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 9 Votes
Tony Romo, Dal
Sigmund Bloom: Romo’s reputation as a choker in crunch time has deflated his fantasy stock even though playoff wins aren’t a fantasy statistic. Romo is a consistent QB1 with great weapons, and he should be in the mid QB1 mix again this year. You are likely only ceding two or three points a game at most by taking Romo four or five rounds after the top three quarterbacks go off of the board.
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.
Mike Brown: Romo continues to put up huge fantasy stats, and continues to get zero respect from the fantasy community for doing so. His reputation as a choke artist and someone who falters late in games is not only incorrect, but irrelevant. He's got a solid running game, two prime time weapons at receiver, and a couple of tight ends who can grab a score or six. Romo is the best of the tier two passers.
Heath Cummings: I’m generally a guy that prefers younger talent, but drafting Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, or Colin Kaepernick before Romo seems crazy to me. Outside of 2010 (when he only played 6 games), Romo has five top-ten seasons and two top-five campaigns. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards last year and should be more efficient if DeMarco Murray can stay healthy. He has a great chance of finishing as a top five signal caller again in 2013.
Cian Fahey: If we are to believe in the Dez Bryant hype train, then there is no real reason to not also believe more in Tony Romo. Romo has been an excellent fantasy option over the years despite dealing with offensive line issues almost every season and playing with receivers who weren't always fully reliable. If Bryant takes that leap, with Miles Austin and Jason Witten staying healthy, maybe even Demarco Murray too, then Romo could easily outperform the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Matthew Stafford.
Will Grant: Romo is getting knocked this year. Not sure if it’s because of the big contract that he landed this summer or the fact that the Cowboys always have people that will over-draft them at certain positions. But whatever the reason, Romo has been falling in fantasy drafts. In the last four seasons that he’s played a full 16 games, Romo has never finished lower than 8th for fantasy QBS. He has the same supporting cast that he did from last season and as long as his receivers stay healthy, Romo should easily outperform his current draft position.
Steve Holloway: 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 touchdown passing season last year. The Cowboys have their top three receiving options (Bryant, Witten & Austin) returning again. Dallas is paying more attention to the running game this pre-season, but history has shown that they will continue to lean heavily on the passing game. Last year they threw more than twice as often as they ran the ball. Murray has been unable to stay healthy and Romo will continue to be the focal point of the offense. Expect another huge year for Romo and the Cowboy passing game.
Aaron Rudnicki: While he probably doesn’t have top-5 upside, Romo is one of the best values in the draft this year because you can draft him so late and count on top-10 production. After a slow start last year, he finished strong with 18 touchdowns in his final 8 games. The emergence of Dez Bryant as an elite weapon along with the continued presence of reliable veterans like Jason Witten and Miles Austin give him a great chance to put up some of the best numbers of his career.
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.
Player with 6 Votes
Jay Cutler, Chi
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. The 2nd tier of QBs always seem to stay on the board until really late in drafts and Cutler is usually always bypassed for lesser options.
Will Grant: Cutler faces a lot of challenges this season, but all of them will make him a better QB if he can overcome them. His offensive line is new, but if they can come together, they will be significantly better than they were last season. His receiving corps is the best that he’s had since coming to Chicago, and the Bears finally have an offensive minded coach who knows how to move the ball. It may take some time to get comfortable with the offense, but if Chicago can keep Cutler off of his back this season, he should flirt with the top 10 for fantasy quarterbacks.
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.
Aaron Rudnicki: I think Marc Trestman will help Cutler improve his efficiency and help offset some of the weaknesses in the offensive line. The plan is to rely more heavily on 3- and 5-step drops which get the ball out of his hands quickly before the pass rush has a chance to close on him. The Bears have provided a key upgrade in TE Martellus Bennett, but I also exp.ect WR Alshon Jeffery to make a much bigger contribution in his second year. Throw in a couple of elite players like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte along with a coaching staff that plans to emphasize the passing game and I think Cutler is in for a rebound year.
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 16th quarterback coming off the board. There is plenty of upside for Cutler from that middling draft position.
Players with 5 Votes
Sam Bradford, StL
Mike Brown: The breakout season didn't come the last two seasons, but there is reason to believe it is imminent now. He's got a full stable of weapons, the team added TE Jared Cook via free agency and drafted Tavon Austin, and the running game isn't much to speak of. Jeff Fisher-coached teams don't historically put up huge passing numbers, but the nice thing here is that Bradford only needs marginal improvement to exceed his ADP.
