Draft Strategy

2014 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Still waiting on a QB

By Jared Smola 3:13pm EDT 3/10/14

If you’ve been part of the Draft Sharks community for any significant length of time, you’ve been beaten over the head by our “wait-on-a-QB” fantasy football draft strategy.

The rationale is simple: There are more quality QBs available than starting spots in your fantasy league. Load up on the higher value positions (i.e. RB, WR and maybe even TE) and still land a quality QB in the middle or late rounds.

Don’t expect anything different from us in 2014. In fact, this looks like a banner year for waiting on a QB.

Peyton ManningDrew Brees and Aaron Rodgers will be the first 3 QBs off the board in your fantasy football draft this summer. No argument here. All 3 guys have been money, recording 13 of the 18 top 3 fantasy finishes over the past 6 seasons. But each carries more risk than usual in 2014.

Manning turns 38 later this month and has those 4 neck surgeries on file. Yeah, his numbers were brilliant last season, but I could hear his throws quacking from my couch. Gives me the heebie-jeebies. Plus, you’ll be paying for Manning’s record-setting 2013 if you want him in 2014.

Brees has been the surest thing in fantasy football since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, finishing among the top 3 QBs in all 8 of his seasons there. But the Saints are in the midst of a shift in offensive philosophy. Pass-catching RB Darren Sproles is gone. RB Pierre Thomas might be following him out the door. Dependable WR Lance Moore was also released last week. Brees and the passing game will still be the backbone of the Saints’ offense, but it’s safe to expect his pass attempts to head south in 2014. Lower volume means lower upside.

Similar story for Rodgers. The Packers have found themselves a bell cow RB in Eddie Lacy. That figures to mean a more balanced attack this season. It’s also worth noting that Rodgers has played 16 games just once in the past 4 years. That’s not the type of reliability you need out of an early-round QB.

Am I being picky here? Yep. But I’m not saying that Manning, Brees and Rodgers will bust in 2014. Just that there are enough concerns about all 3 that I’ll be staying away at their lofty prices.

Here are 6 more reasons to wait on a QB this year.

Andrew Luck -- We’ll see how high his ADP climbs, especially if the Colts land WR Eric Decker. I’d be willing to spend a 6th- or 7th-round pick on Luck. He’s finished as a top 8 fantasy QB in each of his first 2 pro seasons. I think he could be a top 5 guy in 2014. Luck is still ascending, and the addition of Rob Chudzinski should mean a more aggressive passing attack this year.

Matt Ryan -- This guy might be my top QB target in 2014, especially if his ADP stays in the late 7th round. Ryan didn’t have his top 2 WRs healthy at the same time at all last year, and his offensive line finished 30th in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking rankings. He still chucked for 4,500 yards, 26 TDs and finished 9th among QBs in fantasy points. Consider that his floor in 2014. His upside bumps into the top 5.

Tony Romo -- We’ve been driving the Romo bandwagon for a few years now. We’re not ready to jump off yet. Romo was sitting 8th at the position in fantasy points before missing the season finale. It was his 3rd straight top-10 finish. He’s a good bet for QB1 production again in 2014, especially with the pass-happy Scott Linehan calling plays. Just keep an eye on Romo’s recovery from December back surgery.

Colin Kaepernick -- Kaep figures to be a post-hype value pick in fantasy drafts this summer. He fell short of expectations last year, finishing just 12th among QBs. But Kaepernick’s production spiked when he got WR Michael Crabtree back (22.5 fantasy points per game vs. 19.2 without Crab). In 18 career games with his #1 WR, Kaep has averaged 24.3 points. That’s top-5 production, a level Kaepernick is capable of reaching this season.

Robert Griffin -- Another post-hype target. Griffin’s 2013 campaign was ugly. His surgically repaired knee never seemed right, impacting his throwing and running production. He should be at 100% in 2014, though. And new HC Jay Gruden will mold his offense around RG3’s unique skill set. Griffin proved back in 2012 that he’s capable of top 5 numbers.

Jay Cutler -- In Trestman we trust. Chicago’s new coach brought a prolific passing game to the Windy City. The Bears finished 5th in both passing yards and passing TDs last year. Combine Cutler and Josh McCown’s numbers and you get fantasy’s #4 QB. Cutler is capable of approaching that territory in 2014.

That’s a whole lot of mid- to late-round value at QB. And I didn’t even mention Matt StaffordRussell WilsonPhilip Rivers or Tom Brady.

We’ll see what free agency and the draft does to this year’s QB market, but you can bet we’ll be singing the “wait-on-a-QB” song again this summer.

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