2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 3.0

The quarterback position is the most important in the NFL game today, which was evident when the first two picks in the draft were quarterbacks despite them not being the best overall players. The game has evolved so much that throwing 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is considered average.

Yet while quarterbacks are valued and paid more than anyone else in the league, it has become customary in Fantasy Football not to draft the position until the 3rd round at the earliest. There are some quarterbacks who can win games for you all by themselves (Cam Newton), some who will give you a solid output week-to-week (Carson Palmer) and those who could lose games for you (Hopefully not ranked here).

After publishing the first list back in February and another on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, let’s take a look one last look at the Top-25 quarterbacks who will likely be drafted in your league this year.

1. Cam Newton, Panthers

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.35.51 PM

Cam Newton scored touchdowns, whether it was through the air or on the ground, in EVERY game he played during the 2015 season. He recorded 45 in total (35 passing, 10 rushing), plus 3,837 yards passing and 636 yards rushing. It was an unprecedented year for a quarterback, and sure it’s hard to expect him or anyone to do it again…but Newton’s talent and skill-set are too unique to doubt it.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.39.16 PM

Aaron Rodgers saw his numbers dip a little last season without Jordy Nelson. 31 TD/8 INT are nice for anyone, but down from the 38/5 the year before. Twice he threw 4 or more touchdowns in a game in 2015, but he wasn’t helping fantasay owners much down the stretch averaging just 1 TD and 1 INT a game in the final 3 games of the season. How often, though, have you seen Rodgers make throws and finish drives like the best quarterback in the league should? The Packers offense appears to be returning to normalcy in 2016, and that bodes well for the Discount Double-Check.

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.49.03 PM

Carson Palmer consistently gave those who likely stole him in the middle rounds last year a stat line of 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game. That consistency goes a long way when everyone after Palmer on this list (outside of Tom Brady) has proven to give you a much worse output on any given Sunday. Palmer is 36 and not getting any younger, but the talent around him should continue the momentum he has built following his best statistical season to date (35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,671 yards).

4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.53.59 PM

If there was another quarterback who could put up similar numbers to Cam Newton, Russell Wilson may have the tools to do so. Take a look at 7-game sample sizes from 2015 where both quarterbacks completely lit it up:

Wilson (Weeks 10-16) – 25 total touchdowns, 1 interception

Newton (Weeks 8-14) – 29 total touchdowns, 2 interceptions

The Seahawks offense found an incredible groove in that span, and it was built around both Russell and Thomas Rawls. With most of the offense returning and hopefully a better Year 2 of Jimmy Graham, it’s not inconceivable to see Wilson sustain that production for a full season.

5. Tom Brady, Patriots

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.57.13 PM

The Patriots (and the rest of the league) appear to have accepted Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him by the 5th or 6th round. The caveat should be that you have your fill-in quarterback drafted not long after, but Brady will be returning after throwing the most touchdown passes in 2015. He’ll also have the best tight end combo in the league (Gronk & Bennett) to absolutely terrify opposing red zone defenses.

6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.58.25 PM

Despite being the most sacked quarterback in the league in each of the 2 seasons of his career, Blake Bortles was one of the most improved players overall from one season to the next. Additions to the offensive line and Chris Ivory should improve Bortles’ protection, and his wide receiver tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are one of the best in the NFL.

7. Drew Brees, Saints

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.06.41 PM

Although it’s been a slight decline year-to-year, Drew Brees has averaged 5,127.4 yards thrown over the past 5 seasons. Yardage hasn’t been a problem for the 37-year-old quarterback, neither have attempts or completions as he ranked 2nd in both last season. Also declining have been his touchdown numbers though, throwing 32 last season when he averaged 40 the four years prior. He did throw multiple touchdowns in 9 of his 15 games last season, including a 7-touchdown performance Week 8 against the Giants.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.08.42 PM

Despite missing 4 games last season, Ben Roethlisberger still got after it with the high-powered Steelers offense. For the 2nd season in a row, Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards per game (328.2). Even without Martavis Bryant, he’ll have Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Ladarius Green, and Le’Veon Bell available to make big plays for him.

9. Eli Manning, Giants

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.11.18 PM

There is only one Manning brother in the league, and he’s coming off a season where he threw the most touchdowns of his career. Eli Manning threw multiple touchdowns in 11 of his 16 games, 5 of which were for 3+ (including the 6-touchdown battle with Drew Brees). The Giants spent most of their free agency spending on the defensive side of the ball, but upgraded their pass catching group by drafting WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) and TE Jerell Adams (South Carolina). Year 3 of Odell Beckham Jr. should also lead to plenty more “throw it up and catch it” plays from Eli.

10. Andrew Luck, Colts

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.13.47 PM

 After awarding him with the league’s biggest contract, 6 years for $140 million, the Colts are betting a lot on Andrew Luck to be the quarterback who threw 40 touchdowns and 4,761 yards in 2014…not the one who only played 7 games in 2015 and threw just 15 touchdowns. When you invest that kind of money in a quarterback, the pressure is on for him to produce.

11. Derek Carr, Raiders

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.15.19 PM

Derek Carr is a star in the making. Like Bortles, Carr had a much better sophomore season by throwing 11 more touchdowns than he had in his rookie season. He also led the league in comeback victories with 4 total. I expect his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to improve even more, for Latavius Murray to compliment him better, and for their incredible offensive line to make all of that possible.

12. Philip Rivers, Chargers

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.17.34 PM

The pass-happiest quarterback of them all started out so incredibly hot in 2015. In the first half, Rivers averaged 344 yards per game with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Then EVERYONE around him got injured, including Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates and a majority of his offensive line. It was Rivers and Danny Woodhead against the world (which needs to be a buddy comedy). Ken Whisenhunt has returned to San Diego as offensive coordinator, who helped resurrect Rivers’ Pro Bowl production in 2013. He should be available in the middle rounds as a late QB1 or top tier QB2, and his weapons will be touch to pass on as well.

