Baseball has had its All Star game, the NBA free agent feeding frenzy has all but wrapped up, and seven weeks from tonight the sports world will be turning it attention to Foxborough, Massachusetts as the Kansas City Chiefs roll into Patriots Place to challenge the reigning NFL champions.
But before all that happens, one of the best times of the year is rapidly coming upon us. The Mayweather-McGregor farce? No. The MLB trade deadline? Unless Mike Trout is bound for Fenway, I don’t want to hear about it. The debut of Atomic Blonde? ….. well maybe, I mean, god damn does Charlize Theron look good in those previews?! But no, I’m talking about Fantasy Football draft season.
Fantasy football, week in and week out is fun. More and more people are going towards participating in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) as opposed to the more “traditional” style of league where you navigate your squad through the entire NFL season. And while I can see the benefits of that; not being crippled for an entire season by an injury to one of your bell cow running backs, immediate financial gain, handling large amounts of teams without having to spend your Sunday mornings combing through the bargain bin of your league’s free agent pool. For me at least 80% of the fun in participating in fantasy football can be derived from Fantasy Football Draft season.
A time to get together with friends, overindulge in some adult beverages. The days often starting on the golf course, and ending at a gentlemen’s club… hypothetically of course. The alpha and omega of a great day.
This year, National Fantasy Football Draft Day falls on Saturday August 26th, a date that also happens to be night of the Mayweather-McGregor bout. The Vegas strip with be chock full of aged frat boys pretending its spring break again. And its ducking awesome!
Now, if you’re anything like me (and everyone should aspire to that lofty standard), you participate in more than one fantasy league, which means your draft days are spread out a bit. All that means it that there is more opportunity to bro out, kill a bucket of wings, and a bucket of beers. Some other website has a saying that Saturdays are for the boys. But while that may be true, everyday is perfect for a good Ducking. And nobody does draft time like You’re Ducking Right.
So to get you ready for the draft season that is coming at us as quickly as Winter in Westeros, we’ll be previewing in 5 installments the primary fantasy positions, and who you should be targeting in your drafts.
The first installment can be found below, and reflects the Quarterbacks to be on the look out for. You won’t find a 1-30 list here, we’ll put the pigskin tossers into groupings. We aren’t your mother, we’re not gonna clean your clothes, feed you, and pick your players for you. But we will point you in the right direction, its up to you to grow a pair and man up (or you could say, lose a pair and Wonder Woman up, this is the summer of Wonder Woman power isn’t it? And who I am to say no to Gal Gadot?) and select the guy that works for you.
SCHEDULE OF EXPECTED RELEASES:
Quarterback: July 20th
Running Back: July 23rd
Wide Receiver: July 26th
Tight End: July 29th
Team Defense: August 1st
Kicker:…. get the duck out of here with that shit. If you’re taking a kicker before the last round you better be too drunk to last until the last round. #PuntersArePeopleToo
GROUPING ONE (to avoid any confusion, within the group the players are listed alphabetically)
Tom Brady: All Tommy Brady did during his Duck You tour of the league was toss 28 touchdowns (vs. only 2 interceptions) and 3,554 yards. Oh yeah, in 12 games. Over a full 16 game slate, the comes out to 4,738 yards and 37 touchdowns. Not bad for a 39 year old, Uggs wearing, uber-model marrying, Superbowl winning, Michigan Wolverine.
He may be a year older, but consider that of the 4 main running backs expected to be in the Pats rotation, all but Mike Gilislee feel more comfortable running a wheel route out of the backfield than they do in a 4 yards and pile of dust offense. Brady also has added the most talented wide receiver he’s played with since Randy Moss shattering records during the Pats’ attempted march to perfection.
Drew Brees: Never count out the diminutive quarterback from Purdue. Another year older, still no defense to speak of, and more turnover in his receiving corps, he’s still a lock to put up 4,500+ yards and 30+ touchdowns.
Brees loses the speedy Brandin Cooks but adds the speedy Ted Ginn Jr. who resurrected his career by catching bombs from Cam Newton. The biggest threat to Brees’ fantasy dominance isn’t age, or his receivers though, its the stable of running backs that Sean Payton has assembled to take the ball from Brees. Consider that a team that already had Mark Ingram running behind true fullback John Kuuuuuuhn added a future hall of fame vet in Adrian Peterson, while also stealing Tennessee Volunteer Alvin Kamera in the 3rd round of the draft. Add it all up, and if the Saints can ever play with a lead, they could look to milk a few more years out of Brees by increasing their reliance upon the ground game.
