2016 Outlook: The second overall pick in last year's draft, Mariota showed flashes as a rookie but had his first year derailed by a handful of injuries that cost him nearly five full games. When he played, though, Mariota performed well. He finished as a top-10 fantasy QB in 45 percent of the games in which he played at least half the snaps, good for 10th at the position. He showed that he wasn't afraid to challenge defenses down the field, posting a 9.2-yard average depth of target. That approach helped him tie for ninth in the NFL with 7.6 ypa. With an improved supporting cast that includes DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews, Mariota is a solid candidate for a second-year leap--provided he can stay healthy.
2016 Outlook: Remember when Stafford was injury-prone? After sitting out 19 of his first 32 pro games, Stafford hasn't missed one in five years. During that span, he's been a steady fantasy contributor, finishing no better than fifth among QBs and no worse than 15th. He started slowly last year, but only four QBs scored more fantasy points after Week 5. Now he must show what he can do without the retired Calvin Johnson. Even with Megatron in the lineup last year, we might have seen a preview of the Lions' 2016 style. Stafford was more conservative, with an average depth of target of just 6.7 yards, but he completed a career-best 67.2 percent of his passes. Expect that trend to continue with Marvin Jones joining Golden Tate at WR and plenty of passes to TE Eric Ebron and RBs theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. Stafford is a solid QB2 option.
2016 Outlook: Only a broken thumb in Week 14 kept Dalton from posting a top-five fantasy season among QBs. He produced a top-10 week in 58 percent of his complete games, which was the fourth-best mark among QBs and actually better than Cam Newton's. That level of play represented a serious step up from Dalton's first four seasons, when he hovered around the fringe of QB1 territory. Dalton increased both his accuracy (career-best 66.1 percent completion rate) and big-play ability (career-high 8.4 ypa) last year. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are gone, but A.J. Green is still wearing orange and black, and TE Tyler Eifert and RB Giovani Bernard remain major threats as well. If you prioritize other positions early in your draft, you could do worse than ending up with Dalton.
2016 Outlook: Winston finished as fantasy's No. 13 QB last season, a strong showing for a rookie. But it's misleading: He posted a top-10 fantasy week in just 19 percent of his starts, which ranked 28th at the position. Still, he was consistently decent: Winston placed better than eighth among QBs only once but never fell below 23rd. That made him a fine option as a QB2. To climb into the next tier, Winston must become more accurate. He was off target on 23 percent of his throws, the league's worst mark among passers with at least 250 attempts. Plus, he completed only 58.3 percent of his passes. With a run-first offense and an underwhelming supporting cast, it's tough to foresee Winston busting out this season.
2016 Outlook: After showing steady signs of improvement in his first three seasons, Tannehill seemed to hit a wall in 2015. His completion percentage dropped from 66.4 to 61.9, which would seem to indicate he was less accurate. Look closer, though, and you'll realize his dip in precision was due to throwing downfield more often. That added emphasis on the deep ball helped Tannehill set a career high in passing yards (4,208), but he finished just 17th among QBs in fantasy points after ranking eighth in 2014. That change in style, plus the hiring of coach Adam Gase--who is known for his work with QBs--makes Tannehill tough to project going forward. But when you consider his improving receiver corps (Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo, Kenny Stills), Tannehill looks like a potential bounce-back candidate.
2016 Outlook: After finishing four of the previous five seasons as a top-eight fantasy QB, Ryan fell to 19th last season, tied for the worst rank of his career. He posted a top-10 fantasy week in just 19 percent of his starts, which was worse than 27 other QBs. Ryan really isn't to blame, though. His efficiency stats were nearly identical to those in 2014, but he dealt with nine more dropped passes and less post-catch production from his receivers. Ryan's accuracy remained superb. It helped that he averaged only 7.8 air yards per attempt, but Ryan also completed 66.3 percent of his throws and was off target only 12.9 percent of the time. He trailed only Russell Wilson in the latter category. The bottom line, though, is that until Atlanta upgrades the talent around him, a major turnaround won't happen.
2016 Outlook: A 25-year-old pocket passer with a 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame, Osweiler carries intrigue with him to Houston but not much of a track record. Denver drafted Osweiler in the second round in 2012, and he threw just 30 passes as Peyton Manning's backup over his first three seasons. Last year he appeared in eight games--including six full ones--and threw for 1,967 yards and 10 TDs. He produced a pair of top-10 weeks and ranked 12th overall among QBs during his span as a starter, but he was benched for ineffectiveness in Week 17, and you know what Manning and the Broncos did after that. Now Osweiler is the clear starter in Houston after signing a massive free agent contract. Although unproven, he is set up for success with a strong supporting cast that includes DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller and Will Fuller.
2016 Outlook: Flacco is a solid NFL QB, but his play has yet to translate into high-end statistical production. His best fantasy season came all the way back in 2010, and even then he ranked only 10th among QBs. Flacco has never placed higher than 11th in passing yards or 10th in passing TDs, and last season was more of the same before he suffered a season-ending torn ACL and MCL in Week 11. He was a top-10 fantasy QB in just 40 percent of his outings (tied for 16th in the NFL), and his 10.5 yards per completion was second worst in the league. If you're looking for reasons for optimism, Flacco's targets should be better--and healthier--with Benjamin Watson and Mike Wallace joining Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams. More likely, though, Flacco is headed for another low-ceiling QB2 campaign.
