The dust is now settling on free agency with all the major free agent quarterbacks being off the board, and certain teams now looking towards the draft for fulfilling their QB needs. You must be thinking ‘are any of these worth a punt when drafting my fantasy team next year?’. Here we shall discuss all, giving a little insight as to whether you should look towards any of the quarterbacks who have made team moves in the off-season.
Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings
The money-man, the ‘man of the hour’, big-name free agency signing was Kirk Cousins. There was much speculation as to where Cousins would end up after Washington traded for Alex Smith and he ended up signing with the Vikings in the most lucrative deal in NFL history; $84m fully guaranteed over 3 years. For the past three seasons, Cousins has ranked in the top-ten in points scored; breaking into the top-five in 2016.
Most analysts see Cousins continuing to be part of the top-10 scoring QB’s in the league and in Minnesota he certainly has a better supporting cast to target. Next year Cousins will be taking aim at Adam Thielen (5th in rec yards, 4 TD), Stefon Diggs (25th in rec yards, 8 TD) and Kyle Rudolph (8 TD). It must be noted that those top-level receivers accrued those stats with the less fancied Case Keenum under centre. Last year, the top-3 targeted receivers for Washington amassed only 12 receiving touchdowns. Cousins has attempted 540 passes or more in each of his three full seasons as starter whereas a Mike Zimmer led Vikings team has only exceeded this in one of the four seasons he has been in charge.
Fantasy Spin: In redraft leagues, it will likely be that elite fantasy QBs (Rodgers, Brady, Wilson) will be off the board quickly and with three QB’s coming off major injuries (Wentz, Watson, Luck), Cousins could definitely be your guy that will consistently get a good return on a week-to-week basis.
Case Keenum – Denver Broncos
The Vikings had a quarterback exodus in free agency, with all 3 quarterbacks on the roster leaving town. Keenum had a career year last year after he took over the reigns under center once Bradford inevitably succumbed to injury. He has now found himself a home at Mile High with the Broncos after much courting by GM John Elway.
Before discussing Case’s prospects in 2018, let’s have a little look at how he fared in 2017. In his 15 regular season games as starter, he threw 325 for 481 (68%) for 3547 yards. Coupled with that he threw for 22 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions on the year. Turn that into fantasy stats, he was 14th highest among QB’s in total scoring and ranked 15th in points per game (15.9ppg). Those stats alone probably aren’t impressive, so let’s see whether next year’s supporting cast is going to be enough to bring him up into the question.
Fantasy Spin: Denver only has two wide receivers of any real note; Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Last year was the first time since 2011 that Thomas didn’t break 1000 yards and was the second year in succession where he caught 5 TDs. When you add into the equation that there isn’t a stand-out TE to target and the significant weakness in the offensive line; it may be prudent to stay away from drafting Keenum in single QB leagues. In two QB/super-flex leagues there may be less risky options for a QB2 due to the significant rebuilding job that is going on in Colorado.
Sam Bradford – Arizona Cardinals
The man who always managed to get paid; Sam Bradford finds himself in a new city surrounded by yet another receiving core. Bradford will be plying his trade in Glendale with the Cardinals, replacing the retired Carson Palmer. Of his 8 seasons in the league, Bradford has played 14+ games in just four of them averaging approximately 210 points a season, with a game average of around 14 points per game.
Let’s have a look at who he shall be throwing the ball to this upcoming season and whether this will increase Bradford’s draft stock. In the slot receiver position he has Mr. Reliable, the future hall-of-famer Larry Fitzgerald, who has received for at least 1000 yards in the past three seasons. The other main target for Bradford will be David Johnson out of the backfield. Johnson is returning from a dislocated wrist which put paid to almost the entirety of his 2017 season. He is a lightning quick, dynamic player who is well adept to catching the ball out of the backfield.
Fantasy Spin: However, beyond those two stud players, Bradford doesn’t have much to aim for. Jermaine Gresham and Ricky Seals-Jones are both uninspiring targets at TE and J.J. Nelson is just far too inconsistent. With certainty, you should not be drafting Bradford as your QB1 in standard redraft leagues; and there could be arguments for avoiding him as well in two-QB leagues. The weapons at his disposal are minimal (despite their talents) and you never know whether he is going to break down with injury (yet again).
Alex Smith – Washington Redskins
He might not have been a free agent this off-season but the trade of Alex Smith from the Chiefs to Washington was the move which triggered Cousins to enter free agency and end up in Minnesota.
2017 was a career year for Smith, both in reality and fantasy terms. He had a 104.7 QB rating and ranked 4th among QB’s in total scoring. Two of the Chiefs players caught for 1000+ yards on the year; namely Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Add in the contributions that Kareem Hunt and Albert Wilson made to the passing game, you can conclude that he had some good options to throw the ball to. The 2018 receiving core for Washington is much the same as 2017, but with the addition of Paul Richardson from the Seahawks. Richardson caught for 703 yards last year and will be a useful addition for Smith to aim for.
Fantasy Spin: Let’s talk draft-ability; Smith is unlikely to be on your wishlist for QB1 duties despite his brilliant 2017 season. There are even a few QBs ahead of him in the QB2 question, particularly if Jordan Reed continues to be made of glass.
Tyrod Taylor – Cleveland Browns
The last man to be discussed of this QB free agency fallout extravaganza is Tyrod Taylor. He was traded to the Browns after leading the Bills to their first postseason appearance in forever. Tyrod has started for three seasons and broke into the top-10 in fantasy once (2016).
Taylor is never going to throw his way into your fantasy hearts, with 436 attempts in a season being his career high. Next year he’ll even have better targets to aim at, with Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman and David Njoku being an improvement on the Bills receivers, even after the humiliating 0-16 season.
Fantasy Spin: Taylor should not be in the question for a QB1 spot, but could be a wildcard QB2 if the Browns somehow get their act together, particularly if they draft Saquon Barkley with one of their first round picks. Don’t forget Taylor does make the most of his running ability which does offer some fantasy upside.
So there we have it, your free agency QB fantasy implications. Make sure you look out for articles on the other skill positions as we wrap up the free agency period here at Across the Fantasy Pond.
By Adil Khan Deshmukh