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.
Jeff Haseley: The Rams plan on throwing the ball, a ton in 2013. Steven Jackson has moved on, which opens the door for a modified spread option approach by HC Jeff Fisher and OC Brian Schottenheimer. I think we will see a big change in the Rams offense, which will be led by Sam Bradford. If things come together, he could approach 4,000 yards and 25+ touchdowns, which puts him into the conversation of a Top 10 finish.
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.
Russell Wilson, Sea
Sigmund Bloom: The injury to Percy Harvin seems to have deflated Russell Wilson’s stock even though he was a top three quarterback in most scoring systems after the shackles were taken off of him in the second half of year. I would be thrilled to land him in the seventh/eighth round as QB12.
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. Wilson has lost Percy Harvin for the majority of (if not all) of the 2013 season, but he was a top-four fantasy quarterback during the final month of the 2012 regular season before Harvin was even on the roster. The balanced offense and Wilson’s year-over-year growth should lead to a top-eight finish among fantasy quarterbacks.
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 (an otherworldly 16-2 TD/INT ratio last eight regular season games). 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). While thoughts of an elite WR trio by adding ex-Viking super star Percy Harvin to Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have been delayed (he could return in last quarter to third of season), Wilson put up stellar rookie numbers without him, and has the work ethic to improve. If he starts 2013 like he left off in the second half of last season, he will yield massive value.
Kyle Wachtel: His rookie season on an incredibly high note. In the second half of 2012, he ranked as the #3 quarterback in fantasy points and scored eight total touchdowns in Weeks 15 and 16; he did that without Percy Harvin who will be sidelined with a hip injury for several weeks. He’s in the same tier of passers as Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck, yet being drafted a round later than them, and not far from Matt Ryan who is being drafted roughly three rounds ahead of him.
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 – so don’t fret about Percy Harvin “gone ‘til November.” 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.
Michael Vick, Phi
Sigmund Bloom: If you have the “take the 12th quarterback off the board” strategy this year, or if you want to go true QBBC and take advantage of the unprecedented depth at quarterback this year, Vick should be your QB1. He has been a fantasy QB1 for his whole stay in Philly (even last year), and Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense won’t change that. The strong QB2 group makes it easy to hedge against injury in the later rounds.
Adam Harstad: Every report on Griffin's recovery continues to be glowing. When he was healthy last season, Griffin produced on par with Rodgers, Brees, and Brady despite being a rookie with a banged up receiving corps, so the chance to draft him this late is a real coup.
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. The loss of Jeremy Maclin only adds to Vick’s upside as he is known to rely on his legs when a passing play turns sour.
Kyle Wachtel: Targeting Vick this year is a no brainer for me. As I detailed in his Player Spotlight, he has consistently performed as a QB1 when healthy and is a great fit with Chip Kelly. His ADP will almost assuredly rise throughout the preseason, but with where it stands now, there is plenty of room to rise while maintaining value.
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.
Player with 3 Votes
Carson Palmer, Ari
Cian Fahey: Recently I went back and watched every single snap of Carson Palmer's 2012 season. While Palmer has his issues, it's clear that he is still one of the more talented starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Even though it is ridiculed because of supposed garbage time benefits, Palmer's production last season was very impressive because of the porous state of his supporting cast. With the Cardinals in 2013, he still has no real running game and a bad offensive line, but he has dramatically more talent at the receiver positions.
Andy Hicks: Palmer once again ends up on a team not expected to do much. The ineptitude of the Dennis Allen year in Oakland resulted in a fantasy ranking of 15th, which in retrospect will seem better as we continue to examine it. Palmer this year gets the luxury of a true WR1, perhaps for the first time in his entire career in Larry Fitzgerald and will be playing for the current NFL coach of the year in Bruce Arians. Now Arizona has a lot of problems, but Palmer can be of fantasy value this year as a late QB2 or even QB3. You won’t regret it.
Steve Holloway: After joining the Raiders in mid-season 2011 and only starting the last nine games, Palmer averaged 293 yards per game, which would equate to 4,688 yards over the season. Last year, he threw for 4,018 yards and missed the last game and three-fourths of the game before. Now he is starting in Arizona and his receiving options are much improved and the team has a suspect running game. If their offensive line improves and Palmer is able to connect on the short throws, look for the Cardinal passing offense to rise from the ashes of last year.
