… A Sophomore QB will finish in the Top 12

In the latest installment of “Call me Crazy but …” we explore a topic that will touch nerves all over the fantasy football world. The quarterback position. Much like the NFL, if your fantasy squad has a solid week-to-week starter who can contribute a consistent point total each outing you are going to have one fewer decision to rack your brain with while setting your line ups for each match up. A top 12 quarterback last year averaged just over 23 points per game (23.4), while the QBs who finished in that 2nd tier from 13th-24th posted just under 19 points per contest (18.9).  May not sound like a huge difference at 4.5 points per week, but some weeks all it takes is a single point; if not less depending on how your league scores, to pull off a victory. Not only do you get more points per week, but you also get the feeling of more confidence each week with a top 12 QB. If you have a Manning brother, Brees, Luck, Rodgers, Wilson, Brady, or Rivers you don’t give your roster a second look at the position. However when you’re playing with a 2nd tier QB like Dalton, Flacco, Kaepernick, Orton, Fitzpatrick, or Alex Smith you tend to find yourself checking the QB waivers a whole hell of a lot more for a potential sleeper or gem to pop up and potentially save your week or even your season.

We all know the few of the top 12 names mentioned before will be among the first QBs taken again in 2015 and for good reason, but if you wait on a quarterback what should you look for? Every year we see a young gun step up and become that next big option at QB for fantasy; Drew Brees once he went to New Orleans, or Cam Newton getting drafted extremely late, if not scooped off waivers his rookie year as he set all type of QB records in Carolina. Maybe you were among the lucky to snatch up Nick Foles 2 years ago when he posted a ridiculous 27-2 TD:INT ratio when he came in for Michael Vick, or maybe you caught the Kaepernick lightning-in-a-bottle back in 2012 when the 49ers sat Alex Smith. If you’ve been playing this game long enough maybe you got the best QB waiver pick up ever: a 1999 Kurt Warner after Trent Green went down for the season during a preseason game.

The point is we do get a new QB or two that comes into the fold as a stud at the position each year. Maybe they last for years and years and we have another Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck. It’s rare but possible. So who could we see take a leap into a QB1 position in 2015 fantasy football? I believe one of three rookie quarterbacks from last season will break into the top 12 QBs come the end of 2015, but who will it be? Let’s breakdown the guys who have a shot and then I will give you my choice for the sophomore QB that will take the next step and shock the fantasy world (well the fantasy world that doesn’t read this article).

*Note: Order is based on players 2014 fantasy finish, best at the top.

1. Derek Carr Oakland Raiders

2014 Review:

Finished as the 20th QB during his rookie season; best among the 1st year signal-callers. He was the only rookie QB to play all 16 games, pass for 3000+ yards (3270), and score 20+ total TDs (21). He averaged 16 points per game. Carr was only rookie QB to post a 30-point game (week 6 vs SD). He lead one 4th quarter game winning drive, which doesn’t sound like a lot but Oakland only reached 3 total wins.

DEREK CARR 2014 1ST QUARTER 2ND QUARTER 3RD QUARTER 4TH QUARTER
COMPLETION % 63.2% 58.6% 56.8% 54.6%
YARDS 734 977 711 848
TOUCHDOWNS 4 7 3 7
INTERCEPTIONS 4 3 4 1
RUSH YARDS 66 15 3 8
RUSH TDS 0 0 0 0

Why he can make the leap in 2015:

Multiple reasons build a case for Carr. First off he acquired perhaps the most NFL ready skill player in this years draft in Amari Cooper at wide receiver. Cooper lead the NCAA in receptions (124) last year while finishing 2nd in yards (1727) and touchdowns (16). This kid will make an immediate impact much like we saw with several rookie wide outs last season. Carr also was the best at protecting the football last season among these 3 quarterbacks. He was the only one to never have a 1/4 of the season with more than 4 picks (Bortles had 1 and Bridgewater had 2), and Carr was the only one to have 1 or fewer picks in 1/4 of the season. Carr also was the only QB of the three to pass for 700+ yards in each 1/4 of the season, while posting his 2nd best 1/4 in terms of passing yards at the end of the year (also had high with 7TDs and low with just 1 pick in final 1/4 of 2014). While none of these three teams had an offensive line to rank better than middle-of-the-pack, the Raiders had the best at 16th overall (according to ProFootballFocus.com) which was a huge improvement from 2013 when they ranked 29th. Oh and the addition of Clive Walford (6’4”) at TE will only give Carr another big target to find in times of crisis or in the red zone. Carr seems to have a lot going in the right direction early in his career, but will he be the best sophomore QB in the fantasy world this year?