13. Andy Dalton, Bengals

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.24.00 PM

I found myself rooting hard for Andy Dalton last season. He always gets the Bengals to the playoffs but can’t get them out of the first round, so he takes a lot of heat for that. Before getting injured early in his 13th game of the season, Dalton was on pace to match his career high passing touchdown total (33). 9 of the 12 games prior, he recorded multiple touchdowns and added rushing TD’s in 3 of them. There’s some concern with the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, but #ADalt will still be throwing to AJ Green, Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert when he returns. Also, don’t sleep on new addition Brandon LaFell filling in the WR2 role.

14. Tony Romo, Cowboys

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.28.03 PM

ROMOLICIOUS is back! *he says with tongue-in-cheek*

Tony Romo will, in fact, return this season and the front office has provided him with a gift from the NFL Draft in Ezekiel Elliott. We saw what Romo and the rest of the Cowboys offense was able to accomplish with an every-down back like DeMarco Murray (34 touchdowns and 9 INTs in 2014). Enter Elliott, who can run, catch, block and everything Boobie Miles’ uncle talked about in the Friday Night Lights movie. Behind the league’s best offensive line, Romo has less pressure on him and more time to throw to his favorite downfield target, Dez Bryant. Your biggest concern should be “what will happen when he takes another big hit?”

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.29.28 PM

Kirk Cousins stepped up big in his first full season of starting in the NFL. He threw 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,166 yards and that earned him a franchise tag from the Washington front office. His gamelogs don’t flash many multi-touchdown pass games, but he did record 5 with 3+ and 3 of those were for 4. He’ll be motivated even more to earn a longterm deal and the combo of Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson at their healthiest will be helpful in getting there.

16. Jay Cutler, Bears

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.34.20 PM

Despite injuries to his Top 3 WRs (Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Eddie Royal), #1 TE (Martellus Bennett), #1 RB (Matt Forte) and having to manage his offense in spite of a leaky defense, Jay Cutler produced his best statistical season since joining the Chicago Bears. He recorded multiple touchdowns in 8 of the 15 games he played with a receiver group that resembled one from the 4th quarter of a preseason game. A very much improved defense, a franchise tag motivated Jeffery, the debut of Kevin White, and offensive play-calling that compliments his strengths should help Cutler and his numbers immensley in 2016.

17. Matt Ryan, Falcons

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.37.04 PM

Despite having arguably the best WR to throw to and breakout RB Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan threw as many touchdowns (21) and MORE interceptions (16) than Jay Cutler in more games played. Just watching him week-to-week, you wanted to yell at your television out loud, “JUST THROW IT UP TO JULIO!”, but Ryan would appear overmatched by the pass rush. Ryan will have better protection with new offensive linemen, like Pro Bowler Alex Mack at Center, and new WR2 Mohamed Sanu. The improvements to the offense should help Ryan bounce back but this will be the last straw for many people.

18. Matthew Stafford, Lions

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.39.02 PM

There was Matthew Stafford before Jim Bob Cooter (not great) and Matthew Stafford AFTER the OC took over for Joe Lombardi in Detroit. It began with 4 touchdowns against the division rival Bears in Week 6, then 8 multi-touchdown games over the next 10 games (including a 5 TD performance against Philly). Stafford’s issues over his career have always been consistency. He threw 41 TDs in 2011 but then just 20 the next. Fantasy owners better hope history doesn’t repeat itself in the now post-Megatron era.

19. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.41.17 PM

Jameis Winston was clearly the best rookie quarterback last season after going #1 overall and backing it up with 22 touchdowns and 4,042 yards. Unfortunately for Winston, the Bucs didn’t do much upgrading around him on offense after elevating his offensive coordinator to head coach. If Doug Martin lives up to his new contract and Mike Evans catches more balls in the end zone than he drops, Winston could ascend to monster levels, like he had on the field at Florida State.

20. Brock Osweiler, Texans

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.46.36 PM

Brock Osweiler left Denver for an excellent situation in Houston. The Texans added multi-talented RB Lamar Miller and drafted two ridiculously athletic WRs in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to compliment the very elite DeAndre Hopkins. Osweiler showcased why he belongs in NFL with a comeback win against Chicago, a statement win against New England, and keeping pace with the high-powered Steelers offense. However, there were times when Osweiler wasn’t inspiring confidence, which setup the welcomed return of aging Peyton Manning. Head Coach Bill O’Brien will be excited to sculpt Osweiler into his kind of quarterback with a great set up weapons. It will be on Osweiler, though, to make it work.

21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.54.54 PM

Adam Gase should be the best thing to happen to Ryan Tannehill. Gase made TIM TEBOW work for a season, managed Peyton Manning’s offense, and helped Jay Cutler look like the quarterback he was meant to be. Tannehill is ridiculously skilled in play-action and option-style offenses, capable of running and throwing for big plays. With budding star WR Jarvis Landry as his #1 option, Tannehill can play more like the the QB who 4 touchdowns against JJ Watt’s Texans and not the one who contributed nearly nothing in 4 different 2015 games.

22. Marcus Mariota, Titans

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.57.24 PM

In 1/3 of the 12 games Marcus Mariota played in his rookie season, he threw 3+ touchdowns (tying Peyton Manning’s Rookie record). He became the first player to throw 3 touchdowns and 250+ yards, plus run for over 100 yards as well. Overall, he proved to be a big playmaker. The Titans comitted to continuity by sticking with interim HC Mike Mularkey and also their running game by adding DeMarco Murray and Heisman winner Derrick Henry. If Dorial Green-Beckham finally emerges as a true #1 receiver and the offensive line keeps him in one piece, Super Mariota could continue to grow as Fantasy producing force.

23. Joe Flacco, Ravens

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.58.57 PM

Joe Flacco’s 3-year extension was Baltimore’s attempt to answer the age-old question “Is Joe Flacco elite?”. He’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season but can surprise you with a 5-touchdown spot, like he did against Tampa in 2014. In Steve Smith Sr’s farewell season, it shouldn’t be far fetched to see Flacco throwing deep and often to bounce back from his injury-ended 2015 season.

24. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.01.12 PM

Since coming into the league in 2014, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t taken the next step being a viable Fantasy option. 2016 looks like an opportunity for it though, as the Vikings bulked up their offensive line and added the best wide receiver from the draft, Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is excellent as possession option and Stefon Diggs emerged as a playmaker downfield last season. Now it’s on Bridgewater to make those plays.

