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2017 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Lower-end QB1s and High-end QB2s

We just made it through our first few Sundays without football, and depressing is an understatement.  The RSJ is here to help fill this deep, dark abyss with our “Not Soon Enough” 2017 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings. Be sure to check out our Running Backs and Wide Receivers if you missed out on our 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings. 

Given we’re only one week into this football-less world, fantasy values will obviously swing up and down as the waves of free agency and the draft come crashing in.  Still, it’s crucial to recognize your original thoughts BEFORE all of the other “expert” rankings pollute and bias your mind.  This way, you have a base of your own, independent gut feelings (a “Stream of Gut” if you will), before beginning your offseason research.

Time to dig in. As a huge sucker for tiers, I’ll be releasing different positional groups each day (i.e. RB1sRB2sFlex plays) before ultimately combining them all into a final Big Board by the end of February.

If you missed Wednesday, be sure to check out Part 1 of our 2017 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings, featuring high-end QB1s. And be sure to catch up on 2017’s fantasy football WR1s, the upside WR2s to target, the safe WR2s to balance out a riskier roster, plus the top guys to target for your WR3 spot. We also released our RB Rankings the week before, and have already updated it twice, so don’t miss it. Onto the signal callers

Tier Three – Lower-Floor QB1s

Any of these guys are capable of monster seasons, but the floors are certainly questionable. As such, I’m likely taking two back-to-back to ensure at least one hits, and playing matchups if both do.  This is  the group where I usually dig the Wolf Paws in around Round 8 or 9, as I love many names here (ordering them was very difficult). With 15 QB1 options, depth is again at an all-time high, making QB a position to wait on. 

8. Cam Newton (CAR)

After an abysmal campaign in light of expectations, Newton makes for a classic post hype bounce back… if he has any kind of spine. Down at #8 despite his immense upside, said spine is in serious scrutiny (alliteration, child). Nonetheless, Cam’s ceiling is genuinely the top scoring signal caller; he’s only one year removed from this feat. Yet, coming off a hellish 2016 in which his 35 passing TDs dropped by 16, his 639 rushing yards decreased by nearly 300, and his 10 rushing TDs were cut in half, Newton’s far from a guarantee. If Cam finds his swag and his legs, you’d be hard pressed to find a higher ceiling in Rounds 8 or 9; if investing, you’ll need to build  in some floor with another top-12 signal caller.

9. Kirk Cousins (WAS)

A yardage monster in his second starting season, Cousins just barely fell short of 5,000 yards, averaging over 307 per contest.  This facilitated a QB5 finish and made Cousins one of only five signal callers to top 300 FPs in 2016. If all things were locked in place for next season, Cousins would be right up with the High-End QB1s.

Alas, there’s the rub. Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson, two of Cousins’ top weapons, are set to depart in free agency.  Even more concerning, Cousins is part of trade speculation and might be on a new team and in an entirely new system all together. If he remains a Redskin, Cousins will jump a few spots even if he loses those two wideouts; Jamison Crowder is set to explode, Jordan Reed remains a monster, and the physically imposing Josh Doctson could be a difference maker with health. Regardless, Cousins will be one of this offseason’s most interesting story lines to monitor.

10. Marcus Mariota (TEN)

Mariota should be one of the most exciting QB selections for 2016. This offense began really clicking in Week 5, and between that point and their Week 13 bye, Mariota was fantasy’s top scoring QB, averaging over 24 points per game. He was using his athleticism and gaining chunk plays on the ground, while displaying tremendous command and accuracy through the air, and the Titans were a mini offensive juggernaut.

Unfortunately, an injury and difficult matchups derailed Mariota’s torrid pace, thus creating a sneaky low floor to go with his tremendous upside.  Injury-wise, the news has been nothing but positive:

Additionally, Mariota comes with a beefy, arguably top-three line that’ll only gel further in 2017. If the team adds additional weapons, his already-elite ceiling will be raised even further, and he remains in one of the league’s softest divisions. Still, Mariota’s not a “draft and start every week” starter quite yet, but he’s knocking on the door.

11. Philip Rivers (LAC)

Rivers makes the IDEAL acquisition for owners chasing Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, or Russell Wilson’s ceilings.  At minimum, the grizzled vet is throwing for 4,300 yards and, as always, he should be locked in to 25+ TDs.  Additionally, with health, Rivers will be throwing to a more refined Hunter Henry and Tyrell Williams, while welcoming back the veteran beastliness of Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. Stir in deep ball artist Travis Benjamin and a returning Danny Woodhead, and this may just be Rivers’ most stacked cast… if they can remain on the field.

That’s one of the major risks with Rivers — his top option and many others can seemingly never stay healthy. Also working against Rivers is head coach Anthony Lynn’s run heavy tendencies. Then again, a strong play action game will feed right into Rivers “down the seams” strengths.  There’s a really sneaky ceiling here that no one will acknowledge because, well, it’s Rivers.  The initial glance couldn’t be unsexier, but he’s got the set up for a monster season.

12. Russell Wilson (SEA)

Russell wasn’t quite as disappointing as Cam in 2016, but The (Former) Celibate left plenty of investors flaccid with a highly subpar campaign. Though Wilson and this offense flashed glimpses of the dominant 2015 second half aerial attack, no consistency was ever found.  The season was essentially lost, as Wilson was equally likely to be on the fantasy bench for his huge games, only to be in lineups for his many duds.

Still, also similar to Newton, plenty of hope exists for a 2017 rebound. First and foremost, this line will need some major upgrades, as Wilson was under constant duress all season.  Additionally, Ciera’s whipping boy will need to prove he’s fully over the shoulder injury that plagued him for much of 2016.  Both of those to-do’s should be checked come minicamp, making Wilson another low-cost, huge ceiling addition to rosters.  But an early backup is a must here.

