Three Bounce-Back Quarterbacks for 2018 (Fantasy Football)
The days of paying up for a quarterback in the early rounds of fantasy drafts seems like ancient history. Gone are the days of selecting the likes of Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, and Daunte Culpepper in the first two rounds, and here are the days of waiting until the late rounds to draft a quarterback.
I’ve already touched on the “Drafting a Quarterback Early” strategy and why it is no longer a strategy in most single-quarterback fantasy leagues. Simply put, too many late-round and waiver-wire quarterbacks are emerging as legitimate options to justify using an early round selection on a quarterback – it’s rather easy to forget that both Carson Wentz in 2017 and Matt Ryan in 2016 were afterthoughts at the start of the season. I don’t envision this season straying too far from what we have seen in the past couples of seasons as there are plenty of bounce-back quarterbacks to be had late in drafts that could end up as QB1s when it’s all said and done.
Marcus Mariota (TEN) – ADP 127, QB18
Mariota was coming off an impressive 26-touchdown, nine-interception campaign in 2016 in which he threw for over 3,400 yards and rushed for another 340. With 2016 being viewed as his breakout season, Mariota was being drafted as a QB1 in 2017 and disappointed by finishing as the 18th overall quarterback.
Mariota’s fantasy season was “saved” by five rushing touchdowns, but the 13 passing touchdowns to 15 interceptions was stunning considering his strong 2016 form. Fortunately, there’s plenty of reason to believe Mariota is primed for a bounce-back.
There’s no doubt Mariota is supremely talented as the former #2 overall pick in 2015 and a Heisman Trophy winner. He has flashed his dual-threat ability that could make him a top-five quarterback in any given season. Health has been a concern for Mariota’s entire career thus far, but he has only missed two games over the past two seasons and enters 2018 healthy and looking “fast” this offseason after shedding the knee brace he wore last season.
More importantly than any of that is that Mike Mularkey’s bland offensive scheme is gone. Enter new head coach Mike Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur who helped guide the Los Angeles Rams last season to being one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Mariota and company will flourish under the new offensive scheme, and I’m expecting the Titans to have one of the most surprisingly explosive offenses in 2018 with Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, and free agent acquisition Dion Lewis leading the way among Titans skill players.
Andy Dalton (CIN) – ADP 190, QB27
Dalton finished 2016 as the 13th ranked QB which was his best finish since his breakout 2013. He was widely viewed as a back-end starter in 2017, but Dalton and the Bengals took a step back as he fell back towards familiar territory with a 17th-ranked finish among quarterbacks. Dalton has never finished below 18th among quarterbacks in his career, yet is being drafted 27th according to FantasyPros ADP.
That’s a good indicator of some strong bounce-back value for Dalton who has a revamped offensive line to work with, as well as a favorable schedule. It also doesn’t hurt that he still has A.J. Green to throw footballs to. You likely won’t need to draft Dalton unless you play in a two-quarterback league and he’s hardly someone to get too excited about, but he will be somebody to keep an eye on early in the season. Don’t be afraid to stash him early if Dalton comes out of the gates strong.
Dak Prescott (DAL) – ADP 129, QB17
Those expecting a repeat of Prescott’s rookie season were disappointed in 2017 as the Cowboys tumultuous season highlighted by Ezekiel Elliott’s season-long suspension saga got the best of Prescott. Prescott sometimes looked like a shell of what he was during his rookie season, making poor decisions and struggling when under pressure, but the unusual circumstances surrounding the Cowboys offense certainly played a large part in his struggles.
Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are both gone and, on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much there to replace him with Allen Hurns currently shaping up as the Cowboys No. 1 WR. However, Prescott never displayed the chemistry with Bryant that Tony Romo and Bryant shared, and his departure doesn’t concern me regarding whether Prescott can bounce back. Despite struggling immensely after Zeke’s suspension, Prescott still finished the season as the 10th overall quarterback and didn’t really struggle until the second half of last season when Zeke was suspended.
Prescott’s 17th-ranked ADP among quarterbacks is more of a product of recency bias and the uncertainty of who he has to throw to. He was well on his way to repeating his success as a rookie with 14 passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns in his first six games. However, he would only throw eight more the rest of the season after Zeke was suspended and the Cowboys offense faded as a whole.
Prescott is still being viewed as the Cowboys quarterback of the future, and he will be playing to receive an extension next offseason. Being drafted right around Mariota, Patrick Mahomes, and Derek Carr, I would certainly take a chance late on Prescott or Mariota ahead of Mahomes and Carr.