Undervalued Quarterbacks – 2017 Draft Targets
By Taylor Maxston (@TMaxston)
After writing an article about my three overvalued quarterbacks for the 2017 fantasy football season, I’m about ready to shift my tone and give owners some promising advice about which quarterbacks you can expect to pay dividends as either a great draft value or noteworthy sleeper. I will be using average draft position (ADP) and positional rankings from 10-team standard scoring mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com as the reference points for my analysis.
To be classified as a draft value, a quarterback needs to have a great chance to outperform their current positional rank (i.e.: a player ranked QB7 should be able to finish 2017 as QB6 or higher) and thus are worth the investment at their current price.
To be classified as a sleeper, a quarterback needs to have some good signs that point their fantasy future in a positive direction. However, the difference between a sleeper and value as far as my classification is concerned is that a sleeper is someone that might take a step forward, but may not necessarily be a consistently useful fantasy asset in 2017.
ADP Draft Values – Quarterback
Kirk Cousins (QB, WAS) – 9.04, QB-9
When I first went to fantasyfootballcalculator.com to check ADPs, the name that jumped out at me the most was Kirk Cousins. Despite his draft day price steadily increasing from the 10th round in early August to the mid-ninth today, he currently ranks as the QB-9 behind Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, and Jameis Winston (whose stock has soared since the airing of HBO’s Hard Knocks).
Cousins is quite literally one of the safest quarterback options for you to draft in large part because he carries with him both the talent and consistent volume to produce week-in and week-out. He has been one of the most prolific quarterbacks over the last two seasons, averaging 284 yards per game with a completion percentage of 68 percent. Further helping his case, the Washington Redskins ranked 11th in points per game last season and also ran the 8th highest percentage of passing plays in the NFL.
Considering that the team didn’t make a massive effort to improve the ground game this last offseason, with Rob Kelley slated to be the starter come Week 1, Cousins will be an exceptional bargain at his current price and should be able to follow up on a stellar QB-4 finish last season.
Philip Rivers (QB, LAC) – 11.04, QB-13
If we take a look at Philip Rivers’ fantasy finishes over the last three seasons, it seems as if he has been unremarkable at best. He finished as QB-10, QB-12, and QB-14 from 2014 to 2016, with him having thrown for the second most interceptions in the NFL last season (21).
Rivers is currently being priced at his floor due to recency bias. Let’s not forget that he was throwing to Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, an ageing Antonio Gates, and a rookie Hunter Henry (tight end is one of the hardest positions to transition from college to the NFL). Now, he gets a chance at redemption with Keenan Allen returning from a torn ACL and Clemson standout Mike Williams likely to be lining up outside at some point in the regular season. Further, Henry and Gates provide enough touchdown upside that it is a very realistic possibility for Rivers to eclipse 40-plus scores.
Rivers has averaged 38 pass attempts per game over the last three seasons and should have a great chance of bouncing back into the top-10 of fantasy quarterbacks. Take him in the eleventh round as a solid QB2 to pair with a high upside quarterback as insurance.
Matthew Stafford (QB, DET) – 11.10, QB-15
I think a lot of people are underestimating how good Matthew Stafford was in 2016. He finished as the QB-7 despite a noticeable drop-off in production when he played through a dislocated middle finger for the final four games of the season. In the games prior to suffering the injury, Stafford completed 68.4 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns to five interceptions.
Unless the return of Ameer Abdullah ignites a spark in the Detroit Lion’s ground game, which ranked 30th in the league in yards in the previous year, it’s safe to expect more of the same from Stafford as a high-volume thrower. The Lions ran passing plays on 64 percent of their snaps, the third most in the league, and added another big-bodied red-zone target in rookie Kenny Golladay this last offseason to keep Stafford firing on all cylinders.
In the eleventh round, I’m buying in on Stafford with high expectations for 2017. He could very easily produce QB1 numbers and his cost enables you to take him after already balancing out your skill positions. He might be the best value at quarterback in the entire fantasy landscape this season, don’t miss out!
2017 Quarterback Sleepers
Andy Dalton (QB, CIN) – 13.07, QB-17
Andy Dalton was performing at an MVP caliber level in 2015 before a broken thumb derailed a top eight fantasy quarterback finish. Despite throwing for fewer touchdowns passes in 16 games, he still proved to be a decent option as the QB-12 last season for streaming in favorable matchups.
Dalton was missing his two most dangerous and prolific downfield threats in A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert for much of 2016 while still completing 64.7 percent of his passes. It’s notable that the Cincinnati Bengals opted to draft speedster John Ross and exceptionally talented runner Joe Mixon in the NFL Draft, arguably giving him one of the best supporting casts he has ever had. Still, the losses of Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth and fixture at right guard Kevin Zeitler make it especially confusing as to how effective this offense will shape up to be.
Dalton exemplifies the term ‘sleeper’, as he is a high upside player that can perform at a high level while also having a few damning caveats next to his name. I feel comfortable taking him as my QB2 in round thirteen and potentially having him explode onto the scene at some point in 2017.
Carson Wentz (QB, PHI) – 13.10, QB-18
Carson Wentz had an impressive rookie campaign despite tailing off near the end of 2016, completing 62 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. I had originally been a doubter when it comes to the chances of Wentz being fantasy relevant in year two, but my position has changed quite a bit as of late.
With Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith coming to Philadelphia to join forces with standout tight end Zach Ertz, Wentz’ weaponry just got a tremendous upgrade. We saw him have plenty of great moments as a rookie, but now with Wentz having a myriad of offensive weapons, a top-5 offensive line, and a coaching staff that knows how to maximize his ability, I can see great things for him in 2017.
I won’t say that Wentz is going to finish this upcoming fantasy season with QB1 numbers, but I do expect him to take a step forward in terms of consistency and value.
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