A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the top 150 players and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Player with 6 Votes
Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Sigmund Bloom: It feels naive to count on Griffin to be ready for the regular season, and even moreso to expect him to be close to what he was in 2012, but I believe in this transformational figure. He was a top five quarterback on a points per game basis, and that was without a #1 receiver for a most of the season. The cheap cost of a strong fantasy backup quarterback makes it easier to stomach the risk of Griffin in the sixth, or even fifth round.
Adam Harstad: Many people are hesitant to pull the trigger on Robert Griffin without knowing more about his injury status. All updates to this point have been glowing, however, which means there's an opportunity to buy a franchise-defining player at a fraction of what he should cost.
Andy Hicks: Robert Griffin III had one of the most dynamic rookie seasons ever, but then got injured in the playoff loss to Seattle. This is why his ADP now drops to the late 6th round. At that price, his upside is well worth the risk and the cost to draft his backup Kirk Cousins, who should be serviceable, is minimal. If you are drafting Griffin, a quality second option such as Eli Manning can be had two rounds later in addition to grabbing Cousins late.
Chad Parsons: The cliché phrase for the quarterback position in 2013 is depth. In start-one formats, there is little incentive to spend an early round pick on a signal-caller. The fact that Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, and Robert Griffin III are among the final QB1-level players off the board speaks to waiting on the position. Robert Griffin III was a clear difference-maker for most of 2012 and is being discounted I would imagine for his late-season ACL injury. All reports are that he is on track to be ready for the season and the odds are extremely high he outperforms this ADP rank on a points-per-game basis.
Jeff Tefertiller: Robert Griffin III is being downgraded due to the knee injury suffered last year. Since he played through the injury for a while, fantasy owners should feel comfortable in Griffin's desire to stay on the field. As a low-end fantasy QB1, the reward is very high given the low risk. If you are concerned about the injury, just draft Cousins late. While healthy as a rookie, the Redskins passer was a top performer at the position, surpassing several more notable passers.
Mark Wimer: The knee injury that Griffin suffered during the playoffs (torn ACL and LCL, with some damage to the medial meniscus cartilage as well) is a serious concern, but if healthy, he should easily land somewhere in the top eight fantasy quarterbacks this coming season (right now he's the 12th quarterback coming off the board). It's a risky move, but I believe his rehabilitation is going well - why take Cam Newton at 44th overall when you can wait and get Griffin around the 70th pick in your draft?
Player with 5 Votes
Sam Bradford, Rams
Sigmund Bloom: Fellow staffer Matt Waldman put it perfectly on the second night of the draft when he opined that the Rams appeared to be reassembling the offense Bradford ran at Oklahoma. With a large variety of dangerous targets and an upgraded offensive line, Bradford could finally be ready to put up where he left off during a sometimes brilliant rookie year in 2010. At the price of a pick in the 12th round or later, it's an attractive bet to see if Bradford can break out on your bench.
Heath Cummings: You can look at it one of two ways; either Sam Bradford has been a major letdown as a quarterback or the Rams have seriously let down Sam Bradford as a quarterback. I think it’s the latter, and they’ve taken serious steps to correct that. Most importantly, the team has shored up the offensive line. For the first time in his career, Bradford should have confidence in the pocket, and a host of new weapons to target. This ranking is consistent with how Bradford performed with a porous offensive line and a host of uninspiring (or unhealthy) receivers. I could easily see Bradford as a top 15 QB in 2013.
Will Grant: Bradford has his best year as a pro last season, throwing for 3700 yards and 21 TD passes against just 13 interceptions. He did this with a rag-tag bunch of receivers, none of whom had more than 700 yards receiving. With rookie sensation Tavon Austin and former Titan Jared Cook in the mix, Bradford has a great chance to top last season’s performance, and could even have a top 15 performance this season.
