During the 2017 season, we saw many players we didn’t expect to perform well, do just that. Of course, the opposite was also true. Here is a deeper dive into four quarterbacks who either flourished or struggled in 2017, and what to expect heading into the 2018 season.
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Deshaun Watson (HOU)
Watson was well on his way to the best rookie season for a quarterback in N.F.L. history. But that came to a quick halt when he tore his ACL in a non-contact injury during practice in early November. In the 6 games he started, Watson threw for 1,597 yards, 18 TD’s and 7 INT’s. Houston won just one game the rest of the season. They also lost two very impactful defensive players early on, in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. We saw a similar rookie season to Watson’s in 2012 when Robert Griffin III had a successful rookie campaign. RGIII is no longer in the league after many thought he was going to be Washington’s franchise QB for years to come. So is this going to happen to Watson? I don’t believe so. Houston is the perfect fit for him and Bill O’Brien is the right coach to ensure this system continues to thrive. With a healthy defense and a fully recovered knee, Watson should pick up right where he left off.
Alex Smith (WSH)
On January 30th, the Kansas City Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Redskins in exchange for Kendall Fuller and a 3rd round pick in this year’s draft. Washington pulled the trigger on Smith, deciding to let Kirk Cousins and his hefty contract walk. Smith is entering his 14th NFL season and just came off a career-best year. If you look at the overall situation, Smith was surrounded by much more talent in Kansas City than he will have in D.C. The Chiefs have a better offense and defense than the Redskins, and a coaching staff that knew how to get the most out of its quarterback. I don’t think Smith will have the tools necessary to succeed like he did this past season. The Redskins top receiving threat, Jordan Reed, can never stay healthy and the running game is below average. I wouldn’t expect Smith to even really come close to repeating what he did last year.
Derek Carr (OAK)
Carr and the Raiders had a disappointing 2017 season to say the least. Last offseason, many expected a big year out of this team after a surprising and successful 2016 season. Coach Jack Del Rio was fired in late December, leading to the hire of former coach and Monday Night Football color commentator Jon Gruden on a 10 year/$100M deal. If anyone knows how to coach a quarterback, it’s Gruden. Carr is a very coachable player and I expect Oakland’s offense to forget about this past season and pick up where they left off in 2016. They have a lot of playmakers and overall, I believe it was just a down year for the Raiders. Don’t be surprised if they are competing for an AFC West title.
Dak Prescott (DAL)
The 2017 Dallas offense was not even close to the same group we saw in 2016 when they finished 5th in total offense. Of course, a big part of that was the six-game absence of Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott relied on Zeke heavily in his rookie season and didn’t look like the same guy this year when he wasn’t out there. Now, I understand Elliott should be back for a full season with the Cowboys barring something strange happening. But, I don’t know how much I can believe in Prescott in 2018. He is an efficient quarterback but for fantasy purposes he doesn’t blow out the box scores. With a run game like the Cowboys have, you don’t need your quarterback to be a superstar. You just need someone who can take care of the ball and make plays when they are needed. I think Dallas knows this and with Dez Bryant on the backside of his career, Prescott really doesn’t have a go-to guy in the passing game. I’m expecting Dallas to be conservative on offense this year unless something changes during the draft or free agency.