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An Early Look At 2014 Late Round Quarterbacks

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Late Round Quarterback strategy wins championships. In short one would wait to draft a QB while building his team around the more scarce less replaceable positions of running back and wide receiver. The ability to spend valuable equity on RB and WR talent early and little to no equity late can set your team up for a late season run. Last year I played a combination of Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Matt Schaub and Carson Palmer. When Schaub and Palmer weren’t working out I was quick to jump on the Nick Foles bandwagon. Quarterback production can be easily replaceable based upon match-ups and since you waste very little draft equity with this strategy you’re not necessarily married to your quarterbacks. If only this strategy could be successfully implemented into real life domestic situations.

Consider this an early primer into the strategy for 2014. We will take a look at QBs with an ADP of the 10th round and after from FFCalculator. All projections are from the QB Sim App and are based upon 6 point TD scoring. I also used the Game Splits App to take a look at how the group did against top versus bottom half passing defenses as well as weekly top 12 finishes. Let’s look at the table below.

Jay Cutler

Russell Wilson8.519.2223.7271922.823.810.09
Andy Dalton6.917.5827.43719.122.823.611.12
B. Roethlisberger
Josh McCown9.1023.75315.317.619.212.08
Eli Manning5.36.0816.32115.118.921.513.09
Ryan Tannehill6.219.1319.75517.419.822.514.02
Alex Smith6.820.7220.95719.221.524.914.03
Carson Palmer6.614.6821.46315.819.123.114.7
Geno Smith5.313.9518.6561316.818.1WW
Joe Flacco5.415.8818.65415.717.421.4WW

Jay Cutler – Based upon current ADP, Cutler is seems to be the hottest commodity and with good reason. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery make up one of the league’s best receiving corps. The interesting thing about Cutler looking at the table above, is that he was the only player on the list to perform better against top half passing defenses when compared to bottom half defenses. Cutler only got in 10 games of real work in 2013, as Josh McCown came in to make a name for himself during Cutler’s injury. A full season in Chicago’s revamped passing attack will make Cutler a Late Round QB target for many owners…it may also cause his ADP to rise as we get closer to re-draft season. The troubling part of Cutler’s projections is the 13.3 ppg low projection. I’m willing to take a chance on Cutler but not at this ADP. I prefer to wait later for a few other prospects, although Max Mulitz makes a great case for Cutler in 2014.

Russell Wilson – In 2013 Wilson led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl Championship. There is no doubt Wilson was ready to be the man. In fake football he also led this group in top 12 weekly finishes, tied with Andy Dalton at 7. He also finished second in this group with an AYA of 8.5. Going into his third year, Wilson is a player that is ascending. He should only get better as he sharpens his tools. While the loss of Golden Tate could be a drawback heading into 2014, the addition of Percy Harvin for a full season could lead to more big plays. Wilson also led this group in rushing with 539 yards. With the highest ceiling in the group, Wilson could be just the man to lead your QB contingency in 2014…and not having to play against the Seahawks defense helps too.

Andy Dalton – On the outside it seemed Andy Dalton had an amazing year as he had the highest finish of any QB in this group (Shawn Sigele warned you). A closer look however shows that it was a tale of 2 seasons for Dalton. Dalton scored about 10 fewer PPG against top half defenses last year. Unfortunately for owners who placed all their eggs in the Andy Dalton basket, he probably lost as many games as he won for them. Add Hue Jackson into the equation as the new OC and the reigns on Dalton may be reeled in quite a bit next year. Dalton’s 7 weekly top 12 finishes are certainly what you want out of a late round QB, but his inconsistency can be maddening. The thing I do love about Dalton’s projection is that he has the second highest floor at 19.1 ppg. Knowing how Dalton performs against top half defenses can be used to your advantage if you pair him with another QB whose schedule jives with Dalton’s. Because of his high finish in 2013 Dalton’s ADP is also likely to be the most volatile of the group with many owners having differing opinions of his skill set.

Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben has been one of my favorite QBs to roster over the last few years. He always seems to be around the QB12 area with the ability to perform on par with some of the top QBs on any given Sunday. Roethlisberger may be hampered more by his smallish WRs and below par offensive line than his own ability. Big Ben finished 2nd in this group with 23.76 ppg when playing against bottom half defenses, while still putting up a respectable 18.98 ppg against top half defenses. Roethlisberger always seems to be my fall back option. I think he is dependable enough in most match-ups that I am willing to roster him as my top QB. In 2013 Roethlisberger put up 6 top 12 finishes. His 2014 projections put him in the upper middle class of this group which is where I view him. I expect 2014 to be much of the same and I can see myself having a few shares of Big Ben.

