Sophomore Quarterback Review
Each year, I’m fascinated by the hype that the Quarterback position generates leading into the NFL Draft. I get it, it’s the most important position on the field and the success of NFL franchises depends largely on the quality of its’ Quarterback play. Over the past 20 years, thirteen different quarterbacks have won super bowls:
- Tom Brady – 5 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016)
- Peyton Manning – 2 (2006, 2015)
- Eli Manning – 2 (2007, 2011)
- Ben Roethlisberger – 2 (2005, 2008)
- John Elway – 1 (1998)
- Kurt Warner – 1 (1999)
- Drew Brees – 1 (2009)
- Aaron Rodgers – 1 (2010)
- Joe Flacco – 1 (2012)
- Russell Wilson – 1 (2013)
- Nick Foles – 1 (2017)
- Trent Dilfer – 1 (2000)
- Brad Johnson – 1 (2002)
With the exception of a few guys, that is an elite list of signal callers, many of whom will receive a gold jacket one day. It is for that reason GMs will always be chasing their next franchise Quarterback. As a Vikings fan, I have painstakingly watched the team draft one embarrassing failure after another (Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen, John David Booty, Joe Webb, Christian Ponder…). They selected Fran Tarkenton in 1961 (their inaugural season) and he is still their all-time leading passer by almost 10,000 yards. Warren Moon played three seasons with the Vikings in the 1990s and is our sixth all-time leading passer with 10,102 yards. Brett Favre played two seasons for the Vikings in his twilight years and is our 7th all-time leading passer 6,711 yards. It was a shock to discover that throughout our 57-year history the Vikings have drafted just 21 Quarterbacks. That tells me signing elder journeymen is not the answer. So by all means NFL General Managers, find the guy you like and pull the trigger on the most sought-after position in football. Do it early. Do it often. Now, let’s take a look at some of the promising young Quarterback talent entering their second NFL season.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (DRZ ADP 45)
I knew he was good but damn, I did not see that coming. It was preposterous for Bill O’Brien to insist that Tom Savage was his starting Quarterback entering the 2017 season. He apparently felt the same way because, after two quarters of action, O’Brien had seen enough, gave him the hook, and put the future of the franchise behind center. Watson wasn’t spectacular in his first half of action, posting a 42.7 QBR but they were playing the Jags. It was also far superior to the paltry 7.8 QBR Tom Savage finished with. The next six weeks of Deshaun Watson, however, was spectacular. Through those six weeks, he threw for 1,597 yards, ran for 253 yards with two touchdowns, and led the league in passing touchdowns with 18. He averaged 27.2 FPTS/G (league-leading) and carried a lot of fantasy teams to victory in the early going. Then it all came crashing down. Watson tore his ACL in practice leading up to a Week 9 matchup with the Colts and just like that, his season was over.
Dynasty Outlook: Let me go on record by saying I love Deshaun Watson as and would love to own him in dynasty. His price, however, is way too steep for me to take him in a startup. His current ADP is 45th overall, making him a late fourth round pick. He’s going ahead of players like Rob Gronkowski, Sammy Watkins, and Russell Wilson. He’s only played six and a half games in the NFL. Granted there was a whole lot to like in that time, but let’s pump the brakes on taking him over Russell Wilson. Watson has now suffered Grade 3 ACL tears in both knees and both times it happened during practice. I think he will be fine, but I am a little concerned that he runs less often as a result, which will hurt his value. I’m also a bit worried about injuries with him. If he has another serious injury operating behind a dismal offensive line this season, his value is going to plummet and that fourth-round pick you spent on him will leave you feeling queasy. I have him ranked as my 66th overall player and 5th QB.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (DRZ ADP 109)
Patrick Mahomes was drafted into an excellent situation with the Chiefs. He played in the air raid offense at Texas Tech and was definitely not ready to come into the NFL and run Andy Reid’s west coast system. He was afforded one season to sit behind Alex Smith and played well in his one and only start in Week 17 at Denver. It’s hard to say whether or not that performance was enough to convince the organization he was ready to take the reins or if it was Alex Smith’s inability to close out yet another playoff game against the mediocre Titans. I tend to lean towards a combination of the latter and the prospect of paying Mahomes $4 million as opposed to paying Alex Smith somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million. We’ve seen how valuable it can be for an NFL team to operate with a Quarterback on their rookie deal (i.e. the Seahawks with Russell Wilson and the Eagles with Carson Wentz) and the Chiefs now have their window to pay players at other positions and make a run at a championship.
Dynasty Outlook: Mahomes is undoubtedly an intriguing player in dynasty. The Chiefs are loaded on offense with Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and oh yeah, Travis Kelce. They finished 5th in total offense last season and that was with guys like Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, De’Anthony Thomas, and Demarcus Robinson operating on the outside opposite Tyreek Hill. Watkins is a massive talent upgrade and should help to open things up for the offense even more so than last season, which is scary for opposing defenses. The question is, is Pat Mahomes ready to run a pro-style offense for 16 games? I think the answer is no, but I don’t think it matters. Andy Reid is an offensive genius. He knows what he has in Project Pat and that is just it, a project. Reid will tailor the offense to keep Mahomes in his comfort zone and he will produce with the weapons he has around him. He is currently being drafted in the 9th round and I’m willing to take a chance on him over the likes of Kenny Golladay, Julian Edelman, Cameron Meredith, Kalen Ballage, Corey Clement, etc.
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears (DRZ ADP 157)
The #2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft was set up for failure, and he did just that. Mitch Trubisky, however, does not deserve to shoulder virtually any of the blame for the Bear’s offensive woes. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, their top two WRs heading into the season, were both placed on injured reserve before Trubisky ever stepped foot on the field, leaving them with the less than formidable combination of Zach Miller, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Dontrelle Inman, Dion Sims. He even lost Miller to a gruesome knee dislocation in Week 8 furthering their plight. To make matters worse, he was fettered to the corpse of John Fox, the least imaginative Head Coach left in the NFL since the firing of Jeff Fisher. Tarik Cohen was so obviously the most talented pass catcher to everyone who watched the Bears, everyone except for John Fox. After a hot start to the season for Cohen, amnesia struck the Bears coach, and he was worked into the game plan sporadically for the remainder of the season. Thankfully, the Bears organization saw what we saw and fired John Fox one day after the season finale.
Dynasty Outlook: Enter new Head Coach Matt Nagy. This has the potential to be the most meaningful head coaching move for fantasy football in 2018. Nagy is the antitheses of John Fox. He is going to do whatever it takes to put his players in a position to succeed. For example, Nagy comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree and wants to run a west-coast based system. This is a challenging offense for young Quarterbacks to learn. So what does do? He brings in Mark Helfrich as the OC, a long time Quarterbacks coach and spread offense aficionado who served as the OC under Chip Kelly at Oregon during their heyday. This is relevant because Trubisky ran the spread at North Carolina and is more comfortable operating out of shotgun, something the offense did sparingly under John Fox. The Bears scored just 16.5 points per game last season. In the five games Matt Nagy called plays for the Chiefs in 2017, they scored 30.0 points per game. Granted, there was a massive talent gap between the two teams but the Bears have added some big-time pieces this offseason in Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel. I’m not saying they will finish as a top ten scoring offense but they are going to be a lot better and so will Trubisky. There will be some growing pains, but I love Trubisky in dynasty formats and believe he has top twelve upside in 2018.
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