Bob Magaw: Sam Bradford could be looking at the Greatest Show on Turf 2.0. After a nightmarish, injury-plagued 2011 season, he set career highs with 3,700+ passing yards and 21 TDs in 2012. Few quarterbacks have been the beneficiary of as many significant off-season moves as the former overall first pick. First the Rams front office and coaching staff added best in class left tackle Jake Long and tight end Jared Cook in free agency. Then the Rams engineered a move up from 1.16 to 1.8 to snare the most explosive skill position player in the 2013 draft, Tavon Austin, later adding polished fellow West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey in the third round. Cook, Austin and emerging second year receiver Chris Givens have blazing collective speed, and the Rams have arrayed the receiving weapons around Bradford to run a wide open, spread passing attack in the post-Steven Jackson landscape. He is well positioned for career passing yardage and TD marks in consecutive years.
Jeff Pasquino: I love Sam Bradford this year. The Rams have really stepped up their passing game over the offseason, grabbing Jared Cook from Tennessee and then drafting Tavon Austin at the top of Round 1 in the NFL Draft. The run game for St. Louis will be weaker with Steven Jackson gone, but that only means a bigger reliance on Bradford to throw this year. Another former Mountaineer, Stedman Bailey, will push Chris Givens and Brian Quick for playing time at wideout. Bradford could top 4,000 yards passing and push the higher end of 25-30 touchdowns this year.
Jay Cutler, Bears
James Brimacombe: From all early indications, it sounds as if the Bears are going to be pass heavy in 2013. If you wanted to gamble and wait on QB until the last minute Cutler may just be your guy, and the move may pay off as you could load up on RB/WR early in the draft.
Andrew Garda: New Bears head coach Marc Trestman is putting together an offensive plan which will be high-octane and predicated on the idea that Cutler works better as a QB when he’s on his feet. A fast paced offense with an improved offensive line will help Cutler put up his best numbers in years.
Jeff Pasquino: Jay Cutler has had some great seasons in the NFL - and all of them have come with Brandon Marshall as his top target. Cutler barely reached 3,000 yards last year and fell short of 20 touchdowns, but the Bears have added TE Martellus Bennett and second year receiver Alshon Jeffrey should be better in 2013. Chicago is also supposed to get Matt Forte more receptions this season with new head coach Marc Trestman, who brings a West Coast offensive scheme to the Bears.
Matt Waldman: Marc Trestman made Jake Plummer and Scott Mitchell fantasy-worthy and helped turn Rich Gannon into a league MVP. Cutler has more ability than all of them. If the offensive line stays healthy, the praise Cutler routinely earns for his gifts will translate to consistent production on the football field because of a synergy of system, quarterback, and the right complement of receiver types that match both.
Mark Wimer: The Bears have acted to change their offense to suit Cutler's skills (Marc Trestman has been an offensive coordinator and a quarterbacks' coach for most of his NFL tenure), and they added a very productive tight end to the mix in Martellus Bennett - both of these moves should help shore up Cutler's fantasy production. He should be on the cusp of fantasy quarterback #1 numbers this year, but can be had as the 20th quarterback coming off the board. There is plenty of upside for Cutler from that lowly draft position.
Players with 4 Votes
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Andrew Garda: Rivers was not remotely good as a fantasy (or NFL) quarterback in 2012, after four years of over 4,000 yards and 119 touchdowns to 52 interceptions. New head coach Mike McCoy was able to work with three very different quarterbacks – Payton Manning, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow – successfully and should be able to get Rivers back to his old effective self this year.
Ryan Hester: Admittedly, I don’t expect Rivers to end the season as a top-12 fantasy quarterback, but he won’t finish this low. The arrival of Head Coach Mike McCoy to San Diego from Denver (where he was Offensive Coordinator) should provide a shot in the arm to an offense – and team – that was relatively lackluster for the past two seasons. Rivers is still an excellent deep ball passer and will have another season to jell with Danario Alexander. The team will also get Vincent Brown back from injury, giving Rivers an intermediate option about whom many in San Diego are very excited. Rivers should provide bye week fill-in value at the very least and could give some top-12 QB performances in certain weeks of the season, making him a great value at QB20.
