It seems we say this year after year, but when it comes to Fantasy Football, the quarterback position tends to be the deepest come draft time. Whether you take the plunge early on Aaron Rodgers or you wait and play the streaming game later, the decision you make at quarterback to start in your weekly lineup can play itself out very easily.
With the emphasis on roster construction being focused more heavily on running backs and wide receivers, some very talented quarterbacks will fall down the draft board into the 10th round or later. Most of your experienced Fantasy owners employ this technique in their drafts and forego the quarterback position while loading up in other areas, then play the matchups between two QBs on a weekly basis. Players like Carson Wentz and Trevor Siemian were plucked off the waiver wire last year and led many owners to wins throughout the season with strong performances. The only downside to going after your quarterback early is that the player must finish around the spot you drafted him by season’s end. Otherwise, you might struggle because of the talent you passed up on in other areas. In this ADP Duel, I look at a couple of quarterbacks you can draft later that may very well lead you to a title.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins- ADP 90
After yet another year of quality production, Kirk Cousins was given the franchise tag by the Redskins, while also dealing with rumors of a possible trade to the 49ers. Cousins had a fantastic 2016, finishing as a Top 5 quarterback even though he was typically drafted later in most drafts. Without much of a running game for a good chunk of the season, the offense was squarely on Cousins’ shoulders and he by being one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league. He only had two games in which he did not throw for at least one touchdown, and in those two games, he finished with over 300 yards. Cousins averaged 20 points per game, which tends to give you an advantage over your opponent and whichever quarterbalk they might be starting. The West Coast passing attack that the Redskins use plays to Cousins’ strengths, as he gets the ball out quick and accurately to the receivers and allows them to do the work in the open field. With tight end Jordan Reed playing down the middle of the field, and Jamison Crowder doing damage out of the slot, Cousins had quality weapons to utilize on the outside.
Cousins lost receivers DeSean Jackson (Buccaneers) and Pierre Garcon (49ers) to free agency. He must now further rely on Crowder and Reed while implementing his new toys, free agent signee Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson, the team’s first round pick from last year who basically missed all of his rookie season with an injury. The Pryor signing was a major move for the ‘Skins, as he brings in a skill set that was missing last year with his size and catch radius. Look for Cousins to get all that he can out of Pryor, who will also benefit from playing with a high-end quarterback for the first time in his career.
There is some question about what the Redskins have in Doctson. He was hyped coming out Baylor, but after a year off due to injury he could either live up to the hype or get lost in the shuffle. It will be up to Captain Kirk to solve that riddle and continue to build on his success, as he looks to get himself a huge multi-year deal with another team after the season. After closing in on 5,000 passing yards in 2016, Cousins could again push for that number. However, you should expect the coaching staff to dial it back just a hair, with Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine potentially providing the Redskins with a more balanced attack in 2017. Still, Cousins should find himself in the 4,500-yard area come season’s end, while scoring 28 total TDs, numbers that will have him among the top scorers at the position.
Marcus Mariota, Titans – ADP 93
Marcus Mariota arguably had a breakout 2016 campaign before suffering a broken leg in Week 16 and essentially killing the Titans’ playoff hopes. His dual-threat ability got the job done for Fantasy owners. He put together a stretch from Week 5 to Week 12 in which he was among the Top 3 scoring quarterbacks. Mariota is still evolving as a pocket passer, and at times he will look to run, but when he can run free, the points count just as much. The Titans’ front office hasn’t given him much to work with in his brief time in the league with TE Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews being his primary pass catchers. Tajae Sharpe was drafted last season and surprisingly, started the season opener, but was ultimately a disappointment. Mariota has been largely a one-read quarterback who will lock onto his early read and throw in that direction instead of progressing down the field. Behind the duo of DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry, Tennessee’s running game was a factor behind Mariota’s breakout.
Mariota has been slowly progressing in his recovery from the injury. You can look at it as though the team is being very cautious with him, or it could be because he is a slow healer and there was a lot of damage to the leg. The injury could potentially hamper his running ability, causing a dip in production. On the flip side, this could cause Mariota to focus more on his abilities as a pocket passer, which could help his passing numbers, especially since the team finally landed him a potential WR1 in Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick in last month’s draft. Davis is a legitimate threat on the outside who could be a nightmare for defensive backs. Davis together with Matthews could form quite the duo and allow Mariota to take more risks with downfield throws, leading to bigger gains and scoring opportunities. With a young offensive line that is gelling, and a sturdy run game, Mariota has the potential to get inside the Top 10 at the position. Expect for Mariota to finally go over the 4,000-yard mark with a potential for 30 total TDs this season. He will be a sleeper pick of many to push for a Top 5 QB finish.
Is it the pocket passer or the threat to run? For me, I go with Cousins, but just slightly. Cousins is more proven in his ability to score on a weekly basis through the air, which is what you’re looking for in your QB. He can go for 300 yards and two TDs every week, and could very well do so in 2017. Sure, he lost some weapons in free agency, but I believe the players on the field this year will be better than the ones he had last season. As for Mariota, I like him for 2017, but there will be some concerns for me coming off the injury and how that could potentially change his playing style. There could be an adjustment period here; not to mention how much the Titans like to lean on the run game most weeks, which gives Mariota somewhat of a glass ceiling.