“The Big Rigg” New Guys Under Center in 2017
In my previous piece, I wrote about 2017’s rookie running back class. This week I will be discussing fantasy relevant quarterbacks who have found new homes for the 2017 season. I will preface the piece with this – if these guys were top tier talent, their former teams would have never let them out the door.
Mike Glennon signed a lucrative contract this spring to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears ($45M/3 years w/$18.5M guaranteed). Little did he know, the Bears would trade up in the draft to get their supposed franchise QB in Mitch Trubisky. Regardless of the draft capital invested in Trubisky, the Bears invested cash in Glennon that suggests they expect him to start for at least the 2017 season. For all intents and purposes, Glennon is in a contract year even though he signed a multiyear deal. At any point if the Bears decide to start the Mitch Trubisky era in Chicago, they will be able to get out from under the Glennon contract after 2017 spending “only” $18.5M to bridge the gap. The fact that Glennon is in a theoretical contract year is good for his fantasy outlook as he should be highly motivated to perform.
Glennon is the owner of a career 5-13 record as a starter, and is traditionally a conservative passer, averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt on his career. Dowell Loggains is entering his second year as the Bears’ offensive coordinator and has proven he can get the very best out of guys like Jay Cutler and even made Matt Barkley fantasy relevant at times. Loggains has been able to get the most out of guys like Cutler and Barkley because he doesn’t use one system. He will adapt his offense to the strengths of the personnel. Glennon has some big tall weapons at his disposal in Cameron Meredith, Kevin White and Zach Miller. Jordan Howard led all running backs last year in drops with 8, so unless he improves, or Tarik Cohen or Jeremy Langford emerge as a solid 3rd down back, he may not have much help out of the backfield.
Mike Glennon hasn’t seen meaningful game action since 2014, and he starts the year facing Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Green Bay in his first four matchups. This is not going to be an easy start.. Glennon is very conservative and took an average of 3 sacks per game in his first 18 starts, and he likely hasn’t developed better pocket presence on the bench behind Jameis Winston. All that being said, Glennon cannot be counted on as a fantasy starter in daily or season long leagues over the first four weeks and the jury will be out whether he can be counted on thereafter. If anything, Glennon getting his first start in 3 years means the Atlanta defense looks like a promising fantasy defense for week 1.
Brian Hoyer is now 31 years old and has amassed a 16-15 record as a starter over his career. Hoyer has been extremely brittle over the last few years, but has proven to be more than serviceable when he does play. Hoyer completes 59.5% of his passes and has a decent 44:26 touchdown to interception ratio. Hoyer also tosses an impressive 7.2 yards per attempt and only takes 2 sacks per game, indicating he has decent pocket presence compared to other quarterbacks on this list.
Hoyer doesn’t have the best weapons in San Francisco, so we are about to find out just how great Kyle Shanahan’s system really is. Shanahan’s number one wide receivers have dominated the NFL in recent years, but his most recent number one wide receivers have been the likes of Josh Gordon and Julio Jones. It will be interesting to see how Pierre Garcon handles that role in 2017, because Garcon is on the downside of his career and has never flashed the athletic ability of Gordon or Jones.
Hoyer won’t have the best offensive line supporting him in San Francisco and the new coaching staff seems less than impressed with incumbent running back, Carlos Hyde. Shanahan has had recent success with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman behind a solid offensive line in Atlanta. But it is unlikely the trio of Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower and Joe Williams supports Hoyer the same way Freeman and Coleman supported Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the last 2 seasons.
Matt Ryan struggled in year one of Shanahan’s system and exploded in year two. Hoyer is familiar with the system so he is unlikely to experience growing pains. The only growing pains Hoyer is going to experience will come from the headache of a lack of surrounding talent. San Francisco opens up the year against Carolina which struggled against the pass last year, so Hoyer might be a sneaky streaming option in season long leagues or cheap DFS play for week 1. After week 1, however, it gets a little dicey as Hoyer will line up against the Seattle, LA Rams and Arizona defensive fronts.
Josh McCown went 3-2 as a starter for Chicago in 2013 and has gone 2-20 as a starter since, with a career record of 18-42 as a starter. It appears the Jets are hoping to regain McCown’s 2013 form, when he tossed for 13 touchdowns, only 1 interception and an impressive 8.1 yards per attempt. The 2013 season was an outlier for McCown, as his career yards per attempt is 6.7 with 79 career touchdowns compared to 69 career interceptions. Since 2013 McCown has been extremely injury prone and it is unlikely he survives the entire season behind a below average Jets offensive line which just released their long time center, Nick Mangold.
The only thing going for McCown is that the Jets new offensive coordinator, John Morton, runs a west coast scheme. So McCown should get the ball out quickly sparing his body in the process, and may get some volume. Even if McCown is able to stay healthy and get decent volume, he doesn’t have many play makers at his disposal. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are atop the Jets wide receiver depth chart and the Jets are counting on Austin Seferian Jenkins to emerge for the first time in his career. Matt Forte is a decent all around back but father time could catch up with him at any moment. Bilal Powell is only a change of pace back. In sum, McCown has one of the worst supporting casts in the league.
