2016 Bounce-Back Quarterbacks (Fantasy Football)
The NFL is filled with its ups and downs on a year-to-year basis in a number of different aspects. Teams on top of the divison one season could be a cellar dweller the next, and vice versa. The same goes for the league’s talent. Injuries, personnel moves and contract status all play a role in a player’s success or failure on an individual basis.
For the most part in the fantasy football world, we select the personnel for our respective teams on how they performed in the previous season. However, there is always that handful of players who are accustomed to accounting for a certain amount of production but have setbacks in their career for one reason or another and ultimately return to form the following season. Today, we will take a look at some of the potential bounce-back candidates at the quarterback position entering the upcoming fantasy football season.
Aaron Rodgers (GB) – ADP: QB2, Overall 29
Aaron Rodgers? A bounceback candidate? Yes. Aside from an injury-shortened campaign back in 2013, Rodgers is coming off his worst statistical season since 2010. Starting in all 16 games last year, he threw for 3,821 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions, including only three 300-yard passing games. For most signal callers, those numbers would be considered outstanding, but for the two-time NFL MVP, they are sub-par.
Rodgers played the entire 2015 season without his most productive target, Jordy Nelson, who was sidelined with a torn ACL, leaving Randall Cobb, an elite No. 2 wide receiver and a not so sure-handed Davante Adams as his top two wideouts. Nelson’s absence seemingly played a significant part into why Rodgers had an off year a season ago. But the blame can’t all be thrust upon a depleted and overwhelmed receiving corps. Playcalling also played a role in Rodgers’ lack of success. For the first time during his tenure as the head coach of Green Bay Packers, Mike McCathy was not calling the shots for the team’s offense and gave up those duties to assistant head coach Tom Clements. McCarthy would once again take over the responsibilities for the final quarter of the 2015 season. Rodgers would ultimately finish the 2015 campaign as the seventh-ranked fantasy quarterback with 301.3 points and an 18.8 FPPG average over a 16 game span.
In 2016, Nelson will likely return at full health, Cobb will return to his more comfortable WR2 role and McCarthy will continue to call the plays while roaming the sidelines. All of which bodes well for Rodgers’ outlook in the upcoming season. Rodgers’ has the tools and the talent around him to finish as the top fantasy quarterback and will run roughshod over his opponents this year just to prove that he still can.
I would select Rodgers over any other quarterback in the upcoming fantasy football campaign including Carolina’s Cam Newton (QB1).
Tony Romo (DAL) – ADP: QB11, Overall 98
Following his second best statistical season in 2014, Tony Romo laid an egg in 2015. The year started off in typical Romo fashion in a Week 1 victory against the New York Giants where he threw for 356 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. On the next Sunday, Romo’s and Dallas’ season was presumably over as the quarterback went down with a fractured collarbone. He would miss the next nine weeks of action due to the ailment. Romo would return in Week 11 and look uncharacteristically out of place in a win against a meager Miami Dolphins’ defense. In Week 11, Romo went down with the same injury that forced him out of action earlier in the year and was lost for the rest of the campaign. Romo underwent the Mumford procedure during the offseason as a preventative measure to correct his collarbone issue as he had fractured it three times in his career.
In 2016, Romo is poised to bounce back following his season to forget. The Cowboys made personnel moves to help their quarterback’s (and their own) cause. They added Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, a running back who is touted to be the next big star in Dallas. Back in 2014, the Cowboys employed the league’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray who took the pressure off Romo and forced the defense to play with an extra man in the box, which allowed the evasive signal caller to pick apart the secondary. This is a feat the Cowboys are hoping Elliott can repeat this upcoming season. Romo threw for 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions during that successful campaign. If history repeats itself, Romo could certainly accomplish the same or better production in 2016.
The Cowboys have one of the league’s elite offensive lines, a talented receiving corps and a potentially deadly ground game surrounding Romo this year. His upside is sky-high, and he could end up finishing the upcoming fantasy football campaign ranked in the top 10 in points scored at his position. Romo is a steal at his QB11 ADP.
Joe Flacco (BAL) – ADP: QB28, Overall 213
Perhaps a quarterback that completely fell off of the fantasy radar heading into the 2016 fantasy football campaign is Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. Flacco isn’t a top 10 signal caller, but he is a solid fantasy reserve. The Ravens had an injury-plagued season in 2015 which hindered Flacco’s numbers until he was eventually placed on injured reserve with a severe knee injury in Week 11. Breshad Perriman never made his NFL debut and Steve Smith‘s season ended in Week 8. Take away any quarterback’s top targets and their stats would have suffered as Flacco’s had prior to his ailment. In 10 games, Flacco passed for 2,791 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and finished the year as the 26th ranked fantasy passer with 162.1 points and a 16.2 FPPG average.
The Ravens added a few pieces to help Flacco regain his stardom in 2016, namely tight end Ben Watson and wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace will make the most impact as he is accustomed to being a productive NFL wide receiver throughout his career despite coming off of a terrible 2015 with the Minnesota Vikings. Wallace, Smith, and Perriman are projected to be Baltimore’s top receivers this year. The Ravens also retooled their offensive line in the NFL Draft by selecting Ronnie Stanley to protect Flacco’s blindside.
Flacco should be picked higher than his QB28 ADP. He has the weapons surrounding him to succeed in the league and once again solidify himself in the fanasy football world as a quality reserve at his position. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Flacco will likely finish the season ranked in the top 13-to-20 range in fantasy points scored. I would select him over Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (QB21) and Chicago’s Jay Cutler (QB24) in upcoming fantasy drafts.