Now that the 2013 fantasy season has ended (unless you have chosen to construct teams in postseason leagues) you’ve had a very brief period to recharge. However, many of you are motivated toward planning your 2014 drafts. This column will assist you in that process, by examining QBs with value that is currently on the rise. For the purposes of this piece, the phrase “on the rise” will be employed as a comparison of QBs’ collective value heading into the 2014 draft process in contrast to where they were at the onset of 2013 late summer drafts. This will be determined through a combination of their average draft position heading into the 2013 regular season with statistical output during the year.
Including him in this piece might appear unusual, considering his seemingly endless collection of accomplishments. The former Super Bowl MVP, has also captured league MVP honors four times. And the distinct possibility exists that he will secure a fifth in the aftermath of his performance in 2013. However, since the premise of this piece is to examine signal callers whose stock is ascending, then Peyton Manning would certainly satisfy that criteria. During last year’s draft process, he was selected somewhere between the third and sixth in the majority of leagues, and his ADP was 28. But he will be seized much earlier in most leagues this summer, and will be the first the first signal caller chosen in many of them. And how could he not be, in view of his accomplishments during the past season. His career best 55 TDs were 16 more than any of his peers, and 18 more than he had ever produced in a season. Plus, his 5,477 passing yards were exactly 777 more than his previous best, and the total was 315 yards more than any other signal caller. That will make him a more coveted commodity than he was one year ago, as Denver’s collection of dangerous weapons will once again be at his disposal. While some owners will opt for Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees as the first QB to be chosen during their 2014 drafts, many others will place their trust in Manning before any other signal caller.
He went undrafted by owners last summer, and his ADP of 210 placed him behind Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder and Jake Locker among others. After Michael Vick began the year as Philadelphia’s starting QB, Foles did not experience significant game action until Week 5, and his first start of the season did not occur until one week later. Yet, he ultimately led the Eagles to their first NFC East crown since 2010, and helped many fantasy owners secure championships in the process. The second-year signal caller generated these achievements by producing eye-popping numbers once he secured his spot behind center. He threw three TDs in five different contests, and manufactured at least two scoring passes in eight games. That included seven of his 10 starts. All of which enabled him to generate 27 TDs represented the seventh highest total at his position, and his two INTs were easily the fewest among all QBs with at least 300 attempts. Foles also amassed over 400 yards twice, accumulated over 295 yards four times, and finished the year with nearly 2,900 yards (2,891). His outstanding QBR of 119.2 was the NFL’s highest, and was the 9.12 yards that he average on his attempts. He should spearhead an offense that was the NFL’s second most productive in 2013, averaged 417 YPG, and 27.6 PPG. Even though Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin could become free agents if new agreements are not executed, Foles should be supplied with plenty of weapons in order to implement Chip Kelly’s attack. His value has certainly experienced a significant upsurge, as he should be a top eight QB for 2014.
At age 32, Rivers has reestablished himself as a QB1, after plunging far beyond that distinction one year ago. 22 QBs were drafted before Rivers last summer, including Freeman, Vick, Sam Bradford, and Matt Schaub. But the results will be vastly different this year, as a result of his impressive comeback during the 2013 regular season. Rivers finished fourth among all QBs with 32 TDs, which was the second best output of his 10-year career. He also generated the NFL’s fifth highest yardage total (4,478), as his production in both categories represented a sizable jump from the 3,606 yards and 26 TDs that he produced in 2013. He also decreased his INT total from 15 to 11, despite throwing the second most passing attempts of his career (544). San Diego’s strategic approach evolved as the season progressed, and Rivers was not asked to carry the offense during the latter portion of the season to nearly the degree that he did earlier. After launching at least 42 passes in of four of the Chargers’ first eight contests, his average dropped from 37 attempts per game during that span, to 31 for the remaining eight games. However, his ADP during the 2014 draft process will exceed his 2013 number by a considerable margin, as owners will possess confidence that he can remain a reliable point producer next season. He will still be working within an offense that should be tailored to maximize his chances for productivity, and having the exceptionally talented Keenan Allen as his WR1 will help him immensely.
The idea of owning Dalton won’t create the same degree of anticipation that will exist when contemplating the potential success of owning Manning or Foles. Watching him leave potential big plays on the field by failing to connect with his weapons – particularly A. J. Green – can be infuriating. He is capable of blending underthrows with overthrows, and has repeatedly demonstrated his shortcomings during three trips to the postseason. But despite these facts, and the undesirable impression that now exists after his most recent playoff performance, it wise not to overlook his value strictly from a fantasy standpoint. He career best numbers during the 2013 regular season enabled him to finish seventh among all QBs with 4,296 yards. Plus, his 33 TDs were exceeded only by Manning and Brees. Not only were those the highest totals during his three NFL seasons, but both numbers established new franchise records. Dalton has also started every contest for the Bengals since he entered the league in 2011. Plus, he has the luxury of locating one of the NFL’s top four WRs in Green. Dalton’s deficiencies will create more difficulties for the Bengals chances of postseason success than they will for owners who are in pursuit of a fantasy championship. He was the 14th QB selected in drafts last summer, with an ADP of 110. But Dalton has significantly improved his viability for owners who prefer to wait until the mid to late rounds before selecting their first signal caller.