Two weeks ago we rolled out our 2014 quarterback rankings where I listed my top 30 overall signal callers, but just because they’re good enough to be on my list doesn’t mean I want them all on my team.For example there’s no way I’m spending a first round pick on Peyton Manning, and the same goes for Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers as well. It’s not because I don’t like them… they’re all great, but winning fantasy football leagues is all about finding value, and that’s why I wanted to do a series on the players that I’m specifically targeting in my leagues.
The quarterbacks on this list aren’t sleepers, but they’re players that I think can reach a new level in 2014, and more importantly come at a reasonable price on draft day. For those who are looking for sleepers, I’ll be following up with a sleeper and breakout article in the days ahead.
As a reference I’m using the average draft position (ADP) from MyFantasyLeague.com, and since there is a split between 4 and 6 points per touchdown leagues, I’m using 5 points per TD to calculate any fantasy totals.
Who Are The Quarterbacks To Target In 2014?
Griffin wasn’t healthy last year and it showed. Most ACL injuries take a full year to recover from (unless you’re Adrian Peterson) so I expect Griffin to be back to full strength and back to the RGIII we saw in 2012.
The Redskins made a few nice moves in the off-season signing Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as their new coach, which should open up the pass game more than they had under Mike Shanahan. The Skins also added wide receiver DeSean Jackson who along with Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed gives RGIII a very nice set of weapons to play with.
The most important reason why I’m targeting RGIII is the massive upside that all running quarterbacks provide.
For every 100 yards gained on the ground, a pocket passer needs to throw 250 yards to keep up. Some run-first quarterbacks like Mike Vick don’t take advantage of this but Griffin is a very good passer in addition to being a game-breaking runner, and that my friends is fantasy gold.
If Griffin can put together 3,700 yards passing, 700 yards rushing, 26 pass touchdowns and 7 rush touchdowns then we’re talking the fantasy point equivalent of 2013 Drew Brees. Don’t think Griffin is capable of that? He rushed for 800 yards in 2012 and was on pace for 3,900 yards passing last season. Last year Andy Dalton threw for almost 4,300 yards in the same offense. Anyone think RGIII can’t do 85% of what Andy Dalton did?
Right now Griffin is being drafted 8th amongst QB’s according to MyFantasyLeague.com ADPs… I have him 5th. I expect his ADP to rise as we get closer to the start of the year but I’ll own RGIII on a lot of my teams if this keeps up.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – Everything was crumbling around Ryan and the Falcons season like it was the end of days… Julio was gone, Roddy was limping, the run game was a mess… it was ugly. So you’d think Ryan’s stats were awful too right? As Lee Corso would say … “not so fast my friend!”
Running with Harry Douglas and a 37 year old Tony Gonzalez as his top two targets, Ryan finished with a very impressive 4,500 yards passing and 26 scores, making him a QB1 in all formats. In the 5 weeks that Julio Jones was healthy, Ryan was a top 5 overall QB… and that was with a gimpy Roddy White.
Coming in to 2014 it looks like everyone is healthy so Ryan has an arsenal of weapons that almost nobody in the NFL can match. The Falcons improved their offensive line in the draft and backed up Steven Jackson with a very capable Devonta Freeman as well. Ryan did lose tight end Tony Gonzalez, but it sounds like they’ll just go 3 wide and work in Harry Douglas more often.
One more added bonus… the Falcons defense is my worst rated Team D for 2014 after losing linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (their best defensive player) so I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that the Falcons will be seeing a lot of shootouts in their future, especially when the New Orleans Saints come in to town.
Right now Ryan is being drafted as the 9th quarterback selected and that’s a big mistake in my opinion. The Falcons offense looks like it’s going to be one of the league’s best once again and if I can’t nab RGIII then Ryan is my guy.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – Yes, Romo is a choke artist, can’t win the big one, went to Cabo with Jessica Simpson instead of prepping for a big game, blah blah blah. He also puts up great stats year after year and comes at a discount because of his real life nonsense. Thanks! I’ll take him.
With the exception of 2010 when he missed 10 games, Romo has thrown for 26 or more passing touchdowns in every year since 2007 and threw for 4,000 or more yards in 3 of the last 5 years (he would have last year but he missed week 17).
The Cowboys have a lot of great weapons led by Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray and emerging second year receiver Terrance Williams, so Romo has no shortage of targets. Like the Falcons, the Cowboys defense should be terrible after losing linebacker Sean Lee and they also play in an NFC East featuring 4 below average defenses so Dallas should have no trouble scoring.
Romo isn’t completely without risk… he did have back surgery in the off-season and any setbacks will get him scratched off this list, but so far reports have him looking healthy and ready to go for the 2014 season.
Right now Romo is being drafted 13th amongst quarterbacks in the late 8th/early 9th rounds and at that price I would be more than happy to have him under center all season.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – In 2013 the Bears brought in Marc Trestman as a head coach and in less than a year he converted a run first team into one of the league’s best offenses that nobody talks about and nobody benefitted more than the quarterbacks.
On a per game basis last season, Jay Cutler was a top 7 overall quarterback scoring almost 21 fantasy points a game (not counting weeks 7 and 10 when he left early with injury) and when Cutler was out, Josh McCown was equally impressive, landing him a job as the Bucs new signal caller.
How impressive was the Bears’ quarterback duo? If you combine both Cutler and McCown’s stats for last season, they would rank 3rd among quarterbacks, trailing only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in fantasy points. That’s some serious offense.
Of course the rub with Cutler is that he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009, but a lot of that can be attributed to being knocked around behind a poor offensive line and Chicago has taken steps to improve that over the last few years. Still, the injury risk is present and needs to be accounted for.
Although he’s a risk, the Bears weapons are just too hard to ignore and like Denver and Philadelphia, I want a piece. If he plays all 16 games he has a shot at being a top 5 quarterback in 2014.
Right now Cutler is being drafted as the 14th quarterback off the board in the late 8th round… that’s backup territory, but I would be more than happy to roll with him as my QB1 if the rest of my team is stacked. If you do draft him as your starter, you’ll definitely want to have a quality backup who is capable of winning games every week. Maybe someone like the next guy on this list…
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Roethlisberger is chronically undervalued because NFL fans always think of Pittsburgh as a ground and pound offense, but Jerome Bettis retired in 2006 and offensive coordinator Todd Haley loves to put the ball in the air.
In the second half of 2013, Roethlisberger trailed only Peyton Manning and Nick Foles in fantasy points as the Steelers put the offense in Ben’s hands down the stretch. In 2014 the team is working on an up-tempo, no huddle offense with Ben calling the plays, so there’s upside here for a cheap price.
The Steelers have some nice playmakers on offense highlighted by the reliable Antonio Brown, running back Le’Veon Bell (an underrated pass catcher) and a healthier Heath Miller at tight end. The team did lose Emmanuel Sanders to Denver this off-season, but the Steelers have second year Marcus Wheaton ready to step up and rookies Martavis Bryant and Dri Archer ready to step in, so Sanders’ loss should be just a blip on the radar.
I’ve heard “experts” say you can’t win a championship with Ben Roethlisberger as your QB, but I’ve done it… twice, and his 11th round ADP makes him an ideal backup or a deep league starter.