Deep Sleepers: Quarterbacks

The Footballguys staff digs deep for sleepers at quarterback

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. This article specifically targets deep sleeper value (players that can be found very late in a fantasy draft). In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look deeper than the top 150 players and identify players that should significantly outperform their late draft position. These players should be your targets after the 12th round of your draft.

Player Receiving 6 Votes

Robert Griffin III

James Brimacombe: Griffin's career has went from good to bad in the space of three years and there are not many Griffin backers left because of his fall. If Griffin can get on the same page as Jay Gruden he could have a possible resurgence in an offense that has some nice talent with Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Jordan Reed. The pressure is going to continue to be extremely high for Griffin but he has a now or never stage in his career and surprisingly still has the support of his coaches and teammates.

Andy Hicks: When you get toward the end of your draft, the floor of a player isn’t as important. The ceiling is. Now we are not gambling on players who are going to struggle to make the roster, we are looking at starters who have flaws, who may have flashed serious potential or have struggled with injuries. Robert Griffin has all these issues and more, but we all remember his rookie season where he was a force to be reckoned with. If he has matured and can make better decisions, then he makes the perfect backup fantasy quarterback, even better as a 3rd option.

Jeff Pasquino: This is a make or break year for Robert Griffin III, and he knows it. Griffin has the pieces around him to re-establish himself as a solid quarterback in the NFL once again, with two strong starting wide recievers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. It is not often that you can select a former Top 10 quarterback as a later round QB2, but Griffin offers just that kind of potential. He has a very high ceiling so taking him as your QB2 affords your roster a lot of possible upside.

Daniel Simpkins: From injuries to maturity and leadership concerns, many have given up on Robert Griffin returning to his rookie year glory. However, owners should be open to Griffin having surprising fantasy value. His situation is a great example of why it’s important to pay attention to reports from OTAs. All the buzz coming from the Redskins beat indicates that RGIII and Gruden have mended fences and that RGIII is working hard on the field. Behind an offensive line that was improved in the draft, Griffin has the potential to be a nice option for drafters who like to take their QBs really late.

Mark Wimer: Griffin spent much of 2014 injured, and never really got on track in Jay Gruden's offense. Things are reportedly going much better for Griffin regarding both his health and his comfort in the offense - "I just think we're all feeling better about what we're doing," Griffin said recently. "We know a lot more than last year. And for me as a player, you always have to be confident." Griffin may get back to fantasy respectability this year - he has nowhere to go but up.

Jason Wood: I’m surprised Robert Griffin enters the season as Washington’s starter; but he and head coach Jay Gruden have reached détente. Even if you think Griffin won’t finish the season as the starter, it’s hard to understand why his ADP has fallen this far. When he’s on the field, Griffin’s mobility and downfield accuracy make him a possible Top 5 QB in any given week. He’ll have weeks that fall well short of that mark, but in the right matchups he would be a preferred start against many QBs being drafted ahead of him.

Player Receiving 5 Votes

Jameis Winston

Sigmund Bloom: When you give a rookie quarterback Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, that is quite a head start. While Winston will also have one of the poorer offensive lines in the league in front of him, his division doesn’t feature elite edge rushers and he showed plenty of ability to negotiate muddy pockets at Florida State. Winston has already become a leader of the team and his aggressive style plays into the strengths of his big receivers. Winston will be worth drafting in 14 and 16 team leagues, and as an addition to a streaming QB approach this year.

Jeff Haseley: Jameis Winston has the potential to put up decent fantasy numbers in year one. He inherits a capable receiving corps but above all, he has a football mind and talented arm to make plays all over the field. He won't be a rushing threat like Marcus Mariota, but he is more than capable of racking up passing yards, especially if the ground game struggles.

Chad Parsons: Jameis Winston walks into an enviable situation with a trio of oversized targets in the Tampa Bay passing game. With Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Winston has 20+ touchdown upside as a rookie. His bold decision-making is a perfect fit for the large catching radii of his targets. Add Charles Sims and Doug Martin, above-average pass-catching running backs and questionable NFC South defenses and Winston is a quality QB2 with upside.

Jeff Pasquino: For anyone who takes a stud QB1 early in drafts, waiting for a capable QB2 as a backup is a viable plan this year. Rookie Jamies Winston has plenty of potential to put up solid quarterback fantasy numbers this year with two strong receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Winston is the clear starter right away for the Buccaneers and in the right matchups he can put up a QB1-type score.

Matt Waldman: The jury is still out for me about Winston’s maturity off the field. I can say the same about many football players. Winston plays the game with resiliency, creativity, bravado, and intelligence. He has more to learn so his bravado and intelligence achieve greater balance on the field. There will be dumb, rookie moments this year. There will also be big plays, comeback victories, and good fantasy weeks. There won’t be enough to call Winston an every-week starter all year long, but there will be stretches of play that make him a bargain starter. Hopefully those weeks come later in the season when fantasy owners can make a deal that allows them to use the rookie in lineups.

