Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): We’re nearing the end of another fantasy campaign and in the spirit of Festivus, I think it’s time to air some grievances. Coming off a breakout season in 2016 and armed with better weapons than he had the year before, I thought Marcus Mariota would finish the year as a top-ten quarterback. Needless to say, I missed the mark on that prediction.
Mariota hasn’t been the only disappointment this year. In fact, the quarterback position has been full of underachievers. Derek Carr and Jameis Winston have also failed to meet expectations while the follow-up to Matt Ryan’s MVP season in 2016 has been shaky bordering on disastrous. Even the immortal Drew Brees has fallen a peg or two as the Saints have transitioned into a run-first offense.
I know many of us go the streaming route at quarterback, which makes it less of a priority than other positions, at least in the fantasy realm. But I’m sure a few of you have an axe to grind here, so I’ll give you the floor—which QBs were you expecting more out of in 2017 and why do you think they fell flat?
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): The easy answer is Marcus Mariota—why have you forsaken me? But Drew Brees is a less obvious candidate who probably needs to be on this list. A lock for a top-five finish in years past, Brees checks in as just the QB9 heading into Week 15 and the QB11 in per-game scoring among qualified players. Those disappointing rankings even overstate what Brees has been lately, as he’s failed to score 15 fantasy points in 5-of-9 games since the bye. That is, not coincidentally, around the time when the running game took off, limiting both Brees' attempts and touchdown opportunities. He is on pace for his fewest attempts since 2009, a season when he played just 15 games, and fewer than 32 touchdowns for the first time since 2007. While New Orleans' current offense looks better for their real-life chances, it has reduced Brees to back-end QB1 status. If he’s drafted higher than that next summer because of his name value, I will be staying away.
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Connor Allen (@ConnorAllenNFL): Among the names you mentioned, Jameis Winston is someone I expected to take a step forward in 2017. He’s struggled despite the Bucs making a concerted effort to add talent around him by signing deep threat DeSean Jackson and spending a first-round pick on tight end O.J. Howard. Winston has only eclipsed 20 fantasy points twice this season, which can be partly attributed to a shoulder injury he suffered early in the year. He’s been the QB24 in points per game and sports a lousy 14-to-8 touchdown to interception ratio to go with a career-high 6.5-percent sack rate. Winston could be a good bounce-back pick next season if he lands outside the top 12 quarterbacks in average draft position, but like Brees, if his name value carries him higher than that, I won’t be on board.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): It's been The Year of The Disappointing Quarterback™. Marcus Mariota clearly takes the cake here. Is this guy even good? Injuries have been part of the problem, but that's not exactly reassuring. Mariota has been too banged up to run for long stretches in each of his first three seasons, severely curbing his upside.
Drew Brees, as Ray alluded to, has one three-touchdown performance all year. One. That might as well be happening on Mars.
Look, everyone knew regression was coming for Matt Ryan, but the QB16 by total points … seriously?
Even before the season, there was debate about how good Derek Carr really was, but his descent into Flacco-ville has been alarming. I'm hoping it was at least somewhat injury related. He returned awful quickly from his back injury. It could also be coaching. The Raiders aren't exactly run by the best and brightest.
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): A couple guys I thought would be decent were Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton. We knew Ryan was going to take a step back from his MVP 2016 season, but his career mean was still as a top-8 quarterback. He hasn't finished higher than QB10 in any week this season and that QB10 performance came all the way back in Week 1. Ryan’s season is even more disappointing when you look at his schedule. He's had games against the Jets, Miami, Detroit, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Green Bay—all matchups we circle on a weekly basis—but little to show for it.
I wasn't in love with Dalton before the year started, but I did consider him a bounce-back candidate coming off an extremely unlucky 2016 in terms of touchdown rate. He has rebounded in the touchdown department, but it still hasn't mattered. Dalton is averaging a career-low 211.3 passing yards on just 29.9 attempts per game, the second-lowest mark of his career. Cincinnati has been awful in all facets. They can't run the ball, they can't pass protect, they don’t play much defense and they haven’t developed any new weapons throughout the year. Tyler Eifert did his usual and played just two games. Joe Mixon couldn't overcome Cincinnati’s lackluster run blocking and wasn't used much as a receiver. John Ross was hiding injuries and couldn't even get on the field, let alone catch a pass. Even A.J. Green hasn’t been as good as his numbers would suggest. He's gone over five catches just three times and with only four games of 75-plus yards. Green is averaging a steady 15.7 points per game in PPR, but has hit that mark in only 5-of-13 games.
Pantuosco: Cam Newton has been disappointing from a real-life perspective. He ranks 24th in passing yards per game, putting him behind Blake Bortles and barely ahead of names like Trevor Siemian and C.J. Beathard. Newton has also been turnover-prone with 12 interceptions, tying him with Joe Flacco for fifth-most in the league. Greg Olsen’s injury and the Kelvin Benjamin trade didn’t help and there have definitely been stretches when Newton hasn’t looked healthy. But even with all that working against him, Newton has put together another strong fantasy year on the strength of 585 rushing yards, which leads all quarterbacks.
You guys covered the bases pretty well, so I’ll go outside the box for my biggest disappointment. For me, it’s Andrew Luck. I guess it’s not his fault that his shoulder never healed properly but the way the Colts strung him along week after week, pretending he actually had a chance to play, was embarrassing. Their handling of Luck was a complete debacle and I imagine it will cost Chuck Pagano his job this offseason. Luck has been a top-five fantasy option when healthy throughout his career, but going on three years of near-constant injuries, how can we expect him to be the same player he once was? Who knows where the Colts go from here, but anyone who owned T.Y. Hilton in fantasy this year can tell you Luck’s absence was felt in a big way.