QBs Likely to Regress in 2017

I’m like hey. What’s up? Helllooooo…

You ever think back on a song that was fire a few years ago? A random song. Not a song from a Drake, Taylor Swift, or any other massively popular artist. But, one of those new cats who burst on the scene, and then seemingly disappear from relevance as quickly as they arrived?

Well, if you have (and you then googled said artist) you’d likely find that they’ve put out a few more projects. Thing is, you had no idea they were still making music.

The same can be said for the quarterback position in fantasy football.

In looking at which QB draft strategy we should employ in 2017, I found that over the past five seasons, the top-10 has been largely dominated by the same guys.

Drew Brees has finished as a top-10 QB for five straight years. Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Russell Wilson? It’s been four of five for them. Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan have been top-10 finishers in three of five…

These are the Jay-Zs, Maroon 5s, Drakes, and Taylor Swifts; the ones with staying power. Yet, every year a few new names will pop up and dominant the charts. And, while a few of them stick, most are never heard from again.

That being said, chasing last year’s “breakout” QB isn’t always a good idea. Here’s a quick look at some of the QBs to break into the top-10 over the past five seasons:

2012: Robert Griffin III

2013: Andy Dalton, Nick Foles

2014: Ryan Tannehill

2015: Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins

2016: Dak Prescott, Tyrod Taylor, Derek Carr

I excluded veterans like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Carson Palmer who occasionally resurface in the top-10 because we know who they are at this point in their respective careers, and can’t really consider them “breakouts”.

That leaves us with a total of nine new faces to emerge among the top-10 QBs over the last five seasons.

RG3 went from the #5 fantasy QB in 2012, to the 18th best in 2013. Dalton and Foles didn’t fare much better; going from 5th and 9th in 2013 to 18th and 29th in 2014, respectively. Tannehill was the 9th best fantasy QB in 2014; he finished 17th in 2015. Which brings us to our two exceptions, Bortles and Cousins, the only two to repeat as top-10 performers.

In other words, since 2012, 66.66666667% (add more sixes if you desire) of the breakout QBs failed to finish among the top-10 fantasy QBs in the following season.

Therefore, assuming the success rate remains the same, we’ll see one of last season’s three breakouts finish among the top-10 fantasy QBs this season….

But who will it be?

Dak Prescott

Prior to the announcement of Ezekiel Elliot’s six game suspension, I was down on Dak Prescott this season. After the announcement of Ezekiel Elliot’s six game suspension, I’m down on Dak Prescott this season.

It’s not a matter of talent, because he clearly has an abundance.

But, he had just 2 games which he threw for 300+ yards, was 23rd in pass attempts, 19th in passing yards, and 15th in passing TDs – most of his production came in the form of rushing.

He’s not going to stop utilizing his legs, but he’s one of just eight QBs to score at least 6 rushing touchdowns over the past five seasons; it’s not a frequent occurence. He also lost 2 key contributors to the offensive line in Ronald Leary, and Doug Free, and teams now have a full season’s worth of film on him.

Oh yeah, and did I mention Zeke has been suspended? He’ll appeal, but here’s how the Cowboys offense fared without him in 2016 (just in case):

With Without
Yards/Play 6.2 5.4
Yards/Rush 5.1 3.8
Rush Play % 56.0 35.5
Pass Play % 44.0 64.5
Passer Rating 113.5 88.1

Looks like we’ll see more passing from Dak, but if these numbers are any indication, that won’t necessarily be a good thing.

2017 Verdict: Regression

Derek Carr

We all remember the broken right fibula Carr suffered in Week 16, but what you might not recall is that he finished 3rd in MVP voting.

Now entering his 4th season, Carr has shown improvement in each of his three seasons as the Raiders signal caller. He finished his rookie campaign as the 20th ranked fantasy QB, 15th in 2015, 10th last season, and there’s no reason to think he’ll fall off any time soon.

Yes, there’s uncertainty in him coming back from the leg injury, but he wasn’t much of a runner to begin with. The injury shouldn’t have a negative effect from that standpoint.

The positives are numerous, however.

He plays behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and was sacked just 16 times last season. Only Brady went down less (15), and he played three fewer games. Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree represent one of the best receiver duos in the game, and they added Jared Cook this off season for good measure.

There might not be a QB in the league with a better combination of offensive line and receiving options.

His 28 touchdown passes were the 7th most in 2016, and his 4.7 TD/INT ratio was good for 5th best in the league. In fact, his CAREER 2.61 TD/INT ratio is good enough to rank 10th among qualified QBs LAST SEASON –  with almost four times the number passing attempts as 2016’s 9th best performer, Tyrod Taylor.

All told, the talent is there, the weapons are there, the protection is there… Carr has plenty of staying power.

2017 Verdict: Steady

Tyrod Taylor

I’ve been a fan of Tyrod since his Virginia Tech days, and while he’s most widely recognized for his running ability, his 61.7% completion rate was 8th best among QBs with at least 200 passing attempts in 2016… He also has a cannon!

Problem is, new HC Sean McDermott is a defensive guy, and I’m really not sure what this offense will look like in 2017.

Oh… And, they just traded Sammy Watkins.

While the argument can be made that he played most of last season without Watkins, and still finished in the top-10, it’d be wise not to take that stance – the Bills will also be without Robert Woods, and Marquise Goodwin – Taylor’s top-2 receivers a season ago.

LeSean McCoy is still there, however, and they added Anquan Boldin, Jordan Matthews, and Zay Jones. So, it’s not like Tyrod will surrounded by a bunch of scrubs. But, neither Boldin or Matthews can stretch the field; limiting Taylor’s strengths.

Then, there’s the mess off the field. There was plenty of talk in the off-season on Taylor’s contract, and the Bills reluctance to pay him. I won’t even pretend to be smart enough to break down all of that, but I can’t help but think they’re setting him up to fail in 2017.

While some QBs can persevere regardless of the circumstances, I’m not quite sure Taylor is one of them, and there’s just too many question marks to feel any sort of confidence in a repeat performance.

If you draft him as your fantasy QB, you’re living on a prayer… That he gives you about 750 rushing yards, and 10 TDs.


2017 Verdict: Regression

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