Introduction • QB • RB • WR • TE
Deep sleeper QBs
Read the introduction to this series
if you haven't yet.
- Obviously Locker still has to win the starting job out of camp, but if he does he'll have a lot of weapons to play with. He's a young quarterback with a lot of room to grow, and while his accuracy does leave lots of room to improve, his big arm could play well with Kenny Britt
and Nate Washington
. If Chris Johnson
returns to form, that would take a lot of pressure off Locker and possibly set him up in a position to excel towards the end of the season.
- Locker is not listed among the 26 quarterbacks in the ADP Top-200, presumably because of concerns about whether he or Matt Hasselbeck
will begin the season as starter. Whether Locker is the Week 1 starter is less important than who is starting in the second month of the season and beyond, and I think that will be Locker. He was the 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft and showed promise in his limited chances last year, and the Titans will want to move forward with him. There are a lot of talented weapons on offense to help him too. Running back Chris Johnson
, receivers Kenny Britt
, Nate Washington
and rookie Kendall Wright
, and tight end Jared Cook
are a very nice supporting cast.
- While veteran Matt Hasselbeck
is still technically ahead of him in the depth charts, the Titans would be best served thrusting the second-year quarterback into the starting role and letting the offense begin to set around him. He was exceptional in limited action last year, tossing 4 touchdowns and no interceptions and he reminds me some of a young Steve Young with his ability to move around the pocket and make things happen with his legs. He is a great player to pick up towards the end of your fantasy draft.
- Locker's rookie performance had the look of a future fantasy starter in 2011. He was mobile, accurate down field, and fearless when it came to making aggressive decisions that led to game-enhancing plays. His ADP is low at this point because he's competing for the starting job with Matt Hasselbeck
. In fact, if Hasselbeck earns the job, we should remember that he was a top-10 fantasy quarterback during the first six weeks of the 2011 season and he could also qualify as an entrant on this list. Go ahead and unofficially count either Titans starter as a potential deep sleeper because I believe Chris Johnson
will rebound, the addition of rookie Kendall Wright
, and the continued emergence of tight end Jared Cook
will give the Titans offense a boost. I don't expect high-end starter production from Locker, but I think he'll make a solid committee quarterback for fantasy owners if he earns the job.
- Jake Locker looked very solid in limited action as a rookie (34/66 for 542 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown). I think he'll beat out Matt Hasselbeck
for starting QB in Tennessee this year, and that he'll do well in his second NFL season - good enough to be a solid fantasy backup quarterback.
- I'm surprised Locker has such a low ADP, and suspect that will change as the offseason progresses. The Titans are going to give both Locker and veteran Matt Hasselbeck
a fair shake at the starting job, but it's hard to believe the tie won't go to the youngster. Locker is the guy the Titans want to claim the job, as Hasselbeck is 36 years old. If Locker secures the job, the Titans have quietly bolstered their receiving options, and the Titans offensive line is among the better AFC units. Locker will have ups and downs, but he can easily rank as a solid QB2 in 2012 if he earns the job early in the season.
- Alex Smith
has something to prove. While the 49ers may try to downplay their attempt to sign Peyton Manning
, it was pretty clear that if Manning would have been available, Smith might be in Miami this season. Add in the fact that the Niners added Randy Moss
, Mario Manningham
and rookie A.J. Jenkins
into the fold and Smith now has all the tools that he needs to succeed. Smith has always been known as a 'game manager', but he has ultimately been able to hand on to the starting job. The Niners came close to making it back to the Super Bowl last season, and this year they need Smith to crank it up a notch. He's still going for bargain basement prices in fantasy leagues, and would be worth a late round flyer, especially if you landed one of the top five QBS and just need a backup to cover your bye week.
- I still can't believe that Alex Smith
is not getting the credit that he deserves. Not only did he have a strong playoffs last year, but this year he has a much improved receiving corps that has the ability to do some damage. Randy Moss
, Michael Crabtree
, Mario Manningham
and Vernon Davis
are a very formidable crew that has the potential to elevate Alex Smith
to the next level.
- Alex Smith
has an ADP in the kicker/defense area of most drafts. Given the Moss/Manningham/Jenkins upgrades and the presence of Vernon Davis
, Michael Crabtree
and Frank Gore
and Smith almost has to be incompetant not to exceed that ADP. There are no other QBs in San Francisco that are ready to play to the level of Smith and he has shown himself to be a competant professional and could push for low end QB1 status if just a few of his options click.
- Alex Smith
finished as the 17th quarterback a year ago and the team added Mario Manningham
, Randy Moss
and rookie A. J. Jenkins to the receiving corps which already included Michael Crabtree
and Vernon Davis
. Coach Harbaugh has a reputation of improving quarterback play and Smith should be the benefactor this season.
