In redraft leagues, late round quarterback, or LRQB as it is affectionately known, has become one of the most popular draft strategies to employ over the past two seasons. Waiting until the later rounds to grab a starting quarterback allows an owner to maximize the value at other positions where multiple starters are required, namely running back and wide receiver. In fact, this trend has become so widespread that quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are falling to the twelfth round and later in many drafts.
While this strategy is primarily used in redraft leagues, it can work in dynasty leagues as well. After the elite three of Newton, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, the next two tiers are deep and there is little reason to be the first to blink and select a quarterback.
Late round quarterbacks are really just players who are being drafted as backup quarterbacks, yet have the ability to score as a QB1. Some of the players we’ll look at today have that potential this season, while others are more likely to produce in the coming years. Either way, waiting on quarterback can really pay off in your dynasty draft.
Note - All of the ADP data used comes from the August ADP at www.dynastyleaguefootball.com.
1. Johnny Manziel, CLE
Dynasty ADP: 130
Although rookie Johnny Manziel did not win the camp battle for the Browns starting quarterback job, his fantasy potential is still a mile high. Although Manziel has displayed a lack of good judgment at times, his play on the field could not be questioned. Even with a poor training camp, everyone knows his time is coming soon. There is little chance journeyman Brian Hoyer lasts the season as the starter and once Manziel steps on the field, his dynasty value skyrockets. As our own Evan Silva suggested, now is the time to make offers for Manziel in dynasty leagues and considering he was already being drafted outside of the top ten rounds in dynasty leagues, the price should be very reasonable.
2. Jay Cutler, CHI
Dynasty ADP: 133
Under first year head coach Marc Trestman, Bears’ starting quarterback Jay Cutler was on pace for his best season in the Windy City before a high ankle sprain kept him out of action for over a month. On top of the fantasy-friendly offense, the off-season has been kind to Cutler. Early in January, the Bears inked Cutler to a seven-year extension and since training camp began, his coaches have been heaping praise onto the veteran. Trestman referred to Cutler as bigger and stronger than a season ago and quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh mentioned Cutler’s “incredible progress.” All signs point to another high scoring fantasy season for Cutler and his pair of elite wideouts, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. With Cutler coming off the board right around the start of the twelfth round, he’s a value both for 2014 and the next few years.
3. Ryan Tannehill, MIA
Dynasty ADP: 149
As startup drafts move into the quarterbacks that you can rely on in the short-term dwindle, there are still some options for future seasons, and they could surprise in 2014 as well. The first of these is third year quarterback Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins. After a rookie season that saw Tannehill throw more interceptions than touchdowns, he was able to double his touchdown output in 2013 with 24 scores.
Tannehill has not been bad through his first two seasons; he just hasn’t shown signs of an elite fantasy quarterback. Things could be different this year with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, whose offense has drawn comparisons to Chip Kelly’s. We saw what that did for Nick Foles. Even last season, Tannehill finished as QB14, showing some signs that he could crack the Qb1 tier. That’s a solid value in the thirteenth round!
4. Blake Bortles, JAX
Dynasty ADP: 167
Although he was drafted third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team has been adamant all off-season that the plan was for rookie Blake Bortles to sit and watch as veteran Chad Henne ran the offense. Based on startup ADP and many rookie drafts I’ve participated in, dynasty players took this to heart. Bortles is a fifteenth rounder in startup dynasty drafts and routinely falls to the third round of dynasty rookie drafts, but that was before his impressive pre-season play of late.
With Bortles’ strong play through two weeks of pre-season action, both his first team reps and the speculation he might draw some starts this season are on the rise. The Jaguars have long been a laughingstock, but with the addition of Bortles and rookie receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, not to mention a very solid young defense, this team is headed in the right direction. Even if he does play this season, don’t count on Bortles as a fantasy starter, but he boasts the upside and is in the right situation to succeed in a couple of years.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
Dynasty ADP: 171
It might surprise you to learn that Ben Roethlisberger finished the 2013 season as QB8, but even more impressive is that over the season’s final eight games, Big Ben was the fourth highest scoring quarterback, behind only Nick Foles, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. You won’t be getting any of those guys in the fifteenth round.
With the way the Steelers’ offense finished the season, reports are that offensive coordinator plans to use more no-huddle offense this season, so if you’ve waited on quarterback this long, or if you opted for a young signal caller early who is unlikely to contribute in 2014, Roethlisberger is a bargain.
6. Carson Palmer, ARZ
Dynasty ADP: 232
The final late round quarterback option is the biggest steal of them all. Like Roethlisberger, Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer is another player who finished 2013 with a bang. Although he was only QB17 overall, Palmer scored as a top 12 quarterback over the final half of the season, QB11 to be exact.
Now with a full season under Bruce Arians, the Cardinals have reportedly shown improvement and comfort with the system. Palmer’s second season with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington should be kind to him. Although Palmer lacks the upside, both in 2014 and obviously long-term, with a twentieth round ADP, he’s basically free and worth a shot if you need a starting quarterback for your new dynasty team.