The Top 35 Dynasty Quarterbacks, December 2016

For most leagues the trade deadline has come and gone, which makes the timing of this post curious. However, I wanted to recalibrate some of my assumptions with a deep dive in hopes of improving the next #Dynasty250 football rankings update. Further, for many of us who play this format there really is no offseason and therefore no bad time for a rankings refresh.

Now that I’ve sufficiently rationalized my untimely post (it’s also the Sunday morning before games… jeez), I’ll qualify my process. The key ingredient is, as always, over confidence in myself as a white male in America. After that I rely on unequal parts college pedigree (when applicable, I won’t reference Tom Brady’s combine scores), rest of season rankings, year to date fantasy points, pro football focus grades, yards per attempt, context, contract, age and historical data on quarterback aging curves. I’m sure there’s some other stuff, but this is a mid-December QB rank, my wife is the only one still reading. Purple monkey dish washer.

The tiers are meant to represent fairly interchangeable value. The rank represents my preference, but I wouldn’t blink if I saw anyone from each tier traded for someone else within that same tier.

Tier 1

  1. Andrew Luck
    • Age – 27 (28 in September)
    • Stat to know – Pro Football Focus’ second ranked passer after Tom Brady
    • Why he’s here – The best combination of age, durability and track record.
  1. Aaron Rodgers
    • Age – 33 (34 in December, 2017)
    • Stat to know – Leads fantasy football quarterbacks in scoring.
    • Why he’s here – I’ve had some bad calls and poor rankings this year and there will be more in the future, but I was surprised to see a comment a couple of months ago in one of the updates that said something to the effect of, “I lost confidence in your recommendations when you ranked A-Rod among the top two QB’s.” Sometimes, you need to let the resume speak for itself. Rodgers is elite, both in real life and fantasy. Does have very low yards per target, both by his own standards and generally, which is a legitimate concern.
  2. Marcus Mariota
    • Age – 23 (24 in October)
    • Stat to know – Since the merger, Mariota’s 96.8 quarterback rating ranks second all time among quarterbacks under the age of 24 (minimum 500 attempts).
    • Why he’s here – Whatever statistics you care about – prospect pedigree, fantasy points, quarterback rating, yards per attempt, etc. – Mariota has you covered.
  3. Russell Wilson
    • Age – 28 (29 in November)
    • Stat to know – Since his rookie year, only Dak Prescott has a higher yards per attempt than Wilson’s eight (minimum 12 games, 300 attempts). Second all-time in passer rating.
    • Why he’s here – A lot of people are going to be cranky about this rank after Wilson has under achieved for fantasy for so many owners, but we are paying for future production here. Wilson was limited by an ankle injury that has cut into his volume and efficiency as a runner. When picking dynasty quarterbacks the number one thing I care about is whether the player is good. If the answer is yes, you can weather the storm through “meh” seasons (like Matt Ryan in recent years) knowing it’ll turn around.

Tier 2

  1. Dak Prescott
    • Age – 23 (24 in July)
    • Stat to know – Trails only Matt Ryan in yards per attempt in 2016.
    • Why he’s here – it’s just been an unbelievably impressive rookie season for Dak Prescott. My only concern is the modest sample size and his good-not-great draft pedigree. While he benefits from a great (maybe historically so) offensive line, he’s also excelled with a walking corpse at tight end and Dez Bryant riding the bench most of the year. Strong case for tier one with a good finish.
  2. Cam Newton
    • Age – 27 (28 in May)
    • Stat to know – Since his rookie year, only Dak Prescott has a higher yards per attempt than his eight (minimum 12 games, 300 attempts).
    • Why he’s here – Cam has not been his usual superman self this year and unlike other sort-of-slumping dual threat quarterback, he does not have the pristine track record as a thrower. I also worry about his style of play as he ages. In addition to his actual car accident, Cam puts himself in danger too often on the field for my liking.
  3. Derek Carr
    • Age – 25 (26 in March)
    • Stat to know – Has improved his completion percentage, yards per attempt, QBR, passer rating in every year since his rookie year; fifth highest passing grade on Pro Football Focus
    • Why he’s here – the toolsy Carr has converted promise into production while continuing to stay healthy. Despite athleticism, has not done any damage on the ground, which caps his upside for fantasy.
  1. Matt Barkley(just kidding)
  1. Jameis Winston
    • Age – 22 (23 in January)
    • Stat to know – Has had a rushing touchdown or passing touchdown in every career game, but only one rushing touchdown in 2016 after posting six in 2015.
    • Why he’s here – Winston is still a baby and as such, we can expect more progression on average. There’s still some risk (we’ve seen former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman flame out, for example), but you’d have to be awfully pessimistic not to believe Winston can be a mainstay for years.

