Ah, quarterbacks. Every year, fantasy football players across the world overreact on the importance of quarterback play. Here’s the truth about quarterbacks: every year, and especially this year, the position is incredibly deep. Outside of Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, there aren’t any quarterbacks worth reaching for early. Don’t believe me? The difference between last season’s fifth-best fantasy quarterback (Drew Brees, 300 points) and the 15th-best (Alex Smith, 259 points) is 31 points, or 2.4 points per week. You can easily get a quality quarterback late in the draft, so I advise not reaching for one with your first, second or even third-round pick. With that being said, here are my predictions for 2016’s top five fantasy quarterbacks.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers has been a top three fantasy quarterback five times since 2009. Last season, Rodgers was the seventh-leading fantasy quarterback, but blame receiver Jordy Nelson’s ACL tear for that. With his favorite weapon back, I expect Rogers, arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history, to return to the top of the fantasy quarterback mountain.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton blew up last season. He was named the NFL’s most valuable player. He was a first-team All-Pro selection. He took his team to the Super Bowl. Oh, and he was fantasy’s best player by over 45 points, regardless of position. Another thing, Newton’s getting his No. 1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, back from an ACL tear. He might not dazzle and dab as much as last season, but he’s a lock to finish as a top five fantasy quarterback in 2016.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees is one of the most underappreciated players in the NFL. Quarterbacks have logged eight seasons with at least 5,000 passing yards in the history of the NFL. Brees has four of them. Who led the league in passing yards last season? Brees, of course. Unfortunately for Brees, the Saints have one of the NFL’s worst defenses, which will give him a ton of opportunities to throw the ball. Expect him to finish among the top three in passing yards again.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson wasn’t considered an elite fantasy quarterback in his first couple of seasons in the NFL, but those days are behind us. Wilson is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league; something he exhibited last season as he finished third among quarterbacks in rushing yards. He accumulated 553 yards on the ground, more than teammate Carlos Hyde, Ryan Matthews and teammate Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks are a run-first team, but Wilson’s uncommon combination of accuracy and running ability makes him a top-tier fantasy option.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger is poised for a bounce-back season. Big Ben finished as the 20th highest-scoring quarterback in 2015. To call it disappointing would be an understatement. Roethlisberger missed four games last season because of a shoulder injury, and didn’t have his star running back, LeVeon Bell, to depend on for much of last season. The Steelers are banking on Bell’s health after his three-game suspension is served, as well as NFL’s most productive wide receiver in Antonio Brown. Expect Big Ben to finish in the top 10 this season, finishing as high as fourth.