2. Blake Bortles Jacksonville Jaguars

2014 Review:

Finished as 21st best QB (one slot behind Carr). Bortles lead all rookie QBs in rushing yards, his 419 were more than double the second best (Bridgewater had 209). He was the only QB on this list who threw more picks (17) than TDs (11). Bortles also lead one 4th quarter game winning drive in 3 wins for the Jags.

BLAKE BORTLES 2014 1ST QUARTER (2GMS) 2ND QUARTER 3RD QUARTER 4TH QUARTER
COMPLETION % 70.5% 60.5% 60.6% 50.4%
YARDS 477 907 877 647
TOUCHDOWNS 3 3 3 2
INTERCEPTIONS 4 8 3 2
RUSH YARDS 54 137 105 123

Why he can make the leap in 2015:

The Jags lacked two major components on their offense to make Brotles the best quarterback he can be in the NFL, a tight end and a running back who can be counted on for every down of the game. Enter Julius Thomas and T.J. Yeldon. First the vet, JT. Thomas has caught the 2nd most touchdowns by a TE (24) over the last 2 seasons. All the tight ends on Jacksonville’s roster last year have 35 career touchdowns COMBINED in sixteen total seasons played. Sure going from Peyton to Blake is a step down but Thomas is still a huge target at 6’5” and 255lbs and a major red zone threat no matter who is under center. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon is going to be a bell cow for the Jaguars and could prove to be quite beastly with his abilities. He averaged over 1100 yards on the ground per season at Alabama will scoring 12 times each year and adding in 16 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown via the pass game. Bortles was the only one of these QBs to rush for 50+ yards in each quarter of last season, and the only one to hit 100+ yards in a quarter (he did is 3 times). While he did trail off at the end of last season with a full 10 point dip in his completion percentage and his yards dropped by almost 27%, his interceptions also dropped from 8 in the 2nd quarter od the year to 3 and finally to 2 as the year closed out. Bortles shed weight this offseason to make himself quicker and to have better stamina to close out 2015, but will it be enough to make him an every week QB in fantasy football?

3. Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings

2014 Review: Finished as the 23rd best QB but his average of 17.6 fantasy points per game were best among these 3 quarterbacks. Bridgewater was also the lone wolf of this pack to have double-digit points in all his starts. He had most 20+ points games among the QBs listed with 5; or 38% of his starts resulted in a 20-burger.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER 2014 1ST QUARTER (2GMS) 2ND QUARTER (3GMS) 3RD QUARTER 4TH QUARTER
COMPLETION % 62% 59.1% 62.5% 72.3%
YARDS 467 586 774 1092
TOUCHDOWNS 0 2 6 6
INTERCEPTIONS 0 5 2 5
RUSH YARDS 54 21 66 68
RUSH TDS 1 0 0 0

Why he can make the leap in 2015:

While Carr and Bortles both had their teams add in a key piece or two to help them offensively, Bridgewater may have gotten the best piece of all: Adrian Peterson. Sure AP isn’t new to Minnesota but he sure is to Teddy Bridgewater. While Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon filled in adequately for Peterson last year neither of them (even if their powers combined … you 80’s & 90’s babies better get that reference) demands a defenses attention like Peterson. The 75 rushing yards AP gained in game 1 last year before his suspension was the 6th most yards a Vikings back gained in a single game. Peterson will require constant supervision by defensive coordinators with plenty of 8 men inside the box looks which only helps Bridgewater either escape with his legs (he was the only QB on this list with a rushing score last year) or find tons of one-on-one coverage down field. Speaking of down field the addition of Mike Wallace will stretch defenses even thinner. Wallace scored 22 of his 47 (or 47%) career touchdowns from 30 yards or longer. Bridgewater is the only one of this trio to have his accuracy number increase each of the final 3 quarters of the season. He’s the only one to have a 1000 yard passing 1/4, and he’s the only one to throw for 5+ TDs in both the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year. But will all the new (old) faces be enough to vault Teddy in to the top 12 come the end of the 2015 fantasy season?

Conclusion:

Each of these three quarterbacks seems to be setting up nicely for the future. All three of these teams aren’t all that close to being a title contender at this moment which means a lot of young pieces that will mess and gel over the next few seasons. However for the 2015 season which one of these guys will be the sophomore quarterback to own who I think can potentially post QB1 numbers? It’s the man in purple and gold: Mr. Teddy Bridgewater. Why? Two words: Adrian Peterson. If AP isn’t back with Minnesota then it isn’t likely I say Bridgewater has the best shot at top 12 status this year, but the stars aligned and Peterson is back to give defenses nightmares and provide plenty of deep bomb opportunities to Mike Wallace. Enjoy your new (slightly used) toy Teddy, cause Christmas comes but once a year and you got your gift early this season.

Be sure to follow me on twitter: @thepprmonster for fantasy football information all year round!

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