Tier 3

  1. Matt Ryan
    • Age – 31 (32 in March)
    • Stat to know – Career high and league-leading 9.21 yards per attempt in 2016. 4for4.com’s 2nd ranked quarterback for the rest of season (redraft).
    • Why he’s here – Coming off a down year and a career of being quite good, but rarely great (only one 30+ touchdown season), Ryan was beginning to develop a reputation as a middling option. The league’s third highest scoring fantasy quarterback, Ryan has been devastatingly efficient this year thanks to a strong offensive line, two stand out running backs, a breakout wide receiver (Taylor Gabriel) and of course Julio Jones.
  2. Kirk Cousins
    • Age – 28 (29 in August)
    • Stat to know – five games of 300 or more yards in 2016, including a 449 yard game and a 458 yard game. He’s also 4th in yards per attempt, so he’s not out there chucking it around mindlessly.)
    • Why he’s here – He’s way better than anyone seemed to give him credit for, including the Redskins (ugh, why haven’t they changed their racist name?). Cousins is a bonafide quarterback one.
  3. Matthew Stafford
    • Age – 28 (29 in February)
    • Stat to know – has matched or set career highs in comp %, passer rating, QBR, rushing yards and has the second best yards per attempt of his career.
    • Why he’s here – Stafford has assuaged concerns that he needed Calvin Johnson to be relevant en route to a quarterback one season.
  4. Ben Roethlisberger
    • Age – 34 (35 in March)
    • Stat to know – has never missed more than four games in a season.
    • Why he’s here – Big Ben doesn’t have much left to prove on the field, but there were some signs of the slow decline and despite generally suiting up, he always seems to be hurting. Still a reliable QB1 in the short term with quarterback one overall upside each week.
  5. Tom Brady
    • Age – 39 (40 in August)
    • Stat to know – This asshole is so good at football.
    • Why he’s here – it doesn’t matter what weapons Brady has (though Malcolm Mitchell is lookin’ pretty good lately), Brady will put up points. As fellow New England hero, David Ortiz has shown, age eventually erodes sk… what’s that? They’ll never stop being amazing? OK. Disregard, Brady will be a stud until he’s 50.
  6. Drew Brees
    • Age – 37 (38 in January)
    • Stat to know – Fantasy 2nd highest scoring quarterback in 2016
    • Why he’s here – Brees and Brady are exhibits A and B in why we shouldn’t be so quick to move on to the next hot, young thing as they continue to outlast many young quarterbacks that either flame out or may never reach their potential (::cough:: Bortles ::cough::).