Derek Carr: Its been a very exciting year so far for Derek Carr. He found out his future lies in Vegas not Oakland. He signed a huge new contract, and added a stud running back along with a new tight end a possible post-hype sleeper at wide receiver.
Even in an injury shortened season Carr fell just shy of the 4k mark for yards tossed, while adding in 28 touchdowns. There is no reason not to expect those numbers to increase as Carr’s mastery of the offense and the league continues to expand. Adding Marshawn Lynch will only help, as when Beastmode gets on a roll Carr will see more teams stack the box allowing receivers Cooper and Crabtree to frolic in the defensive backfield.
Andrew Luck: Some say its better to be lucky than good. Well, for Luck and his fantasy production, its better to be healthy than not, because if healthy there is no questioning this kid is a stud fantasy player. As a fan you don’t want to see your team down. As a fantasy owner of a quarterback there isn’t much you like to see more. Will the Colts be down often? Absolutely, they’ve built their team like Jim Irsay on a 2 week bender. Will they be able to run? Well, Frank Gore is one of the most historically underrated running backs in the history of the game. He was also drafted during the Bush administration, and he seems so old you probably had to pause for a moment to think… WHICH BUSH?
Bottom line, Luck was beat up worse than Ronda Rousey in her last 2 fights during the 2016 season and still put up 4,240 and 31. If that’s his floor, you should feel very comfortable selecting him on draft day.
Eli Manning: I believe I am contractually obligated to have a Manning in the top tier, it was in the 73rd line of the Papa John’s app user agreement I signed last week. That being said, as I write this the Giants running back is Paul Perkins (shhhh…. he’s sleeping, we’ll talk about him this weekend), a name that even a casual UCLA fan may not recognize. His wide receivers though? Oh boy. When Eli walks by the wide receivers room at the training facility he’s gotta feel like one of the Goonies seeing One Eyed Willy’s treasure. Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shephard, and Dwayne Harris should wreck some defensive coordinator’s plans this year. Rookie first round pick out of Ole Miss, Evan Engram should also emerge as an electric player, how quickly is the only question.
Aaron Rodgers: Well now that A-Rod has cast off the dead weight that was Olivia Munn (said no rationale human being ever), he should be ready to return to his former glory. As physically talented as any quarterback in the league, Rodgers routinely makes plays that others simply cannot. In what many considered to be an up and down year by his standards, Rodgers produced 4,428 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. Not bad. The three headed monster of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams are as productive as any trio in the league. The addition of the always interesting Martellus Bennett should more than off set the production lost from Jared Cook heading west.
After taking a pounding from Atlanta to end his season, Its not unreasonable to take Rodgers anywhere near the top of the draft as he’ll likely be looking to redeem himself.
Ben Roethlisberger: The only thing scarier to Steeler fans than all of Western PA being out of Pierogis was when news broke that Big Ben was considering retirement. As it turns out, reports of his demise were a bit overblown as #7 will be leading the huddle for as many games as his body allows.
With the possibility of a Le’Veon Bell training camp hold out looming, the onus will once again fall upon the right arm of Roethlisberger. Luckily the gunslinger will have more than a few rounds in his holster. The receiving corps will be boosted by the return of deep threat Martavis Bryant to compliment all world receiver and dancer Antonio Brown. Aside from the marquee names, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, Darrius Heyward Bay, and rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster have all flashed potential at one time or another. The bottom line is that there will be no shortage of support, or opportunity for Roethlisberger to produce. But if you do select him, make sure to choose a quality back up. Its never a question of IF he’ll miss games, just a question of how many.
Matt Ryan: Last seen getting his ass handed too him in the Superbowl, it’ll be interesting to see how Matty Ice reacts. Going into halftime it looked like he was just an hour or so away from being a newly minted Superbowl winning QB. As abruptly as the lead was built, so it was squandered. His offensive coordinator left for the Bay area, and Ryan was left to spend the off season answering questions about how it all happened, and how would he respond. He seemingly had all the right answers, but as they say, every fighter has a plan until he gets hit in the mouth.
Ryan’s mouth should be okay with an extra pre-season game (they play the Bears in week 1), before its tested with a good ole fashioned shoot out with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in week 2. While any halfway decent quarterback has fantasy star potential as long as he’s throwing to Julio Jones, its not unreasonable to expect a return to reality for Ryan. 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns is probably the high end of what he can produce. But 4,000+ and 30+ touchdowns still makes him a very valuable quarterback.