25. Alex Smith, Chiefs

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.03.02 PM

Alex Smith is the safest spot-start option out of anyone that isn’t named on this list. He’s back to throwing touchdowns to wide receivers, has an excellent #1 option in Jeremy Maclin, mini-Gronk Travis Kelce, and Jamaal Charles returning. It’s also worth noting that he threw multiple touchdowns in 4 of the final 6 games of the season and has one of the league’s best defenses to enable him to score more.

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (3.0)

Quarterbacks (2.0)

Wide Receivers (2.0)

Tight Ends (1.0)

Follow for more and ask questions on Facebook and Twitter

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 2.0

On the day of the 2016 NFL Draft, let’s revisit the current Fantasy quarterback landscape. One of the biggest moves in Free Agency came at the position, but there were other moves that both helped and hurt the value for multiple QBs. See who rises or falls as you prepare WAY TOO EARLY for your draft this summer.

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.50.43 AM

Save your Super Bowl 50 hot takes. It’s highly probable you reached your Fantasy Championship last year because you had Cam Newton starting down the stretch. The 13 touchdowns he threw in weeks 12-14 would suggest so. The offseason moves the Panthers made prior to this week would suggest they are committed to continue running with him and Jonathan Stewart. Letting Josh Norman walk freed up $14 million more of cap room to work with. Let’s see what else is added to Newton’s offense, on top of a returning Kelvin Benjamin.

 

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady.jpg

(For now, Brady stays here until we know for sure that his suspension will hold up for the season)

Last year’s biggest steal for many (before his suspension was lifted) just added another scary red zone target in Martellus Bennett. Tom Brady was a magician last year with a depleted receiver group, yet threw the 3rd highest touchdown total of his career (36) and averaged 298 yards per game. He’ll be 39 as the 2016 season starts, but there wasn’t much evidence of him slowing down yet.

 

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

USP NFL: GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS S FBN USA MI

Okay, I’ve come to my senses. Aaron Rodgers is good at football, I know. I still wouldn’t recommend spending a 1st or early 2nd round pick on him, but adding Jared Cook to Rodgers’ arsenal helps in the red zone. The Packers aren’t particularly known for 2-TE looks, but they have that option now from 25 yards and in. If Eddie Lacy meets his “comeback” hype too, the Packers offense could be devastating and that would benefit Rodgers owners the most.

 

4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers

Carson Palmers numbers were very similar to Tom Brady’s last season. The Cardinals also brought the band back together, re-signing Jermaine Gresham, Chris Johnson, and Jaron Brown. They are 5 deep in quality WRs, and the Top 3 stack up with any group in the league. As long as the 36-year old can be held upright, you should get the consistent 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game at least.

 

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson’s 21/2 TD-to-INT ratio from Week 10-15 are exactly why you put him in the Top 5. He put up his highest touchdown total in 2015 (34), which was 14 more than the season prior. What makes you hesitant is his annual slow start. Since being drafted in 2012, Wilson has averaged 1.3 touchdowns and 210.25 yards per game through through first 5 weeks of the season. What’s nice is that he hardly turned the ball over, but you’re hoping Seahawks play-callers stick to the formula they found last season, attacking downfield with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

 

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 5.16.07 PM

In his first two seasons, Blake Bortles was the most sacked quarterback in the league. Improving his touchdown total by 24 (35 in 2015) was pretty encouraging though, as was finding chemistry with two of the game’s most consistent receivers. The Jaguars added some offensive line help picking up former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum and improved their defense by signing Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. Having Chis Ivory in the backfield too should also help forcing opposing defenses to fill the box. It’s safe to assume #BortlesKombat will continue to heat up.

 

7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli

Eli Manning, of all people, has challenged Odell Beckham Jr. to improve for next season. I guess a quarterback and captain is responsible for that, but Beckham continued to be the best thing going for the Giants offense having scored 25 touchdowns in 2 seasons. Manning seems to finally be getting a healthy Victor Cruz back and Dwayne Harris made solid strides as the #3 guy. Coming off the highest touchdown total of his career (35), Manning should build on it with another year of OBJ and the same offensive play-calling should make.

 

8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 9.14.42 PM

Drew Brees missed his first game since 2009 last season and still finished the season with 32 touchdowns and  4,870 yards (324 yards per game). He’s younger than Brady but might have a bit more wear-and-tear. However, the extension Sean Payton received makes me think he’s going to come out firing with his QB this year. Brees has an elite deep option in Brandin Cooks, two other solid receivers in Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead, a new red zone threat in Coby Fleener and two effective pass catching running backs…Things are looking bright.

 

9. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 9.56.21 PM

After adding Donald Penn, the Raiders offensive line is now one of the best in all of football. When he wasn’t under pressure, Derek Carr had a passer rating of 96.4 last year. That and the 32 touchdowns he threw should improve as his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree do as well.

 

10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams

Losing Martavis Bryant hurts the Steelers offense a lot. He is a top tier talent and Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t necessarily his best during his 5-game suspension last season, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Roethlisberger’s longtime go-to tight end also retired. However, the Steelers upgraded at the position by signing Ladarius Green and they still have Antonio Brown, plus  Le’Veon Bell returns. I don’t know if you can trust Big Ben to stay in one piece all season, but his knack for 3+ touchdown games and average of 328 yards per last season make him Top 10 worthy.

 

11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.58.19 PM

Which Andrew Luck will we get this year? The one who went 2-5 and threw just 15 touchdown passes last season, or the one who threw 40 the year before? The Colts didn’t add much to their offensive line to protect him but they do still have speedsters T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to throw downfield to. It will be interesting to see how Luck bounces back.

 

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Rivers

Philip Rivers could be had for great value. With a healthy Keenan Allen through 8 games, Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then Ken Whisenhunt rejoined the Chargers staff, who helped Rivers get his groove back in 2013, and they added the Cleveland Browns’ #1 receiver, Travis Benjamin. If everyone stays healthy, the Chargers could have a very high powered offense.

