Now that fantasy drafts are in full swing, following players Average Draft Position (ADP) becomes more important than ever for owners. At the quarterback position there is no shortage of studs but every season there is a couple of guys that come out of nowhere to have a big fantasy impact. Here are five quarterbacks being selected in the later rounds that have a good chance to outperform their ADP this season.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (ADP: Round 13)
Bradford looked like a can’t-miss prospect coming out of Oklahoma. While Bradford’s career has been up-and-down so far, it’s still not time to close the book on him yet because the Rams haven’t given Bradford much of a chance to succeed up to this point. That could finally change in 2013.
If you look beyond the numbers Bradford has shown toughness and the ability to make all the throws required from an NFL quarterback in his first three years. What he badly needed was some help; both along the offensive line and playmakers at receiver/tight end.
The last two years, however, the Rams have done a good job of drafting young talent to surround Bradford. Last year it was Brian Quick and Chris Givens. This year it was Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. All four of these receivers have the potential to not only be productive NFL receivers but also big-time playmakers in the Rams’ offense. Don’t sleep on Bailey either. He was one of the most NFL-ready receivers in the draft. Bailey runs great routes and could become Bradford’s security blanket on third downs.
The key addition though could be the signing of former Titans tight end Jared Cook – arguably the most underutilized player in the NFL last season. That’s what happens when a team wakes up Chris Palmer out of retirement to run an offense. Dustin Keller saw 216 targets from the tight end position in Brian Schottenheimer’s last two years as offensive coordinator with the Jets, so look for Bradford and Cook to hook up a lot in 2013.
Bradford lost Amendola and Brandon Gibson but the Rams plan to run more of an up-tempo offense this season. They also signed LT Jake Long to help shore up the offensive line and protect Bradford’s blindside. If one or two of the young receivers can step up to go along with Cook, Bradford has a good chance to finally deliver for fantasy owners. I like him as a high-end QB2 to start the year.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: Round 21)
Reports out of Philadelphia suggest Foles has a legitimate chance to win the Eagles’ starting quarterback job, yet he’s not even getting drafted in most leagues. That means a majority of people are still buying into Mike Vick, which could be a mistake.
Foles should win the starting job because Vick is no longer an option for a team serious about contending in the NFL. Vick has trouble reading defenses, he makes way too many mistakes and he ad libs too much. Go back and look at Chip Kelly’s offenses from his college days – including when he was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire – and see if that describes his quarterbacks.
Some think just because Vick is mobile he’s a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense. That’s not entirely true. Kelly demands his quarterbacks be able to understand what defenses are doing when the ball is snapped and most importantly, don’t turn the football over. Kelly’s main philosophy is he believes his offense will eventually wear down opposing defenses. That can’t happen if his team is constantly turning the ball over.
Foles really showed something last year. He was put in a bad situation and played well given the circumstances. Remember, he came in right about the time the entire Eagles team basically imploded. If you go back to his college days when a majority of the Arizona players quit under former head coach Mike Stoops, Foles has shown throughout his career that he’s a leader and that’s a quality Kelly covets.
Vick had an amazing run in 2010 but since then he’s been a turnover machine. Vick has been responsible for an absurd 33 turnovers in 23 games the past two years. There’s a chance Kelly is using Foles to motivate Vick but I’ve thought since last season that Vick was all done. I’m putting my money on the young quarterback with upside over the declining veteran who turns the ball over at an alarming rate; regardless of how many times Vick beats LeSean McCoy in a meaningless foot race.
Foles is currently the third Philadelphia quarterback being drafted. Vick is being selected in Round 12 on average and rookie Matt Barkley is even going off the board ahead of Foles in Round 19. If Foles wins the starting job, he’ll be the steal of the 2013 fantasy season.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (ADP: Round 12)
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Tannehill this offseason and for good reason. While he didn’t put up the kind of rookie numbers that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson did, Tannehill showed enough promise to suggest he’ll take a big step forward in 2013.
Tannehill was raw coming out of college where he only started 20 games. He actually would have been drafted pretty high as a receiver if he ended up staying at that position before moving over to quarterback. No one ever doubted Tannehill’s physical skills but last year he was still getting used looking off defenders and going to his second and third reads.
As the season progressed though Tannehill showed improvement and impressed with his composure and pocket presence all year long. Plus, the Dolphins had one of the worst groups of pass catchers in 2012. Not just receivers but tight ends as well.
