Fantasy Land: Five Quarterbacks

In a new series, I will be looking at some fantasy projections for five guys from each offensive position. But to provide some more insight, I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, the Stubby Shillelagh – better known as Frank Barber. Treat him kindly my loyal readers.

Don’t you wish your QB was hot like me?

Tom Brady – 4000 passing yards, 30 TDs, 8 INTS

Evan: This is a relatively pessimistic outlook for Tom Brady.  Brady hasn’t had fewer than 30 TDs since 2009 and he still got 28 that year. He averaged around 4,500 yards and 8 INTs over those years . He should be a lock to exceed those totals, right? Wrong. Between age, a couple of young backs coming into their own, and the utter decimation of his receiving corps, Tom Brady could very well struggle to reach even these modest (by his standards) totals. My bet, though, is that he finishes in the vicinity of 4,000 yards and the 8 INTs and blows by the 30 TDs total. Even with all the negatives, Terrific Tom is too, well, terrific not to reach these middling goals.

Frank: Tom Brady is and has been one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL since the early 2000s. However, after a New York Jets-esque offseason filled with drama and the signing of Tim Tebow (coincidence? I think not… ) the future of New England is filled with question marks.  Tom Brady’s #1 target, Wes Welker, has left the Patriots for Denver and Peyton Manning. Last year Welker accounted for 28% of Brady’s passing yards, and the year before that 30%. The Patriots have attempted to make up for the loss of Welker by signing Danny Amendola—a highly talented receiver with great hands and a high ratio of catches to targets. He has been described as “the poor man’s Welker” and seems poised for a breakout year. If Amendola stays healthy he has the ability to replace Welker, but with his injury history (yet to play a full season in his career), that is a big IF.  The tight end situation is even more tenuous. With Aaron Hernandez cut and Rob Gronkowski likely out until at least Week 6, the Patriots have been running Jake Ballard and Tim Tebow out at tight end. Let that sink in. The duo of Hernandez and Gronkowski accounted for 26% of Brady’s passing yards last year. In 2011 it was a whopping 43%! The loss of Hernandez and Welker, the absence of Gronkowski for who knows how long, the high injury risk of Amendola and lack of alternative targets leaves Tom Brady’s fantasy value very clouded. To be clear, I do not think Brady will be valueless in fantasy—a below average Brady is still going to be better than an Andy Dalton or Eli Manning—but do not expect the Tom Brady of 2011. I think that you can expect fantasy value more along the lines of 3700 yards, 27 TDs, and 8 INTs.

Colin Kaepernick – 3000 passing yards,  500 rushing yards, 25 total TDS (rushing and passing), 7 INTs

Evan: Although not technically in line for the dreaded “sophomore slump” (class of ’11), Kaepernick will be a second year starter. After replacing Alex Smith, Kaepernick lit the NFL on fire, but he did it more with his legs than his arms, which were effective but not sexy. If Kaepernick’s rushing totals dip, he will struggle to replicate the fantasy magic. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating,  the NFL is a league of adjustments. The Read Option offense will be less effective. Kaepernick will be able to run some still and is big enough to avoid major injuries, but I don’t think he will produce consistently on the ground this year. Even with my pessimism, these numbers are very low. He should be able to average 200 passing yards and 40 rushing yards a game. Those are eminently achievable numbers. I don’t think he will vastly exceed any of these predictions, but he shouldn’t fall short of them either.

Frank: Colin Kaepernick took over the starting QB job in San Francisco last year following an injury to Alex Smith and never looked back. He was excellent in the playoffs leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl where they lost. This year both real life and fantasy expectations are high for the young Kaepernick. Many fantasy gurus have him ranked in the top 10 fantasy QBs for this season, and he draws many comparisonsto the other two successful mobile rookie QBs from last year: Russell Wilson and RGIII. However, I think that fantasy expectations for Kaepernick are higher than warranted. In 8 regular season starts last year Kaepernick threw for 1,725 yards, rushed for 304 yards and 13 passing/rushing TDs. That is only a half of a season at starter and puts him on pace for 3450 passing yards, 600 rushing yards and 26 TDs – roughly the stat line we placed for him this year. That would place him in the top ten QBs by points in 2012. However, Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick’s #1 target, is out for the year with an injury. Vernon Davis reappeared in the playoffs but he and Kaepernick have never shown any chemistry. San Francisco did sign Anquan Boldin, who I think will be an underrated addition for the 49ers, but Boldin alone is not enough to help Kaepernick. The 49ers will still be a run first – pass second team as they pound opposing teams with Frank Gore while stifling them with their defense. Therefore, Expect something more along the lines of 2800 passing yards, 400 rushing, and 18 TDs – not quite worth the top ten slot he has in fantasy QB rankings.

Joe Flacco – 3500 passing yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs

Evan: What will it take for people to believe in Joe Cool? He led his team to a Super Bowl last year and was one massive drop from back-to-back Super Bowls. He’s convinced me of his ability, not just to reach these numbers (because Sam Bradford did that last year, though with more INTs), but to exceed these numbers. I know the reasons not to trust Flacco: Ray Rice, he’s never exceeded this level of production, he lost his best TE and WR this off season. Even still, Baltimore paid him to be great and will rely on Flacco more and more to be just that. Greatness isn’t 3,500 yards passing with 22 TDs. Look for Flacco to sling the ball around more this season and surpass the 4,000 yard mark and 27 TDs. All this passing should mean higher INT totals too, but the yardage and TDs should make up for it.