2016 Outlook: Considering that he was the QB for 94 percent of the pass plays during Chan Gailey's three-year run as Buffalo's head coach, Fitzpatrick was a seamless fit for Gailey's offense with the Jets. Still, the Jets couldn't have expected anything close to what Fitzpatrick delivered last season: He posted career highs in passing yards (3,905) and TDs (31), which helped him to an 11th-place finish in fantasy points (also a career best). Fitzpatrick also rushed for 270 yards and two scores. Even in his best season, though, there were red flags. He completed only 59.6 percent of his passes, and he averaged just 6.9 ypa, 27th out of the 38 QBs who threw at least 150 passes. Fitzpatrick remains unsigned, but regardless of where he lands--the Jets still seem likely--he is almost a sure bet for statistical regression.
2016 Outlook: Cutler was generally useless for fantasy owners last year, producing just one week ranked among the top 10 QBs. Dig deeper, though, and you'll discover that it wasn't all Cutler's fault. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes (14th), averaged 7.6 ypa (11th) and was off target on just 15.7 percent of his throws (tied for sixth). Instead, Cutler was undone by constant injuries to his supporting cast, and it's worth remembering that he was tied for seventh among QBs in top-10 weeks in 2014. The Bears' run-heavy approach limits Cutler's ceiling, but with the presence of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White--who missed his entire rookie season after Chicago took him in the first round--Cutler is worth monitoring as a bounce-back candidate.
2016 Outlook: During his first two seasons, Bridgewater showed impressive efficiency, but Minnesota's run-heavy, low-scoring offense didn't allow him to spread his wings. He completed 65.3 percent of his passes and averaged 7.2 ypa in 2015, and he has finished in the upper half of the NFL in both categories in each of his two seasons. Part of the reason he is so accurate is that he doesn't look downfield often: Bridgewater's 7.1-yard average depth of throw was fifth lowest among QBs with at least 90 attempts last year and helps explain why he posted just two top-10 fantasy weeks. Having shown flashes in small samples, Bridgewater remains an intriguing prospect, and the addition of first-round WR Laquon Treadwell helps, but it's hard to put much faith in the QB as a legit fantasy prospect until Minnesota opens up its offense.
2016 Outlook: Simply put, there's little reason to look Smith's way on draft day. He's as conservative a QB as you'll find in the NFL: His 6.6-yard average depth of throw was the lowest in the league last year. That actually represented a step up from 2014, when his average pass traveled just 5.8 yards past the line of scrimmage. Smith offsets his lack of arm strength with efficiency--he completed 65.3 percent of his passes last year. And he does pick up a few extra points with his scrambling ability, having placed among the top eight QBs in rushing yards three years in a row. Still, Smith has posted only five top-10 weeks over the past two seasons. With such limited upside, you're better off turning elsewhere for a QB2.
2016 Outlook: The first overall pick in April's draft, Goff is the heavy favorite to line up under center when the Rams open the season. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Goff is a pocket passer with good size and a great arm. He was also one of the youngest QBs in the draft--Goff won't turn 22 until October. His accuracy is solid but could be better, and he handles pressure very well. Goff shows good touch, and his cannon arm produces accurate deep balls. During his final two seasons at Cal, he tossed 78 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He won't add anything with his legs, which is notable as we determine his fantasy value. Expect Goff to spend a hefty chunk of his rookie season handing the ball to Todd Gurley, which leaves him with little fantasy appeal.
2016 Outlook: Kaepernick has seen his production drop off considerably since he finished 2013 as fantasy's No. 9 QB, to the point where he was benched last season. Accuracy has been a huge problem over the past two seasons. He was off target on 22.3 percent of his throws in 2014 (third worst in the league) and 26.4 percent last year (worst). But his ability to scramble remains enticing: Despite sitting out half the season, Kaepernick finished among the top eight QBs in rushing yards for the fourth straight year. Now the question is what effect Chip Kelly will have on him. He is the favorite to open as the 49ers' starter, and Kelly's high-volume offense should at least offer plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points. That makes Kaepernick worth a draft flier, but be aware that his inefficiency could lead to another demotion.
2016 Outlook: Bradford did what was asked in his lone season in Chip Kelly's offense, taking exactly what the defense allowed and not much more. His 7.1-yard average depth of throw was fourth lowest in the NFL, but he was efficient on all those short passes, missing his target just 14.5 percent of the time (third best among QBs with at least 120 passes). That approach didn't generate much fantasy success: He produced just three top-10 weeks, two of which were ninth-place finishes in Weeks 16 and 17. Bradford also remains a perpetual injury risk--he has missed 33 games during his six seasons, including two last year. New coach Doug Pederson figures to rely on the pass, but Bradford's conservative play and durability issues--not to mention the inevitable promotion of Carson Wentz--leave him without much fantasy appeal.