Fantasy Football Strategy: Bargain Quarterbacks

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It’s the best time of the year for fantasy enthusiasts as we’re in the month of August! It’s the time of the year where you do research to draft and prove to your buddies who knows football more – for bragging rights, for the trophy, for a year of superior confidence. In order to achieve these goals, you must be able to identify the bargains of players. Players with hype or greatly anticipated potential make their ADP (Average Draft Position) higher than it should be, which causes other players to drop and therefore become bargains. There are also those players who have certain risks that scare fantasy owners away.

I’m here to inform you of who I believe could be steals for where you can draft them. For now I will be concentrating on my top 5 bargain QBs. These players I feel are being drafted lower than they should, or being drafted where you should feel confident in taking them with your arms held high in triumph. Instead of spending high draft picks in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round, you can draft a guy who has upside to catapult into producing on the same level as those players. When referring to my draft round, I typically play in 12 team leagues. A player with a 46 ADP, I would consider as a 4th round pick rather than a 5th round pick being in a 10 team league.

Carson Palmer QB (ARI) – ADP 136.3

My biggest concern for Palmer is the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. Another issue could be the running game with underachieving Mendenhall and often injured Ryan Williams. Putting those into consideration, I think Palmer will be great value for an 11th round pick. Let’s look at the positives; Larry Fitzgerald and Arians’ offensive. Palmer’s arm has never been a question – he has the power to get it where it needs to be. He’s going to throw a ton and it’s going to be for a lot of yards as he always does. Look at how Andrew Luck threw last year under Arians’; 4,374 yards and 627 attempts in his rookie year. Fitzgerald may be the best WR in the game and will be at the end of those throws. 2nd year WR Michael Floyd should make a push to improve on last year and could open things up a little more. Not to mention the super athletic TE Rob Housler. If Heath Miller can be productive in Bruce Arians’ offensive, I’m sure Housler will find a way to be productive at 6’ 4” and a 4.4 40 speed.

Carson Palmer was impressive for being on a Raiders roster without weapons on the receiving end of his passes. He has the potential to be a low end QB1 and for a late round pick, you should target him. The only downside is pretty much the guarantee of 18-20 interceptions.

2013 Projections: 16 GP; 4,492 passing yards; 27 TDs; 20 INT; 77 rushing yards; 1 rushing TDs

Alex Smith QB (KC) – ADP 131.8

What a roller coaster ride Alex Smith has been through in his NFL career. Multiple OC’s, up’s and down’s when playing, starts to turn things around, gets a concussion, loses his starting position and then gets traded. I think this is a huge blessing in disguise for the former #1 overall pick. Landing in Kansas City is a great path for Smith to show people what he can do. Kansas City is a vastly underrated team, who’s also very talented on the offensive side of the ball. Everyone knows about Jamaal Charles. Then you have the forgotten Dwayne Bowe, along with who I think will be a breakout star in Jon Baldwin. When you have these weapons, you’re more likely to be productive as a QB.

Alex Smith completed over 70% of his passes with SF last year. His accuracy, along with Andy Reid’s offensive and the WR’s he’ll have to throw to, this should be a very productive year for the forgotten Smith. Keep in mind that Andy Reid’s offenses have been top 10 in the league, 8 times as he loves to throw the ball.

2013 Projections: 16 GP; 3,751 passing yards; 24 TDs; 11 INT; 124 rushing yards; 3 rushing TDs

Matthew Stafford QB (DET) – ADP 58.1

Stafford is a guy who vastly under preformed last year. This is also a guy who I think is going to bounce back and be a top 5 fantasy QB this year. Keep in mind that last year, the Lions WR’s were tackled inside the 5 yard line 23 times. 23 TIMES! Calvin Johnson was 8 of those 23. Even if Stafford was able to get half of those, he would have finished as the #5 fantasy QB, just behind Cam Newton and ahead of RG3 and Peyton Manning. The amount of times this offensive passes the ball (#1 in the NFL) along with the best WR in the game (Calvin Johnson), the upgrade at RB (Reggie Bush) who loves to, and can catch the ball out of the backfield – who wouldn’t be in love with Stafford this year!? This team is going to have to throw, and throw often as the defense won’t be able to keep them in games.