 

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton

Andy Dalton had a great season before his injury last year. 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions are much better than the 19 and 17 before then. His #2 and #3 receivers, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, left via free agency but it doesn’t hurt to have weapons like AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Brandon LaFell also joins the Bengals offense and possibly a first round quality receiver too from this year’s draft.

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.10.15 PM

Matthew Stafford is coming off his 2nd 30+ touchdown season of his career (32), but he’s going to be doing so without Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions did their best to fill the need at WR by picking up Marvin Jones, the best WR on the market after Alshon Jeffrey was franchised tagged, and Golden Tate has proven he can shine without Megatron. What’s also encouraging are the 17 touchdowns Stafford threw in the final 6 weeks of the season. His two running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, are strong in the passing game as well.

 

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

Kirk.jpg

I’m not sure how Kirk Cousins is supposed to feel about getting franchise tagged and then seeing Josh Norman get a $75 million contract after. If he wants to get paid more somewhere though, it would be in his best interest to play like the guy who threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over his last 3 games. He finished the season with a 101.6 passer rating and a healthy Jordan Reed can only help that continue in 2016.

 

16. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

It’s taken a long time but it finally appears the Chicago Bears are putting a proper offense around Jay Cutler. The franchise tagged the best WR in free agency, Alshon Jeffrey. They sured up the right side of their offensive line by adding tackle Bobby Massie and kicking Pro Bowler Kyle Long back to guard. They also get to find out what Kevin White is made of. Continuity in offensive scheme and better coaching should keep the arrow pointing up for Cutler.

 

17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.23.12 AM

We go from one Adam Gase project to the next. Ryan Tannehill was on a steady track, improving on touchdown totals for his first 3 seasons, but took a step back in 2015 with a coaching staff that really didn’t seem to know what they were doing. He can throw and he can run. His new head coach specializes in utilizing quarterbacks with Tannehill’s talent in play-action, minimizing their mistakes. His Top WR, Jarvis Landry, also looks ready to explode.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 11.23.40 AM

Matt Ryan should be much higher, but his 2015 season makes it very fair to doubt his abilities. With arguably the best WR in football, Julio Jones, and an emerging star at running back, Devonta Freeman, Ryan only threw 21 touchdowns last year. Only once did he throw 3 or more touchdowns in a game. Only ONCE in his career has thrown 30+ touchdowns in a season. Too often did you see him turn the ball over on scoring drives or get stopped because of his own inaccuracy. The Falcons upgraded his protection this year by adding Alex Mack at center and replaced Roddy White with Mohamed Sanu. It’s now or never, Matty Ice.

 

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.56.55 AM

While Marcus Mariota started out hot, Jameis Winston may have finished the 2015 season looking like the better rookie quarterback. Despite losing 5 of his last 7 games, Winston’s numbers improved after a 5 touchdown performance against the Eagles. He also gets back the best RB that was available in free agency, Doug Martin, and hopefully Mike Evans finds a cure for “the drops”. It will be interesting to see how the team handles itself without Lovie Smith and with Dirk Koetter in charge.

 

20. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.44.23 AM

It’s really tough to feel confident in Tony Romo as the #1 Fantasy quarterback on your roster. The backfield situation looks better with a committee of Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and a healthy Lance Dunbar. If those guys get going, you might get the 34-TD Romo. If they don’t, then you have to worry about another season ending injury. Health will be key for both Romo and Dez Bryant in 2016. If by chance they draft Ezekiel Elliott though, you can feel a lot better about the Cowboys in general.

 

21. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.57.31 AM

There was one quarterback signing in the offseason that made serious waves and that was Brock Osweiler to Houston. He traded throwing to Demaryius Thomas for DeAndre Hopkins and an offensive scheme that earned Brian Hoyer a 100+ passer rating in 5 of his 11 games started. It’s hard to predict how good Osweiler will be after such a small sample size. He threw 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 7 games with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his options. Do Hopkins, Cecil Shorts III, Jalen Strong and fellow signee Lamar Miller help him improve those numbers?

22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.38.13 AM

“Is Joe Flacco a elite?” – One of my favorite Twitter jokes in sports.

Flacco’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in his career. He followed up his highest season total with a season-ending injury and just 14 TDs in 10 games. The Ravens are committed to Flacco though, extending him for another 3 years in the offseason. He’ll have Steve Smith Sr. playing his final season and wanting to go out with a bang. They also added Mike Wallace and Benjamin Watson to improve the receiving corps and prepare for for the annual Dennis Pita injury.

 

23. Marcus Mariota, Tenesse Titans

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.07.47 PM

Marcus Mariota had probably the most impressive start to his career you could ask for, throwing 4 touchdowns in the opener against his rookie counterpart, Jameis Winston. He’d match that total again vs. the Saints while adding 371 yards. However, he was shut out in the TD column 5 times and was only healthy for 12 games. Trading for DeMarco Murray shows the Titans are very committed to the run for 2016, which should help take pressure off Mariota in his sophomore season and set up his passing game better.

 

24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.31.16 PM

Alex Smith is a very good game manager, at this point in his career and he can at times be a decent waiver pickup when your #1 guy is on a bye. Twice in 2015, Smith threw 2 touchdowns and ran for another and he was finally back to finding wide receivers in the end zone again (that’s progress, considering the year and half long streak of not throwing TDs to WRs). Smith will also be getting Jamaal Charles back, who is monster when catching the ball out of the backfield.

25. Teddy Bridgewater

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.29.54 PM

In year 3 of the Teddy Bridgewater era, the Vikings bulked up their offensive line by adding Andre Smith and Alex Boone. After being sacked 44 times last season, that’s a welcomed upgrade for Bridgewater. He’s thrown only 14 touchdowns in each of his first 2 seasons and the Vikings have yet to improve their receiver depth, but more attention to Adrian Peterson by defenses should open things up for Bridgewater this time around.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (2.0)

Quarterbacks (1.0)

Wide Receivers (1.0)

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings – Quarterbacks

Not sure if you noticed, but the quarterback position in 2015 across the league got thin in a hurry. The fact that Brian Hoyer and Matt Hasselbeck were relevant was a HUGE problem.