Matt Stafford: Blessed with the best named offensive coordinator in the game (Jim Bob Cooter! shout out to Spence’s Challenge @Spencetology on Twitter), Stafford is widely expected to set the new mark for a quarterback contract any day now. The question then becomes will his production match his game day check.
Last year didn’t produce fantasy stud statistics. 4,327 yards and 24 touchdowns have turned into almost pedestrian numbers in today’s you can’t sneeze on a wide receiver without a penalty NFL. The presumed return to health of running back Ameer Abdullah, along with another year to learn the offense for Marvin Jones Jr. should help to lead to more production. Most important of all is that Stafford seems to have finally grown into the position. A former number one overall pick he has spent years getting by on his abundant physical gifts. Last year provided indications that he may finally take the step towards being the true franchise quarterback many thought he’d become all those years ago.
GROUPING TWO (there will be notably less commentary on the guys below. You should have grabbed one of the 9 guys above, if you didn’t you better have missed your selections because you were doing body shots off one of some co-ed.)
Kirk Cousins: Does his team suck? Yes. Do they have an established running game? No. Do they have a good group of guys to toss too? Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Jordan Reed, and Vernon Davis. Absolutely. Expect a lot of yards without proportional touchdown numbers from Cousins
Andy Dalton: Having found that life without Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones Jr was not all rainbows and puppies, the Bengals invested in offense during the draft using their top two selections on speedster John Ross, and world beater.. oh sorry, that should have been woman beater, Joe Mixon. The real key for Dalton though will be how healthy tight end Tyler Eifert is. Its safe to say that Dalton would sell his soul for a playoff win, except everyone knows that red heads don’t have souls.
Marcus Mariota: Now you wanna talk about a team putting its young QB in a position to succeed? First they surround him with 2 Clydesdale running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Now he’s added 1st round selection Corey Davis, and Eric Decker to his options at receiver. Davis and Tajae Sharpe could develop into a potent receiving duo for Mariota in the near future. If Mariota can avoid the big hit, he can have a big impact on your fantasy season.
Cam Newton: Dropping Cam to group two just a year and half after his jaw dropping 2015 season is more an indictment of how much his receivers suck than it is a reflection upon Cam. Greg Olsen, in his 10th season is far and away Cam’s best weapon. Newton had even developed a rapport with Ted Ginn Jr. but he bolted for Bourbon Street. Devin Funchess never woke up from his sleeper status of last off season, and Kelvin Benjamin looks like he’s been on my diet for the last 2 years. Stay away from Cam, and let someone who only remembers the Superbowl season select him way too early. (in our group, we call that guy JJ)
Dak Prescott: The media darling on 2016. The feel good story of the year. There are two ways to view Prescott’s situation entering this 2017 season. Either he no longer has the shadow of Tony Romo cast over him. Or he no longer has the safety net of Tony Romo protecting him. I tend to think he’ll be fine. He falls under the category of early Russell Wilson though, where his fantasy production doesn’t match his on the field presence. Like Wilson, he could match the numbers to the hype eventually, I just think it’ll take little more growing.
Philip Rivers: The veteran QB of the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS… Watching the draft this year, every time I saw the LAC designation for selection I wondered when the L.A. Clippers joined the NFL. It’ll certainly take some getting used too. With the return to health of Keenan Allen, the drafting of Mike Williams, and the decision to return for another go of it by Antonio Gates, it’ll certainly make the transition easier for Philip.
Carson Wentz: Taking a page out of the Titans playbook, the Eagles completely revamped Wentz’ receiving choices. The addition of Alshon Jeffrey, and Torrey Smith indicates that offensive coordinator Frank Reich wants to open up the offense and let the ball fly downfield. Displaying an early poise not expected for a guy making the transition from the FCS level to the NFL, Wentz will be asked to make another leap as the Philadelphia fans have used all their patience up with the 76ers, and simply have none left for the Eagles who need to win soon.
Russell Wilson: Have the Seahawks ever gotten over Malcolm Butler ripping that Superbowl away from them? I know they’re still considered a threat to make it to the big game every year, and they’ve won 10 games each of the last 2 years, but it seems the luster has come off their paint job. A lot of Wilson’s perceived value came from the Seahawks being superbowl contenders. If you look at him as a guy with 4,219 yards, 21 touchdowns, and a subpar group of receivers, you may make a Pete Carroll call, and pass.
