In PPR leagues that start only one QB like Apex leagues, the value of quarterbacks is hotly debated. Supporters of taking an early QB will point to the value that Andrew Luck held last year, while detractors can point to Mike Braude’s article about simply streaming cheaper quarterbacks against bad defenses.
Let’s take a look at the fantasy finish vs the ADP of 2014’s top quarterbacks while seeing what value we can find later in drafts in 2015.
|2014 Apex ADP
As the table shows, you didn’t have to pay a high premium to get a startable quarterback in 2014. Many Peyton Manning and Drew Brees drafters learned a hard lesson about drafting quarterbacks that high: the issue is, you are drafting them at their ceiling without leaving much room for regression at that ADP. Meanwhile, many Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Tony Romo drafters were only left at a slight disadvantage while using their 2nd and 3rd round picks on league-winners like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb instead of ponying up for a quarterback.
Of the top-15 quarterbacks, 10 of the 15 had an ADP in the 8th round or later while Tannehill, Eli Manning, and Flacco finished with ADPs outside the top 200. Meanwhile, at the wide receiver position, 13 of the top 15 had ADPs in the 7th round or earlier. The only exceptions? Mike Evans at 8.06 and Odell Beckham (undrafted).
This shows that it is much easier to find late-round value at quarterback than at wide receiver, which is especially actionable considering you can start up to four receivers in Apex leagues while only starting a maximum of one quarterback.
So who are my favorite later-round quarterbacks of 2015? Let’s look at three excellent choices with some help from the Rotoviz Similarity Scores App:
2015 ADP: 9.06 (QB12)
After a disastrous 2013 that held a 18:27 touchdown to interception ratio, Manning was a persona-non-grata in fantasy football circles. But enter ex-Packers offensive coach Ben McAdoo and his quick-hitting pass game, and Manning saw a resurgence that made him a QB1 again with a superb 30:14 touchdown to interception ratio. But even though he finished as QB11 overall, he is only being drafted as QB12. Let’s see what the Similarity Scores App has to say about Eli’s 2015 prospects:
|2015 PPG Projection
I put 2014’s top QB Andrew Luck next to Manning for comparison’s sake. As you can see, Eli stacks up pretty well (albeit without as high of a ceiling). Eli’s offensive line situation isn’t perfect, but it isn’t any worse than 2014. Besides, McAdoo’s scheme helps hide a lot of pass-protection flaws.
The Giants added passing-down weapon Shane Vereen, and return Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, and all-world Odell Beckham Jr to the fold. Victor Cruz’s health remains a question mark, but Eli showed he can be a startable QB1 without him anyway. Barring multiple injuries, I don’t see a way Eli isn’t a QB1 again.
2015 ADP: 10.05 (QB14)
Rivers turned in another solid performance in 2014 after his resurgence in 2013 under Mike McCoy. He finished as QB10 just ahead of the aforementioned Eli Manning, but somehow has an even lower ADP. Let’s look at the projection for 2015:
|2015 PPG Projection
Rivers is due for another very solid year. The loss of red-zone maven Antonio Gates for the first four games is troubling, but Stevie Johnson is in town to replace Eddie Royal while Ladarius Green may finally be able to strut his stuff. Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen are prime bounce-back candidates as well. Rivers should be in for a solid, if un-sexy, 2015.
2015 ADP: 12.01 (QB18)
2014 couldn’t have gone much worse for Colin Kaepernick. On the gridiron, he looked confused as he regressed as a passer. His boxscores weren’t much better as his rushing touchdowns took a nosedive as well. With Blaine Gabbert as his backup, I don’t see much of a chance of Kaepernick getting benched if he repeats his 2014 performance. Instead, I see it as his floor. Here’s what his projection is for 2015:
|2015 PPG Projection
I highlighted why Kaepernick is in for a bounce-back year in 2015 here, and the best part is he is almost free. You could pair him with another quarterback like Flacco or Dalton and just play matchups as well. With Torrey Smith in town and a fresh coaching regime in, I think Kaepernick is a spectacular late-round QB prospect.