What’s the opposite of position scarcity? The glut of passing game production—2014 saw record numbers of completions and passing touchdowns—has diluted the quarterback position to the point that the average draft position of the final quarterback off the board in a 12-team league is Round 9. Do you overpay for the rock-solid consistency of the elite quarterbacks? Roll the dice and hope your favorite sleeper falls into your lap? Or stream the position week to week, attempting to capitalize on the aforementioned surplus of passing stats? To help you answer these burning questions, here’s a breakdown of not only the position’s productivity over the past few years but also each team’s recent passing-game production—and what’s in store for the upcoming campaign.
Position Totals by Year
|Year||Passes||Comps||Pass Yards||YPC||Pass TD||Int||Runs||Rush Yards||Rush TD|
Has the “running quarterback” trend peaked? Attempts and yardage were down, and touchdowns dropped off to pre-RG3/Russell Wilson levels. Meanwhile completions were up, passing yardage held firm and passing touchdowns were at an all-time high. Those inflated passing numbers also explain why waiting on your fantasy quarterback is the hot trend of the day; why spend a second-round pick on a 40-touchdown guy when three or four 30-TD options will still be on the board six rounds later?
Top Ten Quarterback Totals
|Year||Passes||Comps||Pass Yards||Pass TD||Runs||Rush Yards||Rush TD||FF Pts|
While overall quarterback rushing yardage was down the top 10 QBs saw their yardage tick back up–mimicking the league’s preference for mobile quarterbacks who can also throw (see Rodgers, Aaron). Those same quarterbacks–multi-million dollar investments all–are choosing to score by air rather than by land, with rush TDs down more than 50 percent from two seasons ago while passing touchdowns continuing to climb. It’s the model most NFL teams are seeking–and having success with. So if Jameis Winston can move or Marcus Mariota can throw…
Arizona went 6-0 with Carson Palmer healthy last season, and 5-3 with backup Drew Stanton handling snaps. But when knee injuries prematurely ended the seasons of both Palmer and Stanton, the Cardinals were in deep trouble. Logan Thomas didn’t stand out with extra reps during OTAs and his job may be in jeopardy, but Bruce Arians has to hope he won’t be mining the bottom of his QB depth chart again this season. Project Palmer’s numbers last year over a full 16 games and he was approximately Philip Rivers—in other words, a top-10 fantasy contributor. With an ADP in the 15th round (QB27) you won’t have to overpay for Palmer, and with the Cardinals again devoting their offseason to beefing up their offensive line there’s definitely upside to his game.
The arrival of Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta suggests the Falcons’ offensive emphasis will switch to the running game. However, with the passing game weapons Atlanta possesses there will still be plenty of opportunity for Matt Ryan to record a fifth straight 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown campaign. Where the Falcons’ new offense could help Ryan this year is with a play-action passing game, moving pocket and quicker offensive linemen who can keep Ryan’s sack numbers trending in the right direction. Ryan’s QB5 ADP means you won’t be getting any bargains, but there’s nothing wrong with a sixth-round investment in a solid blue-chip stock.
Fantasy owners continue to be underwhelmed by Joe Flacco consistently clocking in on the fringe of fantasy assistance, as his QB20 ADP attests. But he’s been a whisker under 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons, with a career-high 27 touchdown tosses last year—and noted quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman is his new play-caller. Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels are gone, replaced by rookies Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams, so there may be growing pains. But there should also be an uptick in high-percentage throws to Justin Forsett, much like Trestman used Matt Forte last year. Ultimately, Flacco will once again be undervalued by fantasy owners—and once again provide a solid return on a low-end investment.