2015 Quarterback & Tight End Tier Jumpers
This week, Scout Fantasy is taking an early look at the 2015 season. Today, we're checking out a few quarterbacks and tight ends who stand to make a substantial jump next season, moving up at least a tier from their 2014 performance.
Seferian-Jenkins' disappointing rookie season came to an end when he was placed on injured reserve due to a back injury in mid-December. In his first year, AS-J was unable to firmly integrate himself into the Bucs' offensive plans. But his long-term prospects are still very intriguing. He's 6-foot-6 with 4.56 speed and just 22 years old. The former basketball player at the University of Washington hasn't fully materialized as a fantasy threat yet, but the promise is there. That makes him worth a late-round flier in 2015.
Despite starting just 12 games for the Vikings in his rookie season, Bridgewater managed to pass for nearly 3,000 yards. He displayed excellent accuracy and pocket presence, and he should only improve after another year to adapt to Norv Turner's system. He's playing with some young playmakers, including Jerick McKinnon and Charles Johnson. The arrow's pointing upwards for Bridgewater's fantasy prospects, and there's a chance he could become a dependable starter in deeper leagues next season.
Quietly, Carr put together an impressive rookie campaign. He ended the season with 21 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and was able to produce without a standout receiver to help him. Because the Raiders are bringing in a new regime, led by head coach Jack Del Rio, Carr may have to win his job in training camp. But fantasy owners should expect him to be under center at the start of next season. He'll be a solid low-cost option in most two-QB leagues and could even develop into a low-end QB1 starter.
After signing a huge contract last June, Kaep had a disappointing 2014 season. But so did the 49ers team as a whole. San Fran struggled to run the ball effectively for most of the season and appeared to quit on former head coach Jim Harbaugh late in the year. With a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator in the tow for 2015, and plans to train with Kurt Warner this offseason, Kaepernick is a good bounce-back candidate. He'll probably never be a natural pocket passer, but his running skills are as good as any quarterback's and should continue to be his bread and butter in fantasy. Kaepernick has a good chance of returning to low-end QB1 status in 10-team leagues and should be a value pick in drafts.
There's no question about it - Cam had a down year. After finishing as a top-five fantasy QB in most formats for the first three seasons of his career, Newton's stats drastically regressed in 2014. That regression can be blamed on a couple of factors -- lingering injuries that started before training camp and plagued him throughout the season, and a lack of weapons in Carolina's passing game. The injuries forced Newton to attempt the fewest rushes of his career, and those rushing yards and touchdowns have always been a big component of his fantasy value. The shortage of good receiving options helped limit him to just 18 passing touchdowns, also a career-low. But things could be getting better for Newton. For starters, it's fairly safe to assume he'll be fully healthy at the start of next season, or at least in better shape than he was this year after he spent most of the last offseason recovering from ankle surgery. His standout rookie receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, will have had another year to sharpen his game, and tight end Greg Olsen will be playing for a new contract. It's no guarantee that Newton returns to elite status, but it's possible. In any event, he's likely to be underrated heading into the 2015 fantasy drafting season.
Some readers will remember that back in September, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was making noise about benching Tannehill. You won't hear that kind of nonsense anytime soon. Tannehill had an excellent season, throwing just 12 interceptions and finishing with an impressive 66.4 percent completion rate. He also set a single-season franchise record for completions with 392. Add it all up, and Tannehill slotted as fantasy's No. 8 QB. He has some exciting weapons in Mike Wallace and Jarvis Landry, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's scheme appears to be agreeing with Tannehill. He's headed into a contract year, which will provide an extra bit of motivation. Look for Tannehill to build upon his low-end QB1 status.