The time is drawing near for owners to draft their fantasy teams and nothing can impact a team’s success more than landing a big time sleeper or bust on your team. Landing sleeper QB’s doesn’t happen very often; last year’s best examples being Carson Palmer & Blake Bortles. Bortles wasn’t drafted in most leagues and Palmer was a late round gem. Similarly, from a bust standpoint, there was nobody worse than Andrew Luck; who was drafted high more often than not. Overcoming drafting Luck wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t easy. I had him in multiple leagues and if it weren’t for a deep receiving corps and consistent running back play I would have been toast. Anytime I have failed to make the playoffs in a fantasy league, disaster at the QB position was always the culprit. Last year I went 5 for 5 on bust projections across positions. Let’s hope the results are the same with a QB focus.
Top 5 Busts of 2016
- Tony Romo: I have Romo listed as a worthy backup for your fantasy roster; but not an every week starter like he used to be. While 2011-2014 were productive for Romo from a fantasy standpoint, 2015 seems more like a harbinger of things to come for the soon to be 37 year old QB. I think this is the final year Romo enters camp as a starter for the Cowboys or any other team for that matter. If you somehow end up with him as your starter for this season; I can only hope you have some talent on the bench to replace him. Whether it’s another injury or just a drop in production, Romo is at best a spot starter in 2016.
- Matthew Stafford: Like Romo, Stafford was listed as no more than a backup in my QB rankings for 2016. The Lions just added Anquan Boldin which now gives Stafford 3 solid receivers to throw to; none of them legit WR1 material, and none of them named Megatron. Boldin can help move the sticks on third down, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will have their moments, but overall I would expect a drop off in production for Stafford. I think it’s highly unlikely Stafford produces more than 30 TD’s, he will turn it over a ton as always, and for that he is a high risk/low value pick.
- Andrew Luck: Sorry, but I don’t think the Colts will be seeing any notable returns on their investment in Luck this offseason. Indy has a lousy offensive line which will see multiple new faces, with rookies like Ryan Kelly playing a key role. Last year, the Colts brought in Andre Johnson to bolster the weapons at Luck’s disposal and he was about as productive as Congress. Looking at the running backs and wide receivers Luck will be working with this year isn’t overly encouraging. Luck is a turnover machine whose best year in 2014 really stands out relative to the rest of his career. While I have Luck listed as a starter this season for fantasy purposes, it is with a big fat asterisk the size of his contract. Tons of money rarely leads to a boost in confidence or production. Have a Plan B ready for Luck.
- Ryan Tannehill: Another able bodied backup who still may have some upside if Adam Gase can help him start to limit the mistakes and improve the decision making and accuracy issues. Tannehill has plenty of talent but has been Cutler-esque in his NFL career which is why Gase was such a good hire. Tannehill could land on either the sleeper or bust list this season so this is a coin toss at best. Realistically, we are probably not going to see 5 legit busts at the QB position this year.
- Tom Brady: This is my long shot. I have no reason to think that for the games Brady is eligible for that he won’t absolutely tear up the league in production. But we are talking about 5 games without him (4 to suspension and a bye week). This means he really can’t have any low production games in 2016. He will face a number of tough defenses in the games he plays, some of which may fall in the fantasy playoffs or championship game. I am contemplating drafting him with a solid backup this season, but my concern is a couple of dud performances will destroy his overall draft value.
Top 5 Sleepers of 2016
- Brock Osweiler: Is one of the biggest free agent signings of the NFL offseason really a sleeper? Based on where you will be able to draft him I say yes. I am borderline confident that Osweiler can be a quality weekly fantasy starter, but I am not fully sold. The potential between Brock and DeAndre Hopkins is very alluring, and he is a much better QB than anybody Hopkins has played with to date. Great chemistry between these two could open up the Texan offense to be a pleasant surprise in 2016. Owners willing to take some risk for a big reward would be wise to consider drafting Osweiler as their guy.
- Derek Carr: I had Carr as one of the highest guys on my backup list and a borderline starter every week and this is the year he makes that leap. After being dreadful for years, the Raiders are on the rise with an exciting, and potent young offense. Carr; like Osweiler, is sleeper material based on where he is likely to be available in the draft and the fact he isn’t currently a lock as a Top 10 QB. Carr probably goes higher than Osweiler in the draft since he has more experience under center as a starter and represents less risk overall. If you are in a dynasty league, Carr represents great long term value if he is available.
- Jameis Winston: This is more true sleeper territory as the verdict on Winston is still out. His rookie year showed a lot of promise while displaying the same turnover prone play we have grown accustomed to from young QB’s. There were questions about Winston’s decision on and off the field prior to 2015; and while the latter issues have been non-existent, the on field issues remain. In theory, Doug Martin didn’t just play for a contract only to lay an egg after signing. If he can take pressure off of Winston, then ideally he cuts the turnovers and boosts the TD totals to 30 while delivering value to fantasy owners in 2016.
- Marcus Mariota: Winston and Mariota were linked heading into the 2015 season and that narrative continues this year. Mariota missed 4 games last year which hurt is totals at year end, especially in the yardage category. Assuming he is healthy this season, Mariota may offer a slightly better value than Winston if only because expectations are lower and he should be on the board later in the draft. Both QB’s turned the ball over way to much, with Mariota struggling to hold on to the ball. While he doesn’t show himself as a weekly fantasy starter at this point, he could offer some nice upside as a backup stashed behind a quality vet.
- Paxton Lynch: Of the rookie QB’s likely to see the field this year, Lynch is in the best position to succeed for the defending Super Bowl champs. My guess is Butt-Fumble Sanchez starts the season for Denver, but injury or inept play opens the door to Lynch who won’t give it up once the role is his. Denver lost a lot in the offseason; but relative to Goff with the Rams and Wentz with the Eagles, the supporting cast and coaching staff is massively in the Broncos favor. Let’s not forget, Elway didn’t think Brock could get the job done (he didn’t believe in Cutler either), so that says volumes about his confidence in drafting Lynch with Sanchez as the listed starter.