Throughout the entire off-season and preseason, I compiled projections for every team in the NFL, I then put together tiers of potential fantasy starters by each position. I’m not going to go through all 32 team projections (all of which were completed before preseason play began), but you can review them all here. What I will do is grade my positional tiers and sleeper picks beginning with, of course, quarterback.
As with each position, I broke out the potential fantasy contribution at quarterback into five tiers – Elites, Supremes, Greats, Best of the Rest, and Wild Bunch. Here’s how that fared:
ELITES: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers
Arguably, Wilson, Rodgers, Brees all lived up to this title finishing 7-9 overall in fantasy scoring and within marginal reach of Top 5 production give or take a few points. The idea behind Elite QB’s is that your floor is always high with an even higher ceiling. At the time it didn’t feel like it with Rodgers, but like Wilson and Brees he was dependably consistent and even posted a 56 point game Week 16, championship week for most in the league.
Brady was a bit of a miss here. He was consistent for most of the season but fell off down the stretch finishing #12 overall and his worst season performances came during Week 15 and Week 16 when he was needed most. Brady was great this year so he didn’t hurt you, but he wasn’t elite, he wasn’t even that supreme.
SUPREMES: Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, DeShaun Watson, Carson Wentz
We’re getting a little dicier here. Watson finished #6 overall so that call remains solid, but Wentz injuries derailed his season which could also be said for Newton. Had Newton finished the year and scored his average score the last two weeks he would have finished #8 between Rodgers and Brees. Wentz was averaging 24 points a week which was solid but would have landed him outside the Top 10 and his health risks were known prior to the season and should have lowered him in my rankings. Cousins finished #10 overall.
GREATS: Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan
Roethlisberger and Ryan had banner years and were both elites. Both were far more than great with Ryan finishing #2 and Big Ben #3 and both were had on the cheap this year with many of the previously mentioned names going for much more.
Prescott was a complete miss as he floundered most of the season and really was not better than a replacement level arm.
GRADE: C+ (minus points for Dak and minus points for having Big Ben and Ryan this low)
BEST OF THE REST: Matt Stafford, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Philip Rivers
My call on all of these guys was that they were safe plays with caveats. For Luck, it was whether he could stay healthy and Rivers upside was dependent on the health of his weapons. Both were accurate calls.
Manning and Stafford were low risk/low reward calls which was accurate for Manning who had two low weeks of 9 points each this season but was a fairly steady contributor all year. Stafford was a fantasy waste and total miss, especially once Detroit decided their season was over and basically stopped trying.
Smith was all but worthless even before his injury making that a miss and Carr had his ups and downs. With all of the high-end QB play this year, Carr’s season was just too inconsistent to justify this label.
GRADE: D (Luck and Rivers were good calls, the rest were mediocre at best)
WILD BUNCH: Pat Mahomes, Mitchel Trubisky, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, Jimmy Garoppolo, Case Keenum
This was a group that I thought had pretty unpredictable fantasy futures that had the potential for breakouts but also risks.
Mahomes, Trubisky and Garoppolo were my “stash as breakout candidates” picks and obviously Mahomes delivered on that with a #1 finish and a fantasy season for the ages. Trubisky started slow, then clicked turning into the best fantasy QB in the game for six weeks before getting hurt. The rest of his season was up and down after that as the Bears tried to protect their franchise QB. Garoppolo didn’t even get his pants on before getting hurt for the season but the success of Nick Mullens and even CJ Beathard leads me to believe Jimmy G would have been fine. I’m calling all three of these picks correct.
Goff, Mariota, and Keenum were the guys with past resumes that presented difficult questions. Goff had been both awful and great and even when he was great he was kind of inconsistent. He finished as the #5 overall QB this year, but his production the final four weeks of the season killed his fantasy owners making it right to hesitate about his consistency. Mariota failed once again to live up to his potential and is a miss, he’s no longer a relevant name in fantasy until proven otherwise. Keenum I cautioned as leaving a much better offense in Minnesota for a lesser one in Denver, but I still had him as potential fantasy contributor and he was not, this was another miss.
Most of the QB’s that made their way onto my tiers were strong fantasy starts. Of the 23 names I included, roughly 4.5 (Smith, Stafford, Mariota, Keenum, Manning/Carr) would have negatively impacted your fantasy dreams had you started them in your lineup when they were playing. Outside of potentially Baker Mayfield, I didn’t omit any Top 15 names from my list which is a check mark in my favor. My success rate was roughly 80% on this list if you used it.
OVERALL GRADE: B (extra credit for not missing any fantasy studs for the year)