Fantasy Football Quarterback Sleepers for 2014
We live in a world where more and more NFL teams each year are becoming increasingly reliant on the passing game. Gone are the days of RBs pounding the rock 350+ times a year (a la LaDainian Tomlinson in 2002 when he had 372 carries for the Chargers), and in are the days where QBs are more reminiscent of gun slingers in the Wild Wild West (think of Matthew Stafford tossing an arm-numbing 727 in 2012).
As fantasy GMs, this leads us to a key question – when is the right time to draft a QB? Here is my answer – unless Aaron Rodgers slips into the second round, don’t even think about picking up a QB during rounds 1-6. Focus on building your depth skill positions like RB and WR early on, and wait for value to come your way in the later rounds. Trust me, the value will be there. Here are three QBs that will be available in the mid-late rounds of the draft, but will be ready to deliver for your fantasy team on game-day as your starting QB.
I know, I know – Tony Romo is easy to hate. He frequently crumbles during key moments in games, tossing up muffins to the opposing defensive backs. And yes, he is coming off off-season back surgery. Despite all of this, you should have no fear calling his number on draft day. Here are the facts: OC Scott Linehan joins the Cowboys coaching staff for the 2015 season. Linehan employs a trigger-happy offense, which can be seen through Detroit’s passing stats from last year (2009-2013). As the Cowboys project to have one of the worst-defenses in the league, Linehan will likely be asking Romo to sling it all day long as the ‘Boys try to stay in games and come from behind. On offense, Romo has some serious ammunition to light up score boards. Stud receiver Dez Bryant has the potential to lead the league in receiving, up and coming WR Terrance Williams is a break-out candidate and has the potential to be a 1,000 yard receiver in 2015. Jason Witten is about as reliable as Tight Ends come, and up-and-coming TE Gavin Escobar has potential to create mismatches vs. linebackers. Combine all of this with a strong running game powered by DeMarco Murray, and one of the league’s best offensive line units led by LT Tyron Smith, and Romo could be en route to the best statistical season of his career.
The Falcon’s 4-12 record last year is not a reflection of Matt Ryan’s leadership as a QB. Premier WR Julio Jones was on-pace for a massive season, but found himself on the shelf for 11 games after suffering a broken bone is his foot. Roddy White battled an ankle injury all season long, and the Falcons didn’t have a run-game that could keep opposing d-backs honest with starting RB Steven Jackson missing 5 games. The O-Line was one of the league’s worst, losing LT Sam Baker to a torn ACL early in the season, and opening up the flood gates for 44 sacks against.
Heck, despite all this, Matty Ice found a way to throw for 4,515 yards, 26 TDs, and made Harry Douglas a 1,000-yard receiver (yes, you read that correctly). As we look to the upcoming season, both Jones and White return the field healthy and hungry to prove that they are the best WR duo in the league. The addition of rookie RB Devonta Freeman should help elevate the level of play for the entire back-field as Jackson will now have to fend off the talented rookie from siphoning carries from him.
GM Thomas Dimitroff also prioritized upgrading the O-Line in the off-season by selecting future franchise tackle Jake Matthews with the 6th overall pick of the draft, and signing Jon Asamoah as a road-paving run-blocker. Better protection, healthy stud receivers, improved run game – all signs point to a bounce-back campaign for Matty Ice.
Big Ben never seems to get the love he deserves. The poor guy simply doesn’t carry the hype like a Stafford, or Colin Kaepernick, and has been unfairly placed in the bucket of fantasy mediocrity. Last year, Big Ben quietly threw for over 4,200 yards and 28 TDs. Now I’m not saying he is going to break Peyton Manning’s passing records next year. But, I do think that if you wait until the late rounds (and I’m talking LATE) to draft a starting fantasy QB, Big Ben could prove to be a very good patch-work solution for you. This strategy may require a bit of guts to pull off, but it would allow you to build some serious depth at WR, RB, and TE.
Roethlisberger is poised for a big year. The emergence of Le’Veon Bell as an outstanding pass-catching RB will always give Big Ben a reliable check down outlet that has the potential to pick up yards in big chunks. Heath Miller returns to the squad in much better health, and WR Antonio Brown remains one of the best route-runners in the business. The Steelers also expect big things from second year WR Markus Wheaton, who shares a very similar skill-set to former Steelers WR Mike Wallace. Wheaton will stretch the field early and often, and open up things for receivers underneath, giving them plenty of room for yards after the catch.