There’s a changing of the guard underway at quarterback in the NFL. Peyton Manning has retired, while Tom Brady and Drew Brees are getting ever closer to the dreaded age of 40. Meanwhile, the younger talent (Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck) have all emerged as new faces of the NFL. But rather than shrink away, the old gatekeepers continue playing at the top of their game, making quarterback one of the deeper positions in fantasy football.
Due to the amount of high-caliber talent available, fantasy owners have multiple viable options. You can pay a premium for guys like Newton, Wilson or Aaron Rodgers and never have to worry about the position outside of the player’s bye week. Or you can wait until the middle-to-late rounds and find solid value in the form of Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins. Heck, you can probably punt the position entirely and get by on weekly streaming, so long as you make up for it with depth at other positions. There is almost no wrong draft strategy when it comes to quarterbacks ... unless you draft Mark Sanchez.
That said, quarterback is not without its question marks this season. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger concerns:
— Brady finally gave up and accepted his four-game DeflateGate suspension, knocking his fantasy value down considerably. Maybe you’re a believer in Jimmy Garoppolo, but we aren’t.
— Tony Romo's injury woes continue, as he's missing half of the season with a broken back. Will rookie Dak Prescott do enough to be useful in fantasy leagues?
— Carson Palmer stayed healthy, but he’s another year older and has his own long injury history. Last year’s meltdown in the NFC Championship won’t soon be forgotten.
— Ben Roethlisberger missed four games with various injuries and is now 34. He won’t have Le’Veon Bell for three games and won’t have Martavis Bryant at all.
— What exactly do we make of Luck, who was downright bad in the few games he was healthy last year?
So there are a lot of gambles to take into consideration when picking your quarterback this season.
If you’re looking for a rookie-year breakout, this is probably not the year (man, did we get spoiled by 2012). Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the top rookie quarterbacks last year, and they finished as Yahoo’s QB13 and QB22, respectively. Not exactly earth-shattering production. Among this year’s class, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are both buried on the depth chart, and neither player will be making an early impact. Paxton Lynch could make starts in 2016 and Prescott is a risky gamble even after his impressive preseason. All of these players are better dynasty league investments than re-draft assets.