To me, football is so much about mental toughness, it's digging deep, it's doing whatever you need to do to help a team win and that comes in a lot of shapes and forms.
Fantasy owners don’t have to make quick and accurate decisions while opposing linemen are bearing down upon them with an unwavering intent of disrupting their entire thought process. But it might not be a complete stretch to suggest that anyone who is attempting to win a fantasy championship must also be resourceful throughout the many surprises and opportunities that emerge during the season. And that includes the draft process when the decisions that you make will contribute sizably to your team’s fortunes. Of course, who you choose at quarterback, and the point in your draft that you select them, are among your most critical decisions.
The QB position offers more depth than will be afforded at the RB and WR positions. Which allows owners to exercise patience, and draft a signal caller in the middle or even late rounds, yet still receive an acceptable degree of production. Of course, the voluminous mountain of fantasy points that could be supplied by Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers is an enticement toward eschewing that approach, and utilizing a pick within the initial three rounds in order to secure their scoring potential. This was addressed at length in Part 1 of this series.
Recent statistical data certainly confirms that exercising patience before selecting your QB is a sound strategy, and at this point, you should be familiar with the surge in passing statistics during recent seasons. There is a gargantuan list of numbers that support the assertion that you can afford to wait, with far less risk than what will be incurred by failing to address your RB and WR positions early in the process. Here are just a few to accentuate that point.
|Year||5,000 Yards||4,000 Yards||40+ TDs||30+ TDs||25+ TDs|
Over the past seven years, you can see the increasing number of QBs who generated 4,000 yards, which later evolved to a select few attaining 5,000. The escalating sum of TD passes is also very evident, and arguably emphasizes the depth that now exists at this position. It was the fourth consecutive season at that five QBs produced at least 30 TDs passes, and the fourth time in five years that 11 have tossed 25+. That further conveys the fact that even though there will be a decline in production when comparing the top three signal callers to the remaining members of the top 10 and top 15, you can still find a QB who will deliver sufficient output if you allow at least six rounds of your drafts to unfold before making your selection.
Some of the most viable options for owners who are willing to delay their choice will be discussed in this portion of the QB breakdown. The top six signal callers were ranked in Part 1 of this series, and their recommended draft slots were provided. Now, here is an in-depth look at QBs ranked 7-12.
7. Andrew Luck
In 2012, the Colts were directed by one of the league's premiere offensive minds in Bruce Arians. His preference for an aggressive vertical attack enabled Luck to launch 627 passes as a rookie, which was the fifth highest total. He also finished seventh with 4,374 yards, while the Colts’ passing game also ranked seventh. But last season, the offensive game plan was designed by Pep Hamilton, during his first year as OC at the NFL level. He made the questionable decision to diminish Luck’s opportunities, in favor of increased attempts to establish a ground game. The second-year signal caller only threw 570 passes during the regular season, which placed him 11th in that category, and that moderate number was a factor in his ordinary rankings in other categories. He finished 13th with 3,822 yards, tied for 15th with 22 TDs, and his 239 YPG average placed him 16th. Indianapolis also dropped to 17th in passing (233 YPG), as Luck was forced to overcome a more conservative approach. He did finish seventh among all QBs with 377 rushing yards, although that total was reasonably close to the team lead. The Colts finished an underwhelming 20th in rushing (109 YPG), led by Donald Brown with 537 yards, followed by Trent Richardson with 458. I am among the owners who would prefer not to think about Richardson after last season’s debacle. However, Luck’s output will remain impacted by the degree of success that Richardson can generate again this year. Even with concerns about the running game, it would appear that game changing T. Y. Hilton, newly acquired Hakeem Nicks, and 14-year veteran Reggie Wayne comprise Luck's best collection of WRs during his brief NFL tenure. But it is important to remember that at age 35, it is doubtful that Wayne can deliver the level of production that we have grown accustomed to. Prior to last season’s ending torn ACL, he was well behind his 2012 pace, when Wayne collected 106 receptions for 1,355 yards. Also, Nicks has managed just 1,588 yards and three scores since 2011, after accumulating 1,192 yards and seven TDs during that season alone. If Wayne, Nicks or both are supplying disappointing results, or worse are sidelined completely, that would propel Hilton into an even larger role. Although, he is fully capable of thriving if that occurs. Dwayne Allen’s return from last season’s hip injury will also boost Luck’s numbers. Luck has the capacity for being a top five QB, but he would require an OC who prefers an attacking passing game, a reasonably effective running game that instills respect in opponents, and the sustained health of his receiving weapons in order to accomplish that. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the strategic approach, or the run game will accommodate that scenario. As a result, Luck will provide respectable numbers, but not the excellent output that otherwise could be fully anticipated. That keeps him ranked in this slot, and makes him worthy of selection late in Round 6, or anywhere in Round 7.
