Yesterday I broke down the top 17 fantasy QBs and today I am finishing the list for those of you in deep or 2-QB leagues. Most of these players won’t be fantasy relevant this year but a few could end up at the end of your bench or as your bye week replacement. Last year Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill and Josh McCown were all ranked in the bottom half of QBs before the season and finished in the top 15 on a per game basis, so there could be a useful player or two in this years back half of the rankings.
QB Rankings – Part 2
Tier 5: Upside
Both of these guys showed top-15 upside last season, but didn’t sustain that performance over a full season. We haven’t seen enough of either guy’s resurgence to be sure if it’s real. McCown filled in for an injured Jay Cutler and improbably out played him to the point that some fans in Chicago wanted McCown to start over a healthy Cutler. Bradford got hurt again, but started out with a 14 TD / 4 INT ratio over the first seven games. That extrapolates to a 30 TD / 9 INT season which makes him a draftable QB. If you think either guy will put up similar numbers this year, then they are worth a buck or two or one of your last draft picks.
18.) Josh McCown, Buccaneers - Was last year a fluke? McCown has been in the league for 12 years and never had a season even close to what he did last year. McCown was one of the most efficient QBs in the league (13 TDs / 1 INT), finishing 1st overall in QBR. There was some luck involved, I watched every snap he took last year and there were 3-4 dropped INTs, but even so a 13/5 ratio would have been very solid. The one thing I saw from McCown that I think will impact his value in Tampa is that he throws a very catchable deep ball. He showed enough awareness to know when to lead a receiver or when throw it short and let them make a play on the ball. He doesn’t have quite the same talent at WR in Tampa, but Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are at worst a poor man’s version of Marshall & Jeffrey. HC Lovie Smith isn’t known for his taking risks on offense, but he paid McCown well and I think it would be foolish not to let him play to his strengths. Lovie has been foolish before (forcing out DC Ron Rivera, starting Rashied Davis), but hopefully he understands the best way to utilize McCown. I don’t think McCown will be anywhere near as efficient in Tampa, but as the week 1 starter I could see him putting up 30 TDs / 15 INTs and being relevant in fantasy. So far reports from Bucs camp have been promising and McCown seems to have established himself as the clear-cut #1 QB. He was a fantasy asset in the playoffs last year, don’t let him drop too far if you are looking for a back-up QB with upside.
19.) Sam Bradford, Rams - He’s a divisive QB in both real life and fantasy. Personally I was kind of surprised that the Rams were ok with paying him his $14M base this year, but Bradford did look good in his brief stint last season (60%, 14/4) and they have too much talent on their roster right now to rebuild with a new QB. People forget because he hasn’t done much in his NFL career, but Bradford had enough talent to be the #1 overall pick in 2010. The Rams don’t have any established WRs on the outside, but Tavon Austin was ridiculous in college and should be better in year 2 if he has learned the offense yet and Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey and Kenny Britt (still only 25) all have the talent to be dangerous. The Rams O-line should also be improved with the additions of mauler Greg Robinson and C Scott Wells. There is a lot to like about the Rams this year, including a potentially great defense, but it all hinges on Bradford staying healthy and converting his potential into consistent production. If he does, Bradford is worthy of consideration for the #2 QB in both 1 & 2 QB leagues. His upside is limited by what should be a run-heavy Rams attack, but he will be cheap and has legitimate talent.
Tier 6: More upside, but less playing time
If the top two guys on this list were guaranteed to be the starting QB in week 1, they would have made part 1 of my QB rankings. Manziel’s rushing yards and big-play potential are intriguing, Bridgewater has a QB-freindly OC and dangerous weapons in AP and Patterson, while Locker has a little bit of all those things and a starting job, but a track record of getting hurt and occasionally sucking. Right now none of these three guys should be drafted as your #1 QB, but all would make high-upside backups and shouldn’t cost much.
20.) Johnny Manziel, Browns - I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Manziel will be a successful fantasy QB as a rookie. He is going to throw more picks than Browns coaches will like and probably force the ball into coverage too often, but QBs who like to throw deep and can run are gold in fantasy. Dante Culpepper (in his prime) is an unrealistic ceiling for Manziel’s rookie year, but he is a similar type of player; Rookie-year RG3 in another one. Manziel has that level talent, but obviously there are some red flags. Maybe his party animal lifestyle eventually gets him in trouble or maybe his gunslinger QB style pushes the Browns into starting Hoyer all year. Manziel is a risky pick, but all it takes is 200 yards passing, 60 rushing yards and one TD to hit the 20 point fantasy mark. The Browns receiving core is depleted without Gordon, but Jordan Cameron is a stud, Andrew Hawkins is dangerous after the catch (16.6 yac), Miles Austin and Nate Burleson are solid IF healthy, and there are rumors that Gordon may beat his suspension (fingers-crossed). It’s not an exciting group of weapons without Gordon, but it’s enough to succeed with. I think Manziel is going to silence a lot of critics by finishing in the top 20 overall this season. I have him ranked 20 here, but will move him into the top 15 if he wins the starting job before week 1.
21.) Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings - If you read my Manziel post above, it’s clear that I have high hopes for him. My rookie projections for Bridgewater are a little less optimistic, but he is actually my favorite of the rookie QBs. I think he is better than Cassell right now and while the Vikings coaches might agree… I think they are still going to start Cassell the first few weeks of the season. I predict that Bridgewater will take over no later than week 7 at home vs the Lions porous pass D and after a Vikings bye week. Teddy will put up solid stats from that point on, but missing the first 5 games of the season will set him back in the overall rankings and his lack of mobility will cost him some rushing yard points as well. If you are in a 2-QB league, Bridgewater is an ideal candidate for the back-end of your roster. He probably won’t start till around mid-season, but he is already getting training camp reps with the 1st team and it will probably take him a few weeks to adjust to the speed of the NFL game. By the time the fantasy playoffs roll around Bridgewater could be an impact player. Of all the QBs I scouted before the draft, Teddy was by far the best at throwing receivers open, tossing a catchable ball, and not falling apart under pressure. I’m fairly certain that Teddy is going to be an elite NFL QB by 2016 and he is the only rookie QB I can say that about with certainty.
22.) Jake Locker, Titans - The Titans declined Locker’s 5th year option, so he doesn’t appear to be in new HC Ken Whisenhunt’s future plans. Injuries limited Locker’s to just 7 games last year and it was a mixed bag. He actually played pretty well (9.2 grade) in wins over Pitt, SD, & NYJ with a 4 TD / 0 INT ratio but was bad in three losses (-5.5 grade). He is a former 8th overall pick so the talent is there, he has shown flashes of competence, and he has a fantasy friendly skill-set (runs). Whisenhunt has had plenty of success with QBs at his last few stops (Roethlisberger, Warner, Rivers) so Locker has a chance. With no investment in his future, Locker is long-shot to even be the Titans starting QB by the end of the season but if he can stay on the field he could be a useful back-up or 2nd QB in dual-QB leagues. He has enough talent that he is worth a $1 dice roll.