Keep an eye on these QBs when drafting in 2014. They could lead you to victory at a bargain price.
To be a consistently dominant fantasy football player, you must be able to analyze and predict how your opponents will value NFL players. It is crucial to identify NFL players that are underrated by others in your league because you can then take advantage. The best way to identify these players is by examining their average draft position (ADP) on the website on which you will be drafting (if you are drafting in person with an actual board, I applaud you for going old school). Rankings are good indicators as well; however, if a player is regularly being drafted above or below his ranking, his ADP is a better indication of where he is likely to be picked. To safely secure a player, you should plan on taking him a few spots above his ADP. Here are a few QBs that you may be able to get at a bargain price in 2014:
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
NFL.com: Ranking – 69th/ADP – 61.23
ESPN.com: Ranking – 63rd/ADP – 57.6
Nick Foles was a waiver wire savior last year and one of the most efficient QBs in the NFL, yet his ranking indicates that most people expect him to regress a bit next season. I believe that a year of experience in Chip Kelly’s system will only benefit Foles, and he will pick up right where he left off in 2013. Yes, the Eagles lost DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, but they added Jordan Matthews (who I love), Josh Huff, Darren Sproles, and they get Jeremy Maclin back from injury. If Zach Ertz can take a step forward (as he should), Foles could have an even better set of weapons than he had in 2013.
The Eagles’ passing offense scored highly in my Environment Metric (to summarize: I combined multiple factors that players themselves cannot control but ultimately still affect their ability to produce. Article explaining this system in full to follow). With a weak schedule (two matchups against both the Redskins and Cowboys), quality offensive line and less than stellar defense, Foles and the Eagles should have a great season.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
NFL.com: Ranking – 75th/ADP – 80.08
ESPN.com: Ranking – 100th/ADP - 89.8
Matt Ryan had a bit of down year last year, and now is the time to buy low. Just about everything that could have gone wrong on offense for the 2013 Falcons went wrong. As a result, Ryan was only the 14th best fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. Julio Jones suffered a season-ending injury, Roddy White hobbled all year and didn’t look himself until the last few games, Steven Jackson missed multiple games, and left tackle Sam Baker went down for the year with an injury. To make matters worse, the offensive line may have been the worst in the entire league.
Outside of losing his security blanket Tony Gonzalez, who will be dearly missed, everything else around Ryan looks to have significantly improved on offense. The Falcons’ defense looks to be porous again next season, so expect Matty Ice to air it out early and often. He is currently being taken as the 11th QB overall on NFL.com and 12th on ESPN.com. With a healthy Jones and White (no guarantee) and an improved offensive line (this one you can count on), Ryan should have no problem being at least the 11th best fantasy quarterback in 2014. If you are playing in an ESPN league, you should especially keep your eye on him.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
NFL.com: Ranking – 84th/ ADP – 99.79
ESPN.com: Ranking – 115th/ ADP - 101.1
Tony Romo was the 10th best fantasy quarterback last year in standard leagues, and I think he has a chance to be even better this year. Among quarterbacks, he is being selected 13th on average on both NFL.com and ESPN.com. His back injury is a concern and something to watch closely leading up to the season. Romo should either be drafted as your backup in a small (eight team) league, or be sure to draft a decent backup if you plan on having him as your starter in a larger league.
Aside from his back issues, all signs point toward 2014 being a just as good, if not better, season for Romo. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams all return, and first round draft pick Zack Martin should bolster an already strong offensive line. Combine that with the fact that Dallas’ historically bad defense may have gotten even worse, and you can see why Dallas’ passing offense received a very high Environment Metric score. To keep up with their horrific defense, the Cowboys will have no choice but to lean heavily on Romo late in games, giving Romo a very good chance to outplay his current ADP.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
NFL.com: Ranking – 169th/ADP – 150.62
ESPN.com: Ranking – 263rd/ 170 (lowest possible value)
Jake Locker is a guy I would take a chance on as a backup, especially in a two-QB league. You can get him dirt cheap, as he will almost certainly be available in the last round of your draft or as a free agent. He also has valuable running ability that will get you rushing yards and touchdowns, which can be the difference in a close matchup. Of note, the Titans scored highest of all teams in my Environment Metric. Their offensive line should be much improved from last year with the addition of Taylor Lewan and a healthy Chance Warmack. Plus, their schedule is extremely easy. Don’t use an early pick on him, but Locker certainly has some potential in 2014.
Edited by Nicole Yang.