A stud fantasy quarterback can make a fantasy team the same way a dud can break an owner's heart. 2016 saw the emergence of guys like Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, while proven commodities Cam Newton and Russell Wilson squandered. The rest of your team can be average but since you only have one shot at a QB starter every week, the position alone can determine the outcome of your matchup. Looking ahead to 2017, here are a few signal callers who could pop in the upcoming season. Keep in mind that this is subject to change based on all the usual factors that occur over the spring. One player in particular has a multitude of caveats attached to him. How's that for a tease?
One other quick disclaimer. Based on the state of the position, these players aren't exactly fresh faces. They've all been considered fantasy starters at one point or another during an NFL season. Alright, enough preamble, let's roll.
Early Breakout Candidates: QB
Jameis Winston (QB, TB)
Admittedly, I'm fully expecting Jameis Winston to be over-drafted in 2017. He'll be a hot name a lot of people will consider a sleeper. That being said, that doesn't mean he can't also be a breakout star. Both things can be true here.
The most obvious analysis on Winston is so easy to name, any average Joe can pinpoint it. Mike Evans. Welp, we're done here, moving on.
Kidding. The presence of Mike Evans increases Winston's upside significantly. If we're talking breakouts, the Winston-to-Evans connection warrants our attention. Besides, Winston is clearly improving and the Buccaneers are a legit threat in the NFC South. Expecting him to take another step forward in his third season is reason No. 2. The third, albeit circumstantial reason, is that the Buccaneers need more playmakers. You should fully expect Tampa Bay to add a receiver to compliment their star either via the draft or by adding a veteran. Throw in the emergence of Cameron Brate, maybe even a RB upgrade, and Winston could easily end up surrounded by a plethora of weapons.
Tony Romo (QB)
Leaving out Tony Romo's team was absolutely intentional since there's almost zero chance he stays in Dallas. This is the one that, yes, has a multitude of caveats attached to his breakout status. It's far too early to figure out where he'll land and we don't even know who his weapons will be. Oh yeah, and he hasn't stayed healthy since the Ice Age.
Even if we were to throw out five potential destinations for Romo, every single one of them would provide massive potential for fantasy stardom. Let's rattle them off, shall we? In no particular order: New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers. With the exception of maybe San Francisco, all of those teams have considerable weapons in place. Not only would Romo upgrade the team's offensive firepower, he'd step right back into top-12 fantasy consideration.
Listen, I get it if you're hesitant to invest in Romo given his recent health woes. Just consider the fact that you're going to get him on the cheap. I can say with absolute certainty that Romo is going to fall firmly into the "wait on QB" category of quarterbacks. He'll be drafted among the likes of Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Matthew Stafford. Not only that, he'll probably go last out of the bunch. If you're going to roll with that strategy or even just want a flier toward the end of your draft, keep Romo on your radar as the offseason progresses.
Carson Wentz (QB, PHI)
What breakout list would be complete with out a really deep name? For the first five weeks of 2016, Carson Wentz looked dialed in as a legit rookie starter. Once midseason rolled around, Wentz fell off, along with Philadelphia's playoff hopes. The good thing, however, is that Wentz showed promise as an NFL quarterback and should be able to build on his first-year success.
Like I said at the top of this piece, all of these players are subject to change based on offseason moves. I'm operating under a "best case scenario" basis here since the Eagles need to improve their team as well. That said, Philly has the fewest hurdles in my opinion. Wentz has shown he can do more with less, covering up some of the flaws that a Jameis Winston would have to deal with. If Winston is Evans-dependent, Wentz isn't dependent on anyone at all. He can get it done spreading the ball around to whomever the Eagles trot out at wide receiver. Sometimes you don't need a superstar receiver, you just need warm bodies who can catch passes when they're open. That's kind of how I view Carson Wentz. He's like Ryan Tannehill, if he was actually good. Sorry Dolphins fans.
Spinning all of that towards fantasy, Wentz will be a deep flier that warrants your attention. I wouldn't say he's on the "wait on QB" list but he's definitely a solid backup play. If you end up with someone who misses games like Ben Roethlisberger or a someone who's inconsistent like Matthew Stafford, Wentz is your guy. He'll be solid enough during bye weeks and he has some nice upside to boot.
Check out RotoBaller's famous 2017 fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!