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QBs unlikely to repeat their top-12 fantasy seasons

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws to an open receiver during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Continuing with our research on how often top fantasy football players repeat their performance, we turn our attention to quarterbacks. Just as we did with running backs and wide receivers, we will evaluate the top fantasy quarterbacks from the past five years and track how often they repeat their performance. Because this pool is much smaller and, more often than not, you can only start one quarterback in a league, we will only consider the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks.

Top-12 Average 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
60% 50% 67% 67% 58% 58%

According to our research, top fantasy running backs and wide receivers repeated a top-20 performance 51 percent and 55 percent of the time, respectively. Top quarterbacks, however, repeated their performance 60 percent of the time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that NFL teams pay so much money for quarterbacks, since they’ve shown a propensity to repeat their excellent performances more often than running backs and receivers. The same could be said for your fantasy teams. If there’s a quarterback who registered a top-12 fantasy season the year before, he will most likely prove to be a great value, even in the later rounds.

However, this still means 40 percent of top fantasy quarterbacks won’t repeat their great statistical seasons from the year before. Who might that be in 2016? Below are a few candidates, not including Tom Brady (suspension) or Ryan Fitzpatrick (free agent).

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (2015 positional ranking: fifth)

Compared to running backs and receivers, older quarterbacks are not nearly as problematic. Several of the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks are in their late 30s, including Palmer. But unlike other older quarterbacks (Tom Brady or Drew Brees), Palmer’s top fantasy ranking was a rarity for him. While Brady and Brees have had multiple top-12 fantasy finishes in the later part of their careers, 2015 was Palmer’s first since 2007, and one of only four over his entire career. He achieved that ranking by throwing for career highs in yards (4,671) and touchdowns (35) in his age-35 season, which, while impressive, shows that 2015 was more of an outlier than the norm.

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