Player Receiving 4 Votes

Geno Smith

Phil Alexander: As strange as it feels to say it, I’m fully on board with Geno Smith as a QB2 with upside. Chan Gailey's spread system somewhat resembles the offense Geno thrived in at West Virginia. With new additions Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith joining Eric Decker and TE Jace Amaro, the Jets suddenly boast one of the better on-paper receiving corps in the league. When you factor in the Jets’ improved weapons, Gailey’s history of getting the most out of mediocre QBs (Tyler Thigpen anyone?), and Smith’s underrated dual threat ability (his seven rushing TDs over the last two years trail only Cam Newton’s 11), his ceiling is somewhere in the neighborhood of a back-end QB1. If Smith is still a turnover machine after the first week or two, cut bait and move on. It won’t cost you a thing since he’s currently going undrafted in 12 team leagues.

Sigmund Bloom: Smith is paired up with Chan Gailey, who got the best football out of the likes of Kordell Stewart, Tyler Thigpen, and Smith’s backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Introduce Brandon Marshall to the mix, and this starts to look like an offense that will lean pass over run in a reversal of the ethos of the Rex Ryan era. Smith is not shy about running and believe it or not, he had six rushing touchdowns in his rookie year. For as long as he’s the starter, Smith will deserve consideration in deep leagues and for QB streamers.

Ryan Hester: There’s a quarterback who averaged 250 yards per game and had a 6:2 TD:INT ratio in the final four games of 2014, and he’s not even being drafted in all but the deepest of leagues. Smith inherits Chan Gailey as the team’s new Offensive Coordinator. Gailey has turned water into wine in terms of getting production from low-talent quarterbacks. Look no further than Tyler Thigpen for proof of that. The Jets also added Brandon Marshall to a receiving corps that featured Eric Decker last season. Decker wasn’t fully healthy all year and should improve upon his first season with the team due to health and the presences of Gailey and Marshall.

Ari Ingel: On paper there is a lot to love here, but when the bullets start flying, it becomes hard to trust Geno. But like, Carr, Geno is squarely on the QB2 and streaming map. Let’s start with the bad: early camp reports are that Geno has been up and down as usual, and as we saw last year he often makes poor decisions, misreads coverage and can be widely inaccurate with his throws. Now with the good: Geno works hard and can certainly make every throw, and in his defense, his supporting cast last year was atrocious. This year he has a legitimate receiving core with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside, Jeremy Kerley in the slot, intriguing second year tight end Jace Amaro in the middle and exciting rookie Devin Smith to stretch the field. The Jets also have a solid offensive line and a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey that isn’t afraid to push things. There is no way you can trust Geno as your starter from the get go, but he certainly could surprise.

Players Receiving 3 Votes

Derek Carr

Christopher Feery: The Raiders may have finally settled their long-term QB issues. Carr was the best rookie QB for much of 2014 despite a midseason coaching change and a lack of talent from the supporting cast. New OC Bill Musgrave will reportedly install some no-huddle for Carr, which he thrived in while playing college ball at Fresno State. Add to that the addition of stud rookie Amari Cooper and Carr could surprise people in year 2.

Stephen Holloway: Derek Carr played well as a rookie for the Raiders starting in all 16 games and completing 58.1% of his passes for 3,270 yards. The Raiders added two wide receivers in the off-season, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree that are both better than anyone the team had a year ago. Their young wide receivers should also improve and they added Clive Walford, perhaps the best receiving tight end in this year’s draft to complement Mychal Rivera. Both of their top two running backs ae excellent receivers out of the back field, so Carr’s production should greatly improve in his second season.

Ari Ingel: Streaming quarterbacks and playing the matchups is a bonafide option this year and Carr could certainly come in handy a few weeks. The Raider’s upgraded their offensive line (currently ranked #14 on our site), drafted stud wide receiver Amari Cooper, signed reliable free agent possession receiver Michael Crabtree and finally will be starting a dynamic running back in Latavius Murray. While recent history tells us not to rely on Raider players, they have quietly put together a pretty good looking offense and Carr showed last year that he is capable quarterback throwing 21 tds and only 12 interceptions with an absolutely horrendous supporting cast. While you shouldn’t reach for him, as a streaming QB, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Mark Sanchez

Sigmund Bloom: The murmurs of a true camp/preseason QB competition for the Eagles are getting louder. Sanchez is looking sharper in his second year in the Chip Kelly system, and Chip preaches that the best players play. Sanchez could be better this summer than Bradford coming back from a second ACL tear and force Chip’s hand. The Eagles QB has been a low QB1 for fantasy since Chip took over, and that expectation should apply to Sanchez, who did it in the second half last year after Nick Foles went down.

Daniel Simpkins: One of the quarterbacks on the Eagles’ roster is going to benefit from the Kelly up-tempo attack. If he can get healthy in time for the start of the season, that man will be Sam Bradford. However, we’re still hearing that Bradford is gimpy and may not be ready to start the season. If Bradford continues to ail, Sanchez could start the season. Should he start hot, Chip may decide to roll with him. Considering you can get Sanchez off the waiver wire in most 12- team formats, he figures to be a steal if things break right for him.

