News & Analysis

The fantasy quarterback landscape heading into free agency

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Redskins 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After previewing the pre-free agency landscape for running backs and wideouts, we’re moving on to quarterbacks, a position that will see far less movement but will potentially have a far greater impact.

Kirk Cousins obviously headlines this year’s group of free agent quarterbacks. (Although, technically, as of this writing, Drew Brees is also a free agent.) But there are a few other noteworthy names as well, including every 2017 Vikings quarterback.

Here’s a look at how much fantasy goodness could arise based on landing spot.

Highest impact potential

A free agent quarterback — (read: Cousins) — has extremely high potential to become a viable fantasy player in 2018 if they sign here via free agency.

Minnesota VikingsThe Vikings get their own category here, since they are easily the most desirable landing spot for a big-named quarterback (Cousins) from a fantasy perspective. The Vikings have one of the best wideout duos in the league in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Couple that pair with Kyle Rudolph at tight end, a promising second-year running back in Dalvin Cook, and a stingy defense to set up short fields, and the Vikings have all the tools in place to help a new quarterback become fantasy relevant right away.

High impact potential

A free agent quarterback has high potential to become a viable fantasy player in 2018 if they sign here via free agency.

Arizona CardinalsCarson Palmer has retired, and Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton, and Matt Barkley are all free agents — not that any of them were a real threat to a starting-caliber newcomer anyway. This team still has Larry Fitzgerald, who seems to be getting better with age, and they’ll get David Johnson back from injury, arguably the best dual-threat running back in the NFL. The fantasy potential here is underrated.

Denver BroncosIt’s impossible not to call the Broncos a “high impact potential” landing spot for a quarterback with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas out wide. The duo wasn’t dominant in 2017, but the optimistic mind can chalk much of those struggles up to inconsistent (or downright poor) quarterback play.

Medium impact potential

A free agent quarterback has mild potential to become a viable fantasy player in 2018 if they sign here via free agency.

Buffalo BillsWhat exactly the Bills plan to do with Tyrod Taylor is anyone’s guess, but Buffalo did bench him for Nathan Peterman in the middle of the season, so I guess anything is possible with this situation. The team clearly doesn’t like Taylor, and Peterman was dreadful in spot duty, so a free agent addition would have a realistic shot of taking snaps under center for the Bills this year.

Cleveland BrownsI was tempted to put the Browns in the “high impact potential” category, because this team does have a bevy of offensive weapons, but all of that potential might not be realized in 2018, so for now, Cleveland remains in the “medium” zone. Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson, and David Njoku is a solid core of talent.

New York Giants — In a bid to outdo the actual New York team (the Bills) in terms of 2017 starting quarterback shenanigans, the Giants benched local hero Eli Manning for … Geno Smith. Manning seems to be the guy for 2018, and the Giants are far more likely to draft a quarterback than add one via free agency, but we’d be remiss not to include the Giants here, since it is a possibility (however remote) that a free agent quarterback comes in and pushes a declining Manning.

New York JetsJosh McCown is a free agent, and he wants to play with the Jets again, but he’ll be 39 years old next season, and he’s not the long-term answer the Jets are looking for. McCown was actually a strong fantasy option for much of the 2017 season, however, which lends plenty of credence to the belief that someone like Cousins could be a viable QB1 in fantasy should he choose to suit up for Gang Green.

Low impact potential

A free agent quarterback is unlikely to become a viable fantasy player in 2018 if they sign here via free agency.

Every other team in the league — All other teams (25 of them) already have a starting quarterback or a young player they want to see more of.

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