Tier 4

  1. Andy Dalton
    • Age – 29 (30 in October)
    • Stat to know – 15th highest yards per attempt since 2012 among all quarterbacks with a minimum of 300 attempts (higher than Cam Newton and Brady).
    • Why he’s here – if you like to lay up in golf, Dalton is your man. He is very consistently around middle of the pack or better for fantasy and he’s a safe bet to remain a starter indefinitely.
  2. Blake Bortles
    • Age – 24 (25 in April)
    • Stat to kow – 97% of Bortles passing yards and touchdowns come in “garbage time.”
    • Why he’s here – Bortles has a fantasy friendly game (over 1,000 yards rushing in 42 games played) and at 24, there’s still time for him to improve. It seems like a lot of people are “out” on him, so I’d check in to see if there’s a buy low opportunity.
  3. Carson Wentz
    • Age – 23 (24 on December 30th)
    • Stat to know – 30th among qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt.
    • Why he’s here – Aggressive ranking cuz’ I’m an ageist, because I like his athleticism and size and because he’s flashed differentiated, NFL starter moments… in between looking hopeless against the blitz. Wentz rode a hot start in which he looked poised beyond his years to duping me into gambling that he was legit. I refuse to slice and dice his season as if September did not happen, but the low yards per attempt is concerning in terms speculating on his bust chances. He’s also not a kid, like Goff. If you want a positive take on Wentz – PFF gievs him above average grades as a passer and runner on the year.
  4. Jared Goff
    • Age – YAF (young as fuck) 22 (23 in October)
    • Stat to know – was drafted HAF (high as fuck)
    • Why he’s here – Goff is more or less all projection at this point as it took him most of the season to beat out that loser whose name I refuse to remember or look up, nor has he played well. Still, we should not discount the fact that he was taken where he was in the draft and especially we should not forget how young he is. Quarterbacks historically enjoy a nice bump in their age 24 season, which is two years away for Mr. Goff.
  5. Tyrod Taylor
    • Age – 27 (28 in August)
    • Stat to know – 177 rushing attempts since 2015; Pro Football Focus’ 2nd highest running grade
    • Why he’s here – Taylor has held his own this season despite the early season injury to Sammy Watkins. For dynasty the biggest question was whether his game was more Colin Kaepernick good (lots of fantasy points, not so good in real life) or actually good. I think we’ve seen enough to reasonably expect him to continue to start somewhere in the next couple of seasons.
  6. Phillip Rivers
    • Age – 35 (36 in December 2017)
    • Stat to know – 6th highest yards per attempt in 2016
    • Why he’s here – Rivers is a great quarterback target in dynasty for win now teams, because we know he won’t be the reason you lose and he should come cheaply due to his age. Durability, volume and efficiency all good enough to roll with as your quarterback into next year and likely beyond.
  7. Ryan Tannehill
    • Age – 28 (29 in July)
    • Stat to know – Graded as an above average quarterback by Pro Football Focus and has a higher yards per attempt than Stafford or Big Ben.
    • Why he’s here – In addition to the PFF grade, I continue to hear from my analytically inclined buddies that if you isolate the talent around them (as best you can) Tannehill is a tier two quarterback. In other words, if you think there’s 32 quarterbacks better than he is that might threaten his job, you’re probably wrong. He’s in it for the long haul.

Tier 5

  1. Paxton Lynch
    • 22 (23 in February)
    • Stat to know – John Elway loves very tall quarterbacks
    • Why he’s here – Like Goff, Lynch is mostly projection based on his college pedigree and draft status, because his cameos have been mediocre or bad. With rumors of Romo to Denver in 2017, when or where will he get his chance?
  2. Teddy Bridgewater
    • Age 24 (25 in November)
    • Stat to know – one of three quarterbacks since the merger to compete over 64% of his passes among quarterbacks younger than 24 (min 300 attempts). The other two were Dak and Big Ben.
    • Why he’s here – Teddy wasn’t asked to do much more than be a “game manager,” which is why we shouldn’t go crazy over the above statistic, but he had better-than-advertised mobility (over 400 yards rushing in 29 games) and still can expect further progression based on quarterback aging curves. The injury doesn’t scare me the way it does for some, but with Bradford’s solid season, his potential playing time is shaky.
  3. Tony Romo
    • Age – 36 (37 in April), but his back is 79 years old
    • Stat to know – Third all-time in passer rating (97.1)
    • Why he’s here – Romo has only ever been excellent when he’s healthy, but that’s increasingly rare these days, including multiple devastating back injuries. If you’re a contender you can imagine acquiring Romo to be a cheap QB1 (perhaps on the Broncos?) next year, or he might never play another snap. Obviously, based on this ranking I’m hedging against both outcomes.
  4. Joe Flacco
    • Age – 31 (32 in January)
    • Stat to know – 6.56 yards per attempt is fourth worst in the league among qualified quarterbacks.
    • Why he’s here – You invest in Flacco because he’s cheap, durable, has job security and is a proven low end QB2.
  5. Eli Manning
    • Age 35 (36 in January)
    • Stat to know – Has twice crushed the souls of Patriots fans in the Superbowl, much to my delight.
    • Why he’s here – See Flacco, Joe.
  6. Carson Palmer
    • Age – 35 (36 in December 2017)
    • Stat to know – Five games of 300 or more yards; yards per attempt down from 8.7 in 2015 to 7.02 in 2016.
    • Why he’s here – Palmer still has games in which he’s capable of putting up big stats as he did routinely a year ago, even if his efficiency has taken a beating. I bought him in a league where I expect to contend next year for Mike Glennon, so should be good for at least one more year as a QB2.
  7. Sam Bradford
    • Age – 29 (30 in November)
    • Stat to know – Bradford’s jersey is six sizes too big
    • Why he’s here – NFL teams agree that he is a good-enough-to-win-with quarterback, which means he’ll keep getting chances. His career-best completion percentage and quarterback rating should keep him under center somewhere in 2017, but he’s struggled to muster any big games all year. In other words, you could do worse with your second quarterback spot as a placeholder, but I don’t expect much more.

