At this point last year, as many as five quarterbacks were being drafted in the first round. Seriously. Rather than stocking up on stud running backs and wide receivers, everyone was selecting Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Rodgers and Brees has good seasons, but they didn’t meet their 2011 highs. In fact, the entire quarterback field regressed to the mean, while superstars in the making Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III entered the fantasy field.
The emergence of the elite four young quarterbacks, combined with the sheer volume of the passing attacks in the NFL today have created a situation where fantasy players don’t really have to fret about quarterback. Drafting one of the elite guys too early is the complete kiss of death for fantasy owners because so much talent is available later in drafts.
Matching up the right late round quarterback talent is important though. You can’t just take Christian Ponder and call it good. Hopefully you select a guy who has legitimate top-12 upside, or at the very least, grab two players who you can play on a week to week basis to great a fantasy football Frankenstein at your QB position. These 3 pairings of quarterbacks to take in 12 team leagues that offer both upside and safety on a week to week basis.
Matt Schaub and Alex Smith
This combination is perfect if what you value the most is safety. Smith gets the benefit of playing the awful, awful Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers twice a year, as well as a Denver defense that is reeling and the AFC South faces the AFC West this year, so Schaub gets that benefit as well. Both of these guys have changes in the offense that are cause for excitement. Smith is a historically effiicient quarterback who is getting to play in a higher-octane offense that likes to throw in the redzone. The Texans are going to shift more towards the pass with Arian Foster battling injuries and they have every reason too. They didn’t draft Deandre Hopkins to be a blocker; the addition of Hopkins makes Schaub more efficient in the redzone, and gives him the ability to return to his days of being a top 5 fantasy quarterback.
Jay Cutler and Micheal Vick
If you’re a river boat gambler, this is the combination for you. Both Cutler and Vick have shown top 5 upside (with Vick showing top ONE upside) in their careers, but have struggled on their current teams due to offensive line and decision making issues. Much has been said about Jay Cutler in the Marc Trestman offense but it really boils down to this: the team will be involved in shootout, they have given Cutler new weapons in Martellus Bennett and a second year Alshon Jeffery, and sped up his time in the pocket. As long as he hucks to Brandon Marshall in the endzone, he’ll be fantasy relevant. Vick is also in a system where his decision making process is sped up (read: thinking less) and where using his leagues will be a requirement. While Chip Kelly tries to use guys like Russell Shepard at WR, the team is going to be heavily using the read option and that means more fantasy points for Vick.
E.J Manuel and Geno Smith
The cheapest, highest upside combination out of them all. The last two years, we have seen rookie running quarterbacks turn the QB position on it’s head. Manuel is not the runner that Cam Newton, RG3, or Russell Wilson are, but he is more than capable. The breakneck offensive pace that the Bills are playing at is nothing but amazing for the Bills and with C.J Spiller flanking him, the upside is high in that offense. Implementing some read option concepts and having the defense focusing on Spiller is perfect for Manuel, and in the preseason, he has already shown a willingness to tuck and run on 3rd down which again, is fantasy goodness.
Geno offers an entirely different proposition. Whereas Manuel was a slightly above average college passer, Geno’s senior season was truly remarkable form an analytic perspective and his potential relationship with Stephen Hill offers touchdowns galore.. The Jets offense probably won’t ever be great, but Geno is a solid quarterback with the needed athleticism to gain positive yards on scrambles and be efficient in the redzone.
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