Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Quarterback Tiers and Rankings 2017
Every year, it seems, when fantasy football owners are looking to draft a quarterback, many experts say to "wait on quarterback." While the quarterback position may be deep and values may be available later in the draft, some quarterbacks are worth taking earlier than others. The quarterback fantasy tiers are here to help on draft day.
The top group of quarterbacks is small for 2017. Three players have stood the test of time and have consistently proven that they can lead fantasy teams to victory. Sure, age is a factor, but until these guys show signs of breaking down, they are the top tier.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
When a quarterback's "down" season in the past three years is more than3,800 yards and 30 touchdowns (2015), that's worthy of top-tier status. In 2016, Rodgers threw the ball the most times in a season in his career (610). His ability to gain yards (and touchdowns) on the ground as well puts him at No. 1.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Even though he just turned 40, Brady is still one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He missed four games last season and still ended with the 15th-most fantasy points (depending on league scoring). Since 2005, he's thrown for at least 4,000 yards in every season except for three; two of those are when he did not play in all 16 games. Odds are he'll hit 4,000 yards again in 2017.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
At 38 years old, Brees has not missed a lot of games. He's thrown for at least 4,300 yards and 26 touchdowns in every season since 2006. In the past six seasons, he's thrown for at least 4,800 yards and 32 touchdowns. He's lost pass catchers and he's gained them; it doesn't seem to affect his performance over the years.
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The second tier of quarterbacks is made up of those that will go early in drafts because they are solid fantasy options. These are players that have proven themselves, although not over the same length of time as the top tier. These players are solid, but may not be as consistent.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Despite facing injuries, Wilson has yet to miss a game in the NFL. His passing yards have increased each year he's played. Unlike other quarterbacks, he's still willing (and allowed) to run with the football, and those rushing yards (and touchdowns) help his fantasy value. He's a solid quarterback who just missed the first tier.
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Surprising most fantasy owners, Ryan exceeded his ADP in 2016 to finish with the second-most fantasy points among all quarterbacks. Odds are that Ryan will be unable to put up the numbers he did in 2016, especially the 38 touchdown passes, but fantasy owners should still be content with 4,500 yards and 25 TDs, which is about his average.
6. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his first two years in the league, Winston "only" threw for 4,000 yards each season and at least 20 touchdowns. He now has DeSean Jackson to throw the ball deep downfield, in addition to Mike Evans. All signs point to Winston having the best year of his short career in 2017.
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Even though 2016 was disappointing for Newton, he's still in the second tier of quarterbacks. After having offseason shoulder surgery, Newton is on track to play in Week 1. He has a number of new weapons, including rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who should be used in short passing downs. While Newton may not run as much, he'll still add enough on the ground to be a QB1.
8. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Seemingly overlooked, Cousins finished in the top five of fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2016. In his two seasons as a starter, he's thrown for at least 4,100 yards and 25 touchdowns. He's not a mobile quarterback, but he's consistent enough to plug into a starting lineup and stay there, regardless of matchup.
The third tier of quarterbacks rounds out the players that are in the QB1 or high QB2 range. These guys will go later in drafts, because each has concerns surrounding them. They should be owned, but a backup should also be considered.
9. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The biggest concern with Luck is his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. While it is unlikely that he will begin the season on the PUP list, it is certainly not definite that he'll be on the field in Week 1. The Colts will ease him back as much as possible, but for someone that did deal with shoulder injuries in 2016, this is reason to be concerned, at least for the start of the year.
10. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
With a new contract, a healed broken leg, and three solid seasons behind him, Carr seems to be ready for 2017. He is healthy, but he doesn't have any new weapons or a reason to believe he's going to break out this year. Over the past three seasons, he has yet to throw for 4,000 yards. However, he doesn't throw many interceptions (only six in 2016) so that helps his fantasy value.
11. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
After his 2016 season ended with a broken leg, Mariota appears ready and healthy headed into this fall. He improved in his sophomore season, throwing more passes, for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. He also increased his production on the ground, which are an added bonus for fantasy owners. The addition of Eric Decker will only help his fantasy value.
12. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
In his rookie season, Prescott had 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. While the interceptions will likely rise, the other numbers should rise as well. He added 282 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns, and it's unclear if the Cowboys will want him running the ball. He has potential to be great, but his bust potential also is high.
This tier of quarterbacks is made up of players that are worthy starters if you are not able to land one of the options in the first three tiers. However, these signal-callers all have flaws, which is why they are in QB2 territory.
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
14. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
15. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
16. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
17. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
18. Eli Manning, New York Giants
The quarterbacks in this tier are likely not worth drafting. These are the guys that can be a backup for a top-tier quarterback, but will likely only be owned in leagues that start two QBs.
19. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
20. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
21. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
23. Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings
24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
This last tier of quarterbacks likely won’t be on the majority of fantasy rosters. Those in two-quarterback leagues or leagues where a quarterback can be played in the flex spot (an "offensive position" flex) will likely draft some of these players, but fantasy owners in standard leagues can ignore these quarterbacks.
25. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
26. Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins
27. Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears
28. Brian Hoyer, San Francisco 49ers
29. Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
30. Josh McCown, New York Jets
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.