Miami went out and really got Tannehill some help this offseason by adding Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller, to go along with Brian Hartline. That’s a major upgrade from the group Tannehill had to work with last season and it should help him see a big boast in his fantasy production.
Last year Tannehill only topped 300 yards once and he had just three games with multiple touchdown passes. However, with his physical tools, a season under his belt, new offensive weapons in Miami and a respected quarterback coach like Joe Philbin at the helm, Tannehill enters the year with the potential to be a strong QB2 and bye-week filler for your fantasy team.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns (ADP: Round 17)
Coaching can help predict fantasy success and Rob Chudzinski is one of the better offensive minds in the NFL. He really does a good job of knowing his personnel and putting players in position to succeed.
Chudzinski also made a smart move by hiring Norv Turner to be his offensive coordinator. Turner has no business being a head coach and hopefully we’ll never have to sit through that agony ever again but as a playcaller and quarterback coach, Turner has a history of being very effective.
Weeden came in is a rookie last season but the pieces weren’t in place for him to have a lot of success. Former head coach Pat Shurmur’s system didn’t really fit what Weeden does well, which is getting the ball down the field. Both Chudzinski and Turner believe in more of a vertical passing game, so that should be a better fit for Weeden’s skill set.
Also, the Browns had a problem at receiver last year. The problem was their receivers couldn’t catch a lot of the times Weeden did get them the ball. Greg Little may have been a Top 10 fantasy receiver if he caught all the balls that hit him directly in the hands. Heck, he caught 53 of them. Imagine if he hung on to the 25 he muffed.
Receiver could still be a problem in Cleveland. Josh Gordon has all kinds of talent but will miss the first two games of the season because of a suspension. Little has potential but he can’t drop every other pass thrown to him, so he’s on a short leash with the new coaching staff.
Tight end Jordan Cameron looks like a future stud but coming into 2013 he only has 26 career receptions. Cameron will be utilized a lot by Chudzinski and Turner but we can’t count on him as a lock for 70 receptions yet.
So the potential is there but mostly unproven at this point. A big boost to the offense is the sure-handed Davone Bess coming over from Miami. He should really help Weeden as a possession receiver on shorter routes.
There’s no doubt Weeden still has a ways to go after a rocky rookie season. However, he has definite upside. With a new coaching staff in Cleveland planning on installing an aggressive passing attack and some young weapons that should excel in the system, Weeden is a guy to keep an eye on.
Tyler Wilson, Oakland Raiders (ADP: Round 20)
This one’s a longshot but given the state of the Raiders’ quarterback position right now, a longshot in Oakland could pay off for fantasy owners this season.
Wilson was once considered a top draft pick but then the bottom fell out at Arkansas. Sometimes things happen where it’s not entirely the player’s fault and if you watched Arkansas play last year, you know it was a program in shambles. After the abrupt firing of Bobby Petrino the hiring of John L. Smith proved to be a disaster and he eventually lost most of the team.
One guy that didn’t stop playing was Wilson, despite getting hammered behind a porous offensive line and battling through multiple injuries. Despite all that went wrong last season, Wilson’s stats were very similar in 2012 to 2011. The biggest difference was Wilson threw seven more interceptions but that was likely the result of the constant pressure he was under. If he wasn’t running for his life, Wilson was throwing off his back foot, which led to him making some poor decisions.
When Wilson is on, he has a cannon for an arm and impressive pocket presence. Wilson was a top quarterback prospect in a weak class because of his quick release and the way he surveys the field. Did he go to an ideal situation? No considering the Raiders’ current struggles but the one thing that being in Oakland means is Wilson will likely play right away.
Terrelle Pryor is no threat. Pryor couldn’t play quarterback when he was at Ohio State, so he certainly isn’t going to do it at the pro level. Matt Flynn has had a total of two good NFL games and one was against the Lions’ secondary back in 2011, so it doesn’t really count. Flynn looks like a fine backup quarterback. But a fine backup won’t last as a starter.
This leaves the door open for Wilson. He’s a fantasy longshot but in college he had that extra something quarterbacks need to succeed in the NFL. He can sling it around and while he will throw some picks as a rookie, the Raiders will likely be behind in a lot of games and be forced to throw the ball.
If any Oakland quarterback is going to have fantasy value this season, it will be Wilson. He has by far the most ability and upside of the three guys vying for playing time at the position.