To continue our theme of looking ahead to the 2018 Fantasy Football season, we’ll shift our focus to positional rankings. I will be posting top 10’s for QBs, TEs, and D/ST; and top 25’s for RBs and WRs. Following the 2018 NFL Draft in the spring, I will post full size positional rankings as well as a top 200 overall ranking as we head into Training Camp. How exciting?! Anyways, let’s get to it.
The biggest question mark heading into next season will undoubtedly be Deshaun Watson. He obviously left a mark on the fantasy landscape in his brief appearance in 2017 prior to tearing his ACL. To put it in perspective, only 17 QBs threw more TDs than Watson this season. Now, that doesn’t sound like a good stat for a QB, but when you take into account that he only made 6 starts, it’s a pretty remarkable stat. In those 6 starts, he averaged 266.2 YPG and totaled 20 TDs (18 pass, 2 rush) scoring 27.2 FPPG, the most in the NFL during that stretch.
Defensive coordinators will now have a decent sample size to gameplan and strategize against Watson moving forward, but, you have to like what you’ve seen so far.
Here’s my top 10 QBs heading into 2018 (short write-ups follow list):
- Aaron Rodgers (packers)
- Russell Wilson (seahawks)
- Cam Newton (panthers)
- Tom Brady (patriots)
- Carson Wentz (eagles)
- Deshaun Watson (texans)
- Ben Roethlisberger (steelers)
- Dak Prescott (cowboys)
- Kirk Cousins (free agent)
- Drew Brees (saints)
- Matthew Stafford (lions)
- Jared Goff (rams)
- Philip Rivers (chargers)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers)
- Derek Carr (raiders)
Aaron Rodgers is the cream of the NFL’s crop. I can’t, for the life of me, come up with a justifiable reason to put anyone else at the top spot. Unless you play in a league with ridiculous rules that grants 10 points for QB rush TD or something, Rodgers should be the first QB off the board.
If you do have a league where a QB rush TD is 10 points, take Russell Wilson first. If not, he should follow closely behind Rodgers. Wilson outpaced all fantasy QBs by 48 points this year. That number, I’m sure, would have been much smaller with 16 healthy games from Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Deshaun Watson, but, facts are facts.
The QB 48 points behind Wilson, you guessed it, Cam Newton. The ultimate risk-reward player in fantasy football. He could throw 3 TDs and run for 2, or score no TDs and throw 2 INTs with a fumble. There doesn’t seem to much of an in between; in 2017, Newton had 7 games with less than 15 fantasy points, and 7 games with more than 20. Either way, over the course of 16 games, he’s a fantasy stud.
The only stat keeping my #4 QB from being a likely #2 is age. Tom Brady will turn 41 as the preseason gets going. Sooner or later, Father Time will take Terrific Tom for his own, but until we see it, he’s still a top-tier fantasy QB.
The first of the ACL twins lands at #5 on my list. Carson Wentz is an ACL tear away from being #2 here. This injury scares me as a fan, especially in a mobile QB. Wentz has the passing ability to still be a top-tier fantasy QB but if he doesn’t move the ball with his legs like he has, then his numbers will see a dip in 2018.
Deshaun Watson is the second of the ACL twins. He was the talk of the league prior to his non-contact knee injury. Reports say that he’s ahead of schedule and should be 100% for training camp; that scares me. Robert Griffin III was “ahead of schedule” and focusing on Week 1 following his tear at the end of 2011. Now, Watson is light years ahead of Griffin as a passer, but you’re only 22 years old, Deshaun, take your time. The job will be waiting for you whether it’s Week 1 or Week 4.
Ben Roethlisberger will make this list as long as he’s playing. He talked about retirement this year and who knows what he’ll decide to do. But, until he walks away, he’s a top-10 fantasy QB. It doesn’t hurt that he has Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell to throw the ball to; and with the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, there’s just too much talent for Big Ben to not put up numbers.
Dak Prescott is on this list with an asterisk. He showed this season that he needs Ezekiel Elliott behind him to succeed. With no suspension looming in 2018 for Elliott, I feel more optimistic about Prescott. Entering his 3rd year, and the Cowboys surely will be looking to upgrade the receiver position in the offseason, Prescott should be poised for a good season.
The only question surrounding Kirk Cousins is what team will he be throwing passes for in 2018. The Redskins have obviously mishandled his situation and there will be teams lining up for Cousins’ services should he become available. He threw for over 4,000 yards and at least 25 TDs for a third straight season, even while his top receiver didn’t reach 800 yards. Imagine him with the Broncos’ or Jaguars’ receiving corps.. yikes.
Similar to Big Ben, Drew Brees will be on this list as long as he’s playing. He obviously took a step back number wise simply due to less attempts, or in other words, the emergence of the two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Between 2010-2016, Bress averaged 448.4 completions and 656.3 attempts per year while throwing for 7.7 yards per attempt. In 2017, he completed just 386 of 536 passes. This seems like a decline, but not really. The 72% completion percentage is not only the highest of Brees’ career, but the highest in NFL history for a single season. And while his attempts are down, his yards per attempt this season jumped to 8.1. It’s not the air-it-out Saints that it’s been for much of Brees’ time there, but he’s still one of the best passers in the NFL.
It’s never too early (or late) to talk fantasy football. Let me know your thoughts and who you all plan to take as your first QB in 2018! You can find me on Twitter @joebuttgereit.