Jason Wood: After taking over for Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez was a top-10 fantasy quarterback. In fact, his 181 points over nine games outranked Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. He was within a stone’s throw of Peyton Manning (184 points) Ben Roethlisberger (187 points) and Andrew Luck (187 points). Yet, he’s a forgotten man because of the Eagles trade for Sam Bradford. Why are we handing the job to Bradford? He’s still hobbled (in OTAs), he’s missed more games than he’s played, and when he HAS played, it was largely ineffective. While I accept that Bradford will be the starter IF he’s 100% healthy and has a strong camp, I don’t see why that’s the most likely outcome. If Sanchez gets the nod, he showed he can be a fringe QB1 in Kelly’s system. That makes him a perfect end game QB2 to target.

Players Receiving 2 Votes

Andy Dalton

James Brimacombe: Heading into the 2014 season Andy Dalton was one of the most overrated fantasy QB's after coming off his top 3 finish in the prior year. 2014 was a tough season for the entire Bengals team as they had to deal with a pile of injuries on offense and that showed with Dalton as he had a TD:INT ratio of 19:17. While he always seems to have the downside of throwing INT's he makes up for it with his ability to find the endzone. He had 66 total touchdowns combined in both 2012 and 2013 and a 25+ touchdown season could very well be in his sights this season.

Andy Hicks: We all by now know the limitations of Andy Dalton, but last season wasn’t an easy one for him. A.J. Green missed several games and was clearly hampered in others, while the other projected starter Marvin Jones was out for the entire season. Tyler Eifertalso missed all but the opening game. The return of all these guys, plus Mohamed Sanu who ably gave his all last year and the addition of Denarius Moore mean that Dalton will have weapons. He did finish as the 3rd ranked QB in 2013 and while that is unlikely this year, he is capable of being a fantasy starter again. An easy choice to outperform his draft slot

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Hester: See: Smith, Geno for the reasons why whoever wins the Jets quarterback job could surprise in terms of fantasy production this season.

Mark Wimer: Fitzpatrick has a struggling young quarterback to beat out during training camp, but it shouldn't take long for him to take over from Geno Smith in New York. Given that Fitzpatrick had good success playing for Chan Gailey in the past, and the fact that he has talented wide receivers to throw to in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, I think he could be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners who roster him as their #2 QB this year. Fitzpatrick is capable of explosive performaces when the passing matchup is good.

Marcus Mariota

Jeff Haseley: Is there a more quiet big name in the NFL this offseason than Marcus Mariota? People are focusing so much on Jameis Winston that Marcus Mariota is an afterthought. He automatically draws my interest due to his rushing ability, but his accurate, efficient arm also raises my eyebrows. He should see plenty of game action, which is another reason to be excited about his fantasy appeal.

Jeff Pasquino: Once the first 20 or so quarterbacks are gone in a fantasy draft, you are looking for two things – a solid starter and upside potential. Marcus Mariota offers both, as he will be the clear starter for the Titans come Week 1 this fall. Mariota offers offensive potential as both a passer and a rusher, and with his potential for big plays on the ground or through the air he makes for a solid QB2 option later in drafts.

Players Receiving 1 Vote

Blake Bortles

Daniel Simpkins: With things really looking up for the Jags offense going into 2015, one scratches one’s head and wonders why more people are not advocating for Bortles in fantasy circles. He’ll be throwing to healthy OTA standout Allen Robinson, just got an upgrade at tight end in Julius Thomas, and will have some of the load taken off his shoulders when the running game improves under TJ Yeldon. The defense is also improving, but don’t expect a transformation that will keep the offense off the field significantly more than they were in 2014. Going undrafted in most 12-team leagues, Bortles is exactly the kind of player on which QB streamers need to keep a close eye.

Nick Foles

Andy Hicks: Nick Foles will always have that wonderful 2013 season as proof of his potential as a starting quarterback in the NFL. It is easy to give all the credit to Chip Kelly, but that is lazy thinking. Foles deserves acknowledgement. In a new environment under a more defensive oriented coach we’ll get to truly see what Nick Foles is made of. He has many young skilled players at his disposal who haven’t shown their potential yet. St.Louis haven’t exactly been blessed with quarterback options to get it out of them. Maybe Foles is the man to do it and at his price it is worth the risk to find out.

Alex Smith

Jeff Haseley: The Chiefs have improved on offense compared to last year. Their offensive line has been bolstered and more importantly they have a rising talent in Travis Kelce and a veteran receiver in Jeremy Maclin who knows Andy Reid's offense. Alex Smith was a Top 20 fantasy quarterback last year despite a lack of wide receiver talent that failed to score a single touchdown. I expect to see Smith bounce back in 2015 and be a solid QB2 option with a good chance to outperform his ADP of QB28.