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Fantasy Football: Blake Bortles biggest QB surprise of 2015

DEC 13, 2015: Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) during the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)

When looking back at the 2015 fantasy football season, most will remember Devonta Freeman’s emergence or Russell Wilson’s dominance in the second half. One player that isn’t getting as much end-of-season attention is Blake Bortles.

A lot of players came out of nowhere to help fantasy teams this year, but maybe none more so than Bortles, who was ranked as the No. 28 quarterback in the FantasyPros preseason consensus rankings.

This is a guy that wasn’t drafted in most leagues, yet finished the year as a top-five quarterback. The easiest way to win in fantasy football is with a solid, consistent QB and that’s exactly what Bortles was this year and he wasn’t even drafted.

Bortles finished the season with 35 touchdowns, tied for second-most in the league. While he led the league with 18 interceptions, his running ability (310 yards) all but took away the negative from the picks. And so, Bortles outscored the likes of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

The most impressive part to Bortles’ season was his consistency, and that in turn led to a number of fantasy championships for his owners.

Bortles started the year off slow, but that was mostly due to a matchup against the Panthers. Shortly after that, he reeled off three-straight solid performances. However, it wasn’t until a Week 5 game against the Bucs in which he threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns when people started to take him seriously.

By Week 6, Bortles should have been picked up in every league and things only got better from there. Sure, there were one or two hiccups, but not many. After Week 1, he finished with at least two touchdowns in every game but two (not including Week 17). Not many quarterbacks can say that.

08 NOV 2015:  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) during the second quarter of the game between the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

08 NOV 2015: Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) during the second quarter of the game between the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

But maybe most importantly, Bortles was one of the best quarterbacks in the fantasy playoffs. In Week 14, he threw for three TDs and ran another one in. In Week 15, he threw for 297 yards and only one touchdown, but also added 44 yards on the ground with another TD. For the Championship Week 16, Bortles threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Needless to say, you didn’t lose in the playoffs because of Bortles.

Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford are getting attention because of how they closed the season, but Bortles deserves to be in that conversation too, at least fantasy wise.

Conveniently, I keep leaving out Week 17, but from Weeks 12 to 16 (five games), Bortles averaged more than 300 passing yards per game to go with 17 touchdowns.

Of course, being a top-five fantasy quarterback doesn’t equate to being a top-five overall quarterback, and that’s seen in his 18 interceptions. Bortles still has his issues and maybe he won’t be rated as a top-five guy going into next season, but he will be in the top 10.

Looking ahead, Bortles will still have his top-two receivers in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns next year. If Julius Thomas can stay healthy and get a full offseason in with his quarterback, that should also be a huge help. In addition, the Jaguars running game can’t get any worse than it was this year. T.J. Yeldon will have a year under his belt and the offensive line should be improved (maybe).

The pieces are there for the Jaguars to be relevant again and that starts with Bortles at quarterback. He made a massive improvement from his rookie season, and while he still makes plenty of mistakes, he has the weapons to make up for them and that turns into fantasy points.

Bortles was also a great play in daily leagues. His price never shot through the roof and he remained a great value throughout the season.

At the most important position in fantasy football, Bortles was one of the best and was almost free for his services.

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