Josh McCown – McCown was a prime example of QB replaceability in 2013. Many owners were upset to see Cutler move back into the starting line-up upon his return from injury. McCown put up 23.75 ppg in 2013 parlaying it into a possible starting gig in Tampa Bay in 2014. The Bucs may be known as “Chicago South” in 2014 as they seemingly have followed the Bears’ blueprint that saw McCown become successful. The addition of our top rookie prospect in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and the 2013 class top Phenom Index TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins along with new OC Jeff Tedford all have Bucs fans hoping bigger is better. An interesting thing of note is that McCown did not face a single top half defense in 2013…that could have been the reason for his group leading 9.1 AYA. Every point scored was against weaker defenses. Pair that with the fact that he has never been able to earn a starting gig and the presence of Mike Glennon and you could have yourself a disaster if you go all in on McCown. I would like to see the preseason play out before making a decision on McCown.

Eli Manning – There aren’t many descriptive words that don’t have 4 letters that I can use to describe Eli’s play in 2013. They added Davis Mattek’s favorite whipping boy Odell Beckham in the draft, which doesn’t really change things for me. How in the hell are people drafting Eli ahead of the likes of Alex Smith is beyond me. Look at the table above….PASS!!!

Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill may not get the credit he deserves when considering how little experience he has playing QB. Tannehill wasn’t horrible in 2013 but he probably didn’t win you many games either. It’s important to note that Tannehill played 11 games against top half passing defenses in 2013.He also had 5 top 12 finishes in 2013 which is something he could build on in 2014. The Dolphins hope the hiring of OC Bill Lazor could turn Tannehill into Miami’s version of Nick Foles. It’s possible that a year of experience with Mike Wallace and the addition of Jarvis Landry could make Tannehill could surprise in 2014. A 14th round pick is next to nothing to give up for a possible breakout candidate.

Alex Smith – RotoViz made a case for Alex Smith last year here and here. If you listened you were likely rewarded with consistency and 7 top 12 performances. Alex Smith has the highest floor as well as the highest ceiling projection wise for next year. Travis Kelce returning could give Smith a nice Red Zone target and lead to more touchdowns. A player who was once written off as a bust could be just the man to lead your fantasy team. Smith appears a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s system and with a current ADP of 14.03 is the perfect price for what I am looking to pay in 2014. In my opinion Alex Smith is the perfect Late Round QB option.

Carson Palmer – Palmer was a bit of a disappointment in 2013 for owners that drafted him…but that’s the beauty of things when you don’t have much invested…you can drop him and move onto the next QB. Palmer only had 3 weekly top 12 performances. Not what you would expect from a player with Larry Fitzgerald and the undervalued Michael Floyd. Palmer’s low 15.8 projection is cause for concern but at a mid 14th round price point, its easy to move on if you’re not happy with what you get from him. Palmer is a likely candidate to bounce between being rostered and waivered. Once again a look at his splits against top and bottom half defenses shows Palmer to be a bully that only beats up on the little guys.

Geno Smith – As the Fantasy Douche pointed out, Geno was kind of awesome for 8 games in 2013. Geno played 12 games against top half defenses…the most of the group. His 13.95 ppg against those defenses is a bit concerning but let’s not forget the kid was a rookie with a limited amount of talent surrounding him. The additions of Decker, CJ?K, and rookie TE Jace Amaro should put him in a better position to succeed in 2014. The hype that is Michael Vick is also going to benefit Geno drafters this year. Smith is going undrafted in many mock drafts right now. It really doesn’t get much better than free. With that being said, anything you get out of Geno is a plus. Last year Smith actually had 6 top 12 finishes…at the cost of free or a final round pick, that is a value.

Joe Flacco – Flacco under-performed in 2013 if you factor in what he got paid in his new contract. Another QB that is going undrafted in many mocks right now, Flacco also had a bit of a tough schedule last year. His high projection of 21.4 ppg however may be useful for a few games in 2014. The problem is trying to figure out which games those are. Flacco’s performances against bottom half defenses was a full 2 ppg lower than Alex Smith’s performances against top half defenses. Once again though, you’re not being asked to invest much when it comes to Flacco.

Planning for 2014  

Note I didn’t include any rookie signal callers in the list. Johnny Football is currently the only one getting any play in mock drafts, going in the middle of the 11th round. I also didn’t include Sam Bradford, who is going undrafted, due to his injuries last year. Of the list of QBs the two that I like the most are Alex Smith whom I think is the best value, and Russell Wilson who probably has the most upside. The other great thing is it seems as if their schedules go well together. I am also very intrigued by Geno Smith and would be willing to roster him as my QB3. Those 3 players combined for 20 top 12 weekly finishes in 2013. While the market is likely to change between now and late August, with prices like this there is a lot of value to go around in 2014.

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