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Deep sleeper QBs

Read the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.

Jake Locker - TEN 7 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Now that Locker has been named the starter, expect him to rise from the depths into the 10th-12th round range as a backup fantasy quarterback. That's still value territory, as Locker can make noise with his legs while always looking downfield for the big play. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has installed some run and shoot concepts and the Titans have the weapons to bring those plays to life for Locker. Consider him a solid upside QB2 to pair with QB1s like Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning.

Heath Cummings - Locker has won the starting job in Tennessee, now what will he do with it? 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.

Ryan Hester - As of this writing his ADP is 175, but that's bound to shoot up significantly with the announcement that he has secured the job as Tennessee's opening day starting quarterback. Locker is young and raw still, but his athletic ability and the scheme of his offensive are conducive to fantasy success. Get him in the late rounds while you still can. He's currently being drafted as the 24th QB. Even if that rises to a mid-level #2 QB, he can still be a good value because he has a top-eight QB ceiling.

Jeff Pasquino - Jake Locker has won the starting role this year in Tennessee. That could be a strong fantasy role with Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and rookie Kendall Wright at wide receiver, not to mention TE Jared Cook and RB Chris Johnson out of the backfield. Locker also has good running ability which only adds to his fantasy value.

Matt Waldman - Locker hasn't been impressive this offseason despite winning the job in camp from Matt Hasselbeck, but he has all the physical tools and surrounding talent to become viable fantasy producer as a committee quarterback this year. Nate Washington is a solid deep threat even if Kenny Britt can't stay healthy or out of trouble and I think that Kendall Wright is no more than 10 games away from becoming the best receiver on the team. Locker can make plays on the move and combine this with a healthy, revitalized running game, and the Titans passing game could surprise.

Mark Wimer - Jake Locker looked very solid in limited action as a rookie (34/66 for 542 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown). Now that he's beaten out Matt Hasselbeck for starter in Tennessee, he'll do well in his second NFL season - good enough to be a solid fantasy backup quarterback.

Jason Wood - I'm surprised Locker has such a low ADP, and suspect that will change now that he's been named the Week One starter. The Titans have quietly bolstered the receiving options, and the Titans offensive line is among the better AFC units. The other thing to remember is Locker's mobility -- he could run for a few hundred yards and a handful of rushing touchdowns -- which go a long way to offsetting less-than-stellar passing totals. Locker will have ups and downs, but he can easily rank as a solid QB2 in 2012 if he keeps the job for the entire season.

Christian Ponder - MIN 4 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Ponder's debut season was overshadowed by Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, but while we weren't paying that close of attention, Ponder had one excellent and four average-to-good fantasy in six starts before he got hurt vs. the Lions. That's excellent for a rookie, and with a full offseason to improve, Ponder could be fine fantasy backup quarterback with matchup upside in four games against the Lions and Packers.

Heath Cummings - Ponder has looked outstanding in the preseason, and the offense he's in was built for him to succeed. He's developed a nice rapport with Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson, giving him three targets to choose from in the passing game. If Adrian Peterson comes back healthy, Ponder could be in for a breakout season.

Jeff Haseley - My opinion of Ponder will increase even more if Adrian Peterson can return to form this year. Defenses will stack the line and give him more options down field. Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph are a good combination of offensive weapons that will allow Ponder to move the ball effectively. He came on strong late last year and I expect him to pick up where he left off.

Jason Wood - Christian Ponder was thrust into the lineup as a rookie, and didn't put up eye-popping numbers. It's easy to compare his 1,853 yards, 13 TDs and 13 interceptions in 10 starts against what Andy Dalton and Cam Newton did, and write Ponder off as a bust. That would be a HUGE mistake; to think a rookie quarterback's stat line is predictive of their NFL future is to not be a student of history. This year -- Ponder's first full offseason -- he's been light years improved in practices and thus far in the preseason. His supporting cast isn't robust, so I'm not suggesting Ponder will surprise with a Top 10 fantasy season, but I do think he'll emerge as a solid, every week NFL quarterback with long-term job security. He could easily be one of the late round QBs that vaults into the solid QB2 range for fantasy purposes.

John Skelton - ARI 3 votes

Andy Hicks - John Skelton will easily outperform his ADP should he start for the Cardinals. Given that his only competition for the starting job is Kevin Kolb, who was "scared" according to the Raiders following their preseason encounter and we'll see Skelton sooner rather than later. Having Larry Fitzgerald should elevate the level of any QB to become fantasy credible and Skelton displayed skills when given a chance last year. Further improvement and he enters fantasy radars.

