Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan

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Fantasy Football Preview: Hot/Cold Quarterbacks

Who's overvalued? Who's undervalued? Jack Thomason takes a look.

Jack Thomason
August 02, 2018 - 12:12 pm

(670 The Score) Hopefully, you caught my first go at preseason fantasy football rankings earlier this week. Building off that, we'll have a series of overvalued/undervalued players leading up to the start of the regular season.

The intent is exactly what it sounds like -- to identify who we're hot and cold on, by position, from an average draft position (ADP) standpoint. Each week, I'll preview a different position and discuss three players I believe are being drafted too high and three players being drafted too low.

I'm using FantasyPros ADP as a barometer and welcome any dialogue, banter or disagreements on my thoughts. Come find me on Twitter here.

Today, we kick the series off with quarterbacks:

Overvalued

Deshaun Watson, Texans -- I like Watson plenty, but it's evident that he will regress. Some will call me a "hater" for that. Watson was having a historic rookie season before tearing his ACL in 2017. He was throwing touchdowns at an unsustainable rate of 9.3 percent. For comparison's sake, only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning have had seasons with a touchdown rate over 9 percent. And only eight quarterbacks since 1990 have had touchdown rates over 8 percent. Let that sink in! Of those eight, five are Hall of Famers (Manning is on the list twice, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner and Randall Cunningham).

Additionally, the Texans have one of the most difficult pass defense schedules, coupled with one of the easiest run game schedules (per Warren Sharp's strength of schedule). To have Watson locked in as a top-two or top-three quarterback and a top-40 player overall is expecting too much, despite his rushing ability creating a solid floor. (ADP: QB2; My rank: QB9) 

Carson Wentz, Eagles -- Similar to Watson, Wentz was having an MVP-caliber season before unfortunately tearing his ACL in Week 14 of last year. He has progressed well and didn't start training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list, but there's still slight concern there.  The Eagles have stability and confidence at the quarterback position with Nick Foles leading them to a championship last season, and they still have Wentz's long-term future in mind. So we'd making a lot of assumptions to draft Wentz as a top-five quarterback and inside the top 60 players overall. Wentz attempted 440 passes and threw for 33 touchdowns (a 7.5-percent touchdown rate) last season, so he's another regression candidate. (ADP QB5; My rank: QB10)

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers -- Ah ... Jimmy G! As a Patriots homer, I was both sad to see Garoppolo go and excited to see him succeed, going 5-0 in his first five starts with the 49ers. In those five starts, he threw for an astounding 308 yards per game, but he threw for seven touchdowns to go along with five interceptions. We could blame his supporting cast given that Pierre Garcon was injured and Garoppolo had little time to mesh with the remaining middling talent, but outside of a healthy Garcon and second-round rookie Dante Pettis, the 49ers didn't have any major additions to help him. San Francisco did add Jerick McKinnon, who can be a receiving threat out of the backfield, but the 49ers defense is also going to be improved with additions such as Richard Sherman. That means coach Kyle Shanahan will look to get the most of his running game too. While I like Garoppolo and the offense plenty, some have already anointed him as the second coming! Let's temper expectations just a little and not draft him ahead of proven veterans like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford or Andrew Luck. (ADP: QB9; My rank: QB16)

Undervalued

Matt Ryan, Falcons -- Ryan is the definition of a post-hype sleeper. A year removed from an MVP season and leading an all-time offense, many have left him for dead. Ryan will have a full complement of weapons, including first-round pick Calvin Ridley added to the firepower and a healthy offensive line to work with. While we knew there would be regression from his 38-touchdown season of 2016, I wasn't expecting the over-correction in 2017, if you will. The Falcons were still tied for third in yards per play and ranked third in passing yards per attempt (7.2) in 2017, a pair of stats that correlate to scoring. The Falcons were also top six in scoring percentage, but they weren't scoring touchdowns at near the rate they were in 2016. That's where positive regression comes into play. Even without scoring at an outrageous rate, the Falcons can simply regress to the mean and in turn have players produce desirable fantasy numbers. It's also Ryan's second season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, so he should be more comfortable. (ADP: QB14; My rank: QB7)

Marcus Mariota, Titans -- We know all about Mariota's talent. The issue has been injuries and an archaic offensive system called "exotic smash-mouth," which literally highlighted none of Mariota's strengths. Mariota now has a new brainchild behind his offense in new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who was hired from the Rams after helping coach Sean McVay lead one of the best offenses in the NFL and team turnarounds last year. LaFleur will use formations and call plays that suit Mariota's strengths. He'll move him around, let him run and spread defenses out with a full arsenal of offensive playmakers and a top-five offensive line. We're letting recency bias cloud our judgment with Mariota, who's another post-hype sleeper to snag. His ADP is close to his floor with no consideration for his ceiling. (ADP: QB19; My rank: QB15)

Alex Smith, Redskins -- No one is used to seeing Smith in the QB1 conversation and yet there he was burning up the NFL and ending up as one of the biggest steals late in drafts or off the waiver wire in 2017. While Smith has left Andy Reid and the Chiefs, he's going to an offense that was decimated by injury last year, which is causing him to be underrated. The Redskins barely had a healthy offensive lineman left to use by year end, and they lost Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson. They've added Paul Richardson and Derrius Guice and quietly have the makings of an offense that can do significant damage with Smith at the helm. Even with all the issues offensively last year, the Redskins still managed to be top half in the league in yards per play and points per game (16th in both). They also have a horrific defense, which means they should be engaged in plenty of shootouts with Smith at quarterback. Lastly, we know Smith is mobile and can make plays with his legs, so once again there's a floor here and no ceiling being considered. (ADP: QB20; My rank: QB14)

Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert and co-host of “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” which can be heard every Sunday during football season from 8-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.