QB Sleepers and Late Round QB

August 12, 2021

Quarterbacks score the most points in fantasy football. They are the single most expensive position in real football as well. Josh Allen just got PAID. The NFL market says that the quarterback position is the most valuable in real life. So, is that true of the fantasy football market? Are quarterbacks going in the first round? No? Why?

It’s simple supply and demand. In the NFL there are 32 teams vying for elite quarterback talent. This is much more competition than in a 12-team fantasy football league. There are more than 12 or so good bets at the QB position in fantasy. Actually, let’s take a look at the quarterbacks going in the first ten rounds:

ADP courtesy of Sleeper


As you can see, there are 13 signal-callers here. This means that in an average 12-team league, there is at least one sucker taking a second quarterback before pick 100. Please, stop doing this. Or actually, keep doing it, but don’t complain to me when you finish fifth for the eighth year in a row. The crazy thing is, there are plenty of great picks outside the Top 100 that can win you your league. Streaming is also viable because bad quarterbacks can predictably outperform their normal output in favorable matchups. Let’s take a look at some of these late-round QB targets:

Late- Round Targets (Rounds 14-16):

Derek Carr was QB13 last year in fantasy scoring. He is currently going as QB27. Nothing has changed — unless you believe the absence of Nelson Agholor means anything. The likeliest outcome is he settles in as a Top-20 QB and you can combine him with a rookie with rushing upside. A rookie such as the incredibly-underrated-for-a-2nd-overall-pick in Zach Wilson. Admittedly, I am rooting against him because I think he looks like every textbook stock photo ever:

Picture via Twitter

HOWEVER, this guy reportedly ran a 4.44 40. I have a tough time believing this unofficial time, but it’s out there. Regardless of his 40 time, he had 10 rushing TDs last year, so it seems he likes to call his own number at the goal line. Hopefully, that continues with the Jets. I also think he will run plenty between the 20s as well — especially if it takes him a while to get up to NFL game speed. Getting that rushing upside in a rookie QB is hard to come by in the late rounds and Zach Wilson offers that. If it becomes clear that he doesn’t belong on an NFL field you can drop him without batting an eye and stream for the year.

Sidenote: I think the QB position will disappoint this year. I have a theory that all QBs saw elevated efficiency numbers due to the lack of crowd noise. Overall, yards, touchdowns, and completions were all higher than the average over the last 5 years. I’m working on some other measures, like accuracy in younger QBs. I’ll be sure to report back.

I like all of the QBs on the above list as I think the gap between the top QBs and the replacement level players will shrink when the crowd noise is reintroduced. This is a variable that can make the position a little more volatile, and we want to bet on volatility at a low cost.

Mid-to Late Round targets (Rounds 10 -12):

The other low-cost options I really like on this list are Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield. Tannehill is a great pick that just misses that “elite” tier because he hasn’t had the most conventional path to dominance. That said, he boasts one of the league’s highest touchdown efficiency numbers over the past two years (6.9% and 7.7%). The League average is a little over four percent. Touchdowns are good for fantasy football. Also, he’s got a new toy in Julio Jones.

Baker Mayfield started to cook (bake?) last year down the stretch after he gained familiarity with Stefanski’s offense. There were also some really terrible weather games the Browns played that suppressed Baker’s numbers. The Browns project to be a lower pass-volume offense, but should be plenty efficient to make Baker a viable pick in the later rounds.

Targets in the earlier round (Round5-10):

I want to touch on Russell Wilson being the best pick for those that have to have an “elite” QB. I wrote about why Russ is a great pick in my NFC West preview. Check it out here.

If you absolutely must have the cream of the crop, Kyler Murray has rushing upside AND a lot of pass volume to go with it. The Cardinals also invested in more passing options that should open things up for the offense as a whole. Perhaps they will encourage him to run less, but he should get plenty of free points on the ground AND stay healthier.

There you have it! Some discussion about when to take a QB and some solid targets for the year.