TwoQBs Presents: 2017 Bold Predictions

Bold predictions are fun. You mash your keyboard furiously with a taek about the upcoming fantasy football season so hawt it causes your computer to melt. Then you can either call yourself a genius if it comes true or forget about it completely if it flames out.

Me after my RG3 bold prediction from last season.

The TwoQBs braintrust rattled off some bold predictions last year and we’re back at it again for the 2017 fantasy football season. Feel free to either agree with the below bold predictions or call us a bunch of idiots if they’re too hawt for you. Either way, enjoy, and good luck in your 2017 fantasy campaigns! 2017 Bold Predictions

Greg Smith

Kirk Cousins will finish outside the top-15 quarterbacks in fantasy this season.

I didn’t feel like this was a particularly bold take, but everyone else in the fantasy community seems to have Cousins in his or her top-10. His average ranking at FantasyPros puts him at QB6. I can’t abide drafting him that aggressively. There are plenty of equally- or more-proven passers available in the middle-tiers with better outlooks. In 2016, Cousins only improved his total fantasy output by 7.24 points, but somehow finished nine spots higher in quarterback points per game (QB6 in 2016 with 18.79 PPG vs. QB15 in 2015 with 18.34 PPG).

His 2016 production was aided by an extremely favorable schedule. He only faced a handful of defenses worth worrying about in Washington’s 15 fantasy-relevant games. Thanks to such an easy slate, Cousins posted a career-low bust rate, finishing only 12.5% of his weeks outside the top-24 at quarterback, compared to marks of 31.3% in 2015 and 33.3% in 2014. His 2017 schedule is much tougher. It features 10-of-15 fantasy match-ups against top-11 teams in Football Outsiders’ 2016 pass defense DVOA, (including six games against the top-5), plus one more match-up against what should be an improved Rams defense. The optimism for Cousins this season is out of control, and he should be viewed as a middling QB2, not a low-end QB1.

Giana Pacinelli

Colin Kaepernick will finish as a top-20 fantasy quarterback.

Between Allen Robinson, Leonard Fournette, and a top-10 defense, the Jacksonville Jaguars (finally) have all the pieces in place to produce their first winning season since 2007 – all they’re missing is a quarterback. The team’s decision to name Blake Bortles their starting QB for Week 1 is more telling of the lack of faith they have in back-up Chad Henne than the trust they have in Bortles. At the very least, the Jaguars will feel the pressure come their bye (Week 8) to make a change. Bortles and Henne would have both had enough time to prove themselves, and the window of opportunity to save their season will be imminent.

Jags owner Shad Khan recently said he would “Absolutely” be okay with signing Kaepernick, and come Week 8, he will be their best option at salvaging their season. At that time, Kaepernick stands a chance at reigniting the offense and instantly improve the surrounding cast.

That’s not to say Kaepernick is an elite signal-caller, but with a career average completion percentage of 60 percent, and a 72:30 TD:INT ratio, all with the San Francisco 49ers, I can’t imagine Kaepernick not finding away to leverage this young, hungry offense to take the Jags on a good run. Kaepernick will produce top-10 fantasy numbers during the remainder of the season, completing the season as a top-20 fantasy quarterback, and serve as a lucky charm for saving several fantasy seasons for owners.

Even if I’m wrong – and Bortles or Henne somehow manage to keep their job for the entire season – it only takes one team to suffer a season-ending injury at quarterback to feel compelled to sign Kaepernick for a chance at the playoffs. There are few organizations with capable back-up quarterbacks, and several who may be close enough to the playoffs where it would be hard to ignore the opportunity. We know Kaepernick is ready, all he needs is the opportunity to prove his true value in the NFL.

Anthony Amico

Jared Goff finishes the year as a top-18 fantasy QB.

Currently being drafted as the QB29, according to our redraft ADP, Goff should, at minimum, start every game of the 2017 season. The same cannot be said for quite a few signal-callers being drafted ahead of him. Additionally, the Rams’ weapons have vastly improved. Sammy Watkins is a true No. 1 wide receiver, while Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and a talented young TE group form a terrific group of pass-catchers overall. Defenses will also be focused on stopping Todd Gurley, making things somewhat easier for Goff. New Rams coach Sean McVay is thought to be the man responsible for the rise of Kirk Cousins, and should get the most out of his second-year passer.

