Do Not Ignore These Late Round QBs in 2016

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The 2015 fantasy football season saw an amazing 40 different QBs post at least one QB1 game. 40. There are only 32 teams. There were eight QBs that were not Week 1 starters, but still produced a top 12 finish. Let that sink in for a minute. It has become widely accepted that the NFL has become a passing league. Since the 2006 season, QB passing attempts, yards and touchdowns have all increased exponentially. Take a look at this chart:

Number Of QBs Exceeding Listed Thresholds

QB Trend Chart

Over the past 10 seasons, the number of QBs to exceed 500 passing attempts has nearly doubled. In that same time frame, the number of QBs to pass for over 4,000 yards has almost tripled. In the touchdown department, the number of QBs tossing 30+ TDs has exploded from just one in 2006 to 11 in 2015. Think about that; One-third of the starting QBs in 2015 reached or exceeded 30 TDs.

Now let’s look at your fantasy league. Most leagues are still using a single starting QB in their starting lineups. In a traditional 10-team league, EVERY OWNER could have a QB exceeding 500 attempts, 4,000 yards and 30 TDs. Compare that to 2006 when just five owners had a QB exceed 4,000 yards and just one owner could have had 30+ TDs.

With the increases in passing volume, you would expect the stats of every QB to be increasing, but that’s not quite the case. Surprisingly, the average number of plays run per game has only grown by two over the past ten seasons league-wide. Regardless of whether the team was a top 5 or bottom 5 offense, the average growth was the same. The few QBs who were exceeding the above thresholds before are still doing so. However, because their game plans were already pass heavy, they have maintained or only slightly increased their passing volume. We are seeing the exponential growth in the lower ranked QBs whose offenses are trading running plays for passing plays. As more and more teams shift away from the running game and follow their peers into the high-volume passing game, the fantasy football landscape has become flooded with a large group of QBs that are all putting up the similar stat lines. I recently participated in 12-team mock draft where 18 QBs were drafted. Even with 6 owners drafting a backup QB, there were a few big names who went undrafted; Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota.

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So how can we take advantage of this as fantasy football owners? Simple! Don’t use an early draft pick on a QB! Use those extremely important mid-round picks on RBs and WRs. And with QBs like the ones listed above still on the waiver wire, don’t use up a roster spot on a backup QB. I’ve already pointed out a trio of TEs that you can wait until the very end of your draft to acquire, and I’m here to tell you that you can do the same thing with your QB. Just wait. And wait. And wait some more. Even if your league drafts 20-22 QBs, you can still draft a solid performer from the list below.

Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears

The 2015 season was not kind to the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler. He lost his favorite target, Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets. Young stud WR Alshon Jeffery was poised to be the top target until injuries derailed his season. First-round NFL Draft pick, Kevin White, missed the entire season while seasoned veterans Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett missed time. Adding to the list of injuries, Jay Cutler also missed some time in 2015. When you lose your top 5 targets from the previous season for all or part of the season, you’re going to struggle. Based on his ADP and typical ranking in the mid-20’s, many people are forgetting what Jay Cutler is capable of. In 2014, Jay Cutler ranked 13th with 3,812 passing yards and tied for 10th in TDs with 28. With Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White healthy and Zach Miller showing that he’s a capable receiver at TE, Jay Cutler has a really good chance to exceed his current draft position.

Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens

Prior to his season-ending injury in Week 11, Joe Flacco was on pace to throw for 4,400 yards. While the TDs were low, the Baltimore offense was obliterated with injuries to the WRs and TEs. I always like to look for players whose situations are improving but their draft ADP is still reflecting their previous season’s performance. Joe Flacco fits this description to a ‘T’ with an ADP in the 14th Round. While I won’t go so far as to say Joe Flacco is elite or will be a QB1, he has the opportunity to put up solid numbers.

The news continues to improve on second year WR, Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken is being criminally undervalued in early drafts and Steve Smith vows to play again in 2016. The Baltimore Ravens also added veteran speedster, Mike Wallace, and TE Benjamin Watson. Mike Wallace was miscast as the primary receiving option in the Minnesota Vikings offense, but as the deep threat for Joe Flacco, he can do what he does best. Joe Flacco throws one of the best deep balls in the NFL, which should lead to a few big TDs over the course of the season. Don’t be afraid to stream Joe Flacco this season, and don’t be surprised if he becomes a potential weekly starter.

Colin Kaepernick/Blaine Gabbert – San Francisco 49ers

As I write this article, there is still no official indication of who the 2016 starting QB will be for the San Francisco 49ers. Quite honestly, It doesn’t really matter to me either. The reason is new head coach, Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly’s Eagles averaged 621 passing attempts for 4,400 yards and 24 TDs over the past two seasons. In 2013, with Michael Vick and Nick Foles splitting time at QB, the attempts were lower (507 passing attempts). However, they still combined to exceed 4,400 yds and 32 TDs. There was a trend going into the 2014 draft season where analysts pushed Nick Foles as a top 10 QB because the “2013 Eagles QB” was top five overall.

Combined Eagles QB Stats Since 2013

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Combined QB Stats Passing Attempts (Rank) Yards (Rank) TDs (Rank)
2013 507 (16th) 4,406 (6th) 32 (T-4th)
2014 620 (3rd) 4,581 (6th) 27 (T-12th)
2015 623 (4th) 4,341 (8th) 23 (14th)
Average 583 4,443 27

In 2015, the San Francisco 49ers were the lowest scoring team in the NFL by almost a full field goal. They also ranked 31st in plays per game with an average of just 57.4. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly’s Eagles averaged 65 plays per game over the past three seasons. The 2015 version of the Philadelphia Eagles produced the lowest volume of the past three seasons, yet The QB combo of Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez out paced the Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert combo by almost 100 attempts, 700 yards and 7 TDs. While no one can accurately predict the future, it’s probably safe to assume the Chip Kelly led San Francisco 49ers will run more plays in 2016 than they did in 2015. Any increase in volume should benefit the QB, whoever it might be.

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