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Who will be this year’s Matt Ryan?

Matt Ryan went from undrafted to one of the best fantasy players in the league last year. Which quarterback will do it this year?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-OTA Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Originally, I was planning on writing a piece called “Are we forgetting about Andrew Luck?”, all about the aforementioned Luck and if we—we being the fantasy football world—weren’t giving him his due as an elite fantasy quarterback.

Then, while I was perusing Fantasy Football Calculator (doing research as writers are wont to do) I stumbled upon a ridiculous factoid: Matt Ryan didn’t have an average draft position last year in standard leagues. See for yourselves. In PPR leagues, Ryan’s ADP was in the 13th round.

Why did this singlehandedly blow my mind and make me completely reconsider the direction of this article?

Because Matt Ryan finished QB2 in standard and PPR leagues. Hell, he was the second best fantasy player in standard leagues behind just Aaron Rodgers. He averaged 21.7 fantasy points per game! That’s quite the rise to stardom for a guy who seemingly went undrafted in most fantasy leagues.

It’s becoming very trendy now to wait on quarterbacks until very late in your drafts because of the depth at the position. Players like Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford and Tyrod “TyGOD” Taylor are all hot names in fantasy circles because they’re getting drafted in the 10th round or later and can easily be your starting quarterback. Of that list I just mentioned, three of those guys finished as top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Again, pretty good return on a 10th round pick.

While waiting on a quarterback until the final rounds is cool and all—and definitely gets you style points in whichever league you’re playing in—imagine not even drafting a quarterback. Imagine picking your quarterback off the waiver wire only to watch him score bushels of points and lead your team to a championship. Now that’s cool. And you want to be cool. So I went and took a look at Fantasy Football Calculator QB ADP for 2017 to see which signal callers are off the list, thus primed to pull a Matt Ryan.

Here’s the list:

  • Josh McCown
  • Cody Kessler/Brock Osweiler/DeShone Kizer
  • Alex Smith
  • Trevor Siemian
  • Mike Glennon
  • Brian Hoyer
  • Jared Goff

It’s not great.

If we’re looking at which of these quarterbacks could come roaring onto the fantasy stage, the natural first pick would be Alex Smith simply because a) he’s a competent quarterback and b) he has a good supporting cast. However, there’s a reason Smith is often made fun of and not taken seriously in fantasy circles. It’s because he’s not good. In his career, Smith has only finished above QB15 once and that was in 2013 when he threw for a career high 23 touchdowns. Last year Smith ran for five touchdowns and still somehow managed to finish QB22 in standard leagues. Standard leagues give you a lot of points for QB rushing touchdowns—that’s what makes Cam Newton, Rodgers and TyGOD such intriguing fantasy options—yet even that performance couldn’t make Smith fantasy relevant. So he’s a lost cause.

Going down the list, Josh McCown is playing for the Jets so he’s not magically going to become amazing. Neither will the three headed monster in Cleveland, even if Kizer takes the starting role Day 1 and runs with it. The Bears just got rid of their number one receiver and I don’t think Kevin White will ever be healthy so I’m not sure who Mike Glennon would be throwing the ball to. I like Brian Hoyer, and I LOVE Kyle Shanahan (after all, he’s who brought around the Matt Ryan renaissance in the first place), but lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. I’m rooting for Jared Goff to not be a bust but I’m not so sure I see a world in which Goff goes from complete bum to top-5 fantasy quarterback in a season which the Rams failed to get him a big time, go-to receiver. Pass.

That leaves me with Trevor Siemian. The Broncos do have what it takes for a quarterback to make a drastic leap into the fantasy stratosphere. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have proven to be an excellent fantasy receiver duo, better than any of the other teams on this list have to offer. But does Siemian really have what it takes to jump from undrafted to the upper levels of fantasy stardom? No. But maybe Paxton Lynch does... no. Still no. While I do think we see a lot more Lynch this season, I don’t foresee Lynch suddenly becoming a must-own quarterback who puts the league on notice. But if I had to pick someone who could do it, I think Lynch would be my choice. A lot of things would have to go right for him but it could happen.

While maybe there won’t be another undrafted quarterback making a staggering leap, there are a few in the last few rounds I could see paying off in a big way.

It really hurts that Deshaun Watson just snuck onto FFC’s ADP in the 14th round. It’s brutal because he would be very high on my list of undrafted guys who could make a leap. However, now that I’m including players with ADP, I can throw him on the list. Watson has the inside track to the starting gig in Houston—because Tom Savage is not real—and of all the rookie quarterbacks, in my mind he’s the most NFL ready. He’s also in a talented offense with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller and C.J. Fiedorowicz, plus has a good offensive line in front of him. In our PPR mock draft, Barnes snagged Watson with the very last pick and I love it because if he becomes anything you’ve got him locked down and if not, he’s Mr. Irrelevant. Not really losing anything in releasing him.

Despite all the hate—which in the real world of football is well founded—Blake Bortles does know how to put up fantasy points. He was QB4 in 2015 and QB10 this past year. Now, the Jaguars offense will likely look a little different with an investment in the running game but that might be good for Blake. He’s also currently being drafted 14.03 so if he can put together another top-10 fantasy performance, I’m onboard for that. Carson Palmer is another guy who could payoff if you take a chance on him in the 14th round. The Cardinals offense is a year remove from being deadly in the air, helping Palmer finish QB5 in 2015. With noise out of training camp is that John Brown is looking like the John Brown of old (and by old I mean 2015), Palmer could find himself back in top-10 consideration.

After going through this entire exercise, it seems that the Matt Ryan renaissance was a once in a lifetime occurrence. It was the perfect storm of a skilled quarterback exceeding expectations on a team that had enormous talent around him. If you were able to capitalize on his ascent, you deserve a pat on the back and a firm handshake. But don’t worry, while there may not be exactly another Matt Ryan this year, there are certainly quarterbacks out there who could outplay their current ADP.

Poll

Who do you think could be this year’s Matt Ryan?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Paxton Lynch
    (5 votes)
  • 23%
    Deshaun Watson
    (13 votes)
  • 29%
    Blake Bortles
    (16 votes)
  • 36%
    Carson Palmer
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    the three headed monster in Cleveland
    (1 vote)
55 votes total Vote Now