“Off the Matt”: Quarterback Rankings 2015, 30-21(Part 1 of 3)
It is time to dive into the quarterback rankings. This week will feature quarterbacks 30-21. With two quarterback leagues becoming more popular, many of the following players will be slotted into Week 1 lineups in those formats. In standard 12, 14, and even 16 team leagues, if any of the following are starting for you Week 1 your draft went wrong somewhere.
The format of hello, uh-oh, and bottom line basically translates to:
hello: the good
uh-oh: the bad
bottom line: overall outlook
Before we go any further I need you the reader to understand how “HELLO” is being used. I have wrested back and forth with how to spell this to convey the diction that I am going for.
Here is the best example I can come up with.
Say you are walking down the street with one of your buddies and in the distance you see Ryan Tannehill’s wife walking in your direction. Chances are you would start drooling like a fool and not even be able to form a sentence. But, if you were able to keep your calm, you might lean over to your buddy and say “HeLLLLo.” I think we have all used that version of hello at some point in our life. If anyone has a suggested spelling to better convey what I am going for, please drop something in the comment section. If you are having a hard time wrapping your head around what you just read feel free to read “HELLO” the following way….
30. Brian Hoyer, Texans
HELLO: The formula for the Houston Texans to win games this year is a simple one; Run the ball. Play defense. Run the ball. No team ran the ball more last year than the 551 times that the Texans pounded it. All that running is bound to set up some great play action opportunities, and as it turns out Hoyer is a very effective passer coming off play action. Last year, Hoyer ranked in the top three in play action passing yards, play action yards per attempt, and play action passer rating.
UH – OH: To the delight of HBO’s “Hardknocks”, it looks like there will be a quarterback competition between Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. The latest updates after off season activities have Hoyer slightly outplaying Mallett, but coach Bill O’Brien has yet to announce a starter.
BOTTOM LINE: It is hard to have a ton of love for a guy who is going to battle just to win the starting job. He did show some promise last year when he threw for 300+ yards in three-of-four games. However, he quickly showed his inconsistencies going ice-cold for a three game stretch and failing to surpass 200 yards with a disastrous touchdown to interception ratio of 1:5. He could be a serviceable “real life” quarterback with his success in play action passing, but the lack of volume as well as consistency won’t play as well in the fantasy game.
29. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
HELLO: Bortles started 13 games as a rookie. He showed great mobility by rushing for 419 yards, fourth most at the quarterback position. He has the tools to be a top tier quarterback, including a rocket arm. He is the unquestioned starter heading into his second season.
UH-OH: Like many rookie quarterbacks, Bortles struggled. He threw only 11 touchdowns and surpassed 300 yards just once. He failed to improve as the year went on, throwing just three touchdown passes over his final seven games.
BOTTOM LINE: Reports have surfaced that Bortles played the tail-end of the season with “dead arm.” This revelation could be an explanation for Bortles terrible finish to the season. With a rested arm and the addition of touchdown machine Julius Thomas, Bortles should see a solid improvement on his rookie numbers. Even with the improved numbers he is still a year away from fantasy relevance.
28. Geno Smith, Jets
HELLO: Geno had a strong finish to the season by throwing five touchdowns to just one interceptions over his final three games. Adding Brandon Marshall and drafting speedster Devin Smith bolsters the receiving corp.
UH-OH: October 26, 2014 – A day that makes Geno Smith wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
8 attempts / 2 completions / 5 yards / 3 interceptions.
That is a real quick way to assure a fantasy loss for the week. Geno is incredibly inconsistent, posting three games where he failed to reach 100 yards passing or throw for a touchdown.
BOTTOM LINE: The good Geno can post impressive fantasy stats (see week 17 at Miami: 358 / 3 / 0), however, the bad Geno can put a nail in the coffin of a fantasy matchup. Unfortunately, the bad Geno shows up more often than good Geno. If the matchup is ideal, he can be a stream start, but his inconsistencies do not make him worth rostering.
27. Robert Griffin, Redskins
HELLO: Fantasy owners still smile when thinking about the ride that Griffin took them on his breakout 2012 rookie season. Griffin was an efficient passer, throwing 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He made his mark in the fantasy world as an explosive rusher, piling up 815 yards and seven touchdowns.
UH-OH: Griffin’s numbers have declined each of the past two seasons, mostly due to his inability to stay on the field. However, even when playing he has struggled to regain his 2012 swagger. Griffin’s fantasy value is directly tied to his ability to produce rushing statistics. In his last 22 games, he has only exceeded 30 yards rushing in 8 games. To make matters worse, he has only found the end zone one time over that span. His passing numbers have been just as bad, he currently is riding a 12 game streak in which he has failed to throw multiple touchdown passes.
BOTTOM LINE: Someone in your league will reach for Griffin, hoping he can replicate 2012, and make him one of the first 20 quarterbacks selected. Do not be that person. He simply cannot produce quality fantasy numbers on his arm alone, and the statistics above show that his running days are behind him.
26. Nick Foles, Rams
HELLO: Foles showed his potential in 2013 by posting 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in the ten games he started. Last year in the seven full games he played he threw for 300+ yards four times including a 411 yard effort against the Cardinals.
UH-OH: Leaving Chip Kelly’s high powered offense significantly lowers Foles fantasy value. Last year the Rams averaged 32 pass attempts per game, while in his seven starts with the Eagles Foles slung it 42 times per game. Additionally, his supporting cast is young and unproven. Playing four games a year against top five pass defenses in Seattle and San Francisco won’t make things any easier.
