Deep League Quarterbacks: Digging through Trash?

By Robert Knarr

This season, like many past seasons, there are numerous quarterbacks to choose from.  Most of these quarterbacks have already been covered ad nauseam.  So, I thought I’d cover late round quarterbacks…like really late round.

Some people like a little excitement and diversity in their life, and forgo the traditional 10 or 12 team single quarterback league.  Or maybe draft day hits, and you party a little too hard before the draft, end up drinking an extra whiskey or partaking in other recreational activities, then BAM the 12th round swings around, and you realize you haven’t drafted a quarterback yet.  Or perhaps, you take Brady or Eli, and are looking for a good backup.

For those people, I went ahead and skipped the first 12 quarterbacks off the board, and tried to take a good look at the ones left.  There are some intriguing options, and always some late rounders that end up exceeding expectations and breaking the top 10 or maybe top 5.  Remember when Cam Newton went undrafted in many leagues and ended up being a top quarterback?  So, let’s see if we can uncover some late round gems and/or at least solid QB2 options.

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill is a really interesting quarterback, being drafted 13th, just after my self imposed cut.  He can be had with an ADP of 94.6, and deserves a little better.  After all, he finished last season as the 9th best quarterback.  Many people are pretty down on Tannehill, because he hasn’t emerged as a top option yet, and has a few troubling numbers, mainly his 6.9 yards per attempt.  It’s important to remember that he wasn’t even supposed to start his first year, and was considered an incredibly raw prospect.  He will be entering his 4th year in the league, and has improved each year.  His NFL QB rating has gone from 76.1, to 81.7, to 92.8 last year.  Last year he also posted the 6th best accuracy percentage, according to Pro Football Focus, which takes into account, dropped passes, spikes, and throwaways.  Tannehill also threw for a career best in touchdowns and interceptions, 27 and 12 respectively.  He lost Mike Wallace and Charles Clay, but added Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and top draft pick DeVante Parker, giving them a solid and potentially excellent wide receiver corps.  Stills is a a really good wide receiver and should replace Wallace, while Cameron could be an upgrade over Clay.  Jennings still retains value as a solid receiver option.  Furthermore, Landry should improve upon his 1st year, and Parker’s ceiling is high as a potential WR1, although he probably won’t reach it this year.  Tannehill is in an excellent position.  One potential drag on his value is that their defense will probably be quite good, so they might not be throwing the ball as much.  Even still, if he continues to improve he could have a high ceiling, and definitely has a solid floor.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater - Getty Images

Teddy Bridgewater – Getty Images

My favorite late round quarterback is Teddy Bridgewater.  He didn’t play the first couple games, but came onto the scene in game 3.  Last year, he posted some impressive numbers, but finished as the 23rd best quarterback.  Obviously, those numbers would be better if he had played a full season.  His traditional numbers weren’t outstanding, as he threw for only 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 2919 yards.  However, it’s important to look at the full picture.  To begin, I love his makeup.  When you look at Bridgewater’s draft profile, he is hailed by scouts as a fairly polished prospect regarding his mechanics, and has a great football IQ.  He was excellent at making reads and adjusting the play before the snap in college. Furthermore, he was able to add 209 yards rushing and one touchdown.  His legs definitely give him an advantage over many quarterbacks, and rushing stats are a great way for a fantasy quarterback to excel beyond the competition.  Bridgewater also had many prodigious stats when one digs deeper.  He posted the third best accuracy percentage at 77.3%.  He also finished 10th in deep passes, and was 1st in accuracy percentage when under pressure.  Down the stretch Bridgewater was extraordinary as well, and seemed to be past some of the growing pains young quarterbacks face.  In his last five games Bridgewater had the second best NFL QB rating.  The offense isn’t spectacular around Bridgewater, but they did add Mike Wallace, and Patterson can still improve, so they should be good enough.  Not to mention the Vikings will be getting AP back, who can definitely open things up down the field.  The bust potential is high, but this late in the draft, there isn’t a quarterback with more upside.

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

Last year I made the mistake of drafting Colin Kaepernick, so I never thought I’d advocate taking him this year.  However, his price has dropped considerably, and with an ADP of 123.2, things are a lot different.  His accuracy will never be stellar, especially with the long throwing motion, but he still threw for 3369 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.  Those numbers ranked him as the 16th best quarterback, right behind Matthew Stafford, who is going much higher in the draft. According to Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rating he ranked 12th in the league.  But, we all know Kaepernick’s true value lies in his legs.  Again, quarterbacks who can run the ball, provide lots of additional value.  And oddly enough, despite, rushing for a career high 639 yards, Kaepernick had only 1 touchdown on the ground.  That’s not going to happen again.  San Francisco was a mess last year, and I expect them to struggle again.  They lost a ton of defensive players, so I expect Kaepernick to sling the ball a lot. I don’t care for his supporting cast, but they could be worse.  Torrey Smith has big play ability, and the rest can do a serviceable job.  While I don’t think Colin will ever be a great quarterback, I like his ability to run, price tag, and think he’ll rack up a ton of volume, with the defense being worse than usual.

Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers

I almost didn’t write about Phillip Rivers, because I felt he was too obvious a choice, but, with an ADP of  106.6, people still don’t be seem to be giving him any love.  He had a nice season in 2014, and finished 12th in the league in points scored.  While not as good as his 2013 season, he still produced quite well.  His production has been a little spotty since 2010, but he threw for 4286 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions in 2014.  The picks are not good, but the touchdown and yards totals are attractive and definitely achievable again.  He will be entering his age 34 season, which is still plenty young enough to be productive. Rivers’ numbers weren’t mind blowing last year, finishing 10th in QB rating, 8th in accuracy, 12th in deep passing accuracy, 8th in yards and touchdowns.  Those numbers should put him higher than the 14th drafted quarterback.  Not to mention that as recently as 2013, he finished 3rd in QB rating, 1st in accuracy, 9th in deep passing, 5th in yards, 4th in touchdowns, and had 8.5 yards per attempt.  His supporting cast improved a bit, with the addition of Melvin Gordon and Stevie Johnson.  And, perhaps Keenan Allen can break out like he was supposed to last year.  I’d put his floor at about his season last year, with a ceiling close to his 2013 season, when he was the 3rd best quarterback in the league, giving him the best value of QB’s I covered.  How he’s being drafted so low is beyond me, since I would see put him ahead of 3-5 quarterbacks in front of him.

Honorable Mentions

Derek Carr and Blake Bortles were both terrible in their rookie year, but should see modest improvement, and have decent ceilings, considering the weapons added around them.  I particularly like how the Raiders added Amari Cooper (I know that’s terrific insight that you needed me to tell you), and think Latavius Murray could be good.  Winston will struggle in his first season, but also has decent value with the offense around him.  Mariota will also probably perform badly, but has the rushing ability to put up some decent fantasy days.  Alex Smith provides decent floor, because of his consistency, rushing ability, and addition of Maclin.  But man, is his ceiling low, after all he didn’t complete a passing touchdown to a wide receiver last year.  Lastly, while I’m not a believer in Bradford, anyone in Philly’s offense deserves consideration.

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