We have reached the end of June already. Off-season workouts and Mini-camps have concluded for all 32 NFL teams and we are about a month away from training camp. The 2017 preseason will kick off August 3 in Canton, Ohio, when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Arizona Cardinals in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
It’s time to start getting into the fantasy football mode. It can be hard for those of us who are immersed in MLB fantasy this summer but being proactive is always best. With that being said let’s look at my 2017 season-long QB rankings as of late June 2017.
#1 – Aaron Rodgers
The master of the hail mary is undoubtedly the number one fantasy quarterback heading into 2017. His 380 standard fantasy points on ESPN led all quarterbacks and finished only behind David Johnson overall in 2016. Let’s not forget that Rodgers did this despite the early offensive struggles Green Bay had in the passing game. This led to Rodgers throwing a career-high 610 passes as Green Bay was often in situations where they trailed in games.
Rodgers and the Pack didn’t get rolling until their top receiver Jordy Nelson came into his own, finally trusting his surgically repaired knee that led him to miss the entire 2015 season. Nelson and fellow Packer’s receiver Davante Adams finished as top-10 fantasy receivers and there is no reason to believe that it won’t happen again.
While the Packers lost Jared Cook in free agency they replaced him with Super Bowl Champion Martellus Bennett. Add Bennett with the usual suspects in Nelson, Adams, and Randall Cobb, Rodgers will have a flurry of weapons to choose from. Rodgers is the best in the business don’t pass on him if the time is right in your draft.
#2 – Tom Brady
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. comes in at number two (yes, Brady is a junior and that is his full name. You learn something new every day). The quarterback of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will be 40 years old by the time the season starts, and while that is concerning, Brady showed no signs of slowing down last season.
No other team has attempted more passes per game over the last three seasons than the New England Patriots (47.7) and even though the Patriots fell to 13th in that category last season a big attributing factor is the fact that Brady was suspended for the first four games. Brady threw 28 touchdowns and finished with a 112.2 passer rating in his 12 games last season, and in the playoffs, he averaged 379 yards a game, yes 379. If that’s not encouraging I don’t know what is.
The Patriots did lose Martellus Bennett to Green Bay but they replaced him with Dennis Allen from Indianapolis and will get Gronk back from injury. Will he stay healthy? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. In typically Patriots fashion they acquired Brandin Cooks from New Orleans this offseason. Cooks has emerged as one of the NFL’s most dangerous playmakers. Catching 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons and catching two of the four longest receptions in the NFL last season (98 yards and 87 yards).
Do you remember what it was like for Brady the last time New England brought in a big time deep threat? He threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns and had the best season of his career. Cooks is no Randy Moss, but his impact could be comparable next season.
#3 – Matt Ryan
We remember what happened to Ryan in the Falcons in the Super Bowl and we have seen in the past what happens when teams lose in the big game the next season. I do not forsee that happening with the Falcons, they are just too good with too many weapons offensively. Let’s not forget that Ryan won the MVP award last season and exploded for his best fantasy season in his career. Ryan was 2nd best among all quarterbacks and 3rd among any fantasy player.
The fact that Ryan has arguably the greatest receiver in football to throw to in Julio Jones has to be accounted for, in fact, Jones is a 50-1 MVP candidate for next season himself, while Ryan is currently a 16-1 candidate. The rest of the Falcons receiving core is intact from last year and we saw how dangerous Taylor Gabriel can be with the ball in his hands last season. Then, you add in how great Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are out of the backfield and Ryan by default oozes fantasy potential.
Ryan gets to play New Orleans and Carolina twice who had the 31st and 28th worst passing defenses in the NFL last season, throw in the fact that they get the worst passing defense in Green Bay in week 2 and you have a pretty favorable schedule for a quarterback like Ryan who will play majority of his games indoors.
The fact that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco may scare people off of Ryan in your fantasy league. Take advantage of that. It would be pretty tough to for anyone to hamper an offense like Atlanta’s.
#4 – Drew Brees
Yes, the Saints traded Cooks to New England, but in consolation, they brought in fade route specialist Ted Ginn, Jr. who showed us last year he can still make a difference. We have seen in year’s past that no matter which player the Saints let go, they are able to continue without any bumps in the road the following season. Expect nothing different this season.
Of course, the fact that Adrian Peterson is now a Saint will play a factor and teams will have to account for AP at least in the beginning of the season when he is in the game. If teams add another player into the box to contain Peterson, Brees will exploit that. Don’t forget Mark Ingram came into his own and having a 1-2 punch in the backfield will help this offense.
New Orleans has never been shy about chucking the rock. They have called passing plays 63 percent of the time over each of their last three seasons. In 2016, Brees threw for a league-best 5,208 yards last season and finished with 101.7 passer rating. Don’t worry about the Saints and don’t worry about the future Hall of Famer. If you take Brees in your draft, he won’t disappoint.
Don’t worry about the Saints and don’t worry about the future Hall of Famer. If you take Brees in your draft, he won’t disappoint.
#5 – Derek Carr
We will never know how far the arm of Derek Carr could have taken the Raiders last season. After leading the Raiders to a 12-2 record, the Fresno State product broke his right leg and Raiders fans Super Bowl dreams were lost down a black hole.
Carr has returned from his injury and will be healthy for the start of the season. I must mention that his spirits have to be high after becoming the highest paid player in NFL history on June 23. We know how important quarterbacks are in the NFL and the Raiders locked up their man.
After completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2016 Carr is poised to have a breakout season. He already had a dynamic receiving core with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who will both be back in 2017. Now it’s even better with the addition of Packers playoff hero Jared Cook and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason. While both of these players are career underachievers they can both be dynamic playmakers and because they will not be leaned on heavily they should be able to contribute in big ways next season.
The icing on the black and silver cake is that the Raiders were able to talk “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to play for his hometown team in Oakland at least for one season. Like the situation in New Orleans, teams will at least have to account for Lynch in the beginning of the season. If Lynch can be 75% of the player he once was he will help Carr and the Raiders offense. Carr will breakout in 2017.
6. Cam Newton
7. Andrew Luck
8. Jameis Winston
9. Marcus Mariota
10. Russell Wilson
11. Dak Prescott
12. Kirk Cousins
13. Ben Roethlisberger
14. Eli Manning
15. Matt Stafford
16. Carson Wentz
17. Philip Rivers
18. Tyrod Taylor
19. Andy Dalton
20. Blake Bortles
21. Carson Palmer
22. Joe Flacco
23. Ryan Tannehill
24. Brian Hoyer
25. Deshaun Watson
26. Sam Bradford
27. Mike Glennon
28. Alex Smith
29. Trevor Siemian
30. Josh McCown
31. Jared Goff
32. Brock Osweiller
Stay tuned for my RB, WR, TE, and IDP rankings coming soon.
Nick Olson — @CoachO37 on Twitter