Johnny Manziel one of 5 underrated quarterbacks you can snag late in drafts

It’s no secret that the quarterback position is pretty deep in fantasy football.  In fact, there’s really no doubt at all that it’s the deepest position.  By far.  However, the deeper the fantasy football league, the more fantasy owners want to test the boundaries.

For instance, in a regular 10-team fantasy football league, you can wait until round 12 and possibly land Russell Wilson, who has finished as a top-10 fantasy passer in each of the last two years.  Going further into a 12-team league though, if you want Wilson you have to take him a little earlier and aim to select him in round 10.  Boost it to a 14-team league, and suddenly it’s probably a good idea to go get Wilson as early as the ninth round.

Jun 17, 2014; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass during minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, 14+ team leagues are more competitive and make it harder to draft an elite fantasy roster.  For those who like to wait extra long on quarterbacks (especially in deeper leagues), it might be a good idea to have a solid list of quality options to choose from.

For that exact purpose, we’ve compiled a list of five underrated fantasy quarterbacks for 2014 that are regularly going in round 10 or later in 14-team fantasy football league drafts:

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during minicamp. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) ADP= Round 10

Despite coming in as fantasy football’s 5th ranked passer a year ago, Dalton has sunk in the ranks for 2014 for a variety of reasons.  For one, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is gone. Dalton is also arguably a marginal talent with an average arm.  It also seems that the Bengals intend on operating a more run-based offense.

There’s no denying Dalton’s upside though.  In fact, fewer passes and a more balanced offense hypothetically could make him more efficient.  He probably won’t put up 33 touchdowns and over 4,200 passing yards again, but he also isn’t likely to toss 20 picks either.

A mild drop to his 2012 line (3,600 yards and 27 touchdowns) is probably his floor, giving him a real shot to finish 12th or higher, just like he did in 2012.  If that’s what happens, he’ll be had at tremendous value as the 17th quarterback taken off the board in 14-team drafts.

Will Manziel live up to the hype? Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns) ADP= Round 10

There’s no way to truly predict what Johnny Football will do in 2014.  For one, we don’t know for sure if he’s even going to start.  If he does, we also don’t know if his off field issues will become a distraction or if his small frame can handle the rigors of an NFL beating each week.  Then there is also the elephant in the room – will his skill-set even translate to the highest level?

Manziel compares favorably to other guys that people had some doubts about though, as he had similar or better numbers to Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III in college.  He’s also working out of the same system that made RG3 a top-five fantasy quarterback in 2012, so there is a lot of upside here.  He’s coming with risk to be sure, but even a conservative projection of 200 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and 35 rushing yards per game puts him on track for roughly 248 fantasy points.  Add a modest 4 rushing touchdowns (RG3 had 7 as a rookie), and Johnny Manziel’s fantasy projection could leap to 272 points. That would put him in the eighth spot of the 2013 rankings.

We still have to factor in total turnovers, but when you start conservative, you get wiggle room.  The point here isn’t that Manziel is a lock to be a top-5 or top-10 fantasy quarterback. It’s just that he has a pretty decent chance at getting there.

Is Eli primed for a bounceback season? Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning (New York Giants) ADP= Round 11

Manning was awful last year.  Eli, not Peyton.  His entire team was bad though, as former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s offense grew stale.  The offensive line couldn’t block, the receivers couldn’t catch and the running game never took off.

Everything was bad for Manning, yet he still somehow finished as fantasy’s 21st ranked quarterback.  That’s not really a good thing, but in a season from Hell, it’s worth noting that he was still almost a top-20 fantasy producer at his position.

The best part is that people are starting to write off the 33-year old. The Giants beefed up their defense, brought in help at running back and drafted a talented wide receiver.  Things should be better for Manning in 2014, which makes him worth taking a chance on late in drafts.

Will the third season be magical for Tannehill? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) ADP= Round 12

Tannehill might have been amazing last year had he not been in a dysfunctional environment with boneheaded coaches, horrible pass protection, and shaky production from his supporting cast.  There’s nothing that says for sure things will be better in 2014, but the moves Miami has made at least suggest it’s possible.

The team vastly overhauled the offensive line, brought in a veteran presence at running back, changed the offensive system, and even drafted a talented wide receiver.  On paper, things are looking up. Tannehill already showed enough steady improvement as last year’s 16th best passer to garner a shot late in drafts.  It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Tannehill could experience a huge leap in his third NFL season.  That is the proverbial make-or-break year for quarterbacks.

Smith was a Pro Bowler last year, but still is only a 14th round pick. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) ADP= Round 14

Last but not least, is the continuously underrated Smith. He was finally unleashed as a runner in Kansas City last year, racing to a very respectable 13th place finish among fantasy quarterbacks.  Finally properly utilized, Smith had several big games late in the year and easily posted career highs in pass attempts (508), completions (308), passing yardage (3,313), passing touchdowns (23) and rushing yards (431).

Smith broke out across the board, and this was just his first season with the Chiefs and working with Andy Reid.  Smith remains an accurate and efficient passer that can put up points two different ways and won’t turn the ball over a ton.  A lack of elite arm strength and so-so weapons beyond Jamaal Charles is mildly troubling, but Smith is otherwise actually fairly safe.  That definitely makes him worthy of a 14th round pick.