Dynasty Stock Market: Quarterback Value

Ryan McDowell

ryanThis week, we continue the beginning series of the Dynasty Stock Market by digging into the quarterback position and examining the value of quarterbacks around the league and what you should be doing with them in your dynasty leagues.

The quarterback position is one that, in general, sees little change from one season to the next. Often times, a player will slowly climb the ranks before being considered among the top fantasy quarterbacks. In fact, if you look back at startup drafts from five years ago, you’ll see many of the same names near the top as this year, including Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Of course, that notion was thrown out on its ear last season when a rash of young quarterbacks thrust themselves to the top of dynasty rankings. This group includes Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. Thanks to that foursome, along with a few other quarterbacks who have yet to hit thirty years of age, the top of the dynasty ranks is now a well-balanced mix of solid and reliable veterans and young, but inconsistent, up-and-comers.

That balance and depth among the top tier of quarterbacks really lends itself to all types of dynasty strategies that owners might be using. Are you an owner who always plays to win now and worry about other years down the road? You’ve got quite a few signal callers to choose from. If you’re like me and employ a long-term window when crafting a dynasty team, there’s also several young quarterbacks to consider. In this week’s Dynasty Stock Market, we’ll examine both subsets of the deep top tier of quarterbacks, along with some of the most prominent names in the second tier.

First, let’s discuss the top tier overall. While it can be argued that there are some breaks in value and production among this large group I am calling the top tier,

Top Tier Veteran Quarterbacks:

Drew Brees, QB NO

The Saints Drew Brees just continues to post monster passing number regardless of who he has to throw to, or as he showed last season, who he has as a coach. Brees is the most consistent option for owners looking to compete for a title this season. He still has great weapons like Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham and he has not finished outside of the top twelve quarterbacks since 2003. Expect this to be Brees’ tenth consecutive season as a QB1. Even more impressive, he has finished as the top quarterback overall the past two seasons. You can’t get more predictable than Brees.

Tom Brady, QB NE

The Patriots Tom Brady has a lot to prove this season, believe it or not. Of course, that sounds strange for a player who has accomplished so much in his career. But at age 36, Brady is suddenly left without many of the offensive threats he has become so accustomed to, namely wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Aaron Hernandez. He will be tested this year as he is left with injured and inexperienced pass catchers. With every subpar outing, Brady’s dynasty value is falling. If you are a contender, he might be a solid weekly starter for the remainder of the season and if you’re not a contender, he is almost a must trade at this point.

Peyton Manning, QB DEN

As Brady’s value falls, the dynasty value of thirty-seven year old Peyton Manning somehow seems to be rising, especially after his record tying opening night performance against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Based on what we’ve seen over the past season plus, Manning has shown he is healthy and he obviously has some of the best receiving options in football including Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas. Expect Manning to continue to stack the box score with passing yards and touchdowns until he hangs up the cleats. For a contending team, Manning can certainly quarterback your team to a title, though if you fall out of the playoff race, or if you are in a complete rebuild mode, dealing Manning is essential.

Tony Romo, QB DAL

Many may question the inclusion of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the first tier of quarterbacks with some of the other names mentioned, but remember this, he was being drafted and valued ahead of Brady and Manning in off-season startup drafts and he routinely outscores some of the younger players we’ll mention later. Though many, including Cowboy fans, like to hate on Romo, he consistently puts up fantasy numbers. With that said, he is a player that is seemingly stuck in no man’s land for his dynasty owners. He is clearly not the type of player an owner would build a dynasty team around and he also is a long shot to outscore other veterans like Brees and Manning. Therefore, he does little for your team. Sadly, due to the aforementioned hate, Romo is a tough player to get trade value for, meaning if you own Romo, you’re likely stuck with him.

Top Tier Young Quarterbacks:

Andrew Luck, QB IND

Personally, the Colts Andrew Luck is the one quarterback to own in a deep tier. At only twenty-four years old, Luck should be a top fantasy option for another eight years, at a minimum. As a member of the Colts young offense, including second year players TY Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and newly acquired Trent Richardson, this seems like the beginning of an NFL dynasty that will only benefit Luck along the way. He’s my QB1 in dynasty and no matter the current status of your team, he makes a great trade target.

