My favorite version of Fantasy Football is the dynasty game. The year-round engagement and long-term bragging rights are as good as it gets. That doesn't mean I feel the same way about dynasty rankings.
It's not that I dislike this journey we're about to embark on. It's just that we're programmed to try to find "right" answers, and in this quest there are few. There's no looking back at the end of the year and celebrating because your No. 1 running back finished No.1. There's only evaluating whether those 400-plus touches mean you have to lower him now.
Depending on how you look at it, the worst (or best) part of dynasty rankings is the constant battle between right now and forever. As an example, because of the ebbs and flows of franchise ownership, I could compile rankings for two different franchises that look completely different. Are you trying to win now? Are you building for three years down the road? I hope you're not in between.
That brings us to my current dynasty rankings that are a combination of the two approaches. I would imagine these rankings are a little lower on the future than most dynasty rankings but a little higher than most dynasty owners are in practice. I'll update these around the draft and then again this summer. Let's get started with quarterbacks.
Cream of the crop
Right off the top we get into the now vs. future debate. Aaron Rodgers just turned 33 and has a lot more mileage than anyone else in this tier. Of course, Rodgers is now on a near-decade-long run as top-two Fantasy quarterback. Only twice since 2008 has Rodgers finished outside of the top two.
Newton, Wilson and Luck have two top-two seasons between them ... in their entire careers. If you're asking me to rank over the next decade, sure, they'll probably catch Rodgers. Still, I'd take Rodgers over the next five seasons, and that's longer than anyone can be reasonably expect to project, even at a fairly stable position.
The biggest faller in this group is easily Newton. In fact, I could understand the argument that he doesn't belong after his 2016 season. I just can't hold one year against him after the start he had to his career. No one has ever scored as many Fantasy points as Newton in their first six years in the league.
Newton has plenty to clean up, and if he gets off to a slow start in 2017, he'll be one of the first to drop in my rankings.
There's still plenty of debate between Mariota and Winston, and there's room for both sides to feel like they're right. Here's how I decide it.
Mariota has been better on a per game basis each of the first two years of their careers despite the fact that Winston has played with one of the 10 best receivers in football and Mariota's best target has been Delanie Walker.
Situations matter a lot in Fantasy Football, and there's a good argument that Winston's will be better for the next few years. It's been better for the past two seasons, and Mariota has still outperformed him. If Mariota gets a true No. 1 this may not even be a discussion.
One of the biggest problems with a one-size-fits-all dynasty ranking is a player like Drew Brees. Obviously any future value is severely limited by the fact that he's turning 38 before the 2017 season begins. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to start getting worse immediately, but the cliff is at the very least on the horizon.
While Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger have a longer future than Brees, their 2017 value isn't likely in his class. That puts them behind up-and-comers like Winston and Mariota. It should surprise no one if Ryan or Roethlisberger delivers a Fantasy championship in 2017, but their age and volatility puts them behind the upside of those two.
Borderline No. 1
There are a lot of names in this tier, and based solely on 2016, it probably seems like far too wide a range of competency. But there's not one name on this list without a major blemish. The two who seem most likely to jump a tier or two in the next year are Cousins and Carr.
Cousins' performance over the past two seasons should probably be enough to put him in the Ryan and Roethlisberger discussion. In the past two seasons, Cousins has outscored both and even outscored Roethlisberger on a per game basis in 2016. But the fact that Washington wants to franchise him again does give me pause. I would feel better about moving him up a tier if he had more stability in his future.
There are plenty of people who would tell you that Derek Carr should be in the Winston-Mariota tier, but I'd like to see another year. Carr has an even better set-up than Winston with both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but he's also three years older than Winston and 2 1/2 years older than Mariota. He's closer to the age of Cousins than Winston.
I just don't know how much more we can project on Carr and as if he's a borderline No. 1 Fantasy quarterback.
Upside No. 2s
This whole group is a bag of question marks. I know Wentz is viewed far more favorably than Lynch and Goff, but his first year was not good at all. His 6.2 Y/A is flat-out bad and his 16-14 TD/INT ratio isn't better.
The one name that doesn't belong here is Tyrod Taylor, but we don't even know if he'll have a job next season. If the Bills announced tomorrow that Taylor was their starting quarterback in 2017, I'd move him up between Rivers and Dalton. If they officially release him, he'll drop down into Jimmy Garoppolo range.
You're not likely excited by anyone in this group, but at the vary least you know what you're getting. The only upside I really see is if somehow Carson Palmer could regain the magic he had in 2015. Then you consider the age of Larry Fitzgerald, the health problems of John Brown and the absence of Michael Floyd. Yeah, it doesn't look great.
A mixed bag of maybe
27. Jimmy Garoppolo
28. Tony Romo
29. Teddy Bridgewater
30. Colin Kaepernick
So, you've got an extra roster spot, huh? Most of these guys probably aren't worth it in a standard league. Garoppolo and Romo will have trade rumors circling them this offseason, and if one of them happens to get dealt it changes everything.