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Andy Dalton an under-the-radar fantasy football option

Andy Dalton is a great value quarterback heading into the 2017 fantasy football season.

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Where does Andy Dalton rank among his counterparts in terms of fantasy football?

After a decent 2016 season that was marred by offensive defections and injuries, Dalton managed to earn his third Pro Bowl nomination in his six-year career, tying the amount of nods in the All-Star game of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. The latest nod was as an alternate though, but Dalton certainly exhibited some Pro Bowl-level play at various points last season.

In the wake of so many issues among the Bengals’ offense, whether it be the losses of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu or injuries to Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green, Dalton still had 4,206 passing yards and 18 touchdowns vs just eight interceptions.

Dalton’s 91.6 passer rating was second-best in his career behind his 2015 record of 106.3. He also matched Palmer as the only two Bengals with 4,000 or more passing yards in two seasons in Cincinnati. Dalton even owns the franchise’s top-two season passing yards records, with 2016’s output being the second-best in Bengals history.

All of this is why Dalton is a sneaky fantasy quarterback heading into the 2017 season, at least according to Pro Football Focus. The analytics service has Dalton among their five potential fantasy starters with a low average draft position.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

(Current MFL10 ADP – 127.39/QB16)

Dalton is coming off a season in which he threw for a career-low 18 touchdowns. Injuries limited Dalton’s production last season and have been a factor each of the last three years.

Star WR AJ Green (hamstring) was limited to just 10 games. Tight end Tyler Eifert played in only eight and was less than 100 percent for many more. Cincinnati also lost wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu before the season due to free agency and it had a ripple effect on the entire offense.

The Bengals’ offensive line took a huge hit this offseason in a free agency. Three-fifths of the team’s projected starting offensive linemen for 2017 received “poor” PFF grades. That doesn’t bode well for Dalton, who has been one of the worst-performing quarterbacks under pressure over the past few seasons.

While his TD rate was down (3.2 percent), Dalton still passed for his second-highest yardage mark (4,206 yards) of his career. He also rushed for four scores, something he has now done in three of his last five campaigns with 17 rushing touchdowns during that span. He also had his third-highest overall PFF grade out of his six seasons.

Dalton has quietly been a great value fantasy quarterback at times in his career. He finished 12th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks last season. That came after Dalton finished 12th in fantasy points per game in 2015 (across all positions) before missing the final three games due to injury. Dalton’s best fantasy season came in 2013 when he ranked third among all quarterbacks.

Oh, and his 2017 group of offensive weapons is arguably the best he’s ever had, highlighted by the additions of first-round receiver John Ross and second-round do-it-all running back Joe Mixon.

Add in a healthy Eifert and Green, and this could be one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL next season. That’s why Dalton could become a top fantasy option at quarterback in 2017.