Every year I get asked when the best time to draft a quarterback is. Fantasy owners want a good quarterback, but often they don't want to spend a first, second, or third round pick necessary to grab Peyton Manning or Drew Brees off the board. It is possible to get a good, reliable quarterback in the later rounds; and here's a few quarterbacks you may want to consider:Tony Romo may not be clutch, but he does put up good numbers for his fantasy owners.
Tony Romo: Romo always seems to get a bad rap. He's not an elite quarterback in my book, but he does put up pretty good numbers. Romo finished top ten again this past season out of all fantasy quarterbacks. In 2012 Romo put up 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns, and in 2013 Romo throw for another 3,828 yards and 31 touchdowns. Romo is coming off of back surgery which will probably scare away a lot of potential fantasy owners, but come ninth or tenth round if you still need a quarterback you may want to roll the dice and pick him up. Scott Linehan will be in charge of offensive play calling this season; and he will still have Wide Receiver Dez Bryant to throw to, so at the very least Romo should be able to maintain the same numbers he had last season. Be careful not to draft him to early, but Romo could be a high value starter if drafted in the late ninth or early tenth round.
Philip Rivers: After regressing a bit in 2012, Rivers was back to form in 2013 finishing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns this past season. Rivers probably won't finish top five in the league among quarterbacks again this season, but there's nothing stopping him from finishing top ten. Rivers shows no signs of slowing down, and young receiver Keenan Allen is coming off of an exceptional rookie season. Rivers probably won't do as well as Romo, but if Romo's off the board and you still need a quarterback, Rivers would be an exceptional choice. Even after his performance last season, Rivers isn't expected to go until the ninth or tenth round in most leagues; but he may even drop as low as the 11th or 12th round. If you still need a quarterback come tenth round, don't hesitate to pull the trigger on Rivers.
Jay Cutler: Cutler was did pretty well in his 11 games last season before and after his injury throwing for 2,621 yards and 19 touchdowns. However, with Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall in the prime of his career and Alshon Jeffery emerging as one of the top receivers in the NFL, Cutler is poised to put up the kind of numbers he had during his final season with the Denver Broncos this season. Cutler is seen once again as a risky pick because of his history as an injury-prone quarterback, but if he can stay healthy Cutler is definitely starter potential. If you still need a starter (or want him as a reserve) come the 11th or 12th round, Cutler should still be on the board; and you will have the potential to collect a massive reward from your selection.
Just like with quarterbacks, drafting a superstar running back like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles requires an early first round pick; and if you don't have one of the first three picks in your draft, you may not be able to snag them. Here are a few running backs you should consider picking up come the later rounds of the draft:
Lamar Miller: After a pretty disappointing first season as the Miami Dolphins starting running back, Miller will have to compete with Knowshon Moreno just to retain his starting job. Moreno didn't exactly help his case showing up to camp out of shape and reportedly dropping his very first pass. Moreno has really never been a great running back: his "breakout" season in 2013 was more because of Peyton Manning and the exceptional offense around him than anything else. Even if Miller is not the starter come Week One, you can expect him to take his job back from Moreno by midseason. Provided the Dolphins solved their offensive line crisis over the offseason, Miller should do pretty well in the games he plays this season. Miller should drop to the 14th round in most leagues; and he may even go undrafted in others, so there's almost no risk in picking up the young back.
Trent Richardson: Richardson is one of the sleepers in this year's fantasy draft. After a good rookie season, Richardson was drafted high in 2013 only to disappoint everyone after being traded to the Indianapolis Colts. A lot of fantasy owners seem to have given up on Richardson and plan to avoid him in the upcoming draft, which means you may be able to swoop in and grab him in a late round. The Colts had to send the Cleveland Browns a first round pick to get the former Alabama superstar, so don't expect them to give up on Richardson too easily. Richardson doesn't have much competition in Indianapolis, so he should have no problem maintaining his starting job for the entire season. You can expect the Colts to give Richardson a lot of carries this season, especially in the red zone. Don't draft Richardson too early because he still is a slightly risky selection, but anything after the fifth or sixth round may just work out in your favor this season.
Ray Rice: Rice's fantasy stock is currently the lowest I've ever seen it. Rice is coming off a pitiful 2013 season during which he averaged a career-low 3.1 yards per carry, 660 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns; and on top of that he's going to be facing a suspension at the beginning of the 2014 season after the incident with his fiancée. However, things do appear to be getting better for Rice: the 27 year old is still in the prime of his career, and he's sure to get another 250 careers in 2014. Early indication suggests that Rice's suspension will only be for the first two weeks, so you'll have Rice for the majority of the season if you decide to pick him up. Rice is expected to drop past the fifth or sixth round in many leagues; so try picking him up around there and holding on to him until his suspension is up--you may be in for a treat.