We asked our staff to make a call on a quarterback. Who will surprise - either good or bad?
Derek Carr, OAK
Last year Carr posted a career-best 4,055 yards, his second 4,000-yard season in a row - and he did that without any receivers exceeding 50 receptions thanks in part to Antonio Brown’s release from the team prior to Week 1. The Raiders are looking to excite their new fan base in Las Vegas by adding significant skill-position talent, starting with first-round selection Henry Ruggs III III, two third-rounders (Lynn Bowden Jr and Bryan Edwards), along with veterans Nelson Agholor and tight end Jason Witten. Marcus Mariota signed a significant contract to push Carr and bolster the depth at quarterback, but Carr should hold on to the starting job after two solid seasons. He has been a solid fantasy QB2 for his entire career (QB14-QB20 for six seasons) and has strong upside due to the added surrounding talent and the new energy expected as the team starts the Las Vegas era.
Since then, Josh Jacobs has been quoted as saying that he wants to catch at least 60 balls this season. That’s huge, given that Jacobs had minimal receiving numbers (20-166). If he triples that, it is another 300+ yards for Carr, who somehow cobbled together over 4,000 yards last season with no wide receiver catching over 50 passes or getting over 651 yards. If Henry Ruggs III can step up to be a true lead wide receiver, Carr could post 4,500+ yards passing and push for a Top 12 finish.
Okay, this is a super-deep, super long shot call, but as a last-round, perhaps priority waiver pickup in dynasty or super-flex leagues I like P.J. Walker, Carolina, also known as the unofficial XFL MVP. Walker is currently the number two QB in Carolina, ahead of Will Grier for the job. Walker has the trust of the new head coach Matt Rhule, as he was a two-year starter for Rhule from their Temple days. As for starter Teddy Bridgewater, he's an interesting fantasy sleeper in his own right (this is not an anti-Bridgewater take). The Panthers' offense has the potential for fantasy points.
From the offensive line perspective (i.e. what they actually pay me to do), there's been plenty of change, and while that is often needed, that can translate into leaky pass protection in the short term. Carolina is a low-tier line until they build cohesion. And Bridgewater has not been as elusive as he once was before his Minnesota knee injury.
Granted, the NFL is a league where contracts dictate playing time and Teddy Bridgewater will obviously be favored to get all the reps. But if Bridgewater struggles, or goes down again, Rhule would have no problem running his system through PJ Walker. Like a penny stock that could pay off huge, Walker could be a Vince Young with less height (yes I'm old); a duel threat that wins fantasy leagues in the short term. The offense has weapons. He just needs the chance to run it.
I will take a relatively easy one. Last year, Dak Prescott finished higher than Patrick Mahomes II (on a points/game basis) in many leagues. However, he is drafted several rounds after Mahomes this year but should not be.
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