2QB Dynasty Debate: Flacco, Winston, Mariota and RGIII

Eric Breeze


This off-season, Eric Breeze and I have added 2QB rankings, discussed the strategy behind them and kicked off our 2QB dynasty debate series with Ryan Tannehill, Drew Brees and Derek Carr. Here, we duke it out on a savvy veteran, the top two rookies in the 2015 class and a fallen superstar heading into a make-or-break year.

Joe Flacco, BAL

flaccoBreeze (30th overall, QB12): Flacco finished as QB14 last season and he should easily repeat once again or even improve. There are only a select few quarterbacks in the NFL right now with a firm grip on a starting job for at least the next five years and this former Super Bowl champion is one of them. He just turned 30 in January and has never been surrounded by premium talent, yet still has been a decent QB2 for the last few years. I don’t think Flacco has elite fantasy quarterback ceiling but in 2QB leagues. However, I much prefer an asset with a safe floor who will not be losing his job in the near future. There is nothing more devastating in a 2QB league than having a top 15 valued quarterback fall flat on his face. It will leave you with a glaring hole that cannot be filled easily or at low cost given that signal callers are valued at such a premium in these leagues.

The Ravens have finally decided that they need to surround big Joe with more weapons and showed that with the selections of Brashad Perriman and Maxx Williams with their first two picks this year. Both players will take some time to get up to their full potential, but it is not like Flacco has relied on play making pass catchers in the past to pad his fantasy totals. The addition of Marc Trestman as the Ravens Offensive Coordinator seems to be a bit overblown but it will still help Joe’s fantasy production for the simple fact Trestman loves to throw the ball. Instead of Justin Forsett piling up carries on the ground under a Kubiak-led rushing attack, Flacco will receive more fantasy production with the increase of receptions by the Baltimore backfield. Again, I do not believe Flacco is the type of player to make you a top contender in a 2QB league, but I do believe he is a top player to prevent you from having a catastrophic value drop on your dynasty roster. In standard 1QB leagues, I prefer high ceiling quarterbacks, but in a 2QB league I cannot stress how important quarterback longevity is because it costs so much to re-load at the position when one of your assets hangs up the cleats or gets sent to the pine, neither of which will be happening to Flacco anytime soon.

James (44th overall, QB15): He is currently being drafted as the QB20, so we are both higher on ‘Joe Cool’ than the consensus. Marc Trestman brings his ‘QB-friendly’ offense, and the team targeted skill position players in the draft, so there are clear reasons to be positive. However, I don’t see him hitting fantasy heights that are much higher than where he is, and it starts with his teammates: Flacco will not have the weapons Jay Cutler had in his two years with Trestman. Matt Forte was already established as one of the best (perhaps the best) pass-catching back in football. In Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he had two receivers that were being drafted in the top 20 in startup drafts, and Martellus Bennett thrived with the extra volume. While they are a decent group, Forsett, Perriman, a 36-year-old Steve Smith and rookie tight end Maxx Williams may not raise Flacco’s play like Cutler’s pieces did for him.

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When I spent time looking at weekly scoring over the past three years, Flacco was 18th in top-12 percentage, 19th in top-24 percentage and 27th in ‘superstar’ percentage (weeks over 30.1 points). The offense may be run differently, but I just don’t expect it to be tremendously productive with the lack of established receiving options. In his Ravens ‘2015 Fantasy Football Outlook,’ Rich Hribar argues against the idea of Trestman as a “QB Whisperer” and says it is “troublesome to believe Trestman is really capable of elevating a quarterback in a pedestrian situation like Joe Flacco is in this season.” Flacco meddles with mediocrity in the fantasy world, so opting for him is choosing longevity instead of a player who could dramatically improve and make a real leap into the conversation with the top quarterbacks. He warrants a selection as a reliable starter for the next few years, but I would prefer to spend an earlier pick on a stud, or a pick in a similar range on a star at another position or quarterback with higher upside.

Jameis Winston, TB and Marcus Mariota, TEN

winstonmariotaBreeze (Winston 21st overall, QB9 and Mariota 27th overall, QB10): Given the current landscape of quarterback throughout the entire NFL, I am a fan of both of the top two picks in this year’s draft. I’ve said it before and will say it again, quarterbacks with 5+ years of production left are priceless in 2QB leagues and both these players have very bright futures. The reason I have Winston over Mariota is simple, I think he is more talented. Winston can make every pro quality throw needed to be an elite NFL quarterback and I don’t think Mariota can. Mariota brings potential running ability to the table, however, I almost always take a pocket passer over player who relies on their legs to score fantasy points in 2QB leagues. Pocket passers usually have longer careers and have less injury risk. Not only do I think Winston is more talented, but I think he landed in a significantly better situation. The Buccaneers have made an obvious effort to improve their offensive line to keep Jameis upright while he targets the monstrous receiving corps of Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. While on the other hand, Mariota enters as the hopeful savior of the Titans who are loaded with high risk receiving options with low ceilings and a very troubled backfield. I also am not a believer in Ken Whisenhunt and think he will stunt Mariota’s development in the near term and this team will be under new coaching in the a few years. I’m just not overly excited about anything happening in Tennessee. Jameis has some obvious personality concerns however I’m going to take the more talented player in the better situation without hesitation.