Tier Four – Last QB1 Considerations, Ideal QB2s

Though I’d be OK rolling one of these guys out if QBs go earlier than expected, I’m really hoping to have a guy from the above tier. These ceilings aren’t quite as high, nor the floors any sturdier. But many of the below names will produce QB1 numbers on any given Sunday, and two would make a nice committee for matchup playing. 

13. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

Did you know Roethlisberger has only one top-10 fantasy finish over the past seven years? Indeed, he’s one of the most accomplished real quarterbacks still active today, but fantasy-wise, the guy is severely overrated. Granted, injuries have played a massive role in this, but Big Ben’s “never surrender” style of play almost assures he’ll miss at least a handful of games. He also just looked flat out bad, especially on the road, on multiple occasions in 2016, and ultimately Roethlisberger was too inconsistent to ever feel comfortable rolling out.

On the plus side, the freakish Martavis Bryant could be returning, which would definitely yield a “Stock Up” for Ben. Additionally, Ben is one season removed from averaging an absurd 328 yards per game (5,248 yard pace) and had his best stats the year prior with 4,952 yards and 32 scores; Todd Haley’s offense had indeed been a true juggernaut leading into 2016.  However, a run-heavier approach centered around superstar Le’Veon Bell yielded some serious success for this team, and might be the approach again in 2017. When you throw to Antonio Brown, arguably the game’s top wideout, there’ll always be value. But, with his motivation in question to enter the season, Roethlisberger may be on the downward fantasy spiral.

14. Tyrod Taylor (BUF)

If I asked you to guess 2016’s QB8, how long would it take to nail down Taylor? Despite playing in only 15 games, Taylor bested the likes of the highly-touted Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, while outscoring “breakouts” like Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr. Much of this can be attributed to his league-leading 580 rushing yards and 6 TDs, and Taylor’s athleticism remains a major fantasy draw.

Where exactly he’ll be, however, remains the question. The Bills have flip flopped on Taylor’s status all offseason, with the latest reports suggest new OC Rich Dennison wants to keep Taylor given their history on the Ravens together.  With a strong zone-blocking run game used to set up boot legs and play action with chunk plays in mind, Dennison’s system fits Taylor’s skills like a glove, and could set him up for another top-10 campaign. We just need to make sure he’s even back there.

15. Jameis Winston (TB)

Winston didn’t quite take the step forward many, including us, expected.  Sure, his yardage and passing TDs marginally increased, but Winston’s rushing stats declined tremendously while he tossed three more interceptions. Still, plenty of reason for optimism exists for 2017.  The Bucs are frequently connected to big-name free agents Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, and giving Winston a legitimate complement to Mike Evans would be a huge booster (considering Harvard’s Cameron Brate was the second most dangerous threat last year).  At minimum, Tampa’s committed to improving Winston’s cast, and the third-year signal caller, with his strong work ethic, should take a step forward in his own development.  They also square off with the nonexistent defenses of Atlanta, New Orleans, and Carolina six times a year, which should be point factory games.

16. Matthew Stafford (DET)

Simply put, I’m just not a Stafford guy. True, in 2016, he proved his genuine starting NFL worth in his first year without Calvin Johnson, and even pulled off a QB7 fantasy finish. But, without a semblance of a running game, these numbers should’ve been even greater. Stafford finished under 15 fantasy points nearly half the time, and his ultimate top-ten fantasy finish was really buoyed by a few huge games where he may have been on your bench. The Lions are also interested in adding a monster goal line back, which further darkens Stafford’s TD upside. Yes, his best game came Week One with Ameer Abdullah healthy and the dump-off /screen game clicking; if this happens all year, #16 will be far too low. To me, he’s nothing more than a higher-floor target if you go for a risky ceiling (i.e Cam Newton or Marcus Mariota) early on.

Tier 5 – Last draft able QB2s

What a drop off. Wouldn’t want to enter 2017 with any of the following as my lead guy (and with 16 options ahead, I shouldn’t have to).

17. Blake Bortles (JAC): For all the flak he took, Bortles actually finished as the QB9 in fantasy, well ahead of Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger.  He seemed more comfortable once Doug Marrone took over, and while his leash may be shorter, Bortles could rebound huge.

18. Carson Palmer (ARI):  Though he’ll be motivated for what’s likely his last hurrah, Palmer showed some serious signs of decline. This is the David Johnson show now, and Palmer should provide serviceable, but modest, numbers. With Bruce Arians’ explosive scheme, Palmer has a slim chance at a massive rebound. There’s worse ways to burn a 15th round pick.

19. Andy Dalton (CIN): Ginger-bias is definitely kicking in. I can never get behind Dalton, no matter how many top-15 seasons he churns out. On the positive, AJ Green is a flat out beast.

Tier 5.5

20. Ryan Tannehill (MIA): An endorsement of Adam Gase and Tannehill’s explosive surrounding cast, and nothing more.

21. Eli Manning (NYG): Sup Odell?

Do you really want me to rank the likes of Joe Flacco and Alex Smith? At no point should you be considering them over lottery ticket skill position players. Go call your dad and apologize for your failure as a son.

This wraps up our “Not Soon Enough” 2017 Fantasy Football Quarterback rankings. Tight ends and the ultimate Big Board are soon to follow. Be sure to like our Facebook Page, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to not miss any developments. For audio based learners, make sure to subscribe (and rate us 5 stars) and tune into the Fantasy Stock Report on iTunes.

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