Five Fantasy Football Sleeper Top-12 QB Possibilities
The idea of Late Round Quarterback drafting has always been that you should target players with enough upside to become actual fantasy starters. Fantasy Football Sleeper conversation generally centers around running backs and wide receivers because most fantasy football owners prefer to stream quarterbacks and tight ends. However, the advantage of finding 2018’s Patrick Mahomes or 2017’s Carson Wentz is fairly large. You still want to be winning the quarterback position on a weekly basis, you just don’t want to pay a premium at that position. In this article, we attempt to identify five quarterbacks who are legit fantasy football sleeper candidates. They are being drafted outside the top 15 at their position but have a path to finish inside the top 10.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Your first rule of thumb when looking at quarterbacks who can become more than streamers is: do they run? If the answer to that question is yes, then they are infinitely more likely to be better than a streaming starter. In Rich Hribar’s famous post, he detailed how running quarterbacks are the #KonamiCode of fantasy football. In most fantasy leagues, passing touchdowns are worth four points and rushing touchdowns are worth six. Rushing yards are four times more valuable than passing yards. Therefore, quarterbacks who add those points are easily more valuable. Josh Allen had an extremely up and down rookie season but ran for 631 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 2,074 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns in 10 starts. Adding on another year of experience and projecting a small amount of improvement as a passer, the upside tale for Allen is easy to project. Even with 500 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns and league average passing numbers, he could come close to top 10 quarterback territory with one of the highest weekly ceilings of any QB.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The upside case for Winston has been posted time and time again on this website, both by myself and others. Despite how you feel about him as a #real #NFL #quarterback, Winston averages 7.6 adjusted yards per attempt for his whole career and had three games with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdowns in nine starts last year. The last time a Bruce Arians offense finished worse than 10th in the NFL in passing yards was 2013 and his teams have been inside the top 10 in the NFL in total yards on four occasions. The Buccaneers are going to pass early, often and effectively. Winston offers a small bit of rushing mobility with nine rushing touchdowns in his career and that is enough to get him to a spot where he might realistically end up a top-five fantasy QB.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Despite only throwing six touchdown passes in 2018, Lamar Jackson is one of the quarterbacks who offers the most fantasy football sleeper potential of anyone on this list. Jackson set the record for most QB rushing attempts in NFL history in only seven starts last season. Baltimore had more 50+ rush attempts game with Lamar at the helm than any offense has had in the last five NFL seasons. Jackson averaged 4.7 yards per attempt on 147 carries; there is no reason to think he won’t see a similar number of rushing attempts per game. The rushing sets the floor for Jackson but there is some passing upside as well. The Ravens have revamped their passing offense by drafting Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin and letting Michael Crabtree and John Brown walk in free agency. Getting younger and faster should theoretically suit Jackson’s accuracy challenges well. I understand the hesitance of fantasy drafters wanting to invest in someone as inaccurate as Jackson but the standard rules of fantasy football favor quarterback rushers to such an insane degree that he could have a bad passing season but run for 800 yards and six touchdowns and be a firm QB1.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak is being drafted as the QB20 per FantasyPros ADP but has never finished outside the top 12 in fantasy scoring in his three year NFL career. After Dallas traded for Amari Cooper in week seven of the NFL season, Dak had seven multi-touchdown games and averaged over eight adjusted yards per attempt in five of those games. In Scott Linehan’s archaic 1998 offense, Prescott still averaged over four rush attempts per game and over 19 rushing yards per game. In a neat statistical oddity, Prescott has also scored six rushing touchdowns every year of his career. Kellen Moore’s new and improved Dallas passing offense should push the ball down the field a little more per reports from camp. Prescott will also have security blanket Jason Witten back, a full offseason with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup playing full time over Allen Hurns and less short throws with Cole Beasley out in Buffalo. I am extremely bullish on Prescott’s fantasy ceiling in 2019 and have found that he is my most drafted quarterback this year.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
We have all been there with Marcus Mariota before. We have tilted his “sore elbow”, the nagging injuries, splitting games with Blaine Gabbert, and seemingly losing top-end speed every year of his career. The fact remains that he is likely a better quarterback now than in his 2016 top 12 fantasy season, but he has not been able to realize that equity. In an injury-ridden 2018, he still averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 64 attempts in 14 games. Mariota ran for 29 touchdowns in college and still has the skillset. The larger question mark is if he can make good on the Titans investment in passing the ball. The team signed Adam Humphries to be a solid slot guy, drafted A.J Brown in the second round and will be getting Delanie Walker back from a long-term injury. The Titans play a fairly stagnant brand of football but the tools are there for a fun offense. Dion Lewis, Corey Davis, A.J Brown, and Jonnu Smith are fast, plus athletes who could be unleashed in a healthy Mariota season. In the morass of the very backend of quarterbacks (Derek Carr, Sam Darnold, the Miami tandem), I like to take shots on Mariota in best ball leagues because he offers a slight bit more ceiling.
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