3 Bounce-Back Quarterbacks (Fantasy Football)

by Nate Hamilton | @DomiNateFF | Featured Writer
Jul 17, 2017

Can Cam Newton return to form?

Every year it seems people wait later and later to draft their starting fantasy football quarterback. The depth of talent in the position is a big reason why you can typically get a top QB in the later rounds. Another reason could be that some of these top QBs often underperform which leaves you asking yourself why you wasted an early draft pick on them when you could have waited until later to draft someone of equal or better value.

Luckily for you, you can use those underperforming seasons to your advantage and draft these quarterbacks that are primed for a bounce-back season much later. You can do this with little risk in draft cost and a high reward in what their potential value could mean for your fantasy teams.

Below you will find a few quarterbacks that have brought you both fantasy success and disappointment in seasons past but are geared to bounce back in 2017.

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Cam Newton (CAR)

QB17 in 2016
2017 ADP: QB7 – 71 overall

Clearly, Newton had a rough 2016 season, finishing as the QB17. This is not a reflection of who he truly is. Newton has been one of the top four fantasy QBs in four of the last six seasons since entering the league, including finishing as the No. 1 fantasy QB in his MVP 2015 season. There are plenty of factors heading into the 2017 season that will easily bring him back into the elite group of quarterbacks.

The Christian McCaffrey Effect
Too many are looking at the addition of Christian McCaffrey as a negative for Cam as it will mean less running for the quarterback. I look at this a few ways. McCaffrey is a rookie and will likely have a more limited role than what most are expecting. Jonathan Stewart is still the starting running back for the Panthers, so even if McCaffrey has decent playing time, you can expect it to be on third-down passing situations where he is most effective, helping, not hurting Newton’s value.

Newton’s Nose for the End Zone
Cam trusts himself in short and goal situations. In his career, he has rushed for 27 touchdowns from the three-yard line or closer and another 12 from within the nine-yard line. Coaches can scheme whatever they want to try and limit his rushing and that’s fine, but if Newton finds himself anywhere close to the end zone, you can expect him to try and punch it in himself if options are limited as opposed throwing the ball away.

Carolina Panthers’ 2017 Draft
The Carolina Panthers drafted weapons for Newton with three offensive players in the first two rounds; Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick to help Newton on short passing, third down situations, Curtis Samuel in the second round to complement a healthy Kelvin Benjamin as well, as some help to beef up the O-line with Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton. It’s quite obvious, the Panthers are looking into the best interest of their offense in 2017. Doing so leaves Newton as the primary benefactor in what will be a bounce-back season.

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

QB18 in 2016
2017 ADP: QB8 – 75 overall

By now, most are turned off by Roethlisberger and how bad he has been on the road. I can’t say I blame them given his Jekyll and Hyde type production, but sometimes you have to look at each season without bias. For Big Ben, 2017 is one of those seasons. Roethlisberger, in his challenging seasons, may frustrate fantasy owners when they spend high draft capital on him, but he has shown us that he is capable of having a QB5 type of season. This year presents too many positives for Roethlisberger to simply be ignored in fantasy drafts.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
In his best season in 2014, Ben Roethlisberger played in all 16 games and averaged 19 fantasy points per game. That year, he finished as the QB5, ahead of guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He also had career highs in attempts, completions, and tied his career best with 32 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The past two seasons have not played out the way we would expect after that 2014 season.

Roethlisberger only played in 14 games in 2016 and 12 games in 2015. This does negatively affect his total fantasy points on the season, but if you were to average his fantasy points per game in those seasons, it wasn’t far off from what he accomplished in 2014. Last year, Big Ben averaged 18 fantasy points per game, just a single point less per game than 2014. In his 12-game 2015 season, he averaged 17.84 fantasy points per game. Not his best, but again, not far off from his 2014 season. Roethlisberger has the offensive weapons, they just need to stay on the field (including himself) for him to be elite.

