It’s only right that a discussion about buying quarterbacks in dynasty/keeper leagues pairs Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr. One year ago, the two were among the most hyped young quarterbacks after taking steps forward with their 2016 performance. Referencing the same Rotoworld mock draft that appeared in last week’s article illustrates that hype, where Mariota was taken as QB5 and 99th overall and Carr going as QB7 at 110th overall. One calendar year and disappointing season later, the pair are ranked as the QB11 and QB16 respectively according to the FantasyPros expert consensus rankings.
Similarities don’t stop with their drop in value, however, as both suffered through relatively serious injuries that arguably held back their performance in 2017.
Mariota suffered a hamstring strain in Week 4 that caused him to miss a week, but had a pronounced effect on his rushing output for most of the remainder of the regular season. Through the first four weeks of the season, prior to his injury, Mariota had a total of 116 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns. The rest of the season he combined to rush for just 196 more yards with two rushing touchdowns. With 84 of those 196 yards not coming until the last two games of the year, it is clear that Mariota was not healthy through the middle portions of the season. For a quarterback who thrives on his ability to move around/outside the pocket and create rushing yards on his own, the hamstring injury can reasonably be presumed to have held back his performance.
Meanwhile, Derek Carr suffered a back injury in Week 4, also causing him to miss one game. Unlike Mariota, there was no obvious decline in Carr’s play before and after his injury. However, not surprisingly, he was quoted this offseason as saying the injury made him uncomfortable and less effective on the field. While this is more narrative driven than Mariota’s decline, it certainly isn’t difficult to buy into.
Drawing the parallel even closer is that both teams have moved on to new head coaches in the offseason with Jon Gruden and Mike Vrabel now pegged to lead the Raiders and Titans respectively.
Both have made a point of pumping up their young quarterbacks, with Gruden discussing Carr’s work ethic and his excitement over the addition of Jordy Nelson, and Vrabel stressing the importance of making Mariota comfortable in the new offense. While it’s no guarantee that either will have success under the new coaching regimes, both offenses ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in scoring but have the talent to be much better.
Ultimately, similarly to the other players highlighted in this series, the buying opportunity on Mariota and Carr comes down to value. Just one year ago, they were drafted well within the top-10 of their position. After disappointing and injury riddled seasons they appear prepared to enter the 2018 season healthy. Fantasy owners have lost patience with them, however, and are onto the newest trendy names like Jimmy Garoppolo and Jared Goff.
Both Carr and Mariota have shown in season’s past that they are capable of being upper-end quarterback options, and at the ages of 27 and 24 respectively, they should have several more years of strong productivity ahead.