Fantasy Football Sleepers 2013: Quarterbacks Worth Monitoring in Late Rounds

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Fantasy Football Sleepers 2013: Quarterbacks Worth Monitoring in Late Rounds
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to building a fantasy football championship contender, few positions are as difficult to project as quarterback. Points aren't nearly as easy to come by for a field general as they are for a running back or wide receiver, and with one turnover, his day can be ruined.

The question is: Which quarterbacks should you be monitoring to help improve your title odds once the superstars are off the board?

Quarterback is and always will be the premier position in the NFL, but with so many players getting by on the intangibles, statistics can take a backseat. For instance, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco failed to top 10 fantasy points in six separate games.

Fortunately, there are low-risk alternatives.

We don't suggest waiting until the late rounds, especially if you have the opportunity to complement your playmakers with a productive quarterback. With that being said, one player under center is never enough, as matchups often dictate value.

Here's a list of players who would serve as the perfect late-round steals for those looking to create depth.

 

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

ADP: 131.4

Age: 25

2012 Season Statistics

3,702 YDS, 59.5 CMP%, 21 TD, 13 INT; 37 ATT, 127 YDS, 1 TD, 6 FUM

 

During the course of Sam Bradford's career, the St. Louis Rams have been unable to surround him with complementary pieces. Despite having a postseason-caliber tandem of him and Steven Jackson, the Rams failed to build up their offensive line or receiving corps in any of Bradford's first three seasons.

In 2013, that's about to change.

Losing Jackson is devastating to the run game, but Bradford now has one of the best blindside blockers in the NFL with four-time Pro Bowl selection Jake Long. Furthermore, Chris Givens is coming off a strong rookie campaign, and first-year players Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey appear NFL ready.

Throw in the addition of tight end Jared Cook, and you have a significantly improved passing attack.

There isn't a Calvin Johnson or Jason Witten on board, but each of the aforementioned players is more capable than the previous crop. Cook, for instance, has 93 receptions over the past two seasons, compared to Lance Kendricks' 70.

Together, they make for a potential two-tight-end set that should open up the field for the run game and St. Louis' receivers to shine.

The key in 2013 will be improving the pass blocking, but St. Louis has a very good defense that should provide quality field position. With Long and Rodger Saffold at the offensive tackle positions, the Rams should be able to protect the quarterback long enough to allow Bradford to capitalize.

Even if you are skeptical, Bradford's average draft position is 131.4, per ESPN, thus making him a player with fantasy star potential and a virtual absence of risk.

 

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: 132.4

Age: 25

2012 Season Statistics

4,065 YDS, 54.8 CMP%, 27 TD, 17 INT; 39 ATT, 139 YDS, 10 FUM

 

Josh Freeman was a fantasy football star in 2010 but responded with a dreadful 2011 campaign and an average 2012 effort. Last season, he threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns but was picked off 17 times and committed 10 fumbles.

Will Sam Bradford break out in 2013?

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Here's the kicker: Prior to Week 15, he had registered 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions.

If not for a three-week meltdown that we can't explain, he was one of the best quarterbacks in football. His completion percentage was poor all season, but during Tampa Bay's final three games, he threw an average of 45.3 passes per contest.

As long as he stays in a more fitting range in 2013, he should be able to continue his success under center and return to the 60-plus completion percentage that he posted in 2011 and 2012.

According to ESPN, Freeman's current average draft position is 132.4. That means, in 10-team leagues, he can be found in the 13th roundwhich is obscenely late considering he's surrounded by Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Kevin Ogletree and Mike Williams.

He was extraordinary through 14 weeks in 2012. In 2013, expect the 25-year-old to discover the missing piece: consistency.

 

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ADP: 131.1

Age: 33

2012 Season Statistics

15 GP; 4,018 YDS, 61.1 CMP%, 22 TD, 14 INT

 

During the 2012 NFL regular season, Carson Palmer threw for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games played. He attempted just three passes in Week 16 before suffering an injury but still managed to rank in the top 10 in the NFL in passing yards despite completing only 14 outings.

Here's the kicker: Palmer is about to see an upgrade in personnel from Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey to Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald has been without a competent quarterback for years, suffering through experiments with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Now he has one of the most productive passers of our generation who, when provided with quality targets, is known to rack up more than 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Interceptions are a concern, but in 2012, Palmer topped 15 points in eight of 15 games, tallying 14 in three others. This is an impressive fact considering he was playing with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL.

The seven-time Pro Bowler Fitzgerald will serve as the best receiver Palmer's ever played with, which is a lofty statement. Should Andre Roberts continue to flash quality hands and Michael Floyd develop as planned, Palmer could lead a surprisingly high-powered attack under quarterback genius Bruce Arians.

We wouldn't suggest taking him early, but with an average draft position of 131.1, per ESPN, Palmer can be found as late as the 13th round in 10-team drafts. That's what you call low-risk, high-reward.

 

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Norm Hall/Getty Images

ADP: 79.0

Age: 33

2012 Season Statistics

4,903 YDS, 65.6 CMP%, 28 TD, 19 INT; 30 ATT, 49 YDS, 1 TD, 6 FUM

 

Tony Romo may not be going in the "late rounds" per se, but if you're able to get him anywhere near his average draft position, you'll be lucking out. Romo, one of the most statistically marvelous quarterbacks in the NFL, is currently going 79th overall in the average ESPN fantasy football draft.

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Don't let his crunch-time reputation fool you; that would be an absolute steal for your starter.

He topped 15 points in 10 separate games last season, picking up at least 20 points in five. Duds in Week 3 and 4 serve as blatant red flags, but even against the Cincinnati Bengals' and Seattle Seahawks' vaunted pass defenses, he managed 12 points each time out.

If he drops into the eighth round and you're still holding off on a quarterback, don't hesitate to take him.

Romo threw for 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns to 19 interceptions, completing 65.6 percent of his passes during the 2012 NFL regular season. This came with a running game that was crippled by DeMarco Murray's health and both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin remaining available but battling injuries.

If Dallas can stay healthy, Romo is in the running to top 5,000 yards and become a fantasy steal at his current average draft position. Keep in mind, the NFC East is as weak defensively as we've seen in years.

 

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

ADP: 103.3

Age: 33

2012 Season Statistics

10 GP; 2,362 YDS, 58.1 CMP%, 12 TD, 10 INT; 62 ATT, 332 YDS, 1 TD, 11 FUM

 

If Michael Vick's health wasn't an undeniable question mark, I'd advise you to take him as early as possible. He may be aging, but he remains one of the most dynamic playmakers in professional football.

Most importantly, he's about to play in a read-option offense under guru Chip Kelly.

LeSean McCoy's draft stock isn't slipping for no reason, as fantasy football owners are prepared for Vick to carry the ball on a more consistent basis. Fumbles and interceptions remain issues, but he is still one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL.

As long as Philadelphia's offensive line decides to show up on Sundays, Vick could be in store for yet another monster season.

The key here is that Vick's average draft position is 103.3, per ESPN. That makes him available in the 10th round of 10-team leagues, which means you're in position to select the ultimate backup quarterback with limited risk.

If he's still on the board when the numbers say he should be, you'd bolster your chances of winning big and prevent an opponent from adding lightning in a bottle. Keep a close eye on Vick.

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