Stephen Holloway: After finishing among the top ten quarterbacks four straight years, Rivers fell back to QB18 in 2012. His ypa also fell a full yard off his career average of 7.8. His receivers will be better this year as Vincent Brown returns from injury and the team drafted Keenan Allen. The offensive line will probably continue to struggle so there is some concern there, but Rivers should have more options for quick throws and will hopefully have better check down opportunities when needed.
Jason Wood: We fantasy football owners are a fickle bunch. Rivers was once discussed among the short list of the league’s best, but a 21st ranked fantasy finish last year has people bailing ship. Let’s remember that Rivers finished 9th in 2011, and has been a top 10 fantasy passer in four of the last five years. Layer in emerging talents in WR Vincent Brown (healthy and looking dominant in early preseason work) and Keenan Allen to go along with D. Alexander and M. Floyd, and Rivers has lots of weapons. The new coaching staff bodes well for an offense that had become stale and predictable under Norv Turner.
Tony Romo, Cowboys
James Brimacombe: Love him or hate him, Romo is a guy that has an incredible nucleus of talent around him and often slips in fantasy drafts for some reason. The Cowboys are known for getting into some high scoring shoot out type of games and are often lead by some big numbers from Romo.
Jeff Haseley:It would not surprise me at all to see Tony Romo finish in the Top 6-8 among quarterbacks this year. He has an elite receiver in Dez Bryant who thrives in the red zone, plus a talented, reliable veteran tight end in Jason Witten. The running game is thin when you consider DeMarco Murray's injury history with unproven rookie Joseph Randle backing him up. A key injury could mean a drastic change in offensive approach that would lean heavily on the passing game.
Stephen Holloway: Tony Romo has already finished among the top ten quarterbacks five times (QB7 and QB8 the past two seasons) and comes off a 4,903 yard and 28 TD passing season last year. The Cowboys have their top three receiving options returning again. Dallas continues to be a passing offense, last year throwing more than twice as often as running the ball. Since Romo will continue to be the focal point of the offense, I expect another huge year for him and the Cowboy passing game.
Jason Wood: It seems like Romo finds his way onto my list of undervalued quarterbacks every season, with good reason. This is a guy that ranks among the ALL-TIME best in passer rating, yards per attempt, completion rate, and TD rate. Sure, he makes poor decisions at inopportune times, but fantasy football is about statistical production not real life wins and losses. Romo has a talented supporting cast, is seasoned and knows the system inside and out, and the Cowboys look to have improved the offensive line. I would comfortably target Romo as my QB1 this year, and yet you can secure his services several rounds later than other comparable passers.
Michael Vick, Eagles
Sigmund Bloom: I don't necessarily believe in Vick to gel in Chip Kelly's offense, stay healthy, or even last the year as the starter if he does avoid injury. Still, the potential upside of a running quarterback with at least adequate passing skills in a high-play count uptempo offense is very attractive in the 10th round. It is easy to take a high floor partner like Ben Roethlisberger the round to hedge Vick's failure risk, but still be able to harvest his high QB1 production if he hits this year.
Chad Parsons: Michael Vick is one of the few truly high-upside backup quarterbacks this season. His price tag is more than palatable and it will be known very early in the season if Vick is going to return to his dominant fantasy production from years ago. The potential if Vick ends up as the starter in a Philadelphia offense that could lead the NFL in plays and rushing yards is tremendous.
Jeff Tefertiller: Michael Vick should be a steal in fantasy leagues. He is drafted as the sixteenth quarterback off the board and could finish in the top five while orchestrating the Chip Kelly offense. Yes, there is risk, but the upside is immense for a player selected as a backup.