A. Don Davenport

Colin Kaepernick will be an NFL starter again.

Save today and use tomorrow! By the beginning of the 2018 season, Colin Kaepernick will be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s a perfect taxi squad candidate now, and should be added and stashed as soon as possible. Teams like the Jets, 49ers and Jaguars can use an upgrade. For NFL purposes, he’s a startable quarterback with a bright future. Politically, you will continue to see other players kneeling this year in support of him and his cause of protesting police brutality and racial inequity.

As a quarterback, Kaepernick has dual-threat potential, with an 88.9 career passer rating, along with an average of 33.3 rushing yards per game over his career, with career 13 rushing touchdowns to boot. In 2012, he and Alex Smith took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick had a passer rating of 98.3 that year. If you feel NFL general managers don’t want a quarterback who has Super Bowl experience on their team, you haven’t been paying attention. In the end, it’s about winning games, and Kaepernick gives teams a better chance to win than some of the current quarterbacks in play. As long as he is interested in playing, he will start again, and perhaps before this year is over. If you’re in a 2QB or Superflex Dynasty league, and can afford the bench spot, you can do worse than invest in the 29-year-old passer.

Derrik Klassen

Marcus Mariota will be a top-5 fantasy QB in 2017.

Betting on Marcus Mariota this season doesn’t seem to be a bold take. Plenty of people are doing it. However, the third-year quarterback still feels undervalued and primed to outscore a handful of the players drafted ahead of him in two-QB leagues, or at the very least, provide the same amount of points at a cheaper cost. Right now, eight quarterbacks have a higher two-QB ADP than Mariota, including Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, and Derek Carr. I like Mariota better than all four, at their respective draft slots.

Mariota has the perfect offense for his skill set. Rookie wide receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor are YAC-monsters. Mariota’s precise ball placement often allows for smooth and easy YAC opportunities, allowing Mariota to maximize the young pass-catchers as much as they maximize him. Veteran wide receiver Eric Decker is one of the best red zone weapons in the league, which compliments Mariota’s elite red zone efficiency impeccably. Add those three to the already good offensive line, running game, and monstrous Delanie Walker at tight end, and you’ve got an offense geared to unlocking their franchise quarterback. I’d be hard-pressed to say with confidence that more than a few quarterbacks will be as consistent and high-scoring as Mariota.

Editor’s Note: For more analysis geared towards 2QB and Superflex fantasy leagues, purchase a copy of our Draft Guide that features over 170 pages of league-winning information.

Anthony Spangler

Matthew Stafford will be a top-5 fantasy QB in 2017.

If there’s one positive to take from Calvin Johnson’s departure from the Detroit Lions last season, it’s that it didn’t seem to impact Stafford’s 2016 production. Stafford has consistently been a mid-to-high floor option for fantasy owners, but he proved last year he can maintain that high-level of productivity with a supporting cast made up of secondary weapons.

In 2016, Stafford posted a completion percentage of 65.3, an interception percentage of 1.7, and a 7.3 air yards per attempt — all of which were better than his career averages. The addition of big-bodied rookie receiver Kenny Golladay and the healthy return of weapons like Eric Ebron and Ameer Abdullah provide much-needed depth to the Lions offense, and will give Stafford, arguably, the best supporting cast of his eight-year career.

I expect Stafford to post numbers similar to his 2013 fantasy QB7 finish season, but with slightly elevated TDs due to the diversity of his red zone threats and his recent ability to limit turnovers under OC Jim Bob Cooter.

Ben Cummins

Sam Bradford will be a top-10 fantasy QB in 2017.

After setting the NFL record for completion percentage in a season last year, Sam Bradford follows that up with a top-10 fantasy QB finish in 2017. Aided by having an entire offseason to prepare as the Vikings starter, and rare continuity with an offensive coordinator, Bradford will take advantage of possibly the easiest pass schedule in the NFL.
Pat Shurmur led offenses, as either the head coach or offensive coordinator, have only finished in the bottom half of the league in pass attempts once in nine years. Bradford will use that extra volume to feed playmakers Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook out of the backfield. Plus, 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell will produce just enough as a WR3 to get Bradford in the top 10. This screaming 2QB value has more upside than you realize.

