2016’s Stream of Gut returns this week, beginning by ranking the quarterbacks. Given that the write ups of many players ended up a bit lengthier than intended, we’ll be releasing a few tiers at a time, beginning with the cream of the crop of fantasy football signal callers:
Tier 1 – Unquestioned #1 option
1. Cam Newton – No one else belongs in the #1 QB conversation. The scoring machine’s unparalleled dual threat abilities, especially as a goalline rushing threat, helped him outscore Tom Brady (2015’s QB2) by over 55 points. This is even more impressive when you consider the “threats” (Greg Olsen…Ted Ginn Jr…Philly Brown?) Newton had at his disposal. Kelvin Benjamin’s return and the addition of a legitimate perimeter terror creates a ceiling we may have never seen in the history of fantasy football. While I almost always wait on QB, Newton’s separation from the pack and enormously high ceiling / floor combo could sway me otherwise.
Tier 2 – Could threaten for #1 overall status
Quick tier breakdown: Though Cam is the heavy favorite to finish 2016 as the top scoring player, any of these three could give him a run if they fully realize their ceilings. Unlike Newton, who’ll likely come no cheaper than a mid second rounder, this tier could provide comparable production at a few round discount.
2. Andrew Luck – I’m a huge believer in a major bounce back for the entire Colts offense, and Andrew Luck will be racking up fantasy points while leading the charge. Arguably the best young QB in the game, Luck is just a season removed from a 350 fantasy points campaign– the 4,761 passing yards, 273 rushing (5034 total) and 43 total TDs (3 rushing) might not even be his ceiling:
- His weapons cabinet is more stacked, as one of the best deep ball throwers will get a full season with shiny speedster Phillip Dorsett, plus he’ll be throwing to a more refined Donte Moncreif. The loss of Coby Fleener is nothing major given Dwayne Allen’s return, and Luck will enjoy his first full season with a reliable backfield mate if Gore can maintain health at 33 (granted, a big ask).
- New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has built an “attacking, aggressive” reputation as a play caller, which has helped produce monster, Pro-Bowl seasons out of garbage heaps like Derek Anderson, as well as facilitate a massive rookie campaign out of Cam Newton. Luck’s deep ball accuracy and the speedy outside talent are the best Chud’s had at his disposal, and defenses should frequently be on their heels while explosive plays (and fantasy points) are racked up.
- Most importantly, the Colts have finally committed to keeping Luck upright, making glaringly necessary moves to bolster their patchwork offensive line. The team invested four draft picks into their interior protection, most prominently first round Alabama center Ryan Kelly. New line coach Joe Philbin is a well-regarded positional instructor, as well. While expecting a Dallas Cowboys type of leap is egregious, there’s comfort knowing they can’t be worst.
With more time to throw and a reduced injury risk, plus a speedy supporting cast that meshes perfectly with the new OC’s aggressive style, all of Luck’s stars are aligning for a massive season. He could easily top the 2014 gem which had him being drafted in first rounds last summer, and I can’t wait to see what type of discount is baked into his ADP
3. Russell Wilson – After Lynch went down in Week 10, the Seahawks became the Russel Wilson show: the celibate had 3+ passing TDs in 5/6 games (2 TDs in his only one under), including two efforts with 5 throwing scores. His 194.3 points and 27.8 points per game throughout this stretch were topped only by Cam Newton’s 196.9 (only .3 more per game). Based on the eye test, this was a QB who clearly embraced the offensive spotlight, made all the throws, especially the deep ones, and racked up countless points with his legs.
Lynch has since retired, meaning Russ very well could remain the stat-gorging focal point all season. If true, and his late season sample was a sign of things to come, Russell will be on countless championship rosters: you’d be getting Newton-esque stats at a 3+ round discount. Call me crazy for placing Russell above Rodgers given the latter’s historic consistency, but with 2016 in a lens, I feel Russell offers a higher floor and ceiling combination.
4. Aaron Rodgers – Outside of last season’s Jordy-less debacle, Rodgers has consistently finished as a top 3 fantasy QB, and most will have him ranked as such. He was clearly exposed without White Chocalate, however, and Rodgers’ floor is dependent on a full recovery from his best deep ball threat; last season exposed us to risk we didn’t know existed with the typically elite signal caller. If Jordy and this offense are showing juggernaut signs throughout the offseason, his ranking will be adjusted accordingly. For now, my gut’s leery.
Stay tuned for Tiers 3 + 4 (QB5 – QB11), coming soon.