Triple Threat
It’s no coincidence that in his best season both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell played in all 16 games. Could you imagine Roethlisberger’s potential if Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant all started the season together? God willing, it looks like 2017 is that season. Bell is the best and most versatile running back in the league. He takes pressure off his quarterback with his patient running style while providing another passing target out of the backfield or lining up as an extra receiver. Bell could be the key to setting up a successful season for Big Ben. Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the league. He stretches the field with his deep routes and has big play potential on the short, quick passes. Martavis Byant is a big target at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds. He will be a nightmare for defenses as they try to pick their poison and stop Antonio Brown and leave Bryant with open field to do damage. Here is perspective on what 16 games of Bryant could mean for Roethlisberger’s production. If Bryant continued his 2015 points per game pace (10.93) over 16 games last year, he would have finished as the WR7 in standard scoring ahead of Davante Adams with 174.88 points, just behind Julio Jones by 2.02 fantasy points. The potential production from these three gives Big Ben a very high ceiling in 2017.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 Draft
If the three players listed above wasn’t enough, the Steelers went ahead and drafted USC star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round. JuJu will have to compete with Sammie Coates for a starting job. It may not happen right away, but Smith-Schuster could emerge as a valuable target for Roethlisberger faster than you think given the draft capital the Steelers spent on him. The Steelers needed to back up Bell and they did just that by drafting Pittsburgh running back James Conner. He is a big back at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and will provide relief for Bell as a change-of-pace back and will likely see some short-yardage work as well. The key to a good run game for Roethlisberger is that it opens up passing lanes for him to attack which leads to more production for this bounce-back candidate.

Eli Manning (NYG)

QB22 in 2016
2017 ADP: QB16 – 133 overall

He is just one of those quarterbacks that are easy to hate on. Ya know, like the Jay Cutler type. The truth is, Eli Manning has been a very productive fantasy QB in the past three seasons. It’s hard to believe, but he has averaged 4,290 yards, 30 TDs & under 15 INTs since 2014. If you are looking for consistency in a quarterback, Eli has started all 16 regular season games every year for the past 12 seasons. Since 2005, he has averaged 26.17 touchdown passes and 17.17 interceptions. Yes, the interceptions number is scary, but if you focus on “what have you done for me lately,” Eli Manning had two top-10 fantasy QB finishes in 2014 and 2015.

His 2016 Season
He wasn’t terrible last year. Manning played to his career average in touchdowns and interceptions. He was down in TD production as well as passing yards compared to his previous two seasons. His attempts and completions were right around the same numbers as his 2014 and 2015 seasons. He lacked the overall production from his wide receivers last year. Yes, Manning had Odell Beckham Jr. who was unbelievable (101 receptions, 1,367 receiving yards, and 10 TDs) but the drop off was significant after that. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was the second-best WR on the team with 65 receptions, 683 yards, and eight TDs. This was very good for rookie numbers, especially the TDs, but 76 fantasy points less than the WR1 on the team. After that, Eli had a washed up Victor Cruz and some guy named Roger Lewis. Not a very good arsenal for Manning to sustain his numbers from the two seasons prior.

The New York Giants didn’t have a good run game either which failed to open up the field for Manning and his receivers. Rashad Jennings led the team with 593 rushing yards and only averaged under 3.3 yards per carry. Paul Perkins actually led the RBs in rushing TDs with a paltry four. He did average just over four yards per carry. In the end, it wasn’t enough on the ground to divert defenses from defending the pass.

Manning’s 2017 weapons
Manning will have a much better offense around him in 2017. Odell Beckham Jr. will be Odell Beckham Jr. Sterling Shepard in his second year will look to top his rookie season. That may be tough as he will likely lose some targets to newcomers on the Giants’ offense. Veteran Brandon Marshall will demand the attention of Manning as he is a proven commodity in the NFL. A big target at six-foot-four, 230 pounds, Marshall has five inches on OBJ and six on Shepard. Marshall should be heavily targeted in the red zone in 2017. Manning will have another target in addition to the above mentioned in 2017 thanks to the Giants’ draft.

The New York Giants’ 2017 Draft
With the 23rd pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the New York Giants select, Evan Engram, tight end, Ole Miss. Another weapon for Eli Manning out of the TE position. He is often referred to as another wide receiver. All good news for Manning, as Engram will be a great target that will be open often as the other WRs spread the field. The Giants drafted Clemson running back, Wayne Gallman to compliment Paul Perkins. Gallman is a good pass protector which will go a long way for Manning. In the 6th round, the Giants added some offensive line depth with Pittsburgh offensive tackle, Adam Bisnowaty. Obviously, the biggest impact player for Eli Manning from the draft is Evan Engram. As a wide receiver-type tight end, the Giants could have a lot of four wide offensive schemes in store in 2017 which will lead to more production for Eli Manning’s bounce back season.


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Nate Hamilton is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him @DomiNateFF.


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