James (Winston 34th overall, QB11 and Mariota 23rd overall, QB7): There are not many players who I have followed as closely as Marcus Mariota during their time at college. I believe the Titans have found themselves a gem who will be both a successful NFL quarterback and a fantasy stud. I think the biggest concern for many doubters stems from the idea that the great Oregon offense made life easy for him. However, the unbelievable college production had as much to do with his accuracy with the ball, decision-making, playmaking ability and command of his team as it had to do with the ‘system.’ He was masterful, accounting for 58 (FIFTY EIGHT!) total touchdowns in 2014 (42 passing, 15 rushing and one receiving) while only throwing four interceptions. To put the lack of turnovers into context – Jameis Winston only had 22 more pass attempts than Mariota yet threw 14 more interceptions.

I recognize college production means nothing at the pro level if a player doesn’t have ‘transferrable skills,’ but Mariota possesses them. Peter King busted some myths about his ability to do ‘pro-style’ things earlier this off-season and when Grantland’s Chris B. Brown profiled some of the top rookie quarterbacks, he concluded that he would “prefer to pick the passer whom I trust most to spend countless hours mastering his craft and to avoid doing anything on or off the field to jeopardize his future.” I don’t dislike Winston and expect a productive career from the Buccaneer who I view as similar to Ben Roethlisberger in his size, mobility and ‘escapability.’ However, the fantasy potential for Mariota is through the roof and I will be investing in him wherever possible.

Robert Griffin III, WAS

griffinJames (52nd overall, QB16): I have been a strong supporter this off-season, and as long as expectations for him remain low, I will continue that support. When a player begins his career with a year like Griffin’s 2012 season, a subsequent letdown will be much more memorable and impactful for fantasy football owners. We’ve all been burned by players for whom we had such high expectations, but we must reset those expectations on a regular basis. He is now healthy (fingers crossed), has no competition and, more importantly, the Redskins brought in Bill Callahan to boost the running game. Griffin plays his best football when Alfred Morris is rolling, and Washington will feed their workhorse back. The offensive efficiency will improve, and Griffin can be the beneficiary.

For your fantasy team, I would not recommend relying on him as a starter, however I do think do think he is great candidate for a rotation of quarterbacks behind a ‘stud’ QB1, or a strong QB3 with an ability to start when needed. In his mid-July mailbag, Eric Hardter identified him as a high-upside play as a second quarterback in a super flex league – a role I think he suits very well. With an ADP of QB23, now is the time to get him.

Breeze (73rd overall, QB24): Honestly, I feel like this may be even too high on the once heralded dual threat player. Let’s get this out of the way right now, RG3 will never have a season like 2012 ever again. It was a perfect storm of amazing play calling, extreme read option efficiency and Griffin’s running ability kept defences on their heels the entire season. The Redskins read-option in 2012 was so effective at freezing opposing linebackers that it made Griffin’s decision making of where to throw the ball so trivial. That is not the case anymore for a variety of reasons. For play action to be effective, the defense has to make stopping the run game a priority, however, when the Redskins constantly have to play from behind due to their bottom of the barrel defense, the threat of the run game becomes non-existent. If you have not noticed, the Washington defense doesn’t look to be improving dramatically anytime soon either. RG3’s running ability was just as important as Alfred Morris in the read option in 2012 and that has been damaged significantly since then as well.

His historic rookie year ended with an ACL tear and last year he missed half the year with a dislocated ankle. I’m not a big fan of the “injury prone” label, but if I was going to stamp someone with it, RG3 would be a prime candidate. This Subway spokesman constantly puts himself at risk by taking unnecessary hits from defenders and still has not learned to slide. If you haven’t seen him “slide,” you should youtube it for a good laugh.

His supporters say he had a few monster weeks in 2013, however, it wasn’t in the same fashion as him amazing rookie year. These big weeks were due to high volume of attempts in garbage time and not immaculate execution like we saw in his rookie season. Griffin could have a few big fantasy weeks again this year in the midst of blowouts, but that will not help him hold his job long starting spot. The mix of injury concerns, poor play and lack of job security make RG3 one of the most risky and cringe-worthy players to own in 2QB leagues for me.