- Alex Smith
is truly in a position where this is a make or break year for him. The 49ers have added Randy Moss
and Mario Manningham
at wide receiver and they also added rookie AJ Jenkins with their first round pick. Smith has to step up and show that he is capable of not only leading San Francisco back to the playoffs but to get them to the Super Bowl. Smith was too conservative last year and will have to try and make a few more big plays with his arm, and now he has good talent in the passing game. I like his upside for 2012.
- Kolb is not among the ADP top-200 and with good reason. Nothing is assured as far as his role is concerned and he'll be in a trainng camp battle for his starting job with John Skelton
. But consider: Arizona knows what it has in Skelton and he's not a franchise quarterback. If Kolb isn't who they hoped he was when they traded for him last year, it's back to square one looking for a long term starter. I'm sure they want him to win the camp battle and go on to be the long term answer they are looking for. There are certainly some nice surrounding pieces in Larry Fitzgerald
, Michael Floyd
, Early Doucet
, Andre Roberts
at receiver and Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams
at running back. Rob Housler
at tight end appears to have a future as well. Kolb could end up with a good season if he can keep the job.
- Kevin Kolb will easily outperform his ADP should he start for the Cardinals. Given that his only competition for the starting job is John Skelton
, who also falls off the ADP charts and you could easily take both if you can afford 3 QBs on your roster. I favor Kolb due to his heavier wallet and expect an improvement in 2012. If he cannot win the job, then Skelton becomes the value choice.
- The Cardinals are having a competition for their starting quarterback spot, but Kolb has the inside track as the starter from last year and with the big guaranteed contract already in his bank account. Now with Larry Fitzgerald
and now rookie wide receiver Michael Floyd
in the mix, Kolb has two strong targets if he gets adequate protection behind that sketchy offensive line. With Ryan Williams
back as a receiver and a rusher behind him, the Cardinals could be much more balanced on offense as well. Kolb can be a decent spot starter especially with several favorable matchups in the NFC West.
- The problem with drafting Kolb this year is he is clearly in a battle for playing time with John Skelton
heading into training camp. However Kolb has been saying the right things about the competition, he appears dialed in early on this season and has the talent to put up top-ten fantasy numbers throwing to Larry Fitzgerald
and rookie Michael Floyd
. Keep an eye on this situation in camp as the winner of this battle should have the talent around them to put up starting fantasy quarterback statistics.
- Flynn left the shadow of Aaron Rodgers
this offseason, choosing to sign a big contract in Seattle. His big six touchdown performance in Week 17 last year could not have come at a better time for Flynn, but now the expectations are much higher. Seattle is building their passing game and needed a bigger arm to take advantage of Sidney Rice
, Doug Baldwin
and Zach Miller
- Flynn's 6-TD performance last year cemented his opportunity to earn a starting role in 2012, but the Peyton Manning
sweepstakes and a strong class of rookie quarterbacks made the market tepid. Flynn settled for a modest contract in Seattle and will compete for the starting job. It would seem Flynn's ADP is tied to some widely held belief that he will have to outplay Tarvaris Jackson
and rookie Russell Wilson
to earn the job, and then look over his shoulder from there. Don't overthink things. Flynn has a full grasp of the West Coast offense, was far and away the most impressive passer in Seattle OTAs, and will take hold of this job and never give it up. Flynn could easily deliver high end QB2 value for a late round price.
- You can't argue with John Skelton's moxie out there on the football field; he is gutsy, poised and often makes throws to Larry Fitzgerald
that scream trust. Not the finished package by any means and certainly not a game changer, Skelton has a better chance to be the quarterback for the Cardinals because he presents a safer, more predictable option. The team may be looking for their next franchise quarterback when 2013 comes around, but until such a time Skelton should secure the starting role and run with it. If he continues to place trust in his receiving corps, which now includes first round selection Michael Floyd
, then he could be a decent QB2 option.
- Currently, I have John Skelton tied with Kevin Kolb
at the bottom of my quarterback rankings, but I think Skelton is the better fit for Arizona's personnel, and that Skelton has far more upside than Kolb. If Skelton wins the job in training camp, I'll have no hesitation adding him to my quarterback rotation for 2012.