Tier 6

  1. Jimmy Garoppolo – Not that he’s biased, but I hear BB said he couldn’t tell the difference between Jimmy and Brady if you took the number off the jersey. He has played very well in a limited sample, was a former 2nd round pick, Patriots quarterbacks tend to get chances elsewhere. Not a free agent until 2018, so needs a trade.
  2. Mike Glennon – a free agent next year, multiple executives have been quoted as saying Glennon is an average NFL quarterback (as a compliment).
  3. Brock Osweiler – You either believe he’s owed too much to be benched next year or you think he was just too awful to let start another year.
  4. Brett Hundley – forever away, but Hundley has dual threat skills that give him very exciting upside.
  5. Colin Kaepernick – PFF’s top graded runner and second to last graded passer (above Gabbert, LOL). If he gets to start somewhere (New York?) next year, then we know Kaep’s fantasy game is strong. I just don’t believe his game is good for real life teams.
  6. Trevor Siemian – I could see him continue to shuffle around as a placeholder, like Hoyer in recent seasons.
  7. Jay Cutler – That arm could continue to seduce someone or he could become a backup for the rest of time.
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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings 4.0 – Week 3 Refresh

As always, these #Dynasty250 rankings are designed for 2QB and superflex leagues, so if you play in single quarterback league, fade the QB’s. Next, ask your commissioner if you can change the league to be a 2Qb league.

Whether you play redraft or dynasty, if you’re new to ZeroRB, or maybe just generally skeptical after decades of drafting running backs in rounds one and two, take a moment to consider what has happened through two weeks this year. Had you followed my general strategy of buying the cheaper running back in each backfield, by ADP you would have Coleman, Ware, Sims, McKinnon, Riddick/Washington, DeAngelo, Crowell, C-Mike, Gio, Blount and Yeldon over the more-expensive nominal starters. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to sell high on a CJ Anderson for a 2017 1st (stacked draft class) and at talented backup running back (I like Alfred Morris). Maybe you can get even more than that.

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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings 3.0 – Week 1 Refresh

I’d like to remind readers right off the top that these #Dynasty250 rankings are focused on 2QB/superflex leagues, so if you’re in a league that starts one quarterback, fade the crap out of the QB ranks.

This is the final refresh before the start of the season, but I will be keeping these up to date frequently during the season to help give you a second opinion on trades. It’s good to pay mind to your preseason rankings rather than panic, but we all know that fantasy football is not like fantasy baseball where we can patiently “trust the back of the baseball card.” Dynasty football values can change lightning fast, so I will be nimble as new information comes in.

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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings 2.0 – Preseason Refresh

Plenty of talented fantasy writers advocate that fantasy football players stop paying attention to football between August 1st and September 1st. The thinking is that the extra information in tiny samples is more likely to cause us to overreact than improve our decision making.

Me? I always prefer more information. While I can’t say that I have ignored preseason, most of these changes reflect new information I’ve gleaned from being a sponge (philosophy #3) this past week and researching players further (mostly based on 2015 collegiate/NFL production, not preseason).

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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings – August 2016

Making fantasy football rankings is a relative breeze, because unlike other sports that can be highly format dependent, my rankings would remain mostly unchanged for any league size or type.

Don’t get me wrong, if you play in a 14-team Superflex or two-QB league, a quarterback is incrementally more valuable than if you play in a 12-team league of the same type. So you should remain aware of the nuances of your own league (TE premium, PPR, etc.). Still, the goal—get potential starters that can contribute over many years—remains the same. Mine are necessarily designed for those 2QB leagues (so fade QBs if you play in single quarterback leagues) and tend to lean towards PPR since that is the dominant format today.

I’ve played fantasy football for decades, keeper league football since 2009 until going from zero to sixty on to to dynasty football in recent years. (I can’t imagine playing redraft ever again.) Here’s the kind of roster you can end up with if you follow my WR/QB-heavy strategy. I will need to trade for a running back or two before the season starts, but I should be pretty well set up to contend for an extended run. And if you want to read more about my general philosophies as a dynasty player (so you know what you’re getting yourself into), I wrote them out here.

In addition to general experience, I tend to get a lot of football information from my favorite sites like Rotoviz, Rotoworld, 4for4 and ProFootballFocus.

Without further adieu… the rankings:

*8/25 Edit. Find the 8/23 update here.

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