Quarterback Kirk Cousins appears to be heading for free agency. Many are speculating that he will be one of the most sought after free agent quarterbacks, and the belief is that when all is said and done, he may be the highest paid quarterbacks.
Will it be deserved? Some say no. There is still a question of where Cousins will end up. Rumors and team needs have him linked to the Vikings, Jets, Broncos, Cardinals, Jaguars and Bills.
If you’re in a dynasty league, you should most definitely target Cousins. Here’s 3 reasons.
Maybe this is a small sample size, but statistically, the NFL has changed. In 2016, ten teams called 60% or more passing plays compared to rushing plays. Four of those 10 teams had more than 62% of their offense as passes. In 2017, that ratio dropped (from 10) to seven teams that called 60% or more passing plays. Only one of those teams had more than 62% of their offense as passes. This means more teams are running the ball.
If we break this down by the QB position, in 2016, a total of six QB (who played most of the season) averaged more than 280 yards passing per game. In 2016, three of those six QB averaged more than 300 passing yards per game. (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cousins) In 2017, only four QB (who played most of the season) averaged more than 280 passing yards per game. None averaged more than 300 passing yards per game. Zero.
This means that not only are teams running the ball more, but it could mean that offensive coordinators are calling more high-percentage plays. The NFL’s version of MLB’s “small ball” if you will. Move the ball in a small, deliberate, methodical strategy. In fact, the best “net yards per pass attempt” in 2017 was a 7.53 average, which is the lowest top average since the 2012 season.
All of this may be pointing to the idea that the current batch of QB are just not that dependable or consistent. Or are just not as effective as advertised coming out of college.
Another point to consider, especially in dynasty leagues, is many of the fantasy elite are getting older. If the current statistics and recent passing trend is any indication, the younger QB are not making the same type of strides in being as effective. Instead of grooming the next batch of elite gunslingers, the NFL is reluctantly being left with capable but boring game managers.
Here are the oldest more accomplished active QB and their current ages:
- Tom Brady (40); Brees (39)
- Eli Manning (37)
- Philip Rivers (36)
- Ben Roethlisberger (35)
- Aaron Rodgers (34).
In the next 4 years or so, most if not all of these 6 will be gone or may have their skills naturally regressing. The argument could be made that Roethlisberger and Rodgers could last the longest of this group. Rodgers in particular didn’t even start until Brett Favre left the Packers (2008) when Rodgers was age 25. A concern is that both Big Ben and Rodgers have missed over 10% of their games in their career, and as the saying goes, they aren’t getting any younger.
This means that Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck (if he can stay healthy) will be the next 5 who may be the elder statesmen at QB – possibly the more coveted fantasy QB. Any fantasy owner will tell you that a good fantasy team needs a solid fantasy QB.
I can already hear the cry of complaint from the Derek Carr, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz owners. Yes, they each have had “flashes” in their young career. However, since we’re discussing Kirk Cousins, it should be noted that neither Carr, Goff nor Wentz have put up as consistent numbers as long as Cousins has done.
Cousins has been the starter since 2015. That’s a 3-year window. If you combine the last 3 seasons of passing statistics, this is where Cousins ranks against all other active QB:
- Ranks 8 in yards-per-game (274.5)
- Ranks 7 in TD passes (81)
- Ranks 5 in yard-per-pass (7.8)
- Ranks 4 in total passing yards (13,176)
- Ranks 2 in pass completion (67%)
- One of only 6 QB to play all 48 games.
Keep in mind that he’s played for 2 offensive coordinators, the last of whom (Matt Cavanaugh) hadn’t called an NFL play in 13 years (since 2004).
Plus Cousins has accomplished all of this without a 1000-yard rusher in 3 seasons. In addition, he’s only had two 1000-yard receivers in 3 seasons (both in 2016 – Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson). Yes, Cousins has been a top 10 QB in virtually every meaningful category in the last 3 seasons combined without marquee names around him.
Cousins will be a steady fantasy contributor, no matter the team. At age 29, he has the skills and accuracy to be more than a “game manager,” is young enough to be around for another decade, and has already built a statistical resume to garner top 10 QB consideration even in redraft leagues.
For Kirk Cousins, the future is now. Draft him with confidence or target him in trades this offseason.