We hear about older players declining every single offseason. Whether it's Frank Gore or Larry Fitzgerald, some people would have you believe that there's an age limit on how productive a player can be for fantasy. Sure, no one is good forever and practically all players retire before 40. That doesn't mean we need to take 35ish year olds behind the barn just because the calendar says to.
Here we'll be looking at older quarterbacks with an emphasis on why they'll be just fine in 2017. In fact, everyone listed is likely to perform well despite their age restrictions. Some are older than others, most have great weapons, all are going to produce on an actual NFL field. It's fantasy we're concerned with here, though, so that's what the primary focus will be.
As usual during the offseason months, everything we discuss is subject to change based on all the typical moves over the spring. Stay tuned to RotoBaller for everything else that comes up.
An Ode To Old Quarterbacks
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Let's get the most obvious name out of the way first, shall we? I'll admit, I was one of the many who thought Tom Brady might be cooked sooner rather than later. In fact, I will shamefully own up to me being aboard that bandwagon the year they beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Now, however, it's appearing more and more obvious that Brady will be one of the rare few who maintain his Hall of Fame level production through the entirety of his career.
Brady's path to fantasy greatness is kind of independent of whoever his weapons are. His most potent ally, Rob Gronkowski, played in just eight games this past season. The only truly strong wide receiver in New England, Julian Edelman, had himself a down year by his standards. Brady even missed four games due to an overdue, over-exaggerated suspension yet he still threw for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns to two interceptions. I know, I know, you're tired of hearing about how Brady would have won MVP had Deflategate never happened. Let's just move on to how he'll do next year.
The philsophy of waiting on quarterback only works if you can either nail one late in your draft or get lucky enough to snag a stud off waivers. Few are locks, many are busts, but Brady is a stud. He's proven he doesn't need any significant weapons, his schedule of opponents is irrelevant, his production hasn't missed a step, and he has the best coach in the league. If you're saying Tom Brady is going to be bad at age 40, you have every right to make that conjecture. Just be aware that all the evidence points to the contrary, so you're going out on one hell of a limb.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Independent of Ben Roethlisberger's injury history, the only thing standing in his way of consistent fantasy greatness is his play on the road. That may sound like a lot but the reality is he isn't actually missing all that much time compared to how much time we spend talking about it. He missed two games coming off of a meniscus repair that would have sidelined most players for longer. He missed four games the season prior to that, and played all 16 two seasons in a row over 2013-14. Besides, he's had such great protection the last few years anyway. It's safe to say his injuries are blown out of proportion.
That brings us to this home/road debacle. I don't have an explanation for you that will help you feel better about fantasy. I'm sorry, but I'm in the honesty business, not the make-you-feel-better business. I can say, however, that Pittsburgh's winning strategy for decades has always been "get the win, and get out of there." That's probably the best I can do for trying to rationalize why Ben plays poorly on the road. It's not like he gets mentally rattled, he just...stinks sometimes.
Never mind all that, the Steelers have the best set of weapons in the league. Sorry, Atlanta. That's why Big Ben will be an excellent option for fantasy in 2017. Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Ladarius Green, Martavis Bryant, Jesse James, Eli Rogers plus whoever else they pick up between now and August will all be at Ben's disposal. Similar to Brady, it's not like Ben is slowing down either. He's coming off of a 29-touchdown season where he was without his full arsenal for much of the year. Ben Roethlisberger is going to light defenses up come next season. Even if he misses three games, Ben + backup QB-x will easily net you top-7 fantasy production.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
If the New Orleans Saints want to be competitive in 2017 they're going to rely on the arm of Drew Brees. Their defense is below average and the ground game is far too inconsistent. That leaves Brees, which is the best thing the Saints have going for them by a long, long mile.
That's not a bad thing from a fantasy standpoint, though. It's perfectly fine to rely on one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Just ask the aforementioned Tom Brady. It's a legitimate path to fantasy stardom. If anything, it actually helps. That's been the mindset of the Saints for years now, let your best player make the best plays. In 2016, that translated to Drew Brees leading the league in passing yards and ranking third in both touchdowns thrown and total fantasy points among QBs. It's a sound strategy that clearly works for New Orleans, letting us fantasy folks benefit immensely.
As long as their game plan doesn't change, the Saints are going to keep airing it out like crazy. No one threw the ball more than New Orleans last year. That alone increases a quarterback's value and when you're already talking about one of the best in the league, the fantasy implications are amplified.
It's a silly, lame, and cliche thing to say, but age really is just a number. All it tells us is how many times your person has rotated around the sun (shower-time thought.) It doesn't have much influence over the quarterback position when you're talking about great players, let alone surefire Hall of Famers. I would even throw some additional names in this group like Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Both of those guys were in the same draft class as Ben Roethlisberger and they're both serviceable in fantasy given the right circumstances. Eli is a deep league play and Rivers is the "wait on QB" poster boy. Older quarterbacks shouldn't scare you at all in 2017, nor should they ever for as long as you play fantasy.