8. Tom Brady
Brady began the 2013 season without his top four receiving targets from the previous year. That thrust newly acquired Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and rookies Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Zach Sudfeld into prominent roles. Unfortunately for Brady, Amendola reinforced the perception that he cannot remain on the field. The rookies understandably struggled to varying degrees, while Brady’s most prolific weapon Rob Gronkowski only performed in seven contests. Edleman was easily Brady's most consistent weapon, and ultimately led the team in receptions (105), yardage (1,056), and TDs (six). Still, New England managed to rank 10th in passing, which is hardly an embarrassment. But it does not compare favorably to previous years, when the offense ranked among the top four during four of the previous five seasons that Brady spearheaded the attack. He finished sixth with 4,343 yards, and was a mere 11th with 25 TDs. For further perspective, if you discard the 2008 season in which he was sidelined during Week 1, that was his lowest TD total since 2006. His 6.9 yards per attempt average was also the lowest since 2006, even though his 628 attempts represented the second highest in any season during that seven year span. Beyond the addition of Brandon LaFell, Brady's assortment of options will be very similar this season. A healthy Gronkowski would help Brady immensely, as would a consistent presence by Amendola. That would also reduce the focus on Edelman by opposing secondaries. However, that scenario is far from a certainty. Gronkowski has now missed 14 games in the past two seasons, while Amendola has been sidelined for a whopping 24 since 2011. Dobson should develop into a more reliable weapon, and Brady can also utilize Shane Vereen extensively. But Brady's output will be largely dependent upon how often Gronkowski is in the lineup. The uncertainty regarding that factor keeps Brady from ranking higher. But his extensive resume will probably compel an owner to draft him somewhat earlier than necessary. As a result, you should not plan on seeing him available beyond Round 6.
9. Nick Foles
Foles began the 2013 regular season firmly behind Michael Vick on the Eagles' depth chart, and was hardly a consideration during fantasy drafts. But despite not even emerging as Philly's starter until Week 6, Foles eventually finished seventh among all signal callers with 27 TDs, while tossing an unfathomably low two INTs. That helped carry many fantasy teams through the postseason, and was accomplished after he manufactured three scoring throws in five different contests, and at least two in eight of his 10 starts. Of course, exactly one third of Foles' TDs were collected by DeSean Jackson, who will no longer serve as Philly’s deep threat. It is not realistic to expect a duplication of Foles' QB/INT ratio, but I refuse to overreact and drop him significantly in the positional rankings like some fantasy analysts have. First, Foles deserves a reasonable percentage of credit for helping Jackson attain career best numbers in his 6th season, rather than bestowing nearly all of the acclaim to Jackson. Also, Foles did exhibit an impressive command of Chip Kelly's offense, which finished second in total offense (417) YPG, fourth in points (27 PPG), and 10th in passing (257 YPG). Kelly's high octane approach will not instantly stall without Jackson, and neither will Foles. The Eagles' attack should function efficiently once again, while employing the numerous weapons available to Foles. Starting with LeSean McCoy, who of course was the NFL's leading rusher in 2013. Jeremy Maclin will resurface in the lineup, and the additions of Darren Sproles and Jordan Mathews will force opponents to account for them. Zach Ertz should be more productive, and Riley Cooper should remain effective, even if he can't replicate last year's output. Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, Foles can serve as your QB1, and is worthy of selection in Round 7. But since some owners will be hesitant to draft him, he may remain available until Round 8 or 9.