Most of the quarterbacks below got the job done in 2015 and should be poised to do the same or more in 2016. Some, like Andrew Luck and Tony Romo, are looking for a healthy comeback.

(You’ll notice that Joe Flacco isn’t one of them. Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s play-calling and a lack of talent at wide receiver keeps him out of the Top 20)

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

GTY 493267298 S FBN USA WA

I’ve harped on it here enough in the past 4 months, but Cam Newton was winning you multiple weeks in fantasy by himself in 2015. His 35 touchdown passes were tied for 2nd in the league…and then he added 10 more rushing. Newton also gets at least one more weapon next season with Kelvin Benjamin returning.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady.jpg

Tom Brady is just a year younger than Peyton Manning, yet led the league in touchdown passes a year ago. Brady also chipped in nearly 300 yards per game, and made the most out of depleted receiving group. Heck, he even made Scott Chandler relevant for a week or two.

3. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers

Almost as reliable as Brady was Carson Palmer. He didn’t look great in the post season, but his loaded offense allowed him to average 291 yards and at least 2 touchdowns per game. Another healthy year like 2015 would warrant a much higher pick than where he was drafted on average a year ago.

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson is weird. Yes for those reasons you just thought of, but also because of his streaky production. Through the first 10 weeks of the season in 2015, Wilson had just one game of multiple touchdown passes. Then he gave you 5 straight weeks of no less than 3 TDs per game. As the Seahawks look to probably move past Marshawn Lynch, it would be much more beneficial for them to let Wilson throw it and have Thomas Rawls compliment him.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

USP NFL: GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS S FBN USA MI

There are a lot of people who probably don’t like me having Aaron Rodgers this far down the list, but the truth is that the discount-double check got checked down last season. Rodgers was a different player without his old-reliable Jordy Nelson and his running game wasn’t bailing him out either when he needed it. Yes, the 2 Hail Mary’s proved he can still do whatever he wants when it matters most, but you should be able to get him with better value in the 3rd or 4th round…as of now.

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles

Blake Bortles jumped from throwing just 11 touchdown passes his rookie season to 35 in his sophomore year. #BortlesKombat has some room to grow, and probably will with a pair of very consistent scoring receivers like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars are a team that plays in a lot of comeback situations and shootouts that make Bortles excellent for Fantasy garbage points.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams

Ben Roethlisberger led the league with 328 pass yards per game, and you’d think it’s hard not to replicate that kind of production when you have Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to work with. The only question is whether or not he can stay in one piece.

 

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli

I’m always skeptic about Eli Manning, as he seems to regularly fold in high pressure situations during the regular season. His 35 touchdown passes were no joke though, and having Odell Beckham Jr. there to make him look better is also hard to argue with. As his offensive coordinator from the past 2 years takes over the reigns as head coach, the offense shouldn’t look terribly different.

9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton

Andy Dalton was as good as anyone in the first half of the season last year. He likely went undrafted in most leagues and became the hottest free agent in a hurry in yours. He went from throwing 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2014 to 25/7 in 2015. Had he been healthy down the stretch for the Bengals, there’s a good chance they would have beaten the Steelers over Wild Card weekend. His offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, might be elsewhere but it’s hard to imagine he’ll take a step back with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert still there to throw to.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees paired with Sean Payton as head coach will always get you the yardage. “Breesus” averaged 324 yards per game. The crazy numbers don’t kick in until around mid-season though, like ya know…7 touchdowns and 505 yards in Week 8. The fact Luke McCown made an appearance makes you nervous though and wonder if he can keep it up (NOT LIKE THAT, YA JERKS).

11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Carr

Derek Carr made solid strides in 2015, throwing multiple TDs in 11 of the 16 games he started. Throwing 32 touchdowns after 21 in his rookie season and growing with Amari Cooper makes his projection in 2016 even more exciting.

12. Kirk Cousins, Washington

Kirk.jpg

I don’t know which Kirk Cousins you’re going to get in 2016. The one that was just okay through Week 14, or the one that tossed 11 touchdowns in 3 games to will Washington to an NFC East title and will get him paid big time for it. The upside with a healthy Jordan Reed, and that 158.3 QB rating game in Week 10, has him ranked higher than he probably is….for now.

13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

I don’t think there was a quarterback who did more with less than Jay Cutler.

  • No 1st Round draft pick Kevin White
  • Only 8 games with Alshon Jeffery, 9 games with Eddie Royal
  • Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, and Cameron Meredith as a his only WRs multiple games

Yet he still played one of his best seasons as a Chicago Bear. Having continuity in playcalling next year and healthy receivers makes me feel better about Cutler than most next season.

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Luck lives

Andrew Luck probably went in the first or 2nd round in most leagues last year. Those who drafted him that high got 7 games, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to show for it. As of this moment, I’m not sure if you’re going to get the 40 touchdown guy from 2014 or the injury plagued/turnover happy QB of 2016. His talent and ability will keep him higher though.

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Rivers

For the first 8 games of the season, Philip Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then he lost Keenan Allen for the year and it was 254 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game the rest of the year. Rivers still got paid big money and his head coach Mike McCoy was extended through 2017, so the organization seems to be banking on next year looking like the first half of 2015.

16. Tony Romo

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

There’s been more talk about who will replace Tony Romo than his potential production when he returns in 2016. If you draft Romo next season, it’s to backup your #1 guy and the possibility he stays upright for 34 touchdowns like he did in 2014. If the Cowboys pick up a DeMarco Murray-like running back, maybe he will.

17. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan

I don’t know how you can trust Matt Ryan anymore, coming off the worst statistical year of his career since his rookie season. However, he does have arguably the best wide receiver in football, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman can set him up better if his offensive coordinator can figure out how to use play-action.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill

Before last season, Ryan Tannehill was improving every season. Then his coaches forgot how to coach. It’s cliche now, but Adam Gase worked wonders with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. So you can hold onto hope one more year with Ryan Tannehill as a backup.

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucanneers

Jameis

I get a feeling Jameis Winston is going to jump up this list a bit, and could very well be a starter for you if Mike Evans can avoid dropping the ball. What’s going to be key is seeing how his newly elevated head coach, Dirk Koetter, does handling the personnel after getting Lovie Smith launched.

20. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the “Fitzmagic” last season, throwing more than 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career. The Jets utilized their running game to set him up greatly in the red zone, and the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker combo ate because of it. Can you bank on Fitzpatrick doing it again though when couldn’t any of the 10 years before?

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

For more position rankings:

Quarterbacks / Running Backs / Wide Receivers

All The Super Bowl 50 Storylines, So Far…

Conference Championship Sunday featured the #1 seeds from both the AFC and NFC showing exactly how they got to where they are now. The Broncos defense beat the crap of Tom Brady, hitting him more than any other quarterback was all season, and their quarterback did enough to pull off the win. While the Panthers were also stellar on defense, their offense continued to shred another opposing top defense. Cam Newton became the 3rd quarterback to rush for 2 touchdowns and throw 2 as well in the playoffs (after Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick).

For the next two weeks, we’re going to wait way too long for what can be very good game…or an absolute blowout (I believe it will be the former). What you can expect is a plethora of storylines because both these teams aren’t lacking at all for them. You may get a new one every 12 hours until kickoff.

Here are ALL the storylines I could think of so far.

 

1. Cam’s Arrival

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.03.02 PM

Cam Newton has fun. After yesterday’s 49-15 decimation of the Arizona Cardinals, Newton had compiled 50 total touchdowns for 2015-16 (regular season and post season combined). Newton has a patented pointing mechanic on first downs, dances after touchdowns, and hands the ball to a kid in the stands when he’s done. You may not like it, but you’re going to have to get used to it. The league has become his video game and everyone else looks like they’re on “Easy Mode” for him.

Newton came into the league as a Heisman Trophy winner with a bad rap. He was arrested at Florida for stealing a laptop. His time at Auburn was scrutinized due to an investigation into his recruitment, which the NCAA came away with nothing. He was still drafted #1 overall and now has a chance to win a Super Bowl after 5 seasons, very likely with an MVP trophy on his mantle as well. What’s scary is that he’s done it without his #1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, all season.

Football fans without a stick up their asses are loving it. Others will choose to be miserable, and you’ll hear plenty from them for the next 2 weeks.

Some people just can’t have nice things, and that’s fine. Newton fans, on the other hand, can keep enjoying the best player in the league right now. In his last 10 games, Newton has scored 31 touchdowns (24 passing, 7 rushing). Who else from Newton’s “generation” comes even close to his level of play? Maybe Russell Wilson, but that’s it.

2. Peyton’s Last Stand

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.05.03 PM

Of the 4 quarterbacks facing off on Championship Sunday, Peyton Manning had the most on the line in terms of legacy. A win would help change his narrative that he’s just the best “regular season” quarterback. Now he’s won more games against 4-time champion Tom Brady than lost (3-2), and could join an elite group of only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings.

While the Broncos didn’t necessarily win because of Manning (we’ll get to that in a minute), they weren’t going to lose because of him either. When the running game couldn’t get going, Manning made key 3rd down conversions with both his arm and even his legs.

Manning run

When Peyton Manning is successfully running boot plays on your defense, you might not deserve to go to the Super Bowl. In his 4th trip, Manning can do something that the president of the Denver Broncos, John Elway, accomplished before retiring…go out on top.

3. Defense Wins Championships

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.07.39 PM

Super Bowl 50 is going to feature the league’s 2 best defenses who clearly proved that on Championship Sunday. The Broncos halted the #1 passing team in the NFL (New England) and the Panthers did the same with the #2 passing team (Arizona).

As mentioned earlier, the Broncos defense just manhandled Tom Brady and Von Miller led the way with 2.5 sacks and an interception. Miller’s presence was the certainly felt but so Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Ware’s, only allowing Brady to finish 7/23 for 73 yards and a passer rating of 37.0 when pressured. The most impressive part of the Broncos defense dominating a fully healthy Patriots offense was that they were able to do so blitzing Brady a season low 17.2% of the time.

Throwing to Rob Growkowski against the Broncos, Brady was 8/15 for 144 and 1 touchdown. Throwing to everyone else, he was 19/41, 166 yards and 0 TDs. Heads up, Greg Olsen.

The Panthers ranked 2nd in defensive efficiency in 2015 (according to ESPN), just behind Denver. While the Broncos pressure the quarterback like crazy, the Panthers defense is racking up points off turnovers. On top Newton’s insane scoring rate, the Panthers have added 9.5 points per game to their net margin of victory as a result of takeaways, 1.7 points more than anyone else. They forced 7 turnovers, 6 from Carson Palmer, on Sunday.

 

4. Coaches Have A Lot In Common

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.11.19 PM

Both Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak played on teams that went to the Super Bowl. Rivera won as a linebacker with the 1985 Chicago Bears. Kubiak went to 3, all as backup quarterback to John Elway, and lost them too.

Both Rivera and Kubiak went to the Super Bowl as coordinators. Rivera was the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2006-07, losing to Peyton Manning’s Colts. Kubiak won three after his playing career, once as an assistant for the 49ers (1994) and twice more as Broncos offensive coordinator (1997 & 1998).

Now both Rivera and Kubiak will be standing on opposite sidelines of the sport’s biggest stage. They were also both successors for current Bears head coach John Fox.

5. Poor John Fox

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.14.11 PM

Actually, good new Bears fans!

John Fox went to the Super Bowl in each of his second seasons with the Panthers and Broncos. He didn’t win, but going is a nice improvement.

 

6. Other Bears Connections

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.15.16 PM

A few more former Bears you can root for in the Super Bowl, if you feel so inclined:

1. Greg, Son of Olsen.

Greg son of Olsen

2. Jared Allen (meh)

3. Charles “Peanut” Tillman (although on IR, but still a great dude)

Panthers Tillman

 

7. Unsung Heroes

Broncos Bench

The Broncos “Other” Defensive Linemen (above)

While Miller, Ware and Wolfe get all the sack glory, defensive ends Malik Jackson and Antonio Smith and nose tackle Sylvester Williams are teeing them up and destroying opposing running backs.