Cam Newton, QB CAR

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is off to a somewhat slow start this season, which also correlates with less carries by the big former Auburn Tiger.  Newton led the Panthers in rushing yards last season, which was obviously a huge boost to his fantasy production, and therefore his dynasty value. For some reason, the team refuses to surround Newton with reliable offensive producers, outside of veterans Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. The good news is that Newton has posted back-to-back QB4 (overall) seasons even with that same surrounding cast. Also, Newton historically is a slow starter. Expect him to post some huge games as he does each year and buy him while you can.

Colin Kaepernick, QB SF

49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick is the one signal caller to establish himself as a reliable fantasy option last season that was not a rookie, though he is often thought of as a member of the class of 2013, alongside Luck and others. Kaepernick took over for an injured Alex Smith and never relinquished the starting role, leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth. Kaepernick lost star wide receiver Michael Crabtree, but has a new favorite target in veteran Anquan Boldin. Combined with tight end Vernon Davis and a balanced running game, which includes Kaepernick himself, the sky’s the limit for Kaepernick. At only twenty-five years old, Kaepernick has plenty of time left and has been a consistent weekly performer, thanks to his rushing ability.

Russell Wilson, QB SEA

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is the young version of the veteran Brady, a great quarterback left with limited options in the passing game. Like the Patriots, the Seahawks attempted to give Wilson the offensive weapon he desired when they dealt for Percy Harvin, but an injury has put him out of action for the time being. With Wilson struggling to post top fantasy numbers, I am sure his owners are counting down the days until Harvin’s return. For now, Wilson is slightly less reliable than some of the other young quarterbacks due to his lackluster supporting cast, but when Harvin returns, he’ll be right back in the mix.

Robert Griffin III, QB WAS

The Redskins Robert Griffin III clearly has not been himself early this season. Though he’s put up some major statistical performances over the season’s opening weeks, posting back-to-back 300 yard passing games for the first time in his career, he has not been running the ball like he did as a rookie. Of course, his late season injury and speedy recovery was a huge storyline of the off-season, and while the comeback that got him ready to play in time for the season’s opening week was impressive, he is showing early on that he may have rushed things. From a dynasty perspective, Griffin’s value has taken a slight hit as owners become more and more concerned about the long-term prospects of Griffin.

Matthew Stafford, QB DET

After dealing with injuries in his first two seasons, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has excelled the past two seasons, finishing as a top ten quarterback in each of those years. While his options on offense are somewhat limited, he does play alongside the best wide receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson. The addition of Reggie Bush in the backfield is also showing positive early returns. Although Stafford has been in the league four years, he is still only twenty-five years old. If he can remain healthy, he’ll continue to be a solid, and underrated fantasy option.

Matt Ryan, QB ATL

The Falcons Matt Ryan is another player usually grouped in this “young” group of quarterbacks, though he is actually twenty-seven years old. Obviously, that is not old, even in football terms, but Ryan does have at least a couple of years on the others in the group. Ryan also has one of the premier wide receivers in the game in Julio Jones and a pair of veteran pass catchers that have been top fantasy options for years, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. Ryan should continue solid fantasy production for the next few years, but, like Romo is stuck in a fantasy purgatory of sorts. He is unlikely to outscore the top veterans like Manning and Brees, yet he is older than the others on this list so you don’t get that advantage either.

Hmmm…have I left anyone out? Oh yeah, the top dynasty quarterback, according to nearly everyone, Packers Aaron Rodgers. At twenty-nine years old, Rodgers get his own tier, which many could argue is well deserved based on his performance the past few seasons. Rodgers has finished as a top two fantasy quarterback each of the past five seasons and there’s little reason to think he won’t do that again. He’s nearly impossible to acquire in dynasty leagues because of you own him, you are likely a contending team. Recent concerns surrounding his weak offensive line or his multiple concussions fall by the wayside when the season begins and Rodgers starts throwing touchdown strikes to Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and the rest of the receiving corps.

While the names I’ve mentioned above form the top tier, there are many other up-and-coming quarterbacks I am watching closely early this season. In fact, some have already shown me enough to warrant big moves up in my recently updated dynasty rankings. Don’t be surprised if players like EJ Manuel, Terrelle Pryor, Sam Bradford and Ryan Tannehill are mentioned in the same tier as these other names a year from now. If you are in full rebuild mode, acquiring these players now could pay great dividends down the road.

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