With just over a month to go until the opening of NFL training camps it’s time to start thinking about football again.
We are currently in the dead zone of professional sports. The NHL and NBA just wrapped up their years and handed out the trophies and it’s still early in the baseball season. Otherwise there is golf, tennis, NASCAR and soccer right now.
So, with pro football just over the horizon, it’s never too early to start thinking about fantasy football and to get an important leg up on your competitors.
Today I will weigh in on the all-important quarterback position.
Some of the major questions going into 2017:
Blake Bortles: Jacksonville Jaguars
Just when it looked like the long-suffering Jaguars had solved their quarterback problems, Blake Bortles imploded and regressed in a big way.
Bortles’ breakout performance in 2015 had the Jags being the dark horse pick of some prognosticators to challenge for the title of the what is arguable the AFC’s worst division. This season the Jaguars drafted former LSU running back Leonard Fournette who at times looks like a two-legged battle tank to take some of the pressure off of Bortles.
But the real pressure is only beginning, if the former 2014 first rounder can’t recapture the magic, he may be on his way out of town.
Tom Brady: New England Patriots
Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win in February puts him one ring ahead of his idol Joe Montana and the 39-year-old Brady shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, Brady will be even more dangerous this year as the Patriots have brought in offensive reinforcements while top target Rob Gronkowski should be back after a back injury.
While it’s probably unlikely that Brady can post number like he did in his record-setting 2007 season when he threw for 50 touchdowns, he has the weapons at his disposal to take a run at it.
Drew Brees: New Orleans Saints
Brees has been one of the most prolific passers in the NFL (and most consistent fantasy point producers) during his career with the high-scoring Saints but he is 38-years-old and one has to wonder just how much longer that he can continue at such a pace. The Saints brought in former Minnesota Vikings stud running back to provide some ground support for Brees this season.
Derek Carr: Oakland Raiders
Just when Carr was putting the finishing touches on what may have been an MVP season, he went down with a broken leg in week sixteen. Carr had thrown for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions when he was injured in garbage time during a game that the Raiders had already basically wrapped up.
Prior to his injury, Carr had led Oakland to a 12-3 record and a shot at homefield advantage in the playoffs but it all fell apart after that with klutzy backup Matt McGloin taking over.
If Carr is fully recovered, look for him to put up huge numbers this year now that Beast Mode aka Marshawn Lynch has been lured out of retirement.
Andrew Luck: Indianapolis Colts
The incredibly skilled Luck has had anything but when it comes to injuries. The highest paid player in the NFL can be a dynamic force when he is completely healthy but that hasn’t been very often the last few seasons.
He managed to make it through 2016 and put up good numbers but he underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder in the offseason. Luck is expected to be ready when the season begins. Still how much will injuries factor in as well as a miserable supporting cast on offense including a porous offensive line.
Cam Newton: Carolina Panthers
Will Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton regain his MVP form?
Due to injuries and a lingering case of the yips after getting the dab beaten out of him by the Denver Broncos defense in Super Bowl 50, Newton had to be the biggest bust of 2016 given the expectations. If you don’t think so just ask this humble author, I drafted him first overall.
Newton should be fully recovered and with the addition of multi-purpose threat Christian McCaffrey in the draft he should have an additional weapon.
Carson Palmer: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals suffered through a horrible disappointing season in 2016, one year after making the NFC Championship game and limped to the finish with a ghastly 7-8-1 record.
The aging Palmer put up respectable numbers but it’s clear that Father Time is rapidly closing the distance on him. When you are playing a physical game like pro-football and taking that hits that a quarterback does, it can go really quickly. Just ask Peyton Manning.
Dak Prescott: Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys rookie phenom exploded after replacing the injured Tony Romo under center in 2016. The former Mississippi State bulldog exceeded all expectations.
Prescott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs until they were shocked in their first game by an incredible comeback by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The key question is whether he can duplicate his performance or will he be bitten by the sophomore jinx.
Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons
While “Matty Ice” may have had a career year in terms of sheer numbers – 4,944 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions – one has to wonder how that Super Bowl collapse will affect him mentally. He won’t be alone either, a historical gag job like that will likely haunt the organization for a very long time.
Ryan played a part in Atlanta’s astounding second half collapse when they blew a 25-point lead to lose in overtime. He took a bad sack and committed a key turnover that allowed the New England Patriots back into the game.
With the departure of offensive guru Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers, the combo could make a repeat of 2016 unlikely.
Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Young Winston has the potential for a huge season due to the team’s addition of speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson via free agency and Alabama tight end O.J. Howard in the draft. Winston has exceeded expectations since being picked first overall after a controversial career at Florida State and this will be the year when he can take the next step.
The problem for Winston though is that he is often wildly inaccurate and turns the ball over way too much, if he is able to develop some discipline he could be one of fantasy’s most productive quarterbacks.
These are the big names who will likely be the earliest quarterbacks off the board, more in depth analysis on the entire quarterback position will be forthcoming as the season nears.
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