Steve Holloway - Arizona has had very poor quarterback play since Kurt Warner left, but the roster has several capable receiving options. If Skelton can be named the starter, then I think he will improve the quarterback play as his confidence grows. I also expect that Larry Fitzgerald will be more heavily involved in the offense. Both of the team's running backs have been limited in pre-season returning from injuries and the team could shift their offensive focus more toward the passing game.

Mark Wimer - I think Skelton is the better fit for Arizona's personnel, and that Skelton has far more upside than Kolb. He still hasn't officially won the starting job, but he is starting in the third preseason "dress rehearsal" game and has the inside track in my opinion.

Alex Smith - SF 3 votes

Andy Hicks - 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, Smith almost has to be incompetent not to exceed that ADP. There aren't any other QBs in San Francisco ready to play to the level of Smith and he has shown himself to be a competent professional and could push for low end QB1 status if just a few of his options click.

Steve Holloway - Alex Smith finished as the 17th quarterback a year ago and this year the team has 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 for improving quarterback play and Smith should be the benefactor in his second season with Harbaugh. This team should pass more often and more efficiently than a year ago providing Smith ample opportunity to increase production. Perhaps I am selling him short with the QB20 ranking and he definitely could provide value as a late round pick.

Jeff Pasquino - 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.

Blaine Gabbert - JAX 2 votes

Matt Waldman - The offensive line is no longer a shambles, Gabbert's toe injury is healed, and he's had a full offseason under his belt with a quarterback-friendly offensive coordinator. I agree that Gabbert "looked" scared last year, but calling him a coward is idiotic. I believe there's enough evidence of growth in his game just from what he did against the Saints in the preseason that he'll perform within the range of a fantasy committee quarterback. Consider how few fantasy owners will touch him on draft day, that's quite a surprise showing.

Mark Wimer - 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 - we've seen the improvement that's helped to make during the second preseason game when Gabbert had 13/16 for 112 yards passing and two touchdowns. Gabbert now has a year of experience under his belt as well. He could be worth some spot starts during 2012 when the matchup is good.

Tim Tebow - NYJ 2 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Mark Sanchez's job is going to be hanging by a thread when the season starts and with guys like Wayne Hunter "protecting" him, look for that string to snap early in the schedule. Tebow's game is ugly, but the bottom line fantasy point output tends to be pretty. If you are at the end of your draft and you don't feel great about the looks of your quarterbacks, save a roster spot for Tebow. He has demonstrated top 10 fantasy upside and carries a premium in pt per 25 yd and 4 pt per pass TD leagues.

Andy Hicks - 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.

Russell Wilson - SEA 2 votes

Jeff Haseley - As of late August, Wilson has not yet been named starter for the Seahawks, but he should be. Wilson throws a good ball, plus he has elusiveness in the pocket and can scramble for big gains if need be. His running ability will give his fantasy value a spike. He may not have prototypical quarterback size, but neither does Drew Brees. Wilson could be a nice bye week option later in the season, if he continues to progress, as expected.

Matt Waldman - I've been writing good things about Wilson since February, but I was surprised that an NFL team actually broke through its stodgy draft tendencies and took a chance on the supposedly undersized quarterback. Let's just say he's shorter than average, because his game is well above average. Although I believe Matt Flynn has the talent to perform adequately as a starting quarterback I think Wilson has the skills to be produce 15-20 touchdowns as a rookie in an offense like the Seahawks. Wilson played behind an offensive line at Wisconsin that was bigger than all but three lines in the NFL and he's been a strong producer and leader in two different NFL offensive systems as a collegian. He may not begin the year as a starter, but I think he'll finish the year as a waiver wire darling.

Sam Bradford - STL 1 vote

Jason Wood - I wasn't optimistic about Bradford's prospects last year, feeling like his rookie season was more a function of playing 16 games and amassing a boatload of attempts, than any underlying display of skills. But I feel like the hate for Bradford may have gone too far this offseason. As long as he's healthy, Bradford remains a strong armed, 3rd year player with all the physical tools needed to excel at the position. Jeff Fisher and his veteran coaching staff have a good history of producing solid quarterbacking, and I think we'll find out quickly whether Bradford is a franchise quarterback. I love the idea of taking one of the elite quarterbacks early and backing him up with Bradford toward the end of your draft.

Matt Cassel - KC 1 vote

Heath Cummings - 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.

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