7 Fantasy Football Sleepers at QB in 2013

Bryan Shaffer@Bryan_ShafferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2013

7 Fantasy Football Sleepers at QB in 2013

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    For those people who want to put together a nice fantasy team, drafting a quarterback in the later rounds is a good idea. Sure, you won't find Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in the sixth round, but you can definitely find guys who can help you win.

    There is no denying that having a Brady is a huge bonus on a team, but there are so many great sleepers at the quarterback position who can be grabbed in the middle to late rounds of a draft. This kind of strategy will allow you to grab nice receivers or running backs in the first couple rounds, and still have a quarterback who can carry you.

    Without further adieu, here are the top fantasy sleepers at quarterback for 2013.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    After last season, it probably seems hard to trust Michael Vick, but amidst the injuries and turnovers, Vick had a promising year.

    Despite a porous offensive line which failed to protect Vick, he still had several great games as the Philadelphia Eagles starter last season. In the eight full games Vick played in, he had six games where he scored fifteen or more fantasy points in standard formats. That included two games where he scored 21.

    Vick's legs will provide a good 30-plus yards most games, which mitigates the damage done by his turnovers. For instance, last season against the Baltimore Ravens, Vick posted 21 points despite three turnovers, largely because of his 34 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

    Next season, the Eagles will get back the battered starters of their offensive line, which should help keep Vick healthy and more effective. He will not be forced to throw bad passes, which should keep the interception numbers down.

    Because of the current public perception of Vick, many people are down on him in fantasy. Give him a chance in the late rounds if you are not confident in your quarterback situation, and you may be surprised

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    People tend to forget that the San Francisco 49ers were a great team even before Colin Kaepernick took the field. Alex Smith led his team to a 6-2 record in the eight full games he played.

    More relevantly, he continued to put up good fantasy numbers under the radar.

    He posted 17 or more fantasy points in half of those eight games, including a 28-point performance against the Buffalo Bills. In those games he threw for a combined 10 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.

    He did struggle in other games; however, outside of the Bradys and Peyton Mannings of the world, that is to be expected.

    His solid first half of 2012 was a continuation of the success he showed in 2011, when he ranked 14th in fantasy quarterbacks—meaning he was borderline startable in a 12-team format.

    Obviously, the biggest question surrounding Smith is which team he will go to. The teams that are looking for quarterbacks, such as the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, have solid weapons around them. A good quarterback like Smith will be able to be at least an adequate starter in any system.

    Maybe not someone you want to start every week, but a great timeshare option. Or perhaps a fill-in for someone like Robert Griffin III if he were to miss a couple games.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    It's hard to call Russell Wilson a sleeper after his fantastic second half of 2012, but the soon-to-be sophomore did not garner enough attention. Amazingly, he was owned in only 47.8 percent of ESPN fantasy football leagues by the end of the season.

    Wilson has shown tremendous poise in his young NFL career. Not only did he show the heart of a champion in the playoffs, but after shaking off some of his rookie rust, Wilson was among the best fantasy quarterbacks in the league.

    During his last nine starts of the season, Wilson scored a total of 190 fantasy points, an average of 21.1 points per game. The only quarterbacks to outdo him in that frame: Tom Brady and Cam Newton.

    Like Michael Vick, Wilson has the running capabilities which can salvage solid fantasy games out of lackluster performances. Unlike Vick, he is not a turnover machine, giving the ball up only 13 times in all of 2012. He also takes fewer hits than Vick does, which should reduce the injury risk.

    Once all the big names are off the board, Wilson is a guy who should be targeted because he is unlikely to disappoint.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    People might think of Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers as a joke right now, but think back two years.

    The fantasy predictors from Sports Illustrated named Rivers as a member of the "Super Six", along with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick.

    Before 2011, Rivers had posted three straight seasons of spectacular football, leading the second highest scoring offense in 2008 and 2010, and leading the fourth highest scoring offense in 2009. In each of those seasons, he averaged 30.7 touchdown passes against only 14.7 turnovers.

    Cutting back on his turnovers is a big way Rivers can improve. He turned the ball over 25 times in 2011 and another 23 times in 2012. However, the three seasons before that Rivers turned the ball over 15, 12 and 17 times. Part of this is the poor play of the offensive line, which allowed Rivers to be sacked a league-high 49 times in 2012.

    New head coach Mike McCoy knows how to coach offense. As the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, McCoy helped Denver reach the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 with two greatly different quarterbacks.

    He made the offense work well enough for Tim Tebow in 2011 to make the playoffs. He then helped Peyton Manning transition into a new offense after Manning missed all of 2011. In 2012, the Broncos had the second highest scoring offense in the NFL. McCoy might be able to revive Rivers' career, and make him fantasy-relevant again.

    Even if Rivers is a bit of a gamble next season, his draft stock will be so low that his tremendous upside will make him worth the risk.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Leading your team to the playoffs in your rookie and sophomore season are impressive, but are they fantasy relevant?

    Well, no, but when you do it the way Andy Dalton has over the first two seasons of his career, then it gets interesting.

    Dalton came into the league with little fanfare, but put together a solid rookie season in 2011, ranking 15th among quarterbacks in fantasy points.

    Dalton took a huge step forward in 2012, when he ranked 12th, and scored 20 or more fantasy points in six of his starts. He had only two such games in 2011.

    There is no reason to think that Dalton will be any worse next season. He and receiver A.J. Green have developed a rapport that ranks among the tops in the league. If he can cut back on the turnovers (he had 20 last season), Dalton should vastly improve as a fantasy option.

    Either way, Dalton is a quarterback you can feel good about starting in nearly any fantasy format.

Eli Manning, New York Giants

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    How soon we forget.

    A year ago this time, Eli Manning was anointed into the aristocracy of football in the public eye. Now, after a roller-coaster season, during which you'd have been better off playing Sam Bradford many weeks, many have jumped off of the Manning bandwagon.

    But those people are precisely the reason why Peyton Manning's little brother will be a nice sleeper in 2013.

    Despite his struggles in the middle of 2012, Eli still managed to finish as the 15th ranked fantasy quarterback. He scattered five 20-plus point performances throughout his inconsistent season, showing that he has those elite capabilities he has shown over his career.

    With the way the New York Giants' season ended, the two-time Super Bowl MVP will be determined for 2013 to be different.

    Eli Manning is still just one year removed from his best season, in which he finished sixth in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks, and tallied seven games of 20-plus fantasy points. He clearly has that ceiling to be up there with the undisputed elites of the position.

    While Eli is unlikely to drop to very late rounds, he will still fly under the radar and be available later than he should. For the upside, he is certainly worth taking a shot on in the fifth or sixth round of a fantasy draft.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders

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    When a team is terrible, people often assume their quarterback is answerable. Not the case for Carson Palmer (at least not fantasy-wise).

    Palmer was remarkably consistent last season, at least until the last couple of weeks. Before Week 14, Palmer averaged 15.8 fantasy points per game. Even more notable was the fact that he posted at least 14 points in 11 of those 13 games. Just having someone who can be penciled in for a respectable performance every week is worth having.

    The Oakland Raiders offense only figures to get better next season, so there is no reason to expect that the 33-year-old will have a marked decline. He is not someone who should be started in 10-team leagues, or even 12-team leagues, but in deeper leagues or two-quarterback leagues, he is a very valuable piece to have.