Championship-caliber fantasy football owners know the difference between winning and losing their league often comes down to a decision or two on draft day. Ideally, you are looking for late-round players with upside — those players whose perfect storm of skill and opportunity collide to give you a player with production no one saw coming.
To find quarterbacks who could experience either a career year or perform at a level that outperforms their average draft position, we look at a variety of factors, including a range of point projections that cover a wide array of possible outcomes.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9.02 ADP
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, saw an increase in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating last season despite having wide receiver Adam Humphires and tight end Cameron Brate rank Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, behind Mike Evans for most targets on the team.
This season, the front office upgraded his receiving corps in a big way, bringing in deep threat DeSean Jackson and wideout Chris Goodwin, plus drafting tight end O.J. Howard to surround its franchise quarterback with more playmakers.
Jackson will make the most immediate impact. Winston attempted 69 passes of 20 or more yards in 2016, the eighth most in the league last season. But his receivers caught just 22, leaving Winston with one of the worst accuracy rates on deep throws in 2016 (34.8 percent). Jackson, meanwhile, led the league in receiving yards on deep passes (579) with a success rate that was 11 percentage points above average on deep passes down the middle of the field and 16 percentage points better than average down the right sideline.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, 12.03 ADP
Taylor finished his second season in Buffalo with 3,023 passing yards and a 17-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio, giving him the ninth-highest Total Quarterback Rating (68.2) among qualified passers last season. And that’s with his best receiver, Sammy Watkins, playing just eight games in 2016.
Taylor also was poised in the pocket, producing an 80.1 passer rating under pressure in 2016, ranking him seventh at the position per the game charters at Pro Football Focus.
|Pressure||Comp%||NFL QB Rating|
|Plays under pressure||45%||80.1|
|When not blitzed||64%||90.1|
Taylor’s biggest benefit is his ability to create fantasy points on the ground. He rushed 95 times for 580 yards and six touchdowns in 2016, translating to more than six fantasy points per game with his legs, with seven of those plays resulting in rushes of 20 yards or more.
Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears, undrafted
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, no one is drafting Glennon in mock drafts around the country. And why would they? The 27-year-old journeyman has just 11 pass attempts over the past two seasons and is four years removed from being a full-time starter. But he could be a pleasant surprise for anyone willing to take a chance with one of their last picks of the draft.
The Bears are expected to finish the season 7-9, giving them plenty of opportunities to play from behind, which typically equates to more passing yards — the Bears passed the ball 65 percent of the time when trailing by seven points or more last season compared with 56 percent of the time when tied or ahead.
Not only should Chicago find itself in passing situations often, according to Sharp Football Stats, the Bears have the eighth easiest slate of games in 2017 in pass defenses faced.
Glennon also will line up behind the fifth-best offensive line per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. According to Mike Renner, “[l]eft guard Josh Sitton, center Cody Whitehair and right guard Kyle Long are all Pro Bowl-caliber players” and anchor a unit that allowed a sack rate of just 4.9 percent after adjusting for down, distance and opponent. Only six teams did a better job at protecting their quarterback in 2016.
This is a similar situation to what Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles landed in last season. His team went just 3-13 but the offensive line ranked ninth in adjusted sack rate against one of the easiest schedules and ended the season as the ninth-best fantasy quarterback in 2016. Glennon might not finish that high, but he could certainly perform better than a number of passers being drafted ahead of him.
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