Drew: Ryan — There is the whole second-year-under-an-offensive-coordinator
history for Ryan. There is the fact that he is one season removed
from a dynamic campaign. There is the fact he has numerous weapons
— Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, Tevin
Coleman. … There are a lot of reasons to like Ryan.
On the flip side, Smith worries us. Smith’s best season, last year, he threw
26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That is just swell. Though, 26
touchdowns is Ryan’s average over his 10 seasons. Smith has two other
20-plus TD seasons; Ryan has one where he didn’t surpass 20 — his
rookie year (16). Plus, Ryan has five seasons in which he threw more than
Take all of that, then consider the best target Smith has is Jamison
Crowder, who is fine but far from a Julio Jones, the frequently injured Jordan
Reed, a questionable running game without rookie Derrius Guice, and
it is Smith’s first year on a new team in a new offense with a coordinator
who has built on a career building average offenses. … Well, I thought
this debate was gonna be closer, but suddenly I feel like I’m running up
Jarad: Smith — No, Smith does not have the flashy toys Ryan has. No,
Smith does not have nine straight seasons when he has tossed 20-plus
touchdowns. And, yes, we know Smith has thrown for 4,000 yards once
whereas Ryan has done in each of his past seven seasons.
Modal TriggerAlex Smith, who played for the Chiefs last season, has an
extra running dimension to his game.
Alex Smith, who played for the Chiefs last season, has an extra running
dimension to his game.AP
Ryan has also thrown double-digit interceptions in all but two of his 10
NFL seasons. Smith has four double-digit interception seasons, with his
last coming in 2010. Smith has thrown 33 interceptions since 2013 and
Ryan has doubled that number (66). Since 2011, just two quarterbacks
have a better TD:INT rate than Smith, and Ryan is not one of them (it’s Tom
Brady and Aaron Rodgers, if you were curious).
Another part of Smith’s game that is overlooked: his ability to run. Ryan
never has rushed for more than 145 yards in a season, and hasn’t
scored a rushing TD since 2012. Smith has run for 1,672 yards and 10
touchdowns since 2013. Though Smith may not overpower opponents
with his arm, he does had a dimension to his game that Ryan is clearly
Smith is overlooked because he has not consistently been throwing for
4,000 yards like every other quarterback in the league, but this is what
makes him dangerous. You know what you’re getting from Ryan, but we
know Smith is capable of hitting that 4,000-yard plateau (even with so-so
weapons), we know he is capable of throwing for TDs while keeping his
interceptions at a minimum, and we know he can run with the ball. We
also have seen what Jay Gruden did with Kirk Cousins in his Redskins
offense (three straight seasons of 4,000-plus yards, 25-plus touchdowns
and 13 rushing touchdowns), all of which bode well for Smith.
Jarad: Stafford — As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Stafford
is six years younger, has started every game for the Lions since
2011 and has thrown for more yards and touchdowns since 2011 than
Roethlisberger. Oh, and Stafford doesn’t need a nickname like Big Ben
to compensate for anything.
Drew: Trubisky — We’ve seen enough of Bortles to know what he
is: a subpar NFL quarterback who rises to a level of not-embarrassing
on occasion. Trubisky has upside, and a new offense and weapons that
pave the way for a breakout sophomore season.
Jarad: Bortles — Trubisky has upside, but there is no guarantee he
will use those new weapons in that new offense any differently than he
did in his rookie season. You’re guaranteed to know what you’re getting
with Bortles, who has become increasingly more efficient over his past
three seasons (especially last season with a top-rated defense and the
introduction of Leonard Fournette, who took a lot of the pressure off
Bortles to go wild with his arm). Bortles is still just 26 years old, and has
plenty of room to grow with a young, up-and-coming squad.
Drew: Newton — Even if he isn’t consistent week-to-week, Newton
has been a steady year-to-year fantasy force most of his career. A new
Norv Turner offense should help accentuate his strong downfield arm.
And he doesn’t have unknown variables like Watson, who is coming off
a season-ending knee injury and has an incredibly small sample size.
Andrew Luck fantasy argument comes with major caveat
Jarad: Watson — The Panthers lost Andrew Norwell this season,
which could have an adverse effect on Newton’s season. Watson is coming
off the knee injury and doesn’t have much sample size to go on, but
he tore his left ACL in college during his freshman year and came back
to thrown for more than 8,600 yards and 76 touchdowns in his sophomore
and junior seasons, culminating with a national title. Just saying.
Drew: Wentz — The Madman likes Wentz, though we expect a slow
start coming off a knee injury of his own. This is more a judgment on
the Seattle offense. Though we like Wilson’s talent, we do not like his
weapons, and especially his protection.
Jarad: Wilson — Wilson never seems to make it look pretty, but he
somehow manages to be a reliable fantasy option each and every season
— with or without protection or incredible weapons. Not only has
he averaged 3,696 yards, 26.8 touchdowns and just 9.3 interceptions
per season in his six years in the league, he has also averaged 545.8
rushing yards and 2.7 rushing touchdowns since entering the league