Making the Case for Keenum as a QB1

Matt Hicks, Staff Writer

Keenum Gets His Shot in 2017

Case Keenum rose from the ashes of mediocrity in 2017 while leading a battered, but dangerous, Minnesota Vikings offense to the playoffs. Keenum, who before 2017 had never played more than 10 games in a season finished as QB14 in 2017. He went 325-481 with 3,548 yards, 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Keenum’s 67.6% completion rate was second among all Quarterbacks in 2017, only to Drew Brees’ 72% completion rate. Keenum’s 3,548 yards put him 12th among all quarterbacks, despite ranking 17th among quarterbacks in attempts. Keenum’s 22 passing touchdowns was more than Matt Ryan (20), Jameis Winston (19), and Marcus Mariota (13); players I’ve consistently seen ranked above Keenum this offseason. His 7 interceptions were less than Tom Brady and Drew Brees (8), Russell Wilson (11), and Kirk Cousins (13); all players who are perennial QB1s. Only Alex Smith (5.2), Carson Wentz (4.7), Jared Goff (4), Tom Brady (4), and Tyrod Taylor (3.5) had a better touchdown to interception ratio than Keenum (3.14).

Keenum’s Value Gets (A Mile) Higher in Denver

Keenum’s transition to Denver doesn’t lower his value, as some may suspect; rather I think it increases his ability to succeed as a fantasy player. Adam Thielen had never finished higher than WR 27 (2016) in PPR formats. Under Keenum, Thielen caught 91 passes (64% of targets) for 1,276 yards and 4 touchdowns to finish as WR 8. Keenum can replace Thielen’s possession style approach with Emmanuel Sanders; who finished as WR 26 in 2016. Sanders has struggled under the rotating door of Osweiler, Siemian, and Paxton Lynch but remains the same player that caught 1,000 yards in 3 straight seasons (2014-2016); catching a total of 20 touchdowns in that time.

Demaryius Thomas has seen a similar struggle; but could serve as an upgrade to Stefon Diggs, who before Keenum topped out as WR 46 in PPR. Instead of an unproven deep threat, however, Keenum gets Thomas; who totaled 35 touchdowns from 2012-2014. Also at his disposal is Cortland Sutton, who is a ridiculously great play-making option to have at his disposal as his WR3.

Instead of McKinnon and Murray, Keenum will have Royce Freeman; who is coming in as an immediate three-down back for Denver. Freeman has a workhorse style; rushing for at least 244 attempts in 3 of his 4 collegiate seasons. He has shown the ability to produce as the lead back in an offense; scoring 60 career touchdowns, gaining 5,621 rushing yards, and catching 79 passes for 814 yards in his career at Oregon.

Recognizing Value

Keenum has a current redraft ADP of 149, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, which puts him as an early 13th round pick. It puts him 22nd among quarterbacks. This is grossly undervaluing a player who turned Diggs and Thielen into dangerous fantasy options after starting the season as the second best quarterback on his own team. The Broncos made it clear on Draft night that they are committed to Keenum, and I understand why. Keenum makes the players around him better, and in Denver he’s already has good players to make even better. I’m taking Keenum in the 13th round all day, in fact I’m taking him without thinking as early as round 11; where Mariota, Mahomes, and Winston are going.

Keenum’s being undervalued because he doesn’t have the sex appeal of younger, flashier guys like the three I just mentioned. Keenum, however, allows you to take your quarterback in the 11th and spend that precious early draft capital on the running backs you should be stocking up on early.

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