Ted Ginn Jr.

I love that Ted Ginn Jr. went from being the guy who drops everything to a 10 touchdown WR. A lot of that may be thanks to his quarterback, but somebody has to take the top off defenses and burn opposing safeties like Ginn has.

Emmanuel Sanders

Something I may have left out of Peyton Manning’s storyline was how Emmanuel Sanders made some of the BIGGEST plays on 3rd down for his quarterback. While Damaryius Thomas was off and on during the season, Sanders had 4 games of 8+ receptions. With Manning throwing more underneath and Josh Norman covering Thomas, Sanders will be a huge key against the Broncos nickel coverage.

 

The Panthers Team Picture Game

Exhibit A

Stay Tuned For More Super Bowl 50 Coverage on MichaelPiff.com. There will be more on the Halftime Show, Commercials, Media Day, and the annual “Everything But Football” piece as well. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter

 

Denver Police Troll New England Patriots Before Halftime

The AFC Championship has been relatively one-sided so far for Manning vs. Brady 17.

The Denver Broncos lead the New England Patriots 17-9 at halftime. Peyton Manning is 10/20 passing with 128 yards and 2 touchdowns to Owen Daniels. Tom Brady’s day has been less than stellar throwing 8/20, 87 yards and 2 interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Denver Police Department is having some fun at the Patriots O’s expense on Twitter.

 

Too early? I hope not…They may not like what they find.

 

For more, follow along on Twitter

Brady vs. Manning 17: Why This One Matters

If Fast and the Furious ever gets this many sequels, I quit.

I understand if you’re exhausted from hearing about this. It’s a storyline that’s been shoved down your throat for 2 decades, and both quarterbacks have their detractors. There’s a reason you’ve heard all the narratives for as long as you have though.

The last time neither Peyton Manning nor Tom Brady were in the AFC Championship was in 2011. Before then, it was 2006. Brady and Manning will be facing off for the 17th time this weekend, but it will be the 5th time in the playoffs with both winning 2 games a piece. Manning actually has an edge on Brady, having won 2 of their 3 matchups in the AFC Championship. This time could (and should) be their last, and it will be for a shot at Super Bowl 50.

When you bring up Manning and Brady, you’re talking about two of the best to play their position, the most important position in the most watched sport in the country. One year separates the two in age (Manning 39, Brady 38), and they are both in the Top 6 of career touchdowns, yards and passer rating. Manning ranks 1st, 1st, and 5th, Brady is 3rd, 5th and 6th. Brady’s 4 Super Bowl rings compared to Manning’s 1 are pretty glaring, but it’s still too fitting to see either of these 2 get another chance to play on the biggest stage in sports. Just a year ago, the Super Bowl drew it’s largest audience with 114.4 million people watching.

The numbers for both quarterbacks in their 16 meetings make up that of a solid regular season. Manning has completed 410 of 657 passes (62.4%) for 4,809 yards, 33 TDs and 22 INTs (87.4 QB rating). Brady has completed 367 of 553 passes (66.4%) for 4,013 yards, 31 TDs and 13 INTs (96.5 QB rating). Brady leads the series 11-5, with an 8-2 record against Manning at Foxboro and split 3-3 in Indianapolis/Denver. In the last 10 years though, Manning is 2-0 in the playoffs against Brady. Neither one has won against each other on the road since 2007.

Who has the most to gain with a win this Sunday though, with legacies mostly cemented going? Brady holds the record for most playoff wins (22) and has a 73.3 win percentage while Manning holds the record for the most playoff losses (13). Regardless the result of Sunday’s game, Brady will go down as one of football’s all-time greats as a winner because of his post season hardware. Manning will unfortunately be remembered as the greatest “regular season” quarterback who only came home with the ultimate prize once out of 15 chances, with a younger brother holding a second ring over his head…unless he wins Sunday and February 7th.

It’s amazing Manning has reached this point following his worst statistical regular season of his career and having to sit out due to injury. He’s had transform his game from being the dominant quarterback to “game manager”, and it worked great against the Steelers. With a Super Bowl quality defense, all Manning has to do now is hand the ball off, make the right checks evaluating the coverage, not turn the ball over, and make a play when it’s needed.

Brady self sack.gif

There are only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings:

Eli Manning – 2

Ben Roethlisberger – 2

John Elway – 2

Jim Plunkett – 2

Roger Staubach – 2

Bob Greise – 2

Bart Starr – 2

Troy Aikman – 3

Terry Bradshaw – 4

Joe Montana – 4

If Brady wins one more, he joins club of his own with 5. If Manning wins one more, he joins the club and fans will remember that more than the 13 playoff losses. Ask Elway, who lost 8 times before winning his 2 rings back-to-back to end his career. Can Manning have his Elway moment?

I tried to think about where this rivalry stacks up in sports. It’s not quite Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. Two all-time greats, yes, but there were 8 championships won between the two (Magic 5, Bird 3) and they had to do it against each other in the Finals. Ali/Frazier was a whole different level of competition, and disrespect for each other. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain though…

Russell is the greatest winner in basketball history with 11 championships and Chamberlain was statistically one of the best to ever play his position while winning his second ring late in his career. A big difference is that Russell and Chamberlain had to actually man-up on each other, but the legacy comparisons between them and Brady/Manning are certainly there.

Vote for your pick to win this weekend and check out more on Facebook or Twitter

Fantasy Football Awards 2015

Has your Fantasy Football withdrawal kicked in already? Are you already thinking about next year’s draft? Yeah, me too…That’s why I’ll be frequently updating my draft boards on MichaelPiff.com starting next week.

But first…

We have some awards to hand out from the 2015 season!

 

This season was wild. Injuries, suspensions, surprises, Gary Barnidges, backup quarterbacks, drama and more drama…We’ll look at all the impact players, and some of the worst, that dictated your fantasy season this past season.

 

MVP

CamVP

Cam Newton, Panthers

Every year you do your Fantasy draft, who usually goes off the board first?…Running backs. Then someone drafts Aaron Rodgers (probably Andrew Luck this year too) ridiculously high and some wide receivers will round out your first round. Quarterbacks don’t typically start to go in bulk until the 4th round and Cam Newton wasn’t even being considered until the 8th. His average draft position was 77.1 overall, average round was 8.4.

