It is not a secret that each and every year the quarterback position seems to get deeper. With the NFL rule changes over the past few seasons, it has allowed more quarterbacks to excel like we have never seen before. A decade ago, a single quarterback throwing for 5,000+ yards in a season was unheard of, but heading into this 2014 fantasy football season there is a real chance that we could see five quarterbacks break that barrier, not to mention how many are going to throw for around 4,500 yards.
With so many quarterbacks primed to put up huge numbers, one would think waiting on a quarterback was the play but great numbers is the new normal and stellar numbers is what now makes a quarterback elite.
Draft Day Outlook
On draft day there are only three quarterbacks that should go before the 3rd round in a 10 team league and those are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Their numbers overall are not leaps and bounds better than all the other quarterbacks but the fact they will put up slightly better numbers paired with how consistent they are is what makes them special. Week in and week out you can rely on these quarterbacks to put up solid numbers for you.
Once you are past the three elite quarterbacks there are still some solid options in Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Robert Griffin IIII. All relatively young (amazing that Stafford is the elder statesmen of this group) all have upside and could have career bests this season. Sure, Newton has no receivers, Luck is still a kid, Stafford still has a dot of the injury bug left in him, and RGIII is coming off a year filled with turmoil but any of these guys could end up as a top three quarterback should one of the big names go down.
Even with this upside I have to go to the consistency factor when discussing these quarterbacks. They have less risk than the quarterbacks that will go later since Newton and RGIII will give you points with their legs week in and week out. Luck and Stafford should, in theory, chuck the ball enough to produce overall solid numbers but all will have some duds thrown in along the way. Not saying that the top three will never have a bad game, it is just slightly less likely.
Rounding out our top ten at the position are some familiar faces looking to bounce back and one that might just be the next elite quarterback. Nick Foles stepped into the starting role for Chip Kelly’s offense and never looked back. Posting incredible numbers in a system that is all too fantasy friendly makes him extremely intriguing but after only one season how much faith can we put into this kid/that offense. Should you not want to roll the dice on Foles you hope that Tom Brady and Matt Ryan perform like we thought they would last season. Both have upside simply since they should be getting back stud targets in Rob Gronkowski and Julio Jones (for that matter Roddy White as well who was never healthy for Ryan).
Outside of our top ten you will find names like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, Phillip Rivers, and Tony Romo. Not a bad list but all of these quarterbacks can make or break you week to week as they are not too consistent. All can have monster games but all can throw in some duds so if you are drafting a quarterback late, you should draft two and play the matchup game each week.
Draft Day Advice
The position is deep in terms of overall points but think of the consistency factor when drafting your quarterback. I have no issues with grabbing a quarterback early or targeting a high upside quarterback in the middle rounds. If you do wait, then grab two and play the matchup game week to week. Also you must know your settings. A league that counts six points for passing and rushing touchdowns alike does hurt the value of guys like Newton and Luck slightly. It just makes those rushing touchdowns not quite as valuable.
Best of the Rest: Andy Dalton – The Bengals do have a new offensive coordinator this season, but Dalton’s fantasy season last year was vastly underrated. He threw for almost 4,300 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also has some weapons around him, so should you find yourself in a two quarterback league he is a great play.
No Respect: Ryan Tannehill – Over the past few seasons we have seen many young quarterbacks put together great seasons. Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III are just a few that come to mind but due to the exceptional play of these quarterbacks the solid couple of years put together by Ryan Tannehill has gone under the radar. He has gotten better each year and we love the fact that his legs (238 rushing yards last season) can bring fantasy goodness even if he is having trouble throwing the long ball.
Top Rookie: Johnny Manziel – I assumed his average draft position was going to be out of control but it has actually slipped over the past couple of weeks. Maybe it is due to all the partying pictures or the fact that Hoyer might actually win the starting job but I still love him as a late round gamble. He is not Tim Tebow and should he start his rushing yards alone gives him a shot (might be long but a shot) at finishing the year as a top 12 at the quarterback position.
Overrated: Joe Flacco – Remember when Joe Flacco called himself “elite” before the start of the 2012 season and we all laughed. Well, that “is he elite tag” was carried with him the entire year and he won a Super Bowl so the Ravens had no choice but to overpay him that off season when his contract was up. Ever since then, fantasy owners have been overpaying for him as well. Flacco has never been a stellar quarterback so don’t even think to draft him as your QB2. Just because the Ravens overpaid for him, does not mean you have to.
Don’t Even Think About It: Michael Vick/Geno Smith – First things first, Geno Smith will start for the Jets this season. Next, when he gets hurt since he will have no protection remember it is not 2006 anymore and Vick does not have the same legs as he once did. Last, do not waste your time on either of them. Jets are a run first team so neither will have much of an opportunity to have a big season.