Dynasty Owner: Ranking the Quarterbacks

Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers. All Elite, but at what price?

Dynasty owner is all about the combination of performance and contract value.  Just like real owners in (most) sports, Dynasty Owner fantasy football requires owners to create their team under the guidelines of a salary cap, or else they are forced to pay luxury tax penalties.  This adds an element of strategy and planning that makes Dynasty Owner the most engaging and addictive fantasy football format around.

And while Dynasty Owner is completely unique in many engaging ways, one thing that hasn't changed is how important the Quarterback position is to your team.  You need elite production from the position to have a reasonable chance at winning your league.  

However, with Dynasty Owner, it's not JUST about performance.  If you can get elite production on a cap friendly contract...that is the optimum QB situation for your Dynasty team.  It completely changes the traditional rankings of QBs in boring old fantasy football, and opens up a completely new dimension to prepare for on draft day.

This will be the first in a series of posts that rank Position Players in Dynasty Owner, ranked by Tiers to help you prepare for your upcoming Dynasty Owner drafts.   Remember, contract and performance are the key metrics, and we've come up with a stat to help quickly sort players by that formula.  It's called the Dynasty Dollars / Point ratio or $DD/Pt.  This is simply the player's contract divided by the number of fantasy points they scored and shows how many contract dollars each point cost you to roster that player last season.   The lower the $DD / Pt the better the player will rank in Dynasty Owner fantasy football.

Pro tip:  Another great way to prepare for the season is to try our free mock drafts

In Dynasty Owner, Elite Production on Rookie Deals is the pinnacle

Tier 1 QB Rankings:  Ellite QBs at a Bargain

1).  Andrew Luck:  $5.5MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

In Dynasty Owner drafts, Andrew Luck is the top QB target at the position, as he has the greatest combination of performance, upside, and a cap friendly contract for the next 2 years as he plays out his remaining rookie contract.   Make no mistake, while this 2 year run will be great, experts are already predicting he'll shatter the record for the highest contract ever signed after the 2016 season so enjoy getting him for a bargain while you can.

2).  Russell Wilson:  $750k / Year (Signed through 2016)

Probably the most unfair-to-the-player contract in the entire NFL, a fast rising super bowl champion QB making $750k / year for the next 2 years is a rarity.  Because that number is so low, many might actually target Wilson higher than Luck, although Luck is a better fantasy producer.  Targeting Wilson means you'll have your entire salary cap to spend big on Premium RBs and WRs.  

3).  Robert Griffin III:  $5.25MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

Much of the same analysis from Luck above can be applied to RG3 - great fantasy upside with a very cap friendly rookie deal.  He comes with more risk because of his style of play and the knee injury has already caused him to struggle with consistency issues last year, but early indications out of camp point to RG3 being back to his old self as a dynamic duel-threat athlete.  If you like to gamble, RG3 is the perfect risk/reward cornerstone for your Dynasty Owner franchise.  

4).  Cam Newton:  $5.5MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

On the surface it may appear that Newton and RG3 are nearly interchangeable, however Newton has a back-loaded rookie deal meaning in the last year of his rookie contract (2015) his salary jumps up to $14.5MM / year.  So while 2014 will still be a great bargain, his salary will jump up significantly next year even though he's not a free agent until 2016.  Still, even at $14.5MM Newton is an elite QB for fantasy purposes and figures to take the leap into top 5 status from a performance standpoint as early as this year.   We just wish he had a little bit more stability and experience at the WR position.  

Tier 2 QB Rankings:  The Luxury QB Class

Tier 2, with the exception of Tannehill, is all about the proven elite passers who have already realized their payday.  Their production is unquestioned and they are completely safe picks, however if you choose one of these signal callers you need to be more strategic with your spending strategy at other positions because they come with a high contract in place.

5).  Peyton Manning:  $19.2 MM / Year (Signed through 2017)

Manning shattering passing records last year defies conventional wisdom and is one of the only players in fantasy who you can say is worth the cost at any price.  We still wouldn't take him over any of the top 4 signal callers simply for the longevity factor, but nobody can blame anyone looking to build a champion around Manning for the next couple of years.  Just make sure you have scouted WRs and RBs for some cheaper upside options when you fill out your roster.  

6).  Tom Brady:  $14.1 MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

Not as much of his prime left as Brees or Rodgers, but Brady actually has a very cap friendly contract for a top ranked and winning QB.  He famously structured his deal to allow the team to have flexibility elsewhere, and savvy Dynasty Owners will recognize this as somewhat of a bargain.  

7).  Drew Brees:  $20 MM / Year (Signed through 2017)

Brees is easily the most consistently elite QB of the last 5 years in the NFL.  His contract is pricey but in this case you get what you pay for.  

8).  Aaron Rodgers:  $22 MM / Year (Signed through 2020)

Rodgers and Brees are basically interchangeable in this position - we like Brees contract a little more but the same assessment applies.  

9).  Ryan Tannehill:  $3.1 MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

Tannehill might surprise some in this group, but he has a very appealing mix of upside, a wonderfully cap friendly contract for the next 2 years and a clear path to being the starter in Miami for years to come.  He's not in the class of the already elite passers in Tier 1, but he has the same contract situation and could be great value on draft day as he's not yet considered elite just yet.  

