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.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Brimacombe: If you are gambling at the QB position are willing to wait longer than expected, Bradford should be one of your top targets just based on his potential in Chip Kelly’s offense alone. Bradford will always have the injury label attached to his name and people will have a hard time passing over that but finding value in drafts is all about taking chances and swinging for the fences and there is no better play right now than Sam Bradford.
Hester: It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Bradford is going to be healthy enough to play Week 1. With what the team gave up to get him and the fact that he has been the first-team quarterback throughout camp thus far, it’s a head-scratcher that Bradford’s ADP is still this low in an offense that has made QB1s out of less talented players. Perhaps fantasy owners are scared off by his season-long health potential. But when a player is drafted this low at his position, even a handful of quality starts makes him a bargain. Anything more is a cherry on top.
Parsons: Bradford is the quintessential backup fantasy quarterback. The Eagles offense made Mark Sanchez a viable starting option and Michael Vick and Nick Foles certified studs in recent seasons. Bradford is one of the few quarterbacks beyond the top-12 to top-15 options with mid-QB1 upside.
Pasquino: Chip Kelly tends to know what he is doing on offense. The Eagles starting quarterback the last two years (Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez for eight games each last year, and the Foles/Vick combination in 2013) has produced a Top 5 combined fantasy quarterback score under Kelly. Bradford may have some injury risk as he comes back from another torn ACL, but the track record is there in this offense that Kelly can get Top 5 production from anyone with talent – which Bradford certainly has.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Hester: In his first year in Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor’s Chip Kelly-like scheme, Tannehill totaled career highs in pass attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, rushing attempts, and rushing yards, all while Tannehill had his career low in interceptions thrown. His weapons were upgraded in acquiring Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and DeVante Parker. Tannehill also has the athleticism to rush for 350 or more yards and multiple touchdowns, which makes him a player with top-five upside being drafted near the bottom of QB starter range.
Hicks: The addition of Devante Parker, Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron has to be a significant improvement over what went out the door in Miami. Add in improvement from 2nd year man Jarvis Landry and Ryan Tannehill is in a good position to become a starting QB in most fantasy leagues this season, which surprising to most people he was last year. Now in his 4th year he has increased his touchdowns, yardage and pass completion percentage in every season. Draft him as your backup and watch as he turns into your starter.
Pasquino: Tannehill got better by doing nothing this offseason. All he had to was to watch free agency, where the Dolphins added wide receivers Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings plus tight end Jordan Cameron. Gone is Mike Wallace, but rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker could see the field sooner rather than later. Tannehill will greatly benefit from the new targets in town and I can see him improving to a solid fantasy QB1 option this year.
Wood: Tannehill quietly had a phenomenal 2014 season. He completed 66% of his passes for 4,045 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions; good enough for a QB9 fantasy ranking. That was the first time since high school Tannehill had an offensive coordinator other than Mike Sherman. Coincidence? I think not. With another year in Bill Lazor's system, improvements on the offensive line, and rebuilt receiving corps including tight end Jordan Cameron, rookie DaVante Parker and veterans Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, the sky is the limit.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Brown: Norv Turner has done a lot with a whole lot less than what he’s got in Minnesota. Bridgewater acquitted himself quite well in his first go-round, and the team has only added weapons to the stable to help him. By bringing in Mike Wallace to stretch the field, the Vikings have added an element that has been somewhat lacking in recent seasons. Kyle Rudolph also enters the season fully healthy. And oh yeah, there’s some guy back in town named Adrian Peterson who should play more than 1 game this time around. The tools are all in place for Bridgewater to make significant strides in 2015.
Simpkins: Bridgewater really surprised fantasy owners with his grit in a lost season for the Vikings. Circumstances should be much improved for the young quarterback entering 2015. Peterson is coming back from suspension, the team added Mike Wallace during free agency, and Cordarelle Patterson seems to finally be grasping the offense. These things should only help Bridgewater to take the next step in his sophomore year. While he likely won’t finish in the top five, it’s not crazy to imagine a scenario in which he finishes within the top ten, especially with defenses concerned with stopping the freight train with a chip on his shoulder that will be Adrian Peterson. Teddy can usually be drafted in the early ninth round, making him a perfect late committee option.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Hicks: Colin Kaepernick is in a tough position this year. He has a new coach, new lead back and new receivers. Still he was heavily restricted by the previous regime in what he could do on any given play and with the defense likely to regress significantly it will fall on Kaepernick to do more and be allowed to improvise where the situation allows. His rushing touchdown number of 1 in 105 attempts has to be considered an anomaly with 4 and 5 rushing touchdowns the previous 2 years off fewer attempts. He has a low floor, but his ceiling will surprise many this year.
Wimer: I rank Kaepernick at 10th among all fantasy quarterbacks for 2015. I like the addition of Torrey Smith and the addition-by-subtraction of now-Raider Michael Crabtree. Also, the coaching staff plans to have Kaepernick run more which is always good for a quarterback's fantasy output. He should significantly outperform his current ADP of 16th quarterback selected.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Brown: I’ve never been a huge fan of Eli Manning, either as a real-life quarterback or for fantasy. But down the stretch last season, he put up some very nice numbers. Not coincidentally, that was when Odell Beckham Jr was in the process of blowing up the league. With a full offseason to work together, the return of Victor Cruz, the continued improvement of Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell, the addition of Shane Vereen, and a defense that looks to be one of the league’s worst, it’s a recipe for an easy top-10 season.