Matt Waldman: For the first time in his life, I think Vick is paired with a coach who actually knows what to do with him in an offense. The Eagles quarterback has been asked to fit into holes where he never quite fit and it showed. No team has ever combined his skill as a runner and his arm with an up-tempo offense, but I’m excited to see what Chip Kelly does. Although Philadelphia will have a run-based offense, so did Washington and Robert Griffin was a strong QB1 for most of the year. Vick isn’t as accurate a passer from the pocket as Griffin, but I think he’s every bit the runner and has better surrounding talent at the skill positions.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Adam Harstad: Over the last half of last season, Seattle took the handcuffs off of Wilson and he ranked as a top-6 fantasy QB. This offseason, Seattle went out and acquired midseason MVP candidate Percy Harvin, giving Wilson one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the league. The availability of Wilson in the 6th round is a pretty compelling argument for waiting at QB this year.
Ryan Hester: Wilson finished 11th among fantasy quarterbacks last season despite being a rookie who was eased into the offense early in the year. He finished with a flurry, however, showing flashes of what might be to come in 2013. Quarterbacks that can earn fantasy points with their legs as well as their arms are taking over the NFL and fantasy football. It will only be a matter of time before one of the mobile young signal-callers wins a real Super Bowl. But in terms of winning fantasy Super Bowls, their time has come. Wilson is a player that I would select in the top seven at his position, but I’ll gladly wait to take him later if the other owners in my leagues let me.
Bob Magaw: Russell Wilson finished just outside the top 10 at his position during a brilliant rookie campaign in 2012, but his prorated numbers during the second half of the season were even more impressive, projecting to a nearly top three QB. Though the Seahawks had the fewest passing attempts and completions in the league last year, Wilson was very efficient with 26 TDs and just 10 INTs. He was also third among QBs with 489 rushing yards (with 4 rushing TDs) and is protected by a robust ground attack (third best 161.2 YPG). With the addition of an elite talent like ex-Viking star Percy Harvin to Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, they now comprise a dangerous and explosive wide receiver trio if healthy.
Matt Waldman: The Seahawks quarterback is a special player in three respects. First, he has the athleticism of arm and feet to make plays on the move that puts him in position to beat plays designed to stop him. Second, the mental side of his game has always displayed intelligence, poise, aggressiveness, and most of all, maturity. This was something on display early in the year when Wilson toned down the playmaker tendencies per his coach’s direction – a vastly under-discussed rarity for a player of Wilson’s skill as an improviser to do successfully. When Pete Carroll finally removed the governor from Wilson’s game at midseason, the QB’s stats were elite quality. Third, Wilson is a driven worker with the ambition and the surrounding weaponry to become one of the next borderline elite quarterbacks in the league. I think it begins this year.
Players with 3 Votes
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Heath Cummings: Dalton was a borderline QB1 last season and there are a lot of reasons to think he’ll be even better in his third season. The passing game was upgraded in the draft at running back with Giovanni Bernard and tight end with Tyler Eifert. Both are much more potent big-play threats than the 2012 starters at those positions. Adding those weapons to A.J. Green and a stable of young receivers with potential gives the Bengals one of the best young offenses in the league. Dalton’s already progressed beyond what many thought was his ceiling and there’s no reason to think that development won’t continue this season.
Jeff Haseley: In two years in the league, Andy Dalton has 47 touchdown passes (20 as a rookie and 27 last year). He reached seven multiple touchdown pass games in 2012 and also scored four rushing touchdowns. He has one of the best wide receivers in the game in A.J. Green with an offense that is starting to take shape. He is not a perennial 4,000 yard quarterback, which has kept him from entering elite territory. If the offensive game plan does become more aerial, as some suggest, he could be a surprise entrant into the Top 10.
Andy Hicks: Andy Dalton finished his second year ranked as the 12th best fantasy QB. The Bengals used a 1st and 2nd round pick on a tight end and a running back, A.J. Green is into his 3rd year and the other young receivers should all be improved. Add in a solid line and a solid running back in Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Dalton is in an enviable position in that he almost cannot fail. His ADP in the 10th round is insane for a guy with such a high floor and allows you to draft him as your backup. He should finish the year as your starter.
