Pre-free agency quarterback fantasy landscape
Big-name quarterbacks are so rare and so sought out that they rarely hit free agency in today’s NFL. Some teams (I’m looking at you, Washington) like to flirt with the potential disaster of letting a good starting quarterback hit the open market, while others (I’m looking at you, Buffalo) just straight-up embrace chaos like an old friend.
This year’s crop of free agent quarterbacks is underwhelming, so the fantasy impact on the quarterback landscape is unlikely to be huge. Where skill position players land will end up making bigger waves.
But there are still some potentially ripe spots for a free agent quarterback to land this season. Let’s check it out.
High impact potential
A free agent quarterback has high potential to become a viable fantasy player in 2017 if they sign here via free agency.
Denver Broncos — The Broncos aren’t losing any quarterbacks via free agency, but considering that Trevor Siemian earned a PFF grade that ranked 30th out of 34 — and Paxton Lynch was actually even worse — it’s safe to say the team’s quarterback situation isn’t settled. The Broncos have tremendous talent at receiver with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, so the fantasy potential for a quarterback here is high. Matt Barkley — who showed great promise at times last season with the Bears — is a viable candidate. So is Mike Glennon.
Chicago Bears — Jay Cutler isn’t expected back with the Bears, and both Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer are hitting free agency. It’s impossible to know at this point what the Bears are going to do, but if the team is able to re-sign Alshon Jeffery, then they have a truly talented offense with Jeffery, Jordan Howard, Kevin White, Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller. The right quarterback could immediately become a fantasy factor. Don’t forget: From Weeks 2 to 6 last year, Hoyer was fourth in the NFL in passing yards and was a fringe QB1 in fantasy. From Weeks 12 to 17, Barkley was 10th in passing yards.
Houston Texans — Could the Texans really give up on Brock Osweiler one year after making a big free agency splash for him? It would be a somewhat unheard-of quick admission of abject failure on an NFL team’s part, but it’s certainly possible. If Tyrod Taylor escapes Buffalo, or if Tony Romo is released by the Cowboys, they could find a new home in Houston. The fantasy potential here is high. Houston legitimately has a great team and a potent offense — minus the current quarterback.
Medium impact potential
A free agent quarterback has mild potential to become a viable fantasy player in 2017 if they sign here via free agency.
San Francisco 49ers — Colin Kaepernick is no longer in town, and while the 49ers are probably thinking about the draft in their search for a quarterback, a free agent quarterback might be able to compete for the starting job in 2017. The 49ers do have a strong running back in Carlos Hyde and viable weapons in Jeremy Kerley and Torrey Smith, but it’s not a deadly offense by any stretch. It’s hard to envision a free agent quarterback signing here and having any season-long fantasy value in 2017. It would mostly be a weekly streaming or DFS ordeal for fantasy purposes.
Cleveland Browns — It’s hard to know what the Browns will do at quarterback. They have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but with Myles Garrett on the board, they aren’t expected to take a quarterback. The Browns could try to survive another year with the Robert Griffin III-Cody Kessler combination (Josh McCown is a free agent), or they could make a run at any one of the top quarterback options in this year’s free agency class to hold them over until they draft a franchise quarterback. If the Browns can resign Terrelle Pryor, their offensive weapons would consist of Pryor, Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. That’s not a bad group. A free agent quarterback probably wouldn’t be on any season-long radars, but they would for sure have DFS and streaming appeal.
Buffalo Bills — EJ Manuel is leaving via free agency, and Tyrod Taylor is apparently not wanted in Buffalo anymore. If Taylor does leave (for whatever reason), the Bills will obviously need a quarterback. LeSean McCoy and Buffalo’s potent rushing attack would give a free agent quarterback a crutch to lean on in 2017, and Sammy Watkins is capable of making some huge plays. But outside of those two players, it’s a bit bleak in Buffalo. There is fantasy potential for a free agent quarterback here, but it’s nothing tremendous.
New York Jets — Ryan Fitzpatrick is done in New York, and Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty hardly seems like answers. If a free agent quarterback lands in New York, it’s far from a perfect situation. The team just cut its best wideout (Brandon Marshall), and while they still have Eric Decker on the roster, it’s clear that this offense is in rebuilding mode. The immediate fantasy potential for a quarterback here is mild, at best.
Low impact potential
A free agent quarterback is unlikely to become a viable fantasy player in 2017 if they sign here via free agency.
Every other team in the league — The other 25 teams in the NFL either have a franchise quarterback already, or a young player they want to give more opportunity. No sense in going team-by-team to say that.