Ryan Broyles is another guy on this team who can help Stafford greatly, if he’s able to stay healthy. Pettigrew is a big TE who can catch. Stafford is a practically a lock for 4,750 yards and upwards to 5,250 yards. Add in the toss up TDs to Calvin Johnson, Stafford is probably looking to double his last year production for TD passes and get back in his 2011 season form.

2013 Projection: 16 GP; 5,142 passing yards; 39 TDs; 14 INT; 113 rushing yards; 1 rushing TD

Robert Griffin III QB (WSH) – ADP 45.7

I may be bias as a huge Washington Redskins fan, but RG3 is the real deal. People either seem to love him or hate him. Putting emotions aside, this guy can be a great asset to a fantasy team. Looking back on his rookie year, he was the #5 fantasy QB, even after missing time and playing hurt. If you’re worried about his durability, don’t – it’s too early for that. If you’re one of those people who believe RG3 is a running QB first, open your eyes. RG3 was the most efficient passer last year. You can say it’s the system they run all you want, but guess what, next year it’s going to be the same system. Yes, RG3 is going to run some, maybe a little less than last year but that’s what makes him so special as a fantasy QB. His passing though, is what’s going to keep him productive and be able to run.

Check out these numbers, ranked 1st in productivity in balls thrown 11 yards or more, ranked 2nd in
productivity in balls thrown 20 yards or more, 4th in completion percentage, 1.2% bad decision rate, 1st in QB rushing yards and 20th overall of all players with 826, 3rd in QB rating all along with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio. Very impressive for any QB let alone a rookie. He’s only going to improve and should have his #1 WR and #1 TE who he rarely had all of last year. WATCH OUT! Could very well be the best fantasy QB of 2013.

2013 Projections: 15 GP: 3,694 passing yards; 25 TDs, 9 INT; 622 rushing yards; 8 rushing TDs

Matt Ryan QB (ATL) – ADP 36.8

I realize that Ryan is going at the end of the 3rd round, beginning of the 4th round. I’m putting him on this list because he can, and will perform on the tier with Rodgers and Brees who are going in the 1st or 2nd round. By waiting for Ryan, you can draft starting RB’s (which aren’t very deep this year) or WR’s. Matt Ryan has arguably the best top 3 guys to throw to in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Not to mention the addition of Steven Jackson who will open the field up a little more than Michael Turner did.  Steven Jackson can catch the ball very well and is explosive enough, even at 30 with 2,395 carries and 407 catches under his belt. Back to Ryan, I’m shocked that he’s the #6 QB off the board with the numbers and weapons he has. I won’t get into the QBs problems of others that are being drafted ahead of Ryan – I’ll just state my case for why you should feel happy to take Ryan.

Matt Ryan has improved every year he’s been in the league, having an insane completion percentage of 68.6 last year which was tied for tops in the league. The more completed passes, the more points Ryan is going to gather obviously. With being so accurate and having those passes travel to Jones and White, he’s going to throw for a lot of yards. Matt Ryan is as consistent year to year as any other QB. Julio Jones is immerging and will be in his often stated “breakout 3rd year as a WR”, even though he’s proved already how good he is. Roddy White has had 6 straight 80+ catch seasons along with 6 straight 1,000 yard seasons. Tony Gonzalez is most likely in his last season in the NFL and wants to win a Super Bowl badly. There’s nothing to suggest that he won’t improve from last year’s numbers. I believe the Atlanta Falcons are going to throw more than they have in the past 2 years with Michael “the Burner” Turner.

2013 Projection: 16GP; 4,859 passing yards; 38 TDs; 13 INT; 87 rushing yards; 2 rushing TDs