Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are elite NFL quarterbacks. Using an early- or even mid-round fantasy pick on them is a high-level mistake.
If you’re in a standard one-QB league which awards at least a half-point for a reception and only four points for a passing TD, employing a late-round quarterback strategy will yield a lot of rewards. First of all, we will stack up depth at positions where injuries are far more frequent and bust rates are far higher. Additionally, quarterback production is relatively predictable compared to other positions. And most importantly, there is way more supply at the quarterback position than demand: 21 quarterbacks outscored the No. 2 RB (Adrian Peterson) last season and the difference between the No. 24 QB (Ryan Tannehill) vs. the No. 2 QB (Tom Brady) was a mere 5.0 fantasy points per game.
Once you commit to waiting as long as possible for your quarterback, your draft plan will clear up quickly. Here are some QBs available late in drafts with big upside:
WE LIKE THAT
In the 24 games Kirk Cousins has started and finished, he’s averaged 279.8 passing yards per game. That would be good for second all-time, behind only Drew Brees. Cousins has gone over 300 yards passing 12 times in his 26 career starts, a rate that’s better than Peyton Manning, Brees and Aaron Rodgers. So even though Cousins will throw interceptions, they’ll quickly become water under the bridge as he racks up stats via DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and Josh Doctson. He’s a serious candidate to lead the NFL in passing yards yet he’s consistently available in Round 11 or 12 of fantasy drafts.
REMEMBER THE RUNNING
Marcus Mariota averaged 0.51 fantasy points per dropback last year, eight-best in the league and a better rate than Blake Bortles, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. He did it despite averaging just 2.8 rushes per game as the Titans tried to protect their investment. With Mariota’s knees healthy and Mike Mularkey taking over on a full-time basis, we can expect more designed and improvised runs from the quarterback position. Mariota also quietly has a very high ceiling with his arm, as evidenced by four 3-TD games among the 12 he started as a rookie last year.
BOB AND BROCK
Brock Osweiler landed in an ideal situation with the Texans. He’ll be coached by QB guru Bill O’Brien, who made Christian Hackenberg look like one of the best players in the country as a true freshman at Penn State and made Brian Hoyer fantasy viable. Osweiler will operate in one of the league’s fastest-paced offenses and have serious weaponry with DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller/Jaelen Strong. And finally, Osweiler will get six games against the leaky defenses of the Jags, Titans and Colts. It’s a streamer’s delight.
NFL SLEEPERS OF THE WEEK
Each week, we will identify three players worth taking a shot on late in fantasy drafts:
1. Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers – A physical freak who has made huge strides entering his second NFL season. It’s perfect timing with Martavis Bryant suspended for the entire season, Le’Veon Bell suspended four games and Markus Wheaton continuing to underwhelm.
2. Bruce Ellington, WR, 49ers – Has the inside track on the No. 2 WR job in Chip Kelly’s breakneck-paced offense.
3. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles – Elite pass-catching back is quietly getting first-team reps on a team with very little quality at the wideout position.
Reports out of Giants camp have two wideouts heading two different directions. Veteran Victor Cruz continues to struggle off the brutal patellar tear he sustained two seasons ago. Meanwhile rookie Sterling Shepard has been the star of camp as he careens toward an every-down role opposite Odell Beckham. Shepard is a legit candidate for 70+ catches as a rookie.