2015 Fantasy Football: Quarterback Rankings
-USA TODAY Sports
24. Marcus Mariota, Titans – I think Mariota will eventually be the best fantasy QB from the 2015 draft class, but I wouldn’t expect much during his rookie season. Not only does Mariota have to beat out the incumbent starter Zach Mettenberger, but he will also be transitioning from a spread offense to an NFL scheme, from shotgun to under center, and from having an edge in his surrounding talent to playing for one of the least talented offenses in the NFL.
Its not going to be an easy transition for Mariota and it may take him a season or two before his natural talent translates into fantasy success. Once it does, Mariota is going to be the player fantasy fans had hoped Colin Kaepernick would be the last few years. He has the speed to rush for 500+ yards per season, the arm to throw 30+ TDs and the accuracy and awareness to keep his interceptions low. Mariota gets a significant bump in keeper leagues, but in re-draft formats he’s nothing more than a risky backup.
25. Andy Dalton, Bengals – After a breakout season in 2013 (33 TD passes), Dalton played closer to his actual talent level in 2014 (19 TD passes). He has some dangerous weapons around him, but just isn’t good enough to trust as your starting QB. I expect him to improve a little this year and end up somewhere between his stats from the last two seasons, let’s say 25 TD passes which makes him nothing more than a decent QB2.
26. Nick Foles, Rams – Just one season removed from an awesome 27 TD / 2 INT campaign, but everyone seems to be forgetting about Foles as a fantasy asset. Granted losing his starting job to Mark Sanchez is pretty embarrassing, but it’s too soon to totally give up on Foles. His situation with the Rams isn’t ideal, they have little talent at WR and their O-line was a disaster last year, but they did add another power RB in Todd Gurley and spent 5 draft picks on offensive lineman so things could improve quickly. You should be able to get Foles for $1 in most non-STL based leagues and he could end up being a solid match-up play or decent trade chip with a Rams team that I think is playoff bound in 2015.
27. Blake Bortles, Jaguars – He was awful last year, but in Bortles defense he was playing behind a bad O-line with absolutely no running game and a bunch of rookie receivers. I don’t think anyone would have excelled in those circumstances. Bortles did have a handful of decent games and showed signs of being a really good QB, but there were way too many mistakes. Plenty of rookie QBs have played worse than Bortles and gone on to have great NFL careers, so it’s way to early to give up on Bortles. In 2015 he should have a better running games with T.J. Yeldon and a healthy Toby Gerhart, the O-line should be better, and the receiver group has one year of experience under their belt. I’m not advocating Bortles as anyone’s starter, but I may roll the dice on him with one of my final roster spots as a backup with upside.
28. Alex Smith, Chiefs – If you think 1 TD pass, 15-20 rushing yards and 215 passing yards per week is good production from your fantasy QB, then Smith is your guy!
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
29. Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Who? Taylor has only thrown 35 passes in his four-year NFL career, but is the favorite to start the season as the Bills starting QB. Taylor is an elite athlete compared to most QBs, at the 2011 combine Taylor finished with the top marks in the 40-yard dash (4.51), broad jump, and 20-yard shuttle and 2nd best in the vertical leap and 3-cone drill. Taylor’s competition at the combine included known athletic marvels like Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Jake Locker.
There is no doubt about Taylor’s athleticism, but there were plenty about both his lack of height (6’1) and suspect footwork coming out of college. Taylor did improve significantly year-to-year in college, so it’s possible that his four season stint on the bench has cleaned up his sloppy footwork and technique. The Bills have added plenty of weapons on offense over the last year (Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay) so if he can get the ball into his play-makers hands while adding fantasy value by running the ball… Taylor could actually be an ownable fantasy asset. It’s a longshot, but finding late round surprises is how you win championships.
30. Josh McCown, Browns – The Browns have three good RBs and no good WRs. Pass.
31. Ryan Mallett, Texans – Competing with the scrappy but boring Brian Hoyer for the Texans starting QB job. For fantasy purposes, root for Mallett. He’s a Drew Beldsoe clone physically with ideal height (6’6) and a cannon arm, but hasn’t proven anything on the field in the NFL with only 79 passes thrown over three seasons. The Texans have a stud WR in DeAndre Hopkins and potentially two more in Cecil Shorts and Jaelen Strong, plus one of the best receiving RBs in Arian Foster. The weapons are there and then some for the Texans QB to be a fantasy asset, but there is no way to know if Mallet can harness his significant talent fast enough to be one.
32. Geno Smith, Jets – Even Jets fans shouldn’t be dumb enough to draft Geno on their fantasy squads. I would be shocked if Smith holds off Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty for the whole season. Either way none of the Jets QBs are going to have much value in fantasy.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
33. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets – With Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and rookie deep threat Devin Smith the Jets suddenly have some legit weapons in the passing game. Anyone who has watched a Jets game or two knows Geno isn’t going to get them the ball consistently and HC Rex Ryan isn’t known for his patience, so it’s only a matter of time before Fitzpatrick gets a shot. Throughout his journeyman ten-year career Fitz has shown some flashes of competence like a 23 / 15 season in 2010 and a 24 / 16 campaign in 2012. There is little upside with Fitz, but just being decent would be a huge upgrade for the Jets. Hopefully he grows back his epic beard / mustache combo for the 2015 season.
34. Brian Hoyer, Texans – Hoyer started off 2014 with a 7 TD / 1 INT ratio through five weeks of the season before finishing the season with a 5 TD / 12 INT ratio the rest of the way. Hoyer is never going to be a high upside player, but if he wins the Texans gig he could be good for a mediocre 12-17 fantasy points every week if you somehow missed out on Alex Smith earlier in the draft.
35. Zach Mettenberger, Titans – The Titans are going to do whatever they can to get Mariota on the field, so Mettenberger’s chances of snaps are slim. He does have some upside though if he gets any playing time. Mettenberger has one of the best arms in the league and the Titans drafted a potentially lethal deep threat in Dorial Green-Beckham. If those two can develop come rapport in the off-season it might give Mettenberger a shot to have fantasy value on the slim chance he beats out Mariota.
Next: Top Five Breakout Candidates for the Bears