2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Preview: It’s Time to Wait

by Tyler Thompson
2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Preview
Credit: Parker Anderson

Credit: Parker Anderson

Another year, another fantasy football writer telling you to wait on the quarterback position in your draft. It's still the least volatile position in the fantasy football game and the statistics back that up.

Amongst QBs that played 10 games or more, 20 of them averaged 20+ fantasy points per game (FPPG) in standard scoring leagues (four points per pass TD / six points per rush TD). Cam Newton led that group at 28.1 FPPG in 2015 while the rest of the crew were within 5.0 FPPG of each other. The consistency is very high too with most of these players not having high standard deviations from week to week production.

However, I consider myself open-minded when it comes to draft strategies. I won't count out any other methods of madness. I have known many a team to win a league by waiting on the position or selecting a QB with a first round pick. I'm here to fill you in on the players I like and dislike as they compare to one another. Hopefully that will assist you in creating your own rankings and that way you can value QBs however you like!

Luckily for us fantasy players, there weren't many free agent moves at the position. Most of the OC-QB relationships that pertain to the top 20 QBs are intact from 2015. Not as much guessing on how Player A will fit in Offensive Coordinator B's system. That is unless you're drafting Brock Osweiler anywhere (you poor soul!).

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Preview

Will Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck bounce back?

Aaron Rodgers was drafted as the first or second QB off the board in every draft last year. He was also the first or second most frustrating QB to own in fantasy.

Most weeks he was bailing you out with Hail Mary heaves or 2-minute drills in 4th quarters of close games.

Losing major deep threat Jordy Nelson had to have been huge for Rodgers last year. On throws of 31+ yards in 2014, Rodgers completed 67% of 87 attempts for 741 yards,  eight touchdowns, and one interception. On those same types of passes in 2015, he completed just 51% of 130 attempts for 846 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Recap: he needed 43 more attempts to eclipse the yardage and touchdowns totals in a much worse performance. Having Nelson back this year, even at potentially three-quarters speed, will assist Rodgers in getting back to elite form.

Andrew Luck had injury issues last year that only allowed him to play seven games. Now fully recovered, Luck looks to get back on track to the level of greatness he showed in 2014.

He still has great receiving corps with T.Y. Hilton as the deep threat and Donte Moncrief as an intermediate type receiver. They also drafted Josh Ferguson as a pass-catching option to mix and match with Frank Gore.

This might be the most complete offense Luck has had a chance to work with in his short career. I have no qualms about drafting him in the top-3 amongst QBs.

How will Tony Romo and Andy Dalton perform after injuries?

Tony Romo spent a great chunk of the 2015 season on the sideline due to various shoulder and collarbone ailments.

After reading some offseason articles, it appears that he is throwing at full speed and expects to participate in all the offseason activities. I don't think there's any issue here with performance and there is injury history built in to his draft price (10th QB by ADP).

With a healthy Dez Bryant and a reinvented running game, Romo looks primed to return to success.

Andy Dalton had a spectacular 2015 campaign marred by a thumb injury sustained while attempting to make a tackle after throwing a pick.

He appears fully recovered and ready to go for all offseason activity. Believe it or not, those were the first games he's missed in his five-year tenure in Cincinnati.

While I'm not worried about his health moving forward, I am worried about the suddenly-depleted supporting cast. Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu left town. Tyler Eifert is still recovering from an ankle injury and might not be ready for the season opener.

It's not like you are paying QB1 price for him though so I could see myself drafting him in a couple of leagues.

Will Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota take the next step?

Jameis Winston might not have shown obvious progression from a fantasy standpoint in his rookie campaign. However, his gaining of authority and confidence in the huddle (or not in the huddle considering Dirk Koetter runs the offense) was evident over the latter course of the season.

With another offseason under his belt, Koetter should allow him to make more decisions on the fly. The arsenal remains pretty much the same from last year with a solid backfield, stud Mike Evans, and a hopefully healthy Vincent Jackson.

Marcus Mariota had his inconsistent 'highs' and 'lows' that any rookie would experience, but the major issue was the injury bug. He didn't really show injury-proneness in college so I'm hoping this was just a one year thing.

He possesses obvious natural talent and the Titans made a concerted effort to surround him with better talent. They will return Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham (who I don't really care for actually). They also added Rishard Matthews (sleeper) and drafted Tajae Sharpe out of Miami. Throw in the much improved backfield of vet DeMarco Murray and rook Derrick Henry along with the reliable Delanie Walker and we have a formidable offense.