10. Robert Griffin III
As a rookie, he manufactured 20 TDs with just five INTs, while accumulating 826 yards and seven more scores on the ground. But the torn ACL that concluded his first season also cast a cloud of uncertainty over his 2013 campaign, while playing a role in his diminished production. Griffin’s TD/INT ratio sunk to just 16/12, and his prowess as a rusher was essentially non-existent. But now, at age 24, his future once again appears bright. Griffin will be working with the strongest WR tandem of his tenure in Washington, starting with his favorite option last season. Pierre Garcon garnered a whopping 181 targets last season, and responded by establishing new career highs in receptions (113) and yardage (1,346). His TD total was not as inspiring (five), but it should improve this year. He remains cemented as RG3’s preferred option even though DeSean Jackson will attract a sizable share of opportunities too. Jackson nearly matched Garcon’s yardage output last season (1,336), and generated a career best nine TDs. He will not match those numbers, although both wideouts should blend effectively in the new offense. Jordan Reed amassed 499 yards and a 11.1 YPC in nine games last season, including at least 50 yards in five of his last six contests, before a concussion circumvented what had been an impressive rookie campaign. Reed has the size, athleticism and route running acumen to ascend toward consideration among the elite at his position His concussion history is a concern. But if he can remain in Washington ''s lineup with any regularity, Griffin will have a trio of outstanding options, and should deliver impressive numbers for his owners. And it would appear that he will operate within a system that will maximize his chances of accomplishing that. Jay Gruden embraced a pass oriented approach while he was the OC with Cincinnati, and Andy Dalton’s TD total steadily improved during Gruden’s tenure. That includes Dalton's 33 last season which was the NFL's third highest total. Dalton’s talent level is vastly distant from RG3’s, who should thrive under Gruden’s guidance. His new HC will accentuate RG3’s strengths as a passer into the weekly game plan, while allowing time for the signal caller to transition into the specifics of the new offense. RG3 could easily exceed the expectations of this ranking, and can be chosen as your QB1 in Round 7.
11. Tony Romo
Considering the fact that he has been the Cowboys’ starter since 2006, there aren't many secrets to uncloak about Romo at this point. Nor is there a sizable amount of breakthrough data regarding what he can deliver for owners. He has exceeded 30 TDs in two of the last three seasons, and was fifth in 2013 with 31. With the exception of 2010, when he missed 10 contests, Romo has averaged 4,350 yards since 2009. His output should be very favorable again this season, as he will be operating within a system that makes it conducive to collect a suitable number of fantasy points for owners. Scott Linehan will effectively refine the offense with his playcalling, resulting in ample opportunity for Romo to locate his receiving options. In Linehan’s final three seasons as OC with Detroit, the Lions ranked fourth, second and third respectively in passing. And Matthew Stafford was among the top five in attempts for each of those seasons. He will also have sufficient weapons available to help him achieve success. Dez Bryant has surpassed 1,230 yards in two consecutive season, while stockpiling 25 TDs during that time. And the belief from here is that he will approach 1,400 yards and produce 14 TDs within the restructured attack. Terrance Williams should provide consistent WR2 numbers as he settles into his slot without Miles Austin diminishing his snap count. Jason Witten's yardage total dropped to 851 last season, and his 73 receptions were the fewest since 2006. But he still discovered the end zone eight times, and should serve as a reasonably productive TE1 once again. DeMarco Murray's numbers as a receiver have climbed steadily during his first three seasons, including the career high 53 catches for 350 yards that he attained last season. If he can maintain his health, that will supply Romo with yet another effective target. Even though other QBs will containers appeal for owners, Romo is the composite alternative for anyone who wants to delay their selection of a signal caller until Round 8.
12. Philip Rivers
Exactly one year ago, Philip Rivers was a postscript when owners were considering their options at QB. He was not even drafted among the top 20 at his position last summer, and his ADP even lagged behind Josh Freeman's. Of course, he had just completed his worst season statistically since 2007, which included the lowest yardage and TD totals during that span. Plus, he would be faced with a change in offensive strategy, as new head coach Mike McCoy brought his own philosophy to the Chargers, as did OC Ken Whisenhunt. But the transition actually helped Rivers resurrect his career. He was allowed to accelerate the pace of San Diego's attack, and was given more latitude to adjust plays, which expanded his output by a sizable amount. Not only did he finish fifth among all QBs with 4,478 yards, but the 32 TDs that he generated represented the NFL's fourth best total. Those were also the most that he had manufactured since 2008, while his 11 INTs were the fewest since 2009. In the process, San Diego ranked fourth in passing (271 YPG) after finishing just 24th with 206 YPG in 2012. Rivers also established a highly successful connection with Keenan Allen, who collected 71 passes, surpassed 1,000 yards, and amassed right TDs in his rookie season. While he will remain Rivers' primary target, the combination of Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal at WR, and the tandem of Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green at TE will provide sufficient weapons for Rivers, even if no single member if that foursome appears overly formidable at this time. Green certainly has the potential to develop into a proficient target, although that may not occur this season. The Chargers also constructed a respectable ground game in 2013 (ranked 13th, 123 YPG), and with former Donald Brown now available to supplement Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, Rivers will not only benefit from having an effective rushing attack, but can also utilize the collective ability of Woodhead and Brown as capable receiving options. He is a viable ninth round choice for anyone waiting until the later rounds. And if you need any further rationale for including Rivers as a low end QB1 option he has started every regular season contest for eight consecutive years, which is a level of durability that owners will not find with many of their other remaining QB options at that point of the draft.