Tier 3 QB Rankings:  The Solid Value

For most of the QBs in this list, you are getting the return on value you should be expecting to get.  Most of these QBs are solid and reliable options, however their contracts are generally high enough that you aren't going to be getting great value on their production.   

10).  Matthew Stafford:  $17.6 MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

11).  Jay Cutler:  $18.1 MM / Year (Signed through 2021)

12).  Philip Rivers:  $13.6 MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

13).  Eli Manning:  $16.2 MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

14).  Colin Kaepernick:  $21 MM / Year (Signed through 2021)

15).  Matt Ryan: $20.7 MM / Year (Signed through 2019)

Tier 4 QB Rankings:  The Unproven High Risk / Reward Plays

If you are waiting until this group to select your QB, you are playing the ultimate game of risk vs. reward - but it's still advisable to try to strike gold with one of these signal callers over drafting form the overpaid Tier.  All of these QBs are either rookies or 2nd year signal callers so they have 3-5 years of being very cheap relative to other QBs.  If any of them can perform at a top 15 or higher level, you will be reaping rewards for years to come.  

16).  Johnny Manziel:  $2.0MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

Johhny Football has the clearest path to starting right away, and his draft day slide into the late part of round 1 actually means an even bigger discount for the next 5 years if he can translate his success from college into the NFL.  

17).  Blake Bortles: $5.1MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

Bortles won't start right away but reports are now surfacing that he'll probably be at the helm by mid-season.  After all, Jacksonville has to see what they have in him.  He's in a perfect position where expectations are low and will be for a few years so he will be given a lot of room to make rookie mistakes before getting hooked.  Unless he's a complete disaster, he can be a really nice option in 2-3 years if that young WR and OL group can grow along with him.

18).  EJ Manuel: $2.2MM / Year (Signed through 2017)

Manuel showed flashes last season in his rookie year before a knee injury derailed his season.  Like Bortles above, he should have plenty of opportunity to grow into a solid starting QB in the league and adding elite talent like Sammy Watkins can only help.

19).  Teddy Bridgewater: $1.7MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

Teddy Bridgewater is in a bit of an odd position as it's not clear what kind of support he'll get in Minnesota.  In the case of the above 3 signal callers, the teams have been bad and are all very young so there will be room to make rookie mistakes.  Minnesota is a bit different, as they have a window closing on the prime of Adrian Peterson and some other vets who are in win now mode.  For this reason, we could see Bridgewater getting the hook early on if they think a veteran gives them a better chance to win now. Always be leery of this in drafts, as a guy who loses his job almost never comes back to help you later on in the season.  It can also have lasting effects beyond just that season.  We are very skeptical about Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota now and in the future.

20).  Derek Carr: $1.3MM / Year (Signed through 2018)

We know Carr is technically the backup heading into camp but remember Dynasty Owner is a long term game - you need to draft with the next 5 years in mind not just the season ahead.  Carr is a strong prospect with only an aging Matt Shaub standing in his way.

21).  Geno Smith:  $1.25MM / Year (Signed through 2017)

Tier 5 QB Rankings:  Rent a Player for a Year

In the case of Dalton and Smith, both QBs are going to be solid bargains this year but will both almost assuredly get big enough contracts next year to ensure they won't be a good overall value.  Neither player is elite at the QB position so you are truely making a one year play on both.  McCown and Shaub both have multiple years at their friendly contract figures, but both have questions about how long they will remain the starter on their respective teams.  

22).  Andy Dalton:  $1.3MM / Year (Signed through 2015)

23).  Alex Smith: $8.4MM / Year (Signed through 2015)

24). Luke McCown: $5MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

25).  Matt Shaub:  $6.8MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

Tier 6 QB Rankings:  You are Probably Overpaying

These are either aging but highly paid signal callers on the wrong side of their prime or guys who were probably overpaid to begin with (Flacco and Bradford).  With all of these QBs, the long-term upside is minimal and the contracts are heavy - a combination you usually want to avoid at all costs in Dynasty Owner.

26).  Joe Flacco:  $20MM / Year (Signed through 2019)

At times a good fantasy QB but never a great one, the fact that Flacco is one of the highest paid QBs in the league is simply a case of him timing his super bowl run at the perfectly - when his last contract was expiring.  But he will never perform at the level this contract demands, so let someone else draft Flacco on draft day.

27).  Tony Romo:  $18MM / Year (Signed through 2020)

Romo will still put up big numbers but he's aging and coming off a pretty significant back injury.  And at $18MM per for the next 6 years, there is almost no way he will see the end of this contract before he's released when Dallas decides to go in a different direction despite Jerry Jones infatuation with Romo.

28).  Sam Bradford:  $13MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

Bradford is on a make or break year in STL, despite the flimsy votes of confidence from Coach Fisher.  And for fantasy purposes, his $13MM contract is far more than he produces on game days.   Avoid Bradford like the plague, he adds no upside.  

29).  Ben Roethlisberger:  $12.5MM / Year (Signed through 2016)

Big Ben is still an effective fantasy QB, and his contract isn't overly burdensome but most would agree he's well into the downside of his career.  

30).  Carson Palmer: $8MM / Year (Signed through 2015)

A decent option this year and not a bad backup plan if you are drafting one of the riskier younger QBs but this list is comprised based on this being your number 1 QB and Palmer should not be that for any franchise.