Greetings, friends! Even though we are in the dead zone as far as football is concerned, that hasn't stopped me from thinking about downtrodden players that have huge upside in the upcoming season. Last year at this time, Matt Ryan was not highly regarded. Despite the fact that he had been a perennial QB1 for most of his career, a horrible 2015 when he got as many turnovers as touchdowns (21 each) he was sent to the fantasy scrapheap. Last season he was the 20th Quarterback selected with an ADP of #143. So, what happened? He bounced back in a huge way and ended up as the #1 fantasy Quarterback in 2016, providing tremendous value to whoever selected him.
That same situation now exists for Blake Bortles, a man that has been cast off into the fantasy wasteland. He is currently QB19 with an ADP of #134 and he is going to be the key to your fantasy success in 2017. Here’s why.
1. He has been a top 10 fantasy option in each of the past two seasons. Say what you want about his questionable decisions when on the field and disparage him for his garbage time prowess, but the fact remains that he pays the fantasy bills! He’s averaged almost 600 pass attempts in each of the past two seasons and last year he completed almost as many catches as Matt Ryan did (368 vs. 373). He’s going to provide the volume you need to generate fantasy points this season.
2. He finally has an elite running back in Leonard Fournette. How good do you think Dak Prescott would have been without Ezekiel Elliott last season? The fact is a top notch runner will keep defenses honest and open things up in the passing game. It’s important to note that Bortles and the Jags have been horribly one dimensional because they have had no running game. Last season, TJ Yates and Chris Ivory both averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry. Now, I’m not saying that Leonard Fournette is Ezekiel Elliott, but if he can generate more than 4 yards per carry, you are going to see a much more efficient and effective quarterback!
3. It’s a contract year. It’s safe to say that the Jacksonville back office is not thrilled with Bortles. Although they have picked up his 5th year option, they can still cut him after this season with no penalty. This means it is a do or die year for Blake Bortles’ career. If he comes out and plays as well as I think he can, he will be in line for a huge contract renewal and boost in pay. I always love players on contract years because they’re more likely than not exceed their projections. Bortles seems particularly motivated to play better than he has in the past and that means there is a lot of upside here!
4. Improvements on the offensive line. Last season, Jacksonville’s offensive line ranked a subpar 22nd out of 32 teams. Like not having a running game, this also negatively impacted Bortles as he was running for his life when out on the field. The Jags attempted to address this by drafting OT Cam Robinson from Alabama and FB Marquez Williams from Miami (Ohio) to bolster the front line and improve protecting the quarterback. On top of this they also signed RT Earl Watford from Arizona as a free agent, and Arizona had a pretty good rushing game last season, didn’t they?
5. His #1 receiver, Allen Robinson, is ALSO on a contract year. It’s not often that you find two key pieces of the offense on a contract year at the same time. In 2015, both Chris Ivory and Ryan Fitzpatrick were on a contract year and they both proceeded to put together career best numbers. In 2014, both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray were on contract years and both put together huge seasons! Alan Robinson basically disappeared last season (73-883-6) after a huge 2015 and I expect him to bounce back strongly. He is also a bargain as WR13, ADP #32.
In conclusion, success in Fantasy Football hinges more on finding the high upside guys in the middle and late rounds that pay off as every week starters once the season starts. As a 14th round pick (in 10 team leagues), Bortles is a screaming bargain and can provide you with QB1 production in 2017!
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