Fantasy Football Fridays: Sleeper QBs

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you don't get one of the top few quarterbacks, don't sweat it. Plenty of good quarterbacks can be found in the later rounds which will provide you just as much production as some of their higher drafted colleagues.

Sleeper QB's

In fantasy football, there are 3-5 top QBs worth a 1st or 2nd round pick, but after that, there is a big drop off to the next level of QB. However, the QBs in the 6-12 range will cost you a lot higher draft pick than the guys below, yet won't give you much more production.

6) Eli Manning (NFL.com Ranking: 26; ESPN.com Ranking: 18)

It may sound odd after a season that saw Manning throw 27 INTs to just 18 TDs, but I don't see that repeating itself. In the four years prior, Manning averaged 28+ TDs, 4,226 yards and 17.5 INTs and was a worthy fantasy starter. The Giants should have an improved running game in 2014 and the addition of Odell Beckham. should be a big benefit to Manning.

5) Carson Palmer (NFL.com Ranking: 23; ESPN.com Ranking: 19)

Palmer is a good backup in fantasy and good spot starter. While he still turns the ball over a lot (22 INTs), he also still puts up big yards (4,274) and still throws TDs (24). With a healthy line and a younger and more dynamic RB (Ellington) Palmer ought to be able to keep up the yards and TDs while cutting down on the turnovers. 25+ TDs, 4,000+ yards and 16 INTs is not unrealistic for Palmer in 2014.

4) Sam Bradford (NFL.com Ranking: 21; ESPN.com Ranking: 26)

Bradford is tough to judge because he has had issues staying healthy, but when healthy in 2013, he was good - 14 TDs and 4 INTs in just 7 games. Prior to his injury, Bradford was on pace for 32 TDs, 10 INTs and about 3,800 yards. In the offseason the Rams upgraded Bradford's line (Greg Robinson) and weapons (Kenny Britt) and he will be a solid starter you could probably get in round 10.

3) Josh McCown (NFL.com Ranking: 27; ESPN.com Ranking: 20)

Maybe McCown hit lightning in a bottle last year with a talented group of weapons, but I don't think so. McCown looked like an experienced QB who the game has finally slowed down for and his weapons (Jackson, Evans and Martin) aren't far off what he had in Chicago.

In just 5 starts, McCown had a 66.5% completion percentage, had just 1 interception, 13 TDs and a 109.0 rating. In 11 games in the same offense, Cutler - a guy that will go 4-5 rounds before McCown - had 19 TDs and 12 interceptions. While McCown won't keep that pace over 16 games, he likely to outscore guys like Cutler in fantasy.

2) Alex Smith (NFL.com Ranking: 19; ESPN.com Ranking: 24)

Smith is never going to blow you away, but he also isn't going to kill you either. In 2013, only Nick Foles threw less interceptions (2) than Alex Smith (7) as a full time starter and while Smith's 23 TDs were middle of the pack (T-15), it was just 1 less than Cam Newton, 2 less than Tom Brady and 3 less than Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson - 3 players that will be drafted way ahead of Smith. In fact, the difference between Cam Newton (ranked 3rd) and Alex Smith was 34 points - or 2.1 PPG. That isn't much difference for a QB that will go 5-6 rounds ahead of Smith.

1) Andy Dalton (NFL.com Ranking: 16; ESPN.com Ranking: 17)

This isn't a homer pick. Look at the numbers. In 2013, only two QBs (Mannning and Brees) through more TDs than Dalton (33) and only 4 QBs scored more points than Dalton (Manning, Brees, Newton, Luck). Yet most have him ranked between 15-20 and a backup fantasy QB.

The numbers say he is a starter - and a good one - and you can likely get him somewhere around round 7 or later. His TDs and yards may go down with Hue Jackson but not a ton and on the flip side, his turnovers should go down as well. Plus Dalton will get you a rushing TD or 2 each year (2 in 2013).

Honorable Mentions

Tony Romo (NFL.com Ranking: 11; ESPN.com Ranking: 13)

In real football, I wouldn't take Romo as my QB, but in fantasy, he is really good - though few seem to realize it. In his last 6 healthy seasons (13+ starts), Romo has averaged 29.7 TDs, 4,176 yards and just 13.5 INTs, including 31 TDs and just 10 INTs in 15 games in 2013. That is great production. Now, he just needs to stay healthy after having multiple procedures done on his back.

Teddy Bridgewater (NFL.com Ranking: 31; ESPN.com Ranking: 34)

This is based on if Bridgewater starts, which we won't know this for at least another month.  But if he does start, I can see him having good rookie season. He was one of the most accurate college QBs in his time at Louisville and in Minnesota, he will have some weapons (Jennings, Patterson, Peterson, Rudolph) that can help him put up big rookie numbers.

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