Sam Bradford: Wings like Eagles?
Sam Bradford has had perhaps the most outstanding preseason of any player in the NFL. In the 2 games he has played in, he has gone 13/15, for 156 yards and 3 TDs. He did most of that damage in Week 3, when he was a perfect 10/10 for 3 TDs. His stock has risen, but he can still be had near the end of most any draft. He is currently being drafted as the 12th Quarterback off the board, and I believe that is far too low.
In the Chip Kelly era, every QB behind center has found fantasy success. We should expect the same out of Sam Bradford. The biggest argument for Bradford lies in past two years, in the form of Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, where each has found their own successes. The Eagles system covers many flaws, and makes even bad QBs look great. In comes Sam Bradford, who in my opinion has far more talent than Sanchez or Foles. He is not more talented than Vick at Vick’s peak, but Vick was well on the downturn of his career by the time he was playing with Chip Kelly. If he has more talent, what’s stopping him from becoming an elite option at QB?
The simple answer to that question is health. If Bradford is healthy, he will be a stud, capable of putting up top 5 numbers week after week. If you promised me 16 games from Bradford this year, I would have no issue drafting him top 5 after Rodgers, Luck, Wilson and Peyton. In 2014, Foles and Sanchez combined for 4,581 yards and 27 passing TDs. Those numbers would have been good for the 14th best QB. If we were ranking NFL QB talent, Foles and Sanchez would both likely rank outside the top 25. With that said, combining for QB14 is fairly impressive.
Relatively speaking, 2014 was a down year for Eagles QBs. In 2013, Foles and Vick combined for the second best QB behind only Peyton Manning and his 55 TDs. This system has incredible upside for any QB, especially in the case of Bradford. Playing his whole career to this point in St. Louis, he has not truly had the chance to show off his talents. He seemingly had a new Offensive Coordinator every year, and never had a chance at consistency. His weapons were scarce, and the skill players the Rams drafted highly never seemed to work out. He now has legit weapons all over the field in Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz, just to name a few. 2 ACL injuries in the span of 10 months ravaged his career, and he has not played in a meaningful NFL game since Week 7 of the 2013 season. Last we saw him (2013), he looked fantastic, putting up 1,687 yards and 14 TDs in only 7 games before the first ACL tear. He is now in a well-defined system with a lot more structure than STL. There will undoubtedly be some growing pains as he learns to become comfortable again in the pocket, but so far in the preseason, he hasn’t been too bothered. He will certainly be less mobile than in 2013, although he wasn’t a runner to begin with, never eclipsing 124 rushing yards in a season.
Bradford is a risk, but only because of his health. If healthy, there is no doubt in my mind he will be a mid-range to elite QB1 this year. If he plays 16 games, I would expect somewhere around 4,500 yards and 35 TDs, which easily places him in the top 5 or 6 at QB. With the preseason numbers he has put up, combined with his pedigree and the new system, I see Sam Bradford as well worth the risk. The best part about Bradford is that you only need to invest an 8th or 9th rounder to secure him. If you draft him and he re-tears his ACL in week 1, you can simply grab the top QB on waivers for Week 2. Right now, I prefer him over the likes of Brady, Tannehill and Cam, behind Rodgers, Luck, Wilson, Manning, Brees, Ryan, Roethlisberger and Romo. Again, he would be far higher if health was promised. We know there are NO promises in fantasy football.
This year is very deep at QB, and upside should be the deciding factor when searching for a later round QB. There are many high upside QBs late in drafts, and personally, Bradford is at the top of the late round crop. Feel comfortable grabbing him in the 7th or 8th. If things work out, you just grabbed a top 5 QB in the late rounds. If it doesn’t work out, know that you can easily stream QBs and still piece together a top 10 QB most weeks.