The start to McCown’s season couldn’t get any worse, opening the year against the Bills, then playing against the emerging Raiders, following that with Suh and the Dolphins, and ending the first quarter playing the ascending Jaguars defense which just added Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye in free agency. You simply cannot rely on McCown in any format weeks 1 through 4, DFS or season long, unless you are in a 2 QB league. Even if you are in a 2 QB league, he is a bottom of the barrel option.
Blaine Gabbert is not the starter in Arizona, but his signing is somewhat intriguing. The Cardinals opted against drafting a potential the quarterback of the future to back up Carson Palmer. Instead, they opted to sign the 27-year-old Gabbert. If anybody can revive Gabbert’s career, it’s Bruce Arians. Gabbert was tabbed as an athletic quarterback coming into the 2011 draft, but he only averaged 3.7 yards per carry over his career and took over 3 sacks per game. Gabbert is only 9-31 as a starter in his career, completes 56% of his passes and is the owner of a horrible 6.0 yards per attempt. If anything, playing with Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and David Johnson may make Gabbert somewhat fantasy relevant if he’s forced into duty because the now 38-year-old Carson Palmer goes down. Don’t add Gabbert in any format, you need to wait and see with him.
Still On The Market
Colin Kaepernick is still only 29 years old and is fully healthy after recovering from the shoulder injury which slowed his start to the 2016 season. Colin Kapernick may be a hard player for some people to like, but one thing is for certain: he is by far the best quarterback remaining on the free agent market. The free agent landscape at the quarterback position is absolutely barren right now. There has been a lot of controversy in NFL circles about NFL teams bypassing Kaepernick, opting to sign quarterbacks that may have less talent. But by remaining on the free agent market, Kaepernick may have increased his next paycheck. There are very few quarterbacks capable of winning a spot start left on the free agent market and if there is an injury in training camp, teams will be scrambling to pick up Kaepernick.
Kaepernick is the owner of a career 59.8 completion percentage which isn’t the greatest, but isn’t Tim Tebowesque either. He has the arm strength to hit the big play at any time and has the athletic ability to do some serious damage on the ground. Kaepernick has rushed for 2,300 yards in his career and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Although the 49ers didn’t win a lot of games with him as the starter last year, he put up solid numbers behind a sub-par offensive line and poor supporting cast of playmakers.
If a quarterback goes down in the preseason and that team doesn’t have a capable backup, Kaepernick could get picked up and make a huge fantasy impact this season as long as the team who signs him adjusts their offense to his skill set. If an offensive coordinator lets Colin be Colin, he will be fantasy relevant. At this point, Kaepernick is not worth a draft pick in any format, but if he’s picked up, he will immediately be elevated to QB2 status, and possibly QB1 status based on the matchup.
Where might Kaepernick land? Although the Seahawks recently signed Austin Davis, you need to question whether they truly believe in him. In reality, the Seahawks aren’t planning on Davis playing at all this season, and if Russell Wilson goes down, they’re in trouble. Kaepernick is a veteran and will be ready to play at a moment’s notice should he get called into action at the last-minute. But he won’t be able to learn a pro style offense, so the offense will have to adapt to him. Other than the Seahawks, the New York Jets are another team with an extremely weak quarterback group. Although Josh McCown had some success in Chicago, that was all the way back in 2013. McCown hasn’t been able to recapture his 2013 form in Tampa or Cleveland and hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy.
Another potential landing spot for Kaepernick is Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor and Colin Kaepernick have very similar skill sets. Although the Bills already have TJ Yates, Cardale Jones and Nathan Peterman on their roster as backup quarterbacks, there is a lot of pressure on the Bills organization to win now. If something happens to Tyrod Taylor, and the Bills are still in playoff contention at the time, it will be interesting to see if the Bills put the chips down and sign Kaepernick in a win-now move. Keep this in mind – 60 yards rushing, 1 rushing TD, 200 passing yards and 1 passing TD is good for 24 points in a standard league, which is equivalent to a 300 yard 3 TD performance from a traditional pocket passer.
Big Rigg Wrap Up
Out of all the quarterbacks who have found new homes in 2017, the quarterback with the best fantasy outlook may be the one still on the market, Colin Kaepernick. Brian Hoyer has the most security out of all the aforementioned quarterbacks and has the track record of Kyle Shanahan on his side, but his supporting cast and durability are huge concerns. Mike Glennon has upside playing in sort of a contract year and under Dowell Loggains, but when a team invests the 2nd overall pick on a player, they intend on that player to play, not sit the bench. All in all, these guys are not top-tier NFL players, and are QB2’s at best. If these guys were QB1’s, their former teams never would have let them hit the open market to begin with.
Follow me on Twitter @Coachriggall
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join guest host Andrea LaMont, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday July 2nd, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #92 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
The Legend Lenny Melnick is our guest this week. Check out his work at lennymelnickfantasysports.com, his podcasts every morning on his site, and his Sirius Sattellite radio with Craig Mish every Sunday from 7-10am.
(Click the RED link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join guest host Andrea LaMont, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday July 9th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #93 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Kyle Kilnker. Kyle is a staple member of majorleaguefantasysports.com, and also a MLFB Champion.