Happy new league year everyone. The Hype Train has come out of the shed and right now we are in the shunting yard trying to figure out who has a complete train and who is a few carriages short of an express. This series will take a look at each skill position and try to figure out where we stand after a few days of Free Agency and with the draft coming up fast on the horizon.
As you can see in the table above there are still a few teams who have work to do before determining their QB starter for week 1.
Clearly the Jags and Jets are going to draft their QB of the future at picks 1 and 2. It’s arguable that the Jets could trade down and stick with Sam Darnold but I just don’t see it happening. It does leave the intriguing question of what they do with Darnold. Teams will be calling about Darnold but Denver is his only shot at a 2021 start and even then he’d have to battle Lock.
You don’t need me to tell you that Trevor Lawrence will be the Jags QB and the Jets will have Fields or Wilson. Whichever of those two is available could well be picked at #3 if Miami feel they can trade down and still get a top tier WR. The Broncos and Panthers are most likely to trade up and then it’d be a matter of time before Lock/Bridgewater are moved on.
The other QBs in the draft will need time to learn and so will sit out most if not all of their first year but you’d expect at least 3 to end up starting at some point in 2022.
As for free agency, all the business seems to have been done. With Dalton getting a shot to start and then a number of backups being signed the only player of note left is Alex Smith who will at best be a backup and are more likely to be signed as an “injury substitute”. He proved he still has life left in him after his stint in Washington last season, but nobody really felt he would be able to cope with a whole 17 game season with a re-constructed leg.
We also have the longer term soap operas in Houston and Seattle to consider. Russel Wilson is growing tired of how he’s being misused at the while Deshaun Watson is annoyed that the Texans promised him he’d be a part of the new head coach discussions and then ignorred him. He asked for a trade but the Texans have not even entertained the thought which has only further fuelled the resentment. He’s also got multiple lawsuits on his head for sexual assaults (which he has denied) and with that process to go through he find himself in a very difficult situation. The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to start in case Watson is not available and traded for Ryan Finley who would presumably be the backup. The Broncos and Jets were among the teams said to be tempted by a trade for Watson should Houston listen to trade offers, and with their receiving corps, it’d be very interesting for fantasy, but right now as a Watson owner in places, I’m scared.
We will have to wait until Draft day before we have answers to a lot of these questions but where do we stand for fantasy?
The Watson saga is huge as he’s a top 5 QB if he plays and I think were he to get a trade he’d be rated higher than if he stayed with the Texans and their current tyre fire. Matt Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick will have massive upticks in their value with their new teams while Jared Goff is potentially going to be a bench option in SuperFlex only.
The Hill/Watson battle in New Orleans is going to be infuriating as it stunts both players value until we know and there’s no guarantee whoever wins the job will start all 17 games. The uncertainty around Carolina and Denver makes Lock and Bridgewater more undraftable than they already were and even if we knew for sure Dalton would be the starter for the Bears, he’s also on that list.
Lawrence and Fields/Wilson are going to inherit decent offences on the surface and might well be able to come out flying but they’re probably middle of the pack overall and so unless it’s a dynasty league or a superflex, they will start off on the waiver wire. You have to keep tabs on them though as any of the rookie starters could ascend as quick as Justin Herbert did.
Tua will be a polarising figure in fantasy drafts this season as a lot of people have already written him off, but with new weapons and more time to develop (and no Fitzmagic clouding people’s eyes) he could become a value. Admittedly I’m skeptical still and have him at QB18 but his range of outcomes is the widest (if you ignore the zero or hero for Deshaun Watson or a hero run for a rookie).
If you want to know my “way too early” QB rankings for fantasy you’ll have to wait until after the draft as the market is still volatile. However, I will say that when draft season is in full swing, I think there will be 24 solid QBs I’d be happy to draft (which is handy with so many Superflex leagues around nowadays).
There’s certainly going to be something big happen before we get to week 1 which could completely throw the dynamic for a few teams, but with teams likely to trade up in the draft to grab their QB, other QB’s likely to get traded or demoted and some battles to be resolved; this off season is just getting started!