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85. Kendall Wright, WR33
86. Sammy Watkins, WR34
87. Colin Kaepernick, QB10
88. Brandin Cooks, WR35
89. Cam Newton, QB11
90. Greg Olsen, TE7
91. Matt Ryan, QB12
92. Reggie Wayne, WR36
93. Dennis Pitta, TE8
94. Eric Decker, WR37
95. Seattle Seahawks, DEF1
96. Jordan Reed, TE9
My Pick: Matt Ryan, QB12
With a roster full of high-upside skill position players, it was finally time to find my quarterback. There’s a group of guys going in the middle rounds whom I value similarly, so I felt comfortable waiting until every other team drafted its starter before making my move.
Matt Ryan may not be the most exciting name among fantasy QBs. He doesn’t have the flashy playmaking ability of RG III or Kaepernick, nor the mystical upside of Nick Foles.
What Ryan does bring to the table is piece of mind for fantasy owners as one of the safest, most reliable quarterbacks in football.
He’s finished top-five in passing yards and completion percentage each of the past two seasons, recording seven 300-plus-yard games both years. Despite injuries to his top-two wide receivers last year, he still topped 4,500 yards and had a career-high 651 passing attempts.
The Atlanta Falcons are a pass-first offense, and with receivers Jones and White now healthy, Ryan can be one of the more productive passers in the league.
Worst Value Pick: Seattle Seahawks, DEF1
Projecting fantasy defenses can be a foolhardy exercise, except in the case of the Seattle Seahawks. The reigning Super Bowl squad should be a top-notch unit again in 2014.
Still, to reach into the mid rounds for any defense is an unnecessary risk when there is so much high-upside talent still on the table. For example, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron went in the eighth round of drafts a year ago—finding the next version of those players will win leagues, not defenses.
Best Value Pick: Cam Newton, QB11
Three pro seasons, three top-four finishes among fantasy quarterbacks. Yes, Cam Newton has had a hellish offseason, losing his entire wide receiver corps and undergoing ankle surgery in March, but neither issue should have significant impact on his fantasy production.
Newton didn’t exactly have the murderer’s row of pass-catchers last season. His top wideout, Steve Smith, finished outside the top-40 fantasy WRs. And the rest were a collection of low-level bye week fill-ins.
It’s hard to argue that the level of talent Newton will work with this season is in any way worse than last year.
As for Cam’s ankle, it sounds like he’s good to go.
Surely he will have to ease his way back into playing shape, and it will be worth monitoring if Newton’s surgery hinders his running ability headed in to the late preseason. But if he’s back to full speed in time for Week 1, expecting a precipitous drop-off in production is unwarrented.
Between Ryan, Newton and Kaepernick all falling this far, there’s every reason to wait on quarterback in fantasy drafts this year.