Haseley: This is Eli Manning's second year with two key offensive contributors. One is all-world receiver Odell Beckham Jr Jr and the other is the leader of the offense, Ben McAdo and his expert play calling and offensive game planning. McAdo's quick strike offense carried over from Green Bay to New York with Manning and Beckham being the primary beneficiaries. The passing game should once again be front and center for the Giants, which means the success of the Giants is equal fantasy success for Eli Manning
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Simpkins: Rivers was a largely underrated fantasy option last year. He was a top three option until injuries to his back and ribs hampered his play. Keenan Allen, arguably his best receiver, was also ailing for much of 2014. Rivers and the gang are fully healthy now and the Chargers have added the talented Melvin Gordon III to jump start the running game. The Antonio Gates suspension is disappointing, but may be a blessing in disguise, as the team now turns to the gifted Ladarius Green at tight end. To be able to land a quarterback with top five potential in the ninth round of drafts is a screaming deal.
Waldman: Keenan Allen is healthy and in better shape, Steve Johnson is healthy and he has developed great chemistry with Rivers, Danny Woodhead is healthy, and Melvin Gordon III is still working out the kinks with pass protection and pass routes. Look for Gordon to be a two-down back for most of this season and the Chargers to throw the ball efficiently. The addition of Johnson gives Rivers a 50/50 pass catcher that the Chargers have been missing since Vincent Jackson left town.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Holloway: In most seasons, Roethlisberger is ranked toward the lower range of starting quarterbacks in 12-team fantasy leagues, but he has finished as QB8 and QB6 over the past two seasons. With considerable talk about both New Orleans and Denver relying more on the running game and with Tom Brady currently facing a four-game suspension, this could be the year that Roethlisberger breaks the into the top five. Even though his ADP has risen over the past two months, he remains a value play.
Wood: Roethlisberger is coming off his best statistical season; he led the league with 4,952 yards and set career bests in completions (408), attempts (608), completion rate (67.1%), TD passes (32) and QBR (72.5). The parameters that allowed him to finish as a top 5 fantasy QB last year remain intact. He's finally found a comfort level with Todd Haley's offensive system. The Steelers defense is no longer an above average unit, forcing Pittsburgh to win games through a more aggressive offensive style. Antonio Brown has emerged as one of the league's best receivers. And RB Le'Veon Bell has given Roethlisberger an outlet unrivaled by most. Add to that the continued maturation of WR Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, and Roethlisberger is a strong bet for high end QB1 numbers, several rounds later than his elite peers.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Holloway: Romo was excellent a year ago and all indications are he is healthier this off-season. The Cowboys still have their awesome offensive line, but they do not have DeMarco Murray. Romo will throw a little more often than a year ago and remain just as efficient. He should easily top 4,000 yards again and continue to throw for 30 plus TDs.
Pasquino: There is a clear sweet spot for quarterbacks again this year, and it appears to me as the QB8-14 range. Tony Romo sticks out like a sore thumb here, as he just lost his top running back to free agency (DeMarco Murray). The Cowboys face some higher-powered offenses again this year, so Dallas will have to find ways to move the ball and score a lot of points. With one of the best wide receivers in the game as his top target (Dez Bryant) plus “old reliable” Jason Witten at tight end, not to mention Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, Romo has solid options to move the ball.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brimacombe: The Buccaneers offense is on the way up with a mirage of talented players on offense surrounding rookie Jamis Winston. If you have the roster spot to take a stab at a backup QB for your team, Winston has to be looked at as he has potential to put up 25+ touchdowns in his rookie season. Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are all incredible targets for a rookie QB to have right out of the gate.
Haseley: Jameis Winston has exceeded expectations so far in training camp and preseason. I fully expect the Buccaneers to throw the ball often, which means Winston will have games with high yardage. I'm expecting the interceptions to come, but so will the touchdowns. Tampa Bay plays TEN, @NO, HOU, CAR to begin the year. The Bucs also have the best schedule against the pass this year.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Haseley: Tom Brady is a Top 6 quarterback that most times, you can draft as the last starting quarterback on the board. All you need to do is weather the four week storm while he serves his suspension and you'll be in good shape for the rest of the year when it matters most. Notable quarterbacks to target as a backup with good schedules in Weeks 1-4 include Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and in a pinch, Alex Smith. All should be available after taking Brady.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Wood: I'm not going to argue Dalton is a world beater. In four seasons, he's finished 16th, 12th, 3rd and 18th. We can say with confidence that his baseline value is that of a high level fantasy QB2. But Dalton's current ADP (QB22) essentially puts him as a last round, desperation backup. That makes no sense. Do I expect Dalton to ever have another top-3 season as he did in 2013? No. But I do know Dalton has an elite receiver (A.J. Green), a solid offensive line, two elite running backs (who can both catch passes) and gets a healthy Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones Jr back this season. He's a perfect backup QB that can put up big numbers on bye weeks or as an injury fill-in.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Wimer: Flacco is 15th on my QB board, making him a modest value compared to his current 17th-quarterback-selected ADP. The additions of TE Maxx Williams and WR Breshad Perriman have restocked his receiving corps, and Kamar Aiken is a rising talent as well. This attack won't be all about Steve Smith this year, and that should improve Flacco's consistency. Also, Flacco is able to throw down explosive games with his big arm, which can win fantasy contests for his owners on the weeks Flacco goes "Boom".
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Brown: Yes, Luck is going off the board in Round 2 as well as the first signal-caller being selected. But this already-dynamic Colts offense is going to be historically good. They added several talented veterans, who are all blending in seamlessly from all accounts. Luck himself still has room to improve (a terrifying thought for the rest of the league), and the defense is still very middling – which means lots of high-scoring affairs. Luck has a real chance to be the number one player overall this season.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Wimer: Stafford is around 10th according to ADP, but I have him at fifth on my quarterback board. Stafford will be in the elite quarterback discussion at the end of the year. His coach is on record that the team will ask Stafford to take more risks while passing the football this year, presumably leading to more deep throws for Johnson and Tate to go get. I like it.