2017 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Author Jay Clemons

The new and improved Fanball.com offers up its pre-training camp rankings for the 2017 fantasy season. Today’s focus lies with the quarterbacks — namely the presumptive starters for the majority of this season.

1-16
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Drew Brees, Saints
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons
4. Tom Brady, Patriots
5. Cam Newton, Panthers
6. Derek Carr, Raiders
7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
8. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

RATIONALE
1. I hate myself for ranking Rodgers (six-year average: 4,017 yards passing, 37 TDs) above Brees and Ryan, on the sole rationale of “upside.”

Yes, the Packers have a slew of receiving options, but outside of Jordy Nelson — who owns healthy averages of 94 catches, 1,338 yards, 12.5 TDs since 2011 — there’s no guarantee of year-to-year greatness with Randall Cobb (only 60 receptions/4 TDs last season), Davante Adams (12 TDs in Year 3, but very little for 2014-15), Ty Montgomery (no lock for hybrid success) or tight end Jared Cook.

On the flip side, the free-agent acquisition Martellus Bennett (three-TD demolition of Cleveland last year) should be a red-zone game-changer for Rodgers, who has never tossed 40-plus touchdowns in back-to-back years.

2. Here’s some perspective on Drew Brees’s six-year average of 5,141 yards passing and 38 touchdowns: The feat of 5,000 yards passing in one season has only been accomplished nine times, and Brees — a five-timer with this exclusive club— remains the only one in history to hit the 5K-mark multiple times. Enough said.

3. Matt Ryan certainly deserved his MVP trophy from last season, the culmination of 4,944 yards passing, 38 touchdowns and a staggering completion rate of 69.9 percent. However, there is some trepidation with the All-Pro quarterback, in the Falcons’ post-Kyle Shanahan era.

From 2012-14, Ryan held sublime, but not all-world averages of 4,643 yards passing and 29 TDs.

4. When extrapolating Tom Brady’s 2016 numbers (3,554 yards, 28 TDs) over a 16-game campaign, that works out to 4,736 yards passing and 37 touchdowns. Not bad for the No. 4 quarterback on this list.

In fact, there’s a sizable gap between Brady … and a nicked-up Cam Newton or Derek Carr, who has never reached the 4,000-yard passing mark. (To be fair, Carr would have conquered that number last year, without injury.)

9-16
9. Andrew Luck, Colts
10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Philip Rivers, Chargers
12. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
13. Kirk Cousins, Redskins
14. Matthew Stafford, Lions
15. Marcus Mariota, Titans
16. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

RATIONALE
1. The Colts’ front office may be exaggerating Andrew Luck’s foibles from the last two seasons, reportedly demanding a reduction in interceptions to single digits. If you’re going to make an omelette, though … gotta break some eggs.

Especially with an Indy offense that has zero running depth after future Hall of Famer Frank Gore (11 consecutive seasons of 1,200-plus total yards).

In other words, it’s usually up to Luck (capacity for 5,000 yards passing/40 TDs) to carry the Colts on his back in real-world and fantasy situations. So, why not let Luck …. be Luck?

2. Sorry, fantasy fans of the Packers, Patriots and Saints. The the Giants currently own the NFL’s most prolific receiving quartet, featuring Odell Beckham Jr. (three-year average: 96 catches, 1,374 yards, 12 TDs), Sterling Shepard (nine outings of 100 yards and/or one TD as a rookie), Brandon Marshall (capacity for 1,000 yards or double-digit TDs) and draftee Evan Engram, who may transition from tight end to wideout in the pros.

3. For the fantasy drafters who traditionally wait until Round 8 for a quarterback … Philip Rivers will be your man.

We’re talking about healthy four-year averages of 4,486 yards and 31 touchdowns on a Chargers offense that sometimes featured a cast of no-names at the receiver spot. But that’s no longer the case, with Los Angeles easily housing the AFC West’s best quintet of wideouts — Keenan Allen, rookie Mike Williams, veteran Travis Benjamin and the often-overlooked Dontrelle Inman (58 catches/810 yards/4 TDs last year) and Tyrell Wiliiams (69 catches/1,059 yards/7 TDs).

Throw in the expected impact of tight ends Antonio Gates/Hunter Henry and tailback Melvin Gordon (a sneaky-good candidate for 50-plus catches) … and there’ll be no stopping the Chargers offense, fantasy-wise. Among the West Coast teams, San Diego should be the go-to team for daily fantasy contests that feature Afternoon Games Only.

4. Jameis Winston, who cracked the 4,000-yard passing mark in his first two NFL seasons, probably deserves more respect at his position. After all, the Bucs recognized their shortcomings and signed DeSean Jackson to a reasonable, but vital contract. That alone puts Winston in the ‘upside’ realm of maybe top seven or top eight.

However, it’s worth noting: Winston only posted three-plus touchdowns four times last year; and he didn’t hit that figure at all in Tampa Bay’s final eight games. (Fingers crossed for the future.)

5. With two-year averages of 4,542 yards passing/27 touchdowns, Kirk Cousins obviously has the stock of a top-10 quarterback — or Round 5 selection in fantasy drafts. But there are outside forces to contemplate, as well:

Former Redskins passing-game guru Sean McVay now leads the Los Angeles Rams (NFL’s youngest head coach); and Washington’s brass had an interesting way of building up the receiving corps, after DeSean Jackson (now with Tampa Bay) and Pierre Garcon (now with San Francisco).

The new D.C. crew features free-agent signees Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick, along with holdovers Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and tight end Jordan Reed.

Speaking of which, here’s a good news/bad news proposition involving Reed: In the last two years, Reed has an extrapolation average of 94 catches, 1,008 yards and 10 touchdowns per season. However, he’s never enjoyed one injury-free campaign in the NFL.

6. With an improved receiving corps, Titans QB Marcus Mariota now has a capacity for 4,200 total yards and 30 touchdowns. But ay the rub: It will be extremely hard to overdraft Mariota, if he can’t eclipse the easily attainable mark of two rushing touchdowns per season.

That’s a pedestrian tally for a high-end, dual-threat talent.

17-32
17. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
18. Andy Dalton, Bengals
19. Carson Wentz, Eagles
20. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
21. Carson Palmer, Cardinals
22. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
23. Joe Flacco, Ravens
24. Sam Bradford, Vikings
25. Trevor Siemian, Broncos
26. Mike Glennon, Bears
27. Tom Savage, Texans
28. Jared Goff, Rams
29. Brian Hoyer, 49ers
30. Alex Smith, Chiefs
31. Josh McCown, Jets
32. Cody Kessler, Browns

Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media) and 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year (Fantasy Sports Writers Association), can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.