Jameis Winston: Some people may call me crabby for putting Winston in group two. They may have a point. Externally it looks like Winston is poised for a breakout fantasy year, and he’s certainly someone I’d consider quickly if I missed out on one of the group one guys, or if I had Roethlisberger. Coming off a great 2nd season (stats wise. The 9-7 record is respectable, not great) in which he had 4,090 yards with 28 touchdowns, Winston need only cut down on the 18 picks to ascend to fantasy football stud territory. The roster additions of veteran Desean Jackson and rookie O.J. Howard certainly won’t hurt
GROUPING THREE (These are the guys you take as back ups, or if you’re in a 2 QB league, otherwise, stay away if you can)
Blake Bortles: One of the kings of fantasy garbage time stats. The Jaguars have a stable of capable running backs, some good wide receivers, a lot of draft capital invested in the line, and yet they can’t get it done. This is Bortles last chance to show he’s a starting QB in the NFL.
Sam Bradford: Steady but not spectacular. I still say Bradford throws the prettiest deep ball in the league. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are a serviceable duo. Bradford will be a productive leader for the Vikings, but not worthy of being in your fantasy line up.
Joe Flacco: I have all the respect in the world for Ozzie Newsome as a football man. But I will never understand the decision to break the bank to keep Joe Flacco at the expense of every other unit on the squad. Flacco will have a game or 3 where he puts up sud numbers, then he’ll have 5 games in a row where he can’t find the endzone. 4,317 yards with 20 touchdowns are not awe inspiring numbers. The addition of Jeremy Maclin will not offset the loss of Steve Smith, and you can’t ever count on Breshard Perriman. Take Flacco at your own risk. The image of the Ravens as contenders is held together with bubble gum and wire.
Carson Palmer: The fantasy in a Carson Palmer fantasy football season is that he’ll make it through the whole year. A more than solid producer when he’s available, 4,233 yards with 26 touchdowns, the strength of the Cardinals offense now lies in their backfield with David Johnson and Andre Ellington. You can take a late round flier on Palmer as a quality back up, but good luck to you if you decide to count on the AARP combo of Palmer-Fitzgerald anymore going forward.
Alex Smith: Alex Smith is the quarterback equivalent of dry wheat toast with breakfast. Yeah, its probably better for your cholesterol, but damn wouldn’t rather have an English muffin slathered in butter to go along with your pile of bacon and home fries. As a 3rd QB in a 2 QB league Smith has value in that he is consistent. But if you plan on using him any more than one to two weeks a season, you’re in deep doggy do do.
Ryan Tannehill: With a stud group of wide receivers in DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills to go along with talented receiving tight end Julius Thomas. Tannehill is in the same boat as Blake Bortles. Though slightly more successful than Bortles, Tannehill still falls short with the eye test. The tools at his disposal coupled with a playoff appearance would indicate Tannehill is on the brink. Yet something holds him back, whatever it is, let it hold you back from using anything more than a late round, hey I’m drunk now, duck it, give me Tannehill flyer.
Tyrod Taylor: A new coach, two intriguing recent draft selections in Cardale Jones and Nathan Peterman behind him, and the Bills opted to not pick up the 5th year option on Sammy Watkins. This whole situation looks shaky for Tyrod. Seemingly nothing more than a stop gap QB for the Bills, that’s about what he should be for you, a bye week waiver wire pick up.
GROUP FOUR (This is the “best” of the rest. Guys that could viably start an NFL game this year, but that at this point maybe are not even the clear cut starter for their team, and thus not worth anything more than keeping an eye on for a potential in season waiver pick up)
Matt Barkley – 49ers
Mike Glennon – Bears
Jared Goff – Rams
Christian Hackenberg – Jets
Brian Hoyer – 49ers
Cody Kessler- Browns
Dashone Kizer – Browns
Paxton Lynch – Broncos
Josh McCown – Jets
Brock Osweiler – Browns
Tom Savage – Texans
Trevor Siemian – Broncos
Deshaun Watson – Texans
So that’s it, that’s all you need to know about the current QB situation in the NFL. Check back in a few days and we’ll be covering who to target in the oh so fun modern day running back by committee NFL, because that’s really a crap shoot.
- Jason Sullivan
- Find me on Twitter @TopDucker