While most of us are still enjoying baseball season, it’s never too early to get ready for football. With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to redraft rankings and discussion. To kick that off, I’ll talk about some quarterbacks I’ll be passing on based on where they are currently being taken.
DeShaun Watson (FFC: 2, RTSports: 2)
Watson is the consensus number two quarterback in early drafts this season, based on his incredible six start run in his rookie season. In that stretch, he put together an incredible statistical profile that featured 8.3 Y/A and a 9.3 TD%. For reference, Aaron Rodgers has bested that Y/A mark three times in his career (and not since 2014) and never matched Watson’s TD rate from last season. Similarly, Drew Brees has bested Watson’s Y/A mark only once and has never come close to approaching his touchdown rate. The exercise could continue with other quarterbacks around the league, but the point is made that what Watson did last season was exceedingly rare and it would be exceptionally risky to expect him to do it again.
On top of the fact that his incredible efficiency will be difficult to replicate this season, Watson is returning from ACL surgery. One big advantage he had over other elite quarterbacks is his mobility, and his draft stock also assumes he will immediately be able to move around and outside the pocket like he did prior to his injury. If he doesn’t recover that mobility, it most obviously translates to lost fantasy points from rushing yards, it also could limit his ability to move around the pocket, a key to his effectiveness as a passer. If he isn’t able to move around the pocket at his normal level, a drop in performance similar to what Marcus Mariota experienced last season is a possibility.
The argument for Watson is easy to make. He proved himself to be a dynamic playmaker in his rookie season, both with his arm and legs. Assuming he is fully healthy, his rushing ability will make up for much of his relative uncertainty as a thrower. On top of that, he is throwing to arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins and showed the ability to unlock the vertical game of Will Fuller. It was clear last season Watson is plenty talented, but there are too many risks in his profile to pass on sure things at the position, which is what his current price demands.
Jared Goff (FFC: 10, RT Sports: 15)
Like Watson, Goff was very efficient last season and was a fantasy relevant quarterback as a result. He ranked only 18th in total pass attempts but was third in yards per attempt and fifth in touchdown rate. Both of those marks placed him among elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, and Tom Brady. Given how the Rams went about their offseason — they added Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, and Sam Shields — it seems they want to rely on their defense and running back Todd Gurley to win games this season, meaning his attempts won’t be going up. In other words, he’ll once again have to operate with elite efficiency, and while he took a big step forward in his second season, that’s not a bet I’m willing to take.
There were warning signs as the 2017 season wore on that Goff won’t be able to keep up his elite efficiency. For example, he dropped from 8.32 yards per attempt in the first half of the season to 7.61 in the second half, which also included three games in which he failed to average more than 6.5 yards per attempt.
However, like Watson, there is case to be made for Goff. He should have a relatively strong supporting cast thanks to the addition of Brandin Cooks and the chemistry he established with Cooper Kupp last season. Of course, Todd Gurley will also be a big part of keeping the offense on schedule and in putting Goff in a position to succeed. Finally, the price tag for Goff is quite different from that of Watson, as he falls into the range as more of a low-end QB1. Still, with names like Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Marcus Mariota, and Jameis Winston taken either in the same range or well after Goff, it’s difficult to justify banking on him maintaining his elite efficiency this season.