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NFL Fantasy Football: 5 sleeper quarterbacks you’ll be starting by the end of 2017

Each year, someone jumps out of the pack to become a top-five fantasy quarterback. The next one is on this list.


There has been debate recently about the value of drafting a backup fantasy quarterback. With the rules bent on protecting the marquee players, injuries are rarely a concern anymore. There is one bye week to cover, but with less than a two point-per-game difference between QB11 and QB20 last season, is it worth passing up a potential handcuff receiver or runner?

Most owners still pick up a backup at the quarterback, especially if they waited on their first selection and don’t have a reliable weekly-stud like Aaron Rogers or Tom Brady. Last season, I happily drafted Cam Newton as my starter. But it wasn’t long before I was happier about my backup, Matt Ryan, who I picked up in the 12th round.

Ryan rose from a middle-of-the-pack guy in 2016 to the premier passer of 2017. In 2016, Cam Newton jumped from QB14 the previous season to a top-five quarterback. Who might make such a jump this season? Here are five quarterbacks being drafted lower than QB14 who have a good chance.

  1. 1 Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: QB17, 11th round)

    Dalton is absolutely giddy about his offense this season. Even though Tyler Eifert already has a sore back, Dalton expects to have something he never had last season; a full stable of receiving options on the field. Eifert and A.J. Green were never on the field together in 2016, forcing Dalton to look for less familiar targets while his offensive line kept inviting guests into the backfield (41 sacks!). 

    The offensive line looks like it will be an issue again, but adding another speedy wideout in John Ross and a back-of-all-trades in Joe Mixon to a healthy slate of familiar receivers offers Dalton a chance to repeat his performance of 2013 when he was the second-best fantasy quarterback. 

  2. 2 Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (ADP: QB14, 10th round)

    Stafford has an interesting contract situation in play. He will be a free agent at the end of the year. If he stays with Detroit, they will face a monstrous cap-hit because Stafford’s first contract was under the old collective bargaining agreement. With several other viable free agent quarterbacks coming available, it is no sure thing that Detroit re-signs their veteran passer, which means Stafford is playing for a contract this year. 

    In his first two preseason games, it appears he is already in full step with his top two receivers, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick also will figure heavily into the passing game, while third-round pick Kenny Golladay offers a potential red-zone threat. Running back Ameer Abdullah insists he can catch passes, too.

    Life after Calvin Johnson was not bad for Stafford last season as he fed five different receivers 50 or more catches and almost had two 1,000-yard receivers in Tate (1077) and Jones (930). I fully expect Detroit to have a top-ten fantasy quarterback in 2017.

  3. 3 Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: QB18, 12th round)

    Carson Wentz was two different quarterbacks last season, coming out of the gate like a Rookie of the Year candidate before fading into a below-average option. Throwing to a receiving corps that featured the fourth-most drops and struggled to get open and inconsistent help from the running game didn’t help.

    The Eagles believe they have fixed those situations with the addition of receivers Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery and signing LeGarrette Blount as their feature back. Darren Sproles returns as the third down back while Zach Ertz and Brent Celek offer a pair of targets at tight end.

    Philadelphia fans remember how Nick Foles followed up his promising first season with a year to forget. Carson Wentz will not repeat that performance, thanks to his top-ranked (Pro Football Focus) offensive line and an improved supporting cast. Top ten it might not be, but it will be an improvement and a weekly chance at a big day.

  4. 4 Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (ADP: QB19, 12th round)

    It is easy to dismiss Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor as his wide receivers keep disappearing around him. But I am a big believer in rookie Zay Jones, if for no other reason than Zay is too cool a name for him not to be a star. I also predict that Jordan Matthews’ new environment will do wonders for him. Throw in a viable red zone threat in former Oakland receiver Andre Holmes and Taylor appears set for some decent production- barring more injuries. 

    Throw in Taylor’s rushing prowess and you have the potential for some good weeks. Last season, Taylor scored more than 20 points eight times and only had five games under 17 points. That’s not awful for a backup flyer. 

  5. 5 Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins (ADP: QB21, 14th round)

    This is more of a hunch than anything else, but Cutler does have more going for him than you may think. The word from Miami is that DeVante Parker is finally ready to break out. Jarvis Landry is a reception machine and now playing for a 2018 contract and Kenny Stills remains a consistent third option.

    The biggest reason I am high on Cutler is I believe he has a personality that will drive him to prove Chicago fans should have appreciated him more. He has a coach he knows truly appreciates him in Adam Gase. The better playing climate in Miami- both inside and outside the locker room- will work in Cutler’s favor.

We should probably mention…

Dak Prescott is also being drafted second on many teams. While I believe he may only be the third-best sophomore quarterback this season, he is consistent enough to be a worthy roster choice. 

Meanwhile, the Rams’ efforts with their second-year passer will pay off nicely. Jared Goff looks more like a quarterback so far and his surrounding cast is building up nicely around him. 

The Giant’s Eli Manning was on this list until I saw how unimproved his offensive line is. The last time Eli came off a season where everyone questioned his skill set, he responded with a 4,500-yard, QB12 finish. If New York figures out how to protect him, he could easily top that performance. 

So… Grab ‘em!

These five quarterbacks will beat their current ADP and make some owners look very smart. Be one of those owners! 

And be sure to check back in January to see what you should have listened to me about! 

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

NFL Fantasy Football: 5 sleeper quarterbacks you’ll be starting by the end of 2017

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