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Quarterbacks tend to be some of the more undervalued commodities in fantasy football. For years owners have been punting the quarterback position in their redraft leagues. Dynasty leagues have owners moving breakout stars around when their value blows up, just to roll with a guy like Philip Rivers week in and week out. It makes sense, it’s common knowledge anymore, and it’s something that will continue to be done.

This year was a very interesting year at the quarterback position. From young, breakout stars, to the surprising breakout of some backup quarterbacks, this year was full of surprises. Not to mention the exhilarating matchup of the two backup quarterbacks in the NFC Championship game this year.

It’s safe to say, there were some big-time surprises at the quarterback position.

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Surprise Quarterbacks of 2017

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans – QB26

The biggest surprise of this season was none other than the rookie Texans quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Not only was Watson a major surprise this year, there were realistic talks about this guy being in the running for MVP. Not just rookie of the year… NFL MVP. Week after week there were talks about this unsustainable TD rate he was at, and he just continued to produce. In a few of my redraft leagues this year, I was lucky enough to grab Watson off the waiver wire early. One league in particular, I had Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Lamar Miller fired up into my starting lineup every week, and the wins kept coming. This Texans offense fell off hard when Watson went down, except for the main man ‘Nuk’ Hopkins of course. Anyone who was lucky enough to grab Watson knows just how good it felt to throw him out there every week, and the guy is the real deal. From traveling into Seattle and getting major props from some of the best defensive players in the league, to putting up four TDs or more on multiple occasions. You’re talking a guy that is giving each of the top-five dynasty QBs a run for their money, and rightfully so.

Deshaun Watson was on pace to finish inside the top 2-3 this year for QBs, depending how Carson Wentz would’ve finished had he played the whole season, those two guys were looking like they’d finish as the top two QBs in fantasy. It’s such a shame to see anyone go out the way Watson did, especially someone doing this in their first season in the league. If you grabbed Deshaun Watson in your dynasty drafts last season, congratulations. You just landed yourself a guy that’s giving Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson a run for their money in dynasty league rankings. Best of luck to Deshaun and his recovery this off-season, NFL fans and fantasy fans alike cannot wait to see him back on the field.

Josh McCown, New York Jets – QB21

Josh McCown takes a close second place here on my list of surprises at the quarterback position. Heading into the season, per usual, there were countless questions up in the air. New coaches, new faces in different cities, new rookies, and many other uncertainties. Despite all these uncertainties, there was one thing that we knew for sure. The Jets would be terrible. This wasn’t even up for discussion. Every other article you saw, ever other podcast you listened to, people were talking about the Jets not winning a game this year. Josh McCown carrying the Jets this year has got to be one of the most underrated storylines of the year.

Josh McCown wasn’t someone that you were waiting late for in your Redraft leagues. He wasn’t even on your radar. If he was, props to you, because everyone in the fantasy world wasn’t even considering McCown. Through Week 13, McCown was the QB7 in fantasy. He was making plays with his feet and turning Robby Anderson into a must-start WR. In fact, in those 13 weeks, Anderson was the WR14 in PPR leagues. The emotion that came out of McCown after his injury showed us all just how much this season meant to him. Against all odds, and largely with the help of so many teams with a mediocre record, the Jets were legit and had a shot at the playoffs for a while. McCown was one of the biggest surprises this year, and was on track to be a QB1 had he played the whole season.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles – QB5

Next up is Carson Wentz. Similar to Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz came into this year and absolutely shocked the fantasy world. Many fantasy owners were banking on Carson to take a step forward in his second year, but not like this. In the first seven weeks, Wentz was the number two QB in fantasy, second to none other than Alex Smith. Another on this list that I’ll get too. Wentz looks good. Really good. When you look at how the Eagles offense and team as a whole has turned things around this year, it’s tough not to imagine this team being contenders for years to come. Wentz ended the season with 3,296 yards, 33 TDs and just seven interceptions.

When it comes to dynasty league football, the value of a guy like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees tends to get overlooked to an extent. We all know, the stud WRs and bell cow RBs are the ones we want to build our teams around, but having one of those stud QBs for years can keep you competitive year in and year out. That’s what I see when I watch Carson Wentz play. A stud QB set up for success in an excellent position. The offense looks great, Wentz looks poised, comfortable in the pocket, and the relationships he’s built with Zach Ertz and his receiving core appears to be one that will be long lasting. Wentz has moved up in dynasty QB rankings like crazy this year, don’t be surprised when you see him as the top QB in dynasty rankings this off-season.

Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs – QB4

Alex Smith did have a very surprising season, but he also was the only one on this list to play an entire season. He wasn’t putting up crazy numbers and then abruptly get stopped due to an injury, he just fell off. Along with the entire offense for a good chunk of the season. The entire Chiefs offense this season was a bit of a surprise. Kareem Hunt came out and was absolutely on fire, finishing the season as the No. 4 RB in PPR. Tyreek Hill, despite his lack of targets, ended the season as a WR1. Travis Kelce did what was expected, and then some, finishing the season as the number one TE in PPR. This offense was on fire, and Alex Smith was the one leading the way. In Week 8 against the Denver Broncos, Smith began to fall off slightly, and the Chiefs lost four straight games. Had he been able to be more consistent with these high end QB1 numbers, he’d be higher on this list.

Alex Smith finished the season with over 4,000 yards, 26 TDs, and 5 interceptions, completing 67.5% of his passes. Whether it was Andy Reid giving Smith the reigns to air it out, or make some decisions on his own, whatever it was, it was working. Whatever the reason was for this resurgence out of Alex Smith this year, it doesn’t sound like he will be in Kansas City next year. The Chiefs rookie QB Patrick Mahomes looks great and appears to be the Chiefs answer at the QB position moving forward. Smith was a very nice surprise for fantasy owners this year, offering excellent return on draft position, or even as a waiver wire pick up.

Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings – QB14

Last, but not least, we have Case Keenum. Keenum was another QB this year who was a surprise for fantasy owners, as well as NFL fans in general. The Minnesota Vikings had an excellent season this year, and Keenum deserves a lot of the credit. He finished the season as the number 14 QB, while producing the WR8 in PPR in Adam Thielen, and the number WR19 in Stefon Diggs. Not to mention, he just was a very solid game manager, which was perfect to pair with that stellar defense. Improvements to this offensive line greatly helped the run game this season, despite losing rookie Dalvin Cook early on. Who would’ve predicted this battle of the backup quarterbacks in the NFC Championship? Despite the loss to the Eagles, there is no doubt that Keenum was a major surprise this year, but do the Vikings believe he is their long-term answer at the QB position?

 

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