The quarterback position features a number of players who can be counted on year after year to provide elite numbers. Their names are well-known and include Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. Otherwise, most quarterbacks experience some seasons that are better for fantasy production than others.
Both Cam Newton and Eli Manning had seemingly created a set baseline throughout their careers, but last year was a down season for each. Expect that to change again in 2017.
Cam Newton: Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton had performed as an elite fantasy quarterback each season of his career prior to last season as he finished 16th among quarterbacks in points per game production. As the seventh quarterback off the board right now, predicting a bounce back from Newton isn’t a groundbreaking opinion, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth repeating. With new weapons and his running ability, Newton should regain his form as a top fantasy quarterback in 2017.
Newton posted career lows in nearly all metrics last season, including yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, TD%, and completion percentage. Therefore, even regression back to his career norms would lead to an uptick in performance. But there is potential for even more as Carolina reinvested heavily this offseason in surrounding Newton with offensive weapons.
Rookies Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel were early draft investments meaning they should make a positive impact on the offense as early as this season. Each is poised to be a good contributor in the passing game, and for Newton, who has suffered from a poor supporting cast nearly his entire career, that should be a welcomed change.
Newton also already holds an advantage over every other quarterback in the NFL not named Wilson and Mariota thanks to his rushing ability. Even in a season when he ran the least amount in his career, he recorded over 60 fantasy points from rushing alone. Like his passing metrics, if Newton bounces back to just his career norms, he will have a fantasy floor greater than any other quarterback.
Given that, the only reason to shy away from Newton is the belief that his skills completely eroded and that last season’s performance is indicative of things to come. However, Newton is only 28, the Panthers have surrounded him with one of the most promising supporting attacks of his career, and his rushing ability should allow him to regain his footing as an elite fantasy quarterback.
Eli Manning: New York Giants
Eli Manning hasn’t been a frequently elite fantasy option, but he has managed to establish himself as a lower-tier QB1 throughout his career. Unlike Newton, Manning is at a typical age for regression from quarterbacks. However, also unlike Newton, his metrics weren’t down across the board.
In fact, he had a career-best completion percentage, and his yards per game were in line with his career rate. His yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt did drop last year, but given the consistencies in the rest of his performance, that may say more about his supporting cast than his own skills.
Last season, the Giants didn’t have a deep threat among their receivers beside Odell Beckham. It’s hard to imagine that Rueben Randle would be missed in the Giants offense, but last year’s results show that the team missed a seam stretching option. Randle provided a big play threat for Eli Manning, something that Sterling Shepard was unable to accomplish in his rookie season.
In 2014 and 2015 Randle posted 12 and 13 20+ yard catches respectively, while Shepard had just six such catches last season. Overall, the Giants had just 46 passing plays of 20 or more yards, while in 2015, that number was 54.
Offseason addition Brandon Marshall adds a deep threat dimension to the passing game. Even with an abysmal quarterback situation last year, Marshall managed to reel in 10 20+ yard catches. First round draft pick Evan Engram should also add a deep threat facet to the offense as he is described in scouting reports as being able to stretch the seams of the defense more like a wide receiver than tight end.
Thus, with Odell Beckham and the additions to the offense, Manning has plenty of options in the deep passing game once again. Passing volume should still be aplenty for Manning, as the Giants’ running back situation remains unclear and the team invested far more into the passing attack. With a resurgence in the deep passing game, Manning’s touchdowns and yards per attempt should rebound.
Many fantasy owners assume last year’s performance was the beginning of the end for Manning, which is indicated by his current ADP as the 16th quarterback off the board. However, it’s time to buy into Manning for at least one more year.
In case you missed it, check out last week’s bounce back running backs featuring Thomas Rawles, Lamar Miller and Todd Gurley.