BOTTOM LINE: Spending the tenth overall pick on Todd Gurley and following it up with offensive line selections in four of their next six picks leads me to believe that Jeff Fisher has a game plan in mind. That game plan does not involve airing it out 40+ times a game either. The lack of steady pass catchers coupled with a run heavy scheme makes Foles a ‘stay away’ candidate for me this year.
25. Andy Dalton, Bengals
HELLO: Take a quick trip down memory lane to Andy Dalton’s monster 2013 season where he threw for 4,293 and added 33 touchdowns, making him the third best fantasy quarterback for that season. He has plenty of weapons to work with and will get the services back of Marvin Jones who caught ten touchdowns in Dalton’s magical 2013 season. Dalton has proved his durability, not missing a single game in his four year career.
UH-OH: New offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, installed a more run heavy approach than what former coordinator Jay Gruden had used. Dalton’s numbers suffered as he posted a career low in attempts, yards, and touchdowns. His decision making/accuracy was shaky, throwing one interception per every 28 pass attempts, which is also a career worse.
BOTTOM LINE: Ask yourself which Andy Dalton you expect to see in 2015? If you think his 2014 numbers were a fluke and he will bounce back to his 2013 form, by all means, select him. While I look for the return of Marvin Jones to give Dalton’s numbers a jolt in the right direction, this ranking should tell you that I expect a 2014 version of Dalton.
24. Alex Smith, Chiefs
HELLO: Smith scratched out four games of 20+ fantasy points last season. He only threw three interceptions over his final 14 games. Adding free agent Jeremy Maclin should provide the intermediate-to-deep passing game a shot in the arm.
UH-OH: Alex Smith is the owner of one of the most improbable statistics that I can recall off of the top of my balding head. To play 15 games as a quarterback and not throw a single touchdown pass to a receiver is something that will probably never happen again. Another mind-boggling stat is that Smith only completed three passes all season that traveled 20+ yards, or in other words, a solid game for Aaron Rodgers.
BOTTOM LINE: I hate to use the term game manager, but that does describe Alex Smith well. He plays a very conservative style game that will lead to a very limited ceiling. The addition of Maclin and the emergence of Kelce should give Smith’s numbers a pop. Keep an eye on Smith in preseason. If he shows the ability to drive the ball down field with more success move him up in the rankings a few spots. He is not worth owning in a standard league, however, if you play in a two quarterback format you could do worse than having Alex Smith as your number two.
23. Derek Carr, Raiders
HELLO: Playing in all 16 games as a rookie is impressive in today’s NFL. Even more impressive, he dropped back to pass over 600 times and only took 24 sacks, which showcases his quick decision making and even quicker release. Carr finished the season on a strong note, throwing for seven touchdowns versus one interception over his final four games. The addition of Amari Cooper gives Carr a serious outside talent to work with.
UH-OH: For as much as Carr threw the ball, he did not back it up statistically. His 5.5 yards per pass attempt rated worst in the league. Carr offers very little in rushing yards.
BOTTOM LINE: Carr is expected to make a jump in his second year. The upgrade to his receiving corps in Cooper and Crabtree should help the process. Don’t discredit the importance of garbage time stats. Chances are the Raiders will spend many fourth quarters playing catch up which should give Carr the opportunity to turn out some impressive numbers. He should be on the radar in two quarterback leagues.
22. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
HELLO: Winston was selected with the first overall pick in the 2015 draft and will be the opening day starter. He had an incredible college career that included a National Championship and Heisman Trophy. Playing in a pro-style offense that called for pro-style throws should ease his transition into the NFL. Having 1,000 yard receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to work with is an added bonus.
UH-OH: The 18 interceptions he threw last year at Florida State should raise some red flags regarding decision making and accuracy. His off the field antics do not help his cause in the decisions making area. Rookie quarterbacks have traditionally struggled. Over the past decade, only five rookie quarterbacks have posted top 15 fantasy numbers.
BOTTOM LINE: The Buccaneers are likely to rely heavily on Winston. Last year, they had the fourth worst rushing attack and there is no reason to think it will be any better this season. While history is against Winston, he has a chance to produce quality numbers thanks in large part to quality receiving options. Be careful with Winston if your league has stiff penalties for turnovers.
21. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
HELLO: Look out Drew Brees. Your record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass is safe for now, but Teddy Bridgewater quietly put together a strong finish to the 2014 season, throwing for at least one touchdown pass in each of his final ten games. He also found his accuracy, posting a completion percentage of 70%+ in four of his final five games. Over the final six weeks of the NFL season Bridgewater was the tenth best fantasy quarterback. The return of Adrian Peterson will make the entire offense better and should allow for better matchups in the passing game.
UH-OH: With only 12 starts on his resume, Bridgewater is still a mystery. He lacks consistent receiving options on the outside, and with the return of Peterson the offensive game plan will revolve around the running game.
BOTTOM LINE: The way Bridgewater finished the year does make him an intriguing option. Having only 12 starts under his belt makes it hard to trust him as a QB1. He has as much upside as any quarterback in the 30-21 rankings. I will be interested to see the effect that Adrian Peterson has on Bridgewater’s fantasy value. I have no doubt that Peterson being on the field makes him a better “real life” quarterback, but only time will tell if it benefits him in the fantasy world.
Check back next week for quarterbacks 20-11.
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