Players with 2 Votes
Andy Dalton, Cin
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.
Andy Hicks: Dalton finished his 2nd 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 is great value for a guy with such a high floor and allows you to draft him as your backup. He could easily finish the year as your starter.
Robert Griffin III, Was
Ryan Hester: During the staff’s first round of this popular feature, I didn’t include Griffin in this section due to his health situation to start the 2013 season still being a question mark. However, now that he has been cleared to practice, all signs point to him being in the starting lineup in Week 1, and I think the coaching staff and Griffin himself are too smart to allow him to sustain as many hits as he did last season. He’s electric, he’s mobile, and he throws one of the best (if not the best) deep balls in the NFL. He should be going ahead of Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady at the position, but he still is not.
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 five fantasy quarterbacks this coming season (right now he's the eighth quarterback coming off the board). It's a risky move, but I believe his rehabilitation is going well - why take Cam Newton at #46 overall when you can wait and get Griffin around the #69 pick in your draft?
Colin Kaepernick, SF
David Dodds: He passes the eye test for me. He appears faster than everyone on the field by a wide margin in many cases. Losing Crabtree hurts a little, but he accomplished a lot last year despite sub-standard WRs and limited experience in the NFL. He's getting rave reviews about his accuracy this preseason and appears poised to take a giant step forward this season. You can't teach speed. He seems poised to rack up rushing totals better than a lot of running backs playing behind one of the best OLs this season.
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 Colin Kaepernick are among the final QB1-level players off the board speaks to waiting on the position. Kaepernick has the explosive upside with his running ability to carry a fantasy team any given week and was a top-15 weekly play nearly every start in 2013. The ability to wait until most teams have their quarterback and still get one with equal the upside presents tremendous leverage constructing a team.
Peyton Manning, Den
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 later.
Andy Hicks: Manning had a remarkable comeback year and will be hungry to do even better in 2013 after the Broncos playoff loss to Baltimore to end the 2012 season. Adding a reliable target in Wes Welker to his 2 younger receivers will give him even more options. With an unsure running game, Manning will be called upon to once again post 35+ touchdowns and more than 4500 yards passing. Don’t look for others, at his current draft slot he is a steal and you’ll be rewarded with an every week star performer.
Players with 1 Vote
Drew Brees, NO
Jason Wood: I don’t really have many quarterbacks (other than some deeper sleepers) that I view as materially over- or under-rated, so I’m going to call attention to Drew Brees who is currently being drafted 2nd among quarterbacks and 28th overall. First of all, any guy that has thrown for 5,000 yards and 40+ TDs in consecutive seasons deserves consideration as the #1 at his position. Second, I’m seeing quarterbacks fall this year and Brees brings far too much VBD value to come off the board in the late 3rd or early 4th round. He’s a 2nd rounder based on projected relative value.
Josh Freeman, TB
David Dodds: Universally under-valued every year, Freeman has all the pieces to be a great QB this year. He has two very capable WRs in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. He has an electric RB who can catch. He plays behind one of the best OLs. And he plays in a division with some of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Andrew Luck, Ind
Jeff Haseley: When only 4 FP/game separates the top quarterback and 10th ranked quarterback, the value of waiting on quarterback really rings true. Andrew Luck is a perfect quarterback to target if he happens to fall into your lap on draft day. His work ethic and knowledge of the game could yield an improvement on an already dominant rookie year. He has great receiving weapons around him with a questionable running game, that likely will result in a higher percentage of passes. All good factors to consider for a fantasy quarterback.
Cam Newton, Car
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.
Aaron Rodgers, GB
Mike Brown: Rodgers is the consensus best quarterback in the league. He will be the first passer off the board in nearly every league. And just a season ago, he was a first round pick in many a league. This year, people are hopping back on the RB bandwagon and waiting on quarterbacks. The theory is that there are a lot of good ones to grab later. But Rodgers still separates himself from the pack, and deserves (along with Drew Brees) to go a few rounds ahead of the rest.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pit
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, Atl
Mark Wimer: Ryan is currently the fifth 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.
Matthew Stafford, Det
Kyle Wachtel: He’s only one year removed from a season in which he totaled 5038 yards and 41 touchdowns - those totals would have placed him only behind Aaron Rodgers last year. The passing yards (4965) were present last year, but the touchdowns (20) were more than cut in half. He should rank among the leaders in passing attempts once again and you can expect his touchdown total to rise back up.