Jeff Dumont

DeShone Kizer will be a top-15 fantasy QB.

For a rookie quarterback to succeed, you have to first look at the offensive line. The Browns spent a large sum of money to solidify their line this offseason, giving Cincinnati right guard Kevin Zeitler a five-year, $60 million contract and awarding Green Bay center J.C. Tretter $10 million guaranteed. Cleveland also re-signed their left guard Joel Bitonio to a five-year, $51 million extension, and they have first ballot Hall of Famer Joe Thomas protecting Kizer’s blind side.

Are the Browns actually going to be competitive this season? Well, Pinnacle has their season win total at 4.5 wins, with the over heavily shaded at -155, so it’s pretty safe to say they’ll win a minimum of five games. This is a sign of the sharps having confidence in Kizer’s abilities to effectively lead this team in his rookie season. His running skills cannot be ignored, with 997 yards and 18 TDs on the ground during his two seasons at Notre Dame, and he has a rushing score this preseason.

While he won’t put up Cam Newton-esque rookie numbers on the ground, a better player comp would be Russell Wilson’s rookie season. Wilson has a very similar skill set (strong arm, good scrambler, the “it” factor) and was a top-10 fantasy QB in 2012, thanks in part to his 489 yards and four scores on the ground. Expect similar numbers for Kizer. With Hue Jackson giving Kizer a long leash, expect a fair amount of passing touchdowns and interceptions (I’m projecting a 16:18 TD to INT ratio), but it’s that extra boost on the ground that will really enhance Kizer’s value. If Kizer starts all 16 games, I firmly believe his floor is QB20, and his ceiling is a top-10 fantasy signal-caller, especially if Corey Coleman and Duke Johnson have breakout seasons.

Salvatore Stefanile

Alex Smith will be an adequate fantasy option in 2017.

The hawt taeks are strong with this bold prediction. Alex Smith, the quarterback most people love to hate, will be a solid contributor to your 2QB squadron this fantasy season. Yes, I know that’s not really a strong take, but when it comes to Mr. Artisan Lite, saying anything complimentary about him is considered a bold stance in the fantasy football community.

The reason why I believe Smith will be an adequate fantasy option is because of the offense surrounding him. There are currently only six quarterbacks being drafted in 2QB leagues who are surrounded with at least one running back, one wide receiver, and one tight end with an ADP inside the top 100, according to our 2QB ADP. They are Tom Brady (14 overall ADP/QB2), Marcus Mariota (49 overall ADP/QB9), Cam Newton (53 overall ADP/QB11), Philip Rivers (66 overall ADP/QB15), Andy Dalton (75 overall ADP/QB16), and Alex Smith (118 overall ADP/QB25).

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Not only is Smith the cheapest option, he’s also the only signal-caller with high-end options at each skill position being drafted outside the top 100. There is a caveat though, as Spencer Ware had an overall ADP of 71 before his injury and Kareem Hunt’s ADP was 113. However, it’s highly likely Hunt jumps into the top 100 easily in current drafts. I’ve seen him go as high as in the second round, post Ware injury.

Smith’s schedule is daunting, as Pat Thorman’s strength of schedule analysis has pointed out — he only has five favorable/neutral matchups this season. But with an ADP of QB25, any downside is already baked into his cost.There’s also the whole Patrick Mahomes thing, but let’s not worry about that until we have to.

Smith averaged 14.9 fantasy points per game last year and has the upside of high-end fantasy QB2. He was the fantasy QB13 in both points per game and total points in 2013, so he has a history of producing. If he rushes more to his 2013 and 2015 numbers (76, 84 attempts) than his 2014 and 2016 numbers (49, 48 attempts) we’ll get some of that sweet, sweet #KonamiCode action, boosting his floor. Alex Smith will never be a high-ceiling option but he doesn’t need to be when he’s being drafted as a backup QB3. He just needs to be adequate.

Salvatore Stefanile

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and has been playing fantasy football since his high school days. He is a proponent of 2QB fantasy football leagues and his work has been featured on XN Sports, RotoViz, and Rotoworld. His writing on 2QB fantasy football leagues earned him the FSWA award for 'Best Fantasy Football On-Going Series' in 2013. He earned a second FSWA nomination in 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @2QBFFB

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