Those who rolled with Newton, and weren’t afraid of the lack of hype around his wide receivers, reaped ALL the benefits of #1 scoring quarterback in football. He finished the season leading the league in total touchdowns with 45 (35 passing, 10 rushing) and added 4,473 yards from scrimmage (3,837 passing, 635 rushing). Newton’s stretch from Week 11-15 (19 total touchdowns) likely helped carry you to your league’s championship too.

Next Best: Carson Palmer

Hard not to consider Carson Palmer as an MVP as well since he regularly gave you at least 290+ yards and 2-3 touchdowns through the air.

Biggest Bust of the Year

Lacy Bust

Eddie Lacy, Packers

I can’t fault players who miss time or underperform due to injury. The top tier of the running backs almost all suffered this, besides Adrian Peterson. Eddie Lacy wasn’t hurt though. Lacy was a Top 5 pick in most leagues, and he gave you just 3 rushing touchdowns and 758 yards on the ground in 15 games. He was out of shape, missing curfews, and just simply…bad. If any of his 3 games of 100+ yards helped you, I imagine it was because you were desperate at running back. It took Lacy until Week 11 to do so.

Next Worst: Dez Bryant 

I’m probably breaking my injury rule here, but you likely picked Bryant late 1st or early 2nd round, held on to him while he was injured, and got just 3 touchdowns and 401 yards in 9 games for your patience. Tony Romo or not, Bryant is supposed to be a game changer…not THAT.

 

Draft Steal

Devonta Steal

Devonta Freeman, Falcons

If you paid close attention to the Falcons in the offseason, you were weighing your options of taking rookie Tevin Coleman or 2nd year RB Devonta Freeman as one of your flier picks. If you picked Freeman, you CHOSE WISELY. Freeman went 119th overall on average, 2 rounds or so after Coleman, and he gave you 1,639 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns (most in the league). He also helped you stack up some wins from Weeks 2-6 with 10 touchdowns (9 rushing, 1 receiving).

Next Best: Tom Brady

If you picked Tom Brady before his suspension was lifted, you got him at backup value in later rounds. If you took him after, you still enjoyed his #RevengeTour with 36 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers

While Le’Veon Bell served his 2 game suspension to start the year, DeAngelo Williams filled in with 204 yards and 3 touchdowns (all in one game). After Bell went on IR following Week 8, Williams gave you high-end RB1 production, averaging 125 yards from scrimmage and finishing tied with Freeman for the league’s lead in rushing TDs.

Next Best: Gary Barnidge

Might gut went with Gary Barnidge initially, but Williams’s value after Bell went down was just too strong…Barnidge was certainly the breakout player of the year, posting 1,043 yards and 9 touchdowns on 79 catches at the age of 30. Before this year, Barnidge’s career totals were 604 yards, 44 catches and 3 touchdowns over 7 years.

Comeback Player of the Year

DMartin Comeback

Doug Martin, Buccaneers

I’ll admit it. I wrote off the Muscle Hamster. After recording nearly 2,000 yards yards from scrimmage his rookie season, the guy barely hit half of that total over the next 2 years because of injuries, bad offensive lines and worse offensive coordinators. Bucs OC Dirk Koetter figured it all out though and made Doug Martin into the league’s 2nd leading rusher, picking up 1,402 yards on the ground. For someone who went in the 9th round on average in most fantasy drafts, I think you’d take that.

Next Best: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the definition of a journeyman quarterback. 6 teams in 10 years, never making the playoffs and a career high of 24 touchdown passes in both the seasons he started all 16 games…until this year. Surround his beard with 2 excellent possession receivers, a quality offensive line, and 2 viable running backs and Fitzpatrick turns into FitzMagic throwing 31 touchdowns. He threw multiple touchdowns in 12 of his 16 starts…Who figured Geno Smith getting punched in the face would benefit them so well?

 

Rookie of the Year

Gurley Rookie

Todd Gurley, Rams

It’s hard not to picture Todd Gurley being drafted in your first round next season. In 12 starts, the rookie out of Georgia 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground (2nd highest in the league). Gurley was the Rams’ only source of offense, which explained some of the slow down in production down the stretch as opposing defenses keyed in on him. Expect Gurley to just get stronger and scarier now that he’ll have a full offseason without rehabbing an injury.

Next Best: Jameis Winston

It’s easy to compare Jameis Winston with Marcus Mariota, both rookie QBs with Heisman trophies in their mantles. Winston separated himself from Mariota with big play ability, ranked 2nd in yards per completion (13), and was more consistent for scoring in the 2nd half of the season.

 

Best Lineup

QB: Cam Newton, Panthers – 3,837 yards, 35 TD passing / 636 yards, 10 TD rushing

WR:  Antonio Brown, Steelers – 1,834 yards, 136 catches, 10 TD

WR: Julio Jones, Falcons – 1,871 yards, 136 catches, 8 TD

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – 1,521 yards, 111 catches, 11 TD

RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings – 1,485 yards, 11 TD rush / 30 catches, 222 yards receiving

RB: Devonta Freeman, Falcons – 1,061 yards, 11 TD rush / 73 catches, 578 yards 3 TD receiving

FLEX: Odell Beckham Jr, Giants – 1,450 yards, 96 catches, 13 TD (15 games)

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – 72 catches, 1,176 yards, 11 TD 

K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots – 33/36 FG, 52/52 PAT

DEF – Denver Broncos – 52 sacks, 14 INT, 16 fumble recoveries, 5 TD

 

Rising Lineup

QB: Kirk Cousins, Washington 

WR: Allen Robinson, Jaguars 

WR: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks 

WR: Brandin Cooks, Saints 

RB: Todd Gurley, Rams 

RB: David Johnson, Cardinals 

FLEX: Lamar Miller, Dolphins 

K: Brandon McManus, Broncos 

DEF: Minnesota Vikings 

 

Who are your picks for our Year-End Fantasy Awards? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter! Stay tuned for year-round Fantasy Football info for next year’s draft!