Player with 2 Vote
Cam Newton, Panthers
James Brimacombe: After two years of putting up crazy fantasy stats, Newton is still overlooked by the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Manning. His goal line touches are so valuable in all fantasy formats and the fact that he has scored 22 rushing touchdowns in two years to go along with 1447 rushing yards is only that much more valuable on a weekly basis.
Heath Cummings: Newton overcame a sophomore slump, some very questionable early season coaching, and midseason philosophical change in the offense to finish as the #6 fantasy quarterback in 2012. Unlike most of the quarterbacks above him in the top five, his prime is still in front of him and it’s likely we still haven’t seen his best work. If Newton continues the progression we saw in the second half last season, he should have his best passing season yet. That coupled with the safety net of his rushing production makes him my #1 quarterback.
Players with 1 Vote
Joe Flacco, Ravens
Jeff Haseley: In Joe Flacco's last eight games, including the postseason, he has 18 touchdown passes and two interceptions. Is it not too unbelievable to think that the late season firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and hiring of Jim Caldwell is directly related to Flacco's success? In my opinion the correlation is too accurate to consider otherwise. Even without the services of Anquan Boldin, I believe the Ravens offense will continue to perform at a high level, thus elevating Flacco into the Top 12 if not higher.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Jeff Tefertiller: Colin Kaepernick exploded onto the scene late last season. His running ability will ensure plenty of elite fantasy outings. As the seventh fantasy passer off the board, Kaepernick is a steal. His passing ability is underrated and the acquisition of Anquan Boldin should offset the loss of Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick has the potential to finish as the top player at the position this season.
Peyton Manning, Broncos
Adam Harstad: Last season, Peyton Manning put up an MVP-caliber performance despite changing teams, spending his entire offseason rehabbing, and knocking off the rust from a season off. This year, Manning is healthy for the first time in years. He's talked about how last year he missed out on most of his film study because he spent so much time in the trainer's room. Let's not forget that the Broncos also gave him Wes Welker to throw to. Peyton Manning presents nearly as much upside and security as Rodgers and Brees, but is available a round and a half later.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Jeff Pasquino: The Steelers have been becoming more and more of a passing team, and Ben Roethlisberger has benefited from that change in offensive scope. Roethlisberger threw 25 touchdown passes last year (and just 8 INTs) in only 13 games. Projecting him out to a 16 game season would have put him in the Top 12 for fantasy quarterbacks last year. Pittsburgh is still rebuilding their ground game, and the addition of rookie Markus Wheaton will give Roethlisberger another deep threat target in 2013.
Matt Ryan, Falcons
Mark Wimer: Ryan is currently the sixth quarterback coming off the board (around pick #50), yet I believe he has a legitimate shot to land among the top three fantasy quarterbacks this year. The great thing about drafting Ryan somewhere in the fourth round is you've got potential for upside from there, while the guys grabbing Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in the first/second rounds have to get top-three numbers from those two guys or they will lose value. Wait a couple of rounds longer, snag Ryan, and you'll have just as much explosive potential from week to week.
Matt Schaub, Texans
Jason Wood: Matt Schaub doesn’t get the respect he deserves. His career completion percentage (64.3%) and yards per attempt (7.8) are stellar marks and point to elite skills. He’s coming off his third 4,000-yard season in four years and has averaged 25 TD passes against 13 interceptions in those seasons. The only thing holding him back from fringe QB1 numbers is the balanced nature of the Texans offense. In an era where top quarterbacks throw the ball 600-650+ times, Schaub is going to get 525-550 attempts if the Texans have their way. But the soft tissue injuries to Arian Foster combined with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins set Schaub up to perhaps hit the 575-600 attempt mark, and that would put him solidly in the hunt for a Top 10 finish if he maintains his career per attempt averages.