Ranking the Quarterbacks on New Teams in 2018
The quarterback position in the NFL is one of the most stable positions there is. If you’re good at what you do, you tend to stick with your team for the longevity of your career where a head coach and an offensive coordinator can build a system around your skill set and implement it for the long haul.
Sure, turnover happens: rookies come into play, father time starts calling, and injuries happen.
However, the 2018 offseason saw two top-7 and four top-20 fantasy quarterbacks find new homes to start this upcoming season.
Some found themselves in better situations than others, and here’s how they stack up for the 2018, based on our projections.
6. A.J. McCarron, Buffalo Bills
By definition, we have to include A.J. McCarron in this article because he’s a quarterback who played for a different team than the team he could be starting for in Week 1.
Remember when the Cleveland Browns almost gave up a second- and third-round pick for McCarron? Talk about a blessing in disguise because things could look way different at FirstEnergy Stadium this year if that fax went through.
We all know who McCarron is and what he brings to the table -- and that’s a whole lot of blah. In 2015, he was a slightly above-average passer by our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) and Success Rate metrics during his 131 drop backs with the Cincinnati Bengals. But his 15 drop backs in 2017 lost Cincinnati 3.44 expected points.
At best, McCarron has been an average passer in the NFL. We can expect him to start maybe a handful of games before Josh Allen takes the reins.
5. Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals
It’s safe to say the Arizona Cardinals are going to look mighty different this year on offense, and that’s going to benefit whoever the starting quarterback is going to be.
The questions with Sam Bradford taking snaps are similar to McCarron and Tyrod Taylor in the sense that no one knows how short the leash is going to be with Josh Rosen next in the pecking order. Then there's always the question of whether or not Bradford can stay healthy enough to be productive.
If Rosen develops a rapport with his wide receivers during training camp, I’d imagine Bradford’s time as the starting quarterback in the desert is short-lived, hence him being toward the bottom of this list.
4. Case Keenum, Denver Broncos
We can go on about how Case Keenum put up career numbers in Minnesota last year, but that would be too easy and provide an inaccurate narrative considering it was the first time in his career he started more than nine games.
The fact of the matter is this: the Denver Broncos are a team built on defense. Even looking at their offseason acquisitions, the only upgrade they made to their offensive line that gave up the third-most sacks in the league last year was signing offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, who is poor pass blocker.
While Keenum at the helm provides a massive upgrade for Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and rookie Courtland Sutton, it’s hard to see Keenum improving upon last year’s QB14 numbers, where he ranked fourth in Passing Success Rate and eighth in Passing NEP per drop back.
Combine that with the fact that he'll be taking snaps behind our 28th-ranked offensive line, and it's looking like he will regress into the mid-QB2 range, which is why we have him ranked as our QB26.
3. Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns
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There really isn’t a better scenario for a mobile quarterback such as Tyrod Taylor than what he found with the Cleveland Browns.
He'll have arguably the best slot option in the league in Jarvis Landry, a deep threat in Josh Gordon, a pass-catching back in Duke Johnson, a young and athletic tight end ready to make the second-year leap in David Njoku, and a more-than-efficient running back in Carlos Hyde -- plus rookie Nick Chubb.
Further, according to ProFootballFocus, Taylor has ranked 5th-best in fantasy points per drop back over the past three seasons, but only 15th-best in fantasy points per game, meaning positive regression could be on the horizon with a new offense providing more powerful weapons.
However, there’s one, gigantic elephant in the room in the shape of the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft: Baker Mayfield. If it weren’t for Mayfield breathing down Taylor's neck, Taylor would probably be the second-ranked quarterback on this list.
The questions are this: how many starts does Tyrod get, and how short of a leash does he have? Early indications out of OTAs say that Mayfield is pretty far behind Taylor, which obviously bodes well for Taylor because with the weapons at his disposal, he has top-10 potential if he starts all 16 games.
2. Alex Smith, Washington Redskins
Alex Smith knew his time taking snaps for the Kansas City Chiefs was running out and put on quite the curtain call show in his last season at Arrowhead Stadium. Smith posted career highs in total yards (4,042), touchdowns (26), completions (341), and yards per game (269.5). He led the league in quarterback rating (104.7), too.
Here's what's concerning: Smith is going from the fourth-ranked offense in Adjusted NEP per play in the NFL last year to the 20th. Washington's run game ranked 28th in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play, while Kansas City ranked 6th.
That's a massive drop off in offensive efficiency, especially when you combine that with the drop off in offensive players around Smith. It also doesn’t help that he is going from the 9th-best pass-blocking team in the Chiefs to the 24th-best in the Redskins, according to ProFootballFocus.
1. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
It seemed like Cousins signing his contract with the Minnesota Vikings was merely a formality after the Vikings let their entire quarterback corps walk when the offseason began.
And talk about a match made in heaven for both Cousins and his new offensive weapons. Cousins went from Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, and half a season of Jordan Reed to one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, the ever-reliable Kyle Rudolph, and the electric Dalvin Cook.
As our very own Derek Brown pointed out, there are some concerns about passing volume decrease in Minnesota, but Washington only attempted 13 more passes last year than Minnesota and ranked 18th in total pass attempts with 540 compared to Minnesota’s 527 (ranking 20th).
Additionally, the Vikings' offensive line ranked eighth in sack rate last year, which gives Cousins plenty of pocket time to work with. After coming off of back-to-back-to-back season with QB1 numbers and a better offense in Minnesota, Cousins is expected to do the same this year with finishing in the top five a very possible scenario.