- It's beginning to become routine to see Tebow enter the season as a backup QB but still appear on lists of this nature. Despite the change in scenery for him, he's still in a similar position this year. The only difference, however, is that now people have seen him perform and win NFL games -- which should lead to him being used much more than a typical backup. Just being a high-upside backup doesn't someone a "Deep Sleeper" -- not at the QB position at least. Tebow's appearance here indicates that he could become the starter early in the season. The Jets open with the following schedule: Buffalo, at Pittsburgh, at Miami, vs San Francisco, vs Houston (Monday Night). A stinker in primetime preceded by a couple other pedestrian performances for Mark Sanchez
could have the natives getting restless and asking for Tebow.
- Mark Sanchez
was already struggling for confidence at the tail of 2011. The addition of Tim Tebow should see him struggle to hold onto the starting job. At worst Tebow is an effective gadget player that gets points in most weeks. At best, Tebow is an NFL starter with an ability to accrue fantasy points. All the other nonsense about his ability to play is irrelevant when it comes to fantasy football.
- Call it a man crush if you want, but when Joe Webb was under center for the Vikings last season he brought excitement to the table. He did the same in 2010. Webb is a wide receiver by trade and perhaps he should stay there, but I have him listed as a quarterback because, if things snowball on Christian Ponder
, Webb is there to capitalise. The Vikings' offense only needs to struggle for a few weeks before Ponder, whose job security isn't immune to competition, could be set aside. It would take a plethora of unlikely scenarios, but if it happens keep Joe Webb in your mind.
- This is a DEEP sleeper. Webb should go undrafted in most leagues, but I would say he has a non-trivial chance of becoming the Vikings starting quarterback at some point this year. Christian Ponder
has much to prove, and if the Vikings struggle Leslie Frazier will be under pressure to win and could force a change faster than many believe. Webb isn't particularly accurate, but he's a hard worker, his teammates have characterized him a good leader, and his mobility combined with a better than average arm make him a possible fantasy commodity. He could be a poor man's Robert Griffin III
. Just remember what Tim Tebow
did in terms of fantasy value, and Webb is a demonstrably better passer than Tebow.
- Cassel was absolutely dreadful last year, but so was much of the Chiefs offense. This year he'll have Jamaal Charles
and Tony Moeaki
back, and those two players alone will make the offense much improved. The Chiefs also improved their offensive line, which gave Cassel little to no time most of last season. It's easy to forget but Cassel did throw for nearly 3700 yards in 2008 and 27 touchdown passes in 2010.
- Blaine Gabbert was, like most rookie quarterbacks thrown to the wolves in their first NFL season, not very good during 2011. However, the team has made moves to upgrade the receivers he has to throw at, and Gabbert will have a year of experience under his belt. He could be worth some spot starts during 2012 when the matchup is good.
- The Tennessee Titans coaching staff has vowed to give an even distribution of preseason snaps to both quarterbacks - Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker
. But, the local beat writers expect Hasselbeck to win (and keep) the job unless he is injured or the team plays poorly early in the year. With emerging wide receiver Kenny Britt
back healthy, Hasselbeck could produce fantasy starter numbers. In the three games Britt played last season, Hasselbeck averaged almost 19 fantasy points per game. The Titans added a play-making rookie receiver in Kendall Wright
to the mix. This could be an explosive offense for fantasy owners.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars brought in Chad Henne to compete with Blaine Gabbert
for the starting gig. Henne has a legitimate shot to start games early in the season. The Jacksonville wide receivers have been upgraded and the pressure is on the last year's first round pick to produce. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated recently stated that there are members of the Jaguars organization who believe Henne will beat out Gabbert by late August. If we remember, Henne averaged over 24 fantasy points per game last season in the three full games he played. He could be a fantasy surprise.
- Tannehill was drafted to be the future star quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. It is likely that Matt Moore
will start the season but Tannehill has the size, ability and athleticism (being a former receiver) to step in and surprise with a strong rookie season. He would not be a terrible option to pick up at the end of your fantasy draft to see if he gets a chance to succeed early on this year.
- Wilson was my No. 4 quarterback in the 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio because of the combination of his down field accuracy, strong arm, skill to make plays on the move as a passer and runner, and his smarts within two pro-style offensive systems in college. He throws players open against the blitz with a level of skill I don't often see from top-flight starters in college football. The only thing that held Wilson back was his height (5'10"). Skeptics will say that the Seahawks will have to build a special offense around Wilson because of his height. That word "special," also applies to Drew Brees
in the Saints offense, which last I charted him, used rolls, half-rolls, or play actions in up to 70 percent of his snaps in a game. Wilson has a stronger arm than Brees when the former Purdue star arrived in the NFL. He's also just as driven and highly intelligent. If he wins the job in Seattle, which I think will come down to him and Matt Flynn
, I think he's capable of borderline committee production if the receivers in Seattle get healthy by fall and stay that way. It's a long shot, but worth monitoring.