Frank: In the NFL today everyone wants an elite QB; the term is so overused that it really has no meaning anymore. If you play better than Tony Romo (i.e. win big games), you can probably find someone on ESPN to call you an elite QB. This is exactly what Joe Flacco did last year – played very well and won the Super Bowl. Suddenly he is now better than Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady – I mean, they didn’t win the Super Bowl last year right?  In reality, Joe Flacco is a solid real life QB who rarely puts up big fantasy points. His overall stats last year were very good: 3,817 yards and 22 TDs, but the Ravens offseason has not been kind to Flacco’s offense. Anquan Boldin, his #1 target and most reliable receiver was cut by Baltimore, Dennis Pitta, the starting TE is out for the year with an injury and Baltimore’s defense is not as good as it used to be. However, he still has some talent around him with the likes of Torrey Smith and Ray Rice, who  is still a beast especially when Flacco gets him the ball in the flat. Sans his rookie season, Flacco has consistently thrown for at least 3600 passing yards per season. I see no reason that will stop even with the loss of Boldin and Pitta. I am predicting that Flacco will go OVER that stat line to the tune of 3700 passing yards, 24 TDs and 10 INTs. Flacco is a top option for a QB2 in two quarterback leagues and certainly a  serviceable low-cost option in 12 team leagues or larger.

Carson Palmer – 4000 passing yards, 25 TDs, 15 INTs

Evan: Carson Palmer is the one QB on this list who’s situation has improved from last year. Moving from the dubious Raiders WR corps to the land of Fitzgerald and Floyd can only be good for Palmer. Or so it would seem. The problems that Palmer’s production will encounter are twofold. First, Arizona’s offensive line. It’s atrocious. Oddly enough, in order to throw the deep ball, you have to have time. That is something that Palmer’s new O-line might not be able to give. Additionally, Palmer has been the king of garbage time in recent years, and Arizona’s defense is a lot better than Oakland’s. This should lead to less garbage time, ergo less yardage for Palmer. The talent around Palmer should still let him get close to 25 TDs and 15 INTs, but I don’t think he sniffs 4,000 yards in the desert this year.

Frank: Carson Palmer’s first full season in Oakland was a real life nightmare as the Raiders stumbled to a 4-12 record. Palmer’s stats, however, were surprisingly glitzy as he threw for 4,000 yards and 22 TDs with a less than stellar receiving corps. Sure, most of those stats were garbage time stats, but there is hope for 2013. Palmer was traded to the Arizona Cardinals where he will take over a team that has fielded a comedy of errors at QB since Kurt Warner retired. No one should be happier about Palmer’s addition than Larry Fitzgerald, who might be the best WR in the NFL if he ever had someone who could throw to him. Well this year, he does, and Palmer stands to benefit greatly from having Fitzgerald as his #1 target. Behind Fitzgerald is a quietly solid receiving corps headed by 2nd year man Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and possibly even speed demon Patrick Peterson. This excellent set of receivers should provide plenty of targets for Palmer to rack up the yards and TDs. Furthermore, Bruce Arians showed last year in Indianapolis that he likes high flying offenses and is not afraid to let his QB air out the ball. I am buying into the Palmer hype all the way. I predict Palmer passes for 4100 yards,  27 TDs, and 15 INTs. Palmer is poised for a great year, and if you are the high risk, high reward type of drafter, Palmer is a low cost option who could bring big returns. Draft late and enjoy the rewards.

Matt Ryan – 4700 passing yards, 35 TDs, 13 INTs

Evan: These numbers ask the question: can Matt Ryan do what he did last year? In a word: yes. I don’t think he will do much more than last year, but I think he has the talent and the talent around him to repeat. The Falcons passing attack will put up numbers and Ryan will look good. If I have one hesitation, it would be the TD total. The addition of Steven Jackson could lead to some more red zone running. Still, 30 TDs shouldn’t be out of reach for Ryan. And those numbers scream: Buy, Buy, Buy.

Frank: Last year Matt Ryan threw for 4719 yards and 32 touchdowns – and with two of the best wide receivers in the game in Roddy White and Julio Jones, the return of Tony Gonzalez for one more year and the signing of Stephen Jackson there is nothing but bright skies ahead for Atlanta and Matt Ryan. The White/Jones tandem did not disappoint in 2012 as they combined for 2549 yards and 17 TDs, and they should continue their excellent play in 2013. Tony Gonzalez return to the Falcons for one more year at TE will benefit Matt Ryan more than anyone else. Furthermore, the addition of Stephen Jackson gives Ryan a mobile target out of the backfield with great hands, unlike Michael Turner whose mobility and speed was comparable to a large boulder. Expect the addition of Jackson to help Ryan both in yards and TDs. Atlanta was one game away from the Super Bowl last year and have only gotten better this offseason. I am predicting Matt Ryan will excel to the tune of 4900 yards, 38 TDs and 15 INTs. Hot-lanta’s offense will be just that – and Matt Ryan’s fantasy owners will be loving the explosive high scoring output in 2013.

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One response to this post.

  1. Frank? I know him!

    Reply

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