You don’t need Aaron Rodgers to win your fantasy football league.
Does it help? Sure. He’s really, really good at football. However, you don’t need him. The Buffalo Bills definitely do, though, so let’s try to make something happen, shall we? Simply put, the quarterback position is the most predictable in fantasy because it offers the least amount of variance. On most afternoons, a quarterback is going to drop back to pass around 30 times, giving us a strong idea of a sample size each week. It also helps that signal callers continue to put up an insane amount of numbers, making the position deeper than ever.
According to numberFire‘s JJ Zachariason, 41 different quarterbacks posted a top-12 fantasy outing in 2014. You can find at least one viable streaming option each week during the season because of that expected volume. Teams are also passing the football more than ever. Last year, six different passers attempted at least 600 passes. There hasn’t been a season over the last 15 years where there were more quarterbacks to accomplish that feat.
If you’re a frequent fantasy player, you probably are familiar with the The Late Round Quarterback philosophy, coined by Zachariason, who wrote an e-book on the subject that you should probably check out. So, with fantasy drafts just around the corner, let’s check out some of my favorite late-round quarterbacks to target this year.
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Going from the Rams offense to Philly’s unit is like going from your neighborhood motel to Four Seasons — but with more ducks. Because of the move, Bradford has actually become rather polarizing in fantasy land, but for good reason. If you look back to 2013 when Bradford played just seven games before tearing his ACL a second time, he was very efficient, tossing 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions, while completing 61 percent of his passes. And that was in a Rams offense that featured guys like Tavon Austin, Zac Stacy and Austin Pettis. Now he joins a Philly offense that ranked first in offensive plays per game last year (70.7) and has legitimate playmakers around him. That Chip Kelly offense has worked wonders for guys like Michael Vick, Nick Foles and even Mark Sanchez. In fact, in the 32 games since taking over the Eagles offense, Kelly’s quarterback has accumulated at least 15 fantasy points nearly 65 percent of the time. And last year, Foles and Sanchez combined to average 16 points per game. That gives Bradford a pretty safe floor, of course, assuming he can stay healthy (he’s missed 31-of-80 games during his career).
Oh, and for what it’s worth, look at his opening schedule…
Week 1: @ Atlanta
Week 2: vs Cowboys
Week 3: @ Jets
Week 4: @ Redskins
Week 5: vs Saints
Week 6: vs Giants
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Because he got hurt, and what followed him in Arizona was putrid, I’m not sure how many people truly realize how good Carson Palmer was when on the field last season. In six starts last year, Palmer averaged a strong 17.3 fantasy points per game, tossing 1.8 touchdowns per contest as well. He was on pace to finish as a top-12 fantasy passer before tearing his ACL, and once that happened, the Cardinals passing game went to hell. When Palmer was healthy, this Bruce Arians passing offense ranked top-10 in football, and I think he makes for an outstanding quarterback to pair with another late-round guy for fantasy purposes. Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington make for a rather favorable core of weapons, too.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Staying in the NFC West, I’m buying the concept of Kaepernick having a bounce back season in San Francisco this year. While he wasn’t horrible, Kaepernick certainly didn’t warrant his draft pick, coming off the board as the 9th passer in fantasy. For some odd reason, Jim Harbaugh limited his mobile running quarterback to just 63 option snaps. He still, however, rushed for an impressive 639 yards and a score. Under new head coach Jim Tomsula, I see Kaepernick running a lot more. Also, this 49ers defensive unit is a shell of itself, which could very well lead to more passing attempts for Kaep, whose career-high in passes came last year (478). To put that into perspective, 15 other signal callers threw more passes last year. He also gets arguably the most explosive receiver he’s ever had in Torrey Smith, who will match well with Kaepernick’s rocket arm. Based off the upside he provides you at his current ADP (12.09, 18th QB off the board), it’s very logical to at least chase his rushing upside. We’ve chased the fantasy upside of far less-talented quarterbacks in the past because of their legs, so Kaepernick will be a very popular late-round target of mine.
Note: I’ve already talked enough about Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Manning, both of which I absolutely love this season. Check it here.