least one more year in Washington.
  • Last year’s consensus #1 QB, Cam Newton, is going #10 after finishing #17 in 2016. He had finished in the top 4 in four of the previous five seasons.
  • Russell Wilson posted less than half of his 2015 rushing yardage. Had he maintained those rushing yards, he would have finished #6 instead of #10 even though he only threw 21 touchdowns. (He had 34 passing TDs in 2015.) Injuries early in the season played a factor. He started to run the ball more in Week 11, and averaged 28.4 rushing yards per game over his last seven starts, not including the playoffs. I expect 80-90 rushing attempts next year, assuming he stays healthy. This should lead to a bounce back season, though the offensive line remains a concern.
  • Matt Ryan had an MVP-caliber season, but he has finished #14 or lower in two of the last four seasons, and I wonder how he’ll do with a Super Bowl hangover and Kyle Shanahan out of the picture.
  • Philip Rivers should be more consistent assuming he can get a healthy season out of Keenan Allen. He has finished in the top 12 in eight of the last nine seasons, and Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are all under contract. (Dontrelle Inman is a restricted free agent.)
  • Blake Bortles’ fantasy output continues to outperform his real-world play. He finished #9 in 2016 after a #4 finish in 2015.
  • If Tony Romo lands in Denver or some other positive situation, he’ll rise in these rankings. He’s certainly developed a reputation for being fragile, but he also finished #11 or higher in four straight seasons from 2011 to 2014. 
Filed Under: Preseason, 2017

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