These two are going off the board after round 12 and I think they could be the perfect streaming combination. Include the additional upside of one of them producing a top 8 season and your season could be really special. I would prefer Mariota between the two of them due to running ability and arsenal, but it's a close call considering Winston is a better downfield passer by the numbers.

Draft Strategy

The strategy that I have continually been hinting at and will be implementing is waiting on QB. There are two simple ways to successfully wait on QB:

Value-based drafting

When you create your draft rankings, be honest about where you would really draft a certain quarterback. Once you've got QB 'X' ranked where you like, wait another round before considering him. If he's still available by the next round, you take him at the added value he presents to you.

For example, let's say you've got Blake Bortles rated as a 6th round pick this season. Your draft enters the 6th round and he's still available. However, you could continue to build depth at RB with Gio Bernard or Melvin Gordon and at WR with Donte Moncrief or DeSean Jackson. I would select one of those players and see if Bortles can fall another round. If he doesn't, you know you made the right choice by building depth and still have a decent selection of quarterbacks available.

Multi-QB streaming

If you actually do want to avoid the quarterback position, streaming is the way to go. Building an incredibly deep roster at other positions is definitely smart considering the nature of fantasy football to produce injuries and busts.

This is a strategy I will be all over this season, especially with some of the names in the 13-19 QB range based on ADP. Names include the aforementioned Mariota and Winston along with Kirk Cousins and a couple of sleepers listed below.

The best way to do this is to create two separate rankings - one for quarterbacks and another for everyone else. Just draft away and cross off names on your quarterback list. Once that list gets to QB13, you pounce on two quarterbacks with your next two picks. Make sure the BYE weeks mesh together when doing this strategy. You could even go one step further and look at matchups based on how defenses performed in 2015!

To provide a quick example on streaming, in 2015 there were two guys readily available on waivers in most leagues: Bortles and Derek Carr. If you streamed them in the correct games through Week 12, your QB position would have averaged 26.7 FPPG. As mentioned in the introduction, that would have been good for 2nd place among individual quarterbacks. Additionally, you avoid the issue of having to pluck a stinky one off waivers during bye weeks.


Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Now before you get defensive, I would advise you to look at the game log for Russell Wilson in 2015.

In his first nine games, he had more than one TD once and eclipsed 300 total yards just once. In his last five games (excluding the blowout in Week 17), he averaged 3.5 TDs and 348.5 total yards per game.

I am not a believer in the idea that this offense got better without Beast Mode and Jimmy Graham. Don't get me wrong he's super talented and still a QB1. I just can't justify taking him ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, and Drew Brees.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Another offseason of this asinine argument on deflated footballs is upon us. Tom Brady isn't going down without a fight and we will know hopefully soon the true extent of his suspension. As it stands now, he holds a four game suspension and has a bye week sometime within your fantasy football regular season.

That's five out of twelve matchups where you are without Brady. I can't draft that as the 7th QB by ADP and expect to make fantasy playoffs. I would much rather prefer Carr, Eli Manning, or Philip Rivers.


Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

As I alluded to in the Draft Strategy section, Tyrod Taylor is the 19th QB off the board by ADP standards. I don't understand how, in a fantasy world where we overrate running quarterbacks, we can rate Taylor this low.

In his first year in the Buffalo offense, Taylor averaged 215 YPG passing and 41 YPG rushing with 20 pass TDs and four rush TDs. These numbers are even skewed a bit considering he left a couple of games early. He was 7th in Total QBR ahead of Newton, Rodgers, and Brady.

All this in his first year as a starter! Taylor managed games perfectly for Buffalo in 2015. This year though I think the Bills are going to unleash him and allow him to win them games rather than just not lose them.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, FA

Let me start by saying that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the 30th QB by ADP this offseason. That's after Jared Goff, Brock Osweiler, Robert Griffin III, and any non-San Francisco QB. That's ridiculous! So let me get this straight: you'll draft Brady seven quarterbacks early for the possibility that he will (likely not) win his suspension appeal, but you draft Fitzpatrick over ten quarterbacks late because he hasn't signed with Jets yet?

When he signs with the Jets this offseason (that's right, I'm that confident), everything will go right back to normal. Then people will regret not selecting him either in their streaming rotation or as a solid QB2.

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