While we are all itching for the football season to begin, now is a perfect time to start the discussions on how to build a winning fantasy football championship team for 2016. One of the cornerstone strategies on draft night is to wait until the middle and late rounds for your starting quarterback. The NFL is a passing league, and there are no shortage of quarterbacks that post good numbers. Last year, I advised Big Blue View to take advantage of Eli Manning doubters so that they can take a top quarterback while other teams are filling out their bench. With a review of the 2015 season, this strategy worked out perfectly as Manning proved to be a fantasy steal with 4,400 yards and 35 touchdowns -- good for the 10th overall ranking among quarterbacks.
Even with a bounceback year in 2014, Manning was thought of rather lowly in fantasy circles for the 2015 season. He was the 13th quarterback taken with an average draft position roughly at around 100th overall. Yet there were quarterbacks of equal or lesser talent taken dozens of positions higher than Manning. Let's review these other quarterbacks and where they were taken and compare their final rankings.
|Player||Average Draft Position||Points Per Game (ESPN)||QB Rank (ESPN)|
Despite having such a low draft position relative to his peers, Manning performed better than everyone except for Russell Wilson and Matt Stafford. Some of this can be attributed to injury such as in the case of Tony Romo, yet that should not excuse these drafts trends considering that Manning has never missed a start in his entire life. As the 10th overall quarterback in fantasy football, Manning was for the most part a weekly starter in 10+ team leagues. Getting starter level production with the 100th pick is one of the easiest steps in building a championship roster.
And while Manning proved to be a steal, the general strategy of waiting on a quarterback saw even bigger benefits in 2015. Cam Newton, the 2015 MVP, scored the most points in fantasy football and was taken 16 spots after Manning. Carson Palmer and Kirk Cousins also provided top notch fantasy seasons as low-round selections while rookie quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota had serviceable games. This goes on to show the depth of the quarterback position and it illustrates how fickle these quarterback evaluations are in fantasy.
Now, the whole key of waiting on a quarterback is to find underrated talent. While the mock draft season has not hit full swing yet, there are some rankings from analysts in which we can start to measure out value. For Manning, his rating is in flux with many supporters and once again many doubters. Matthew Berry of ESPN has Manning ranked the ninth best quarterback while NFL Network's Adam Rank has him ranked eighth in the position. Meanwhile, Michael Fabiano of NFL Network does not have Manning as a top 100 player as he is the 15th-ranked quarterback on his board.
Once again, Manning looks to be a polarizing player with a lot of believers and a lot of detractors. While the ADP stats need to come out before any strategies can be formulated, it appears that Manning can potentially be had for cheap once again. Even if that is not the case, there is bound to be a quarterback sleeper in the late rounds that will have a top 10 finish. To win a championship, be vigilant on these underrated quarterbacks and they might end up surprising you.