As we begin to settle into this off-season, our team here at DFF has decided to tackle a list of sleepers at each position. As you’ve probably already noticed, this isn’t just offensive sleepers; this series will consist of IDP sleepers as well. We know not every league is offense-only so we’ve got you covered. In case you missed it, we’ve already looked at the wide receiver, defensive back, defensive line, linebacker, running back and tight end, but today we’ll look at quarterbacks.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers – In 2016, the Chargers had more skill position players go to the IR than I’ve seen in awhile – Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver, and Dexter McCluster to name just a few. Travis Benjamin also battled a PCL injury for most of the season and Tyrell Williams battled a shoulder injury the final few games of 2016. These injuries played a major factor in Rivers’ season. He completed only 349 passes, his fewest since 2012, at a 60% rate, his lowest since 2007. Rivers threw 21 interceptions in 2016, the highest total of his career. Despite this, he managed to put up numbers close to his career averages in yards and touchdowns and finished the season as QB13. With Allen, a healthy Travis Benjamin, the continued emergence of Tyrell Williams, and at least one of RBs coming back, Rivers will have his best set of weapons he’s had in awhile. Lastly, another season of growth and timing with Hunter Henry and Melvin Gordon gives Rivers’ 2017 a ton of potential.
With a rookie season like he just had you’d expect more hype around Dak as a QB prospect. He’s been knocked for having great players around him, and simply being the guy throwing the passes, a job anyone could do! Right? Wrong. Dak was exceptional in his rookie year and looks like a QB you build your team around. From a fantasy perspective, what I loved most about Dak was his consistency. You could roll with him in your lineup and be guaranteed 17 points or more every week. He reached that mark in 12 out of the 15 fantasy relevant games he played in (disregarding Week 17). That’s a good floor for someone you’ll likely be able to get pretty cheap next season. The only weeks he failed to reach a 17 point floor were both games against the Giants and against Minnesota. It’s easier to plan ahead for a replacement when you put less capital into your starter, and that’s what Dak offers you.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Tyrod looks to be on the move this offseason, as the Bills seem to have decided that he’s not much better than a replacement level QB. While he was below average in many of the passing stats for 2016 (19th in Comp%, 25th in yards, 24th in TDs, 21st in Y/A(yards per attempt) Tyrod excels in other areas. First, he doesn’t turnover the football. In 2016, Tyrod ranked 9th in INT% (pass attempts/interceptions) and 5th in 2015. Second, he adds value as a rusher. No QB ran the ball more than him this past season and finished with a position leading 95 rushing attempts. He also finished with the most rushing yards at the position – 580. It wasn’t just all volume though; he ran for 6.11 Y/A was among the leaders in that category. The only other starting QBs to finish with a better rushing Y/A were Colin Kaepernick, Blake Bortles, and RGIII (I had to throw in that *starting caveat due to Kevin Hogan’s absurd 13.13 rushing Y/A). Tyrod also tied for 1st in rushing TDs among QBs with 6. Those numbers don’t match any of Cam Newton’s seasons before this one, or a season like Russell Wilson’s 2014, but they are very good numbers that cannot be ignored when considering his value. Wherever he ends up, he’s almost guaranteed to have more passing attempts to go along with those rushing numbers after Buffalo finished 32nd in the league in Pass Attempts in 2016 and 31st in 2015.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – At Jay’s worst, he’s been one of the bottom tier QBs in the league. At his best, he was the QB4 in 2008. Jay’s reputation would only have you remember the bad seasons, but there were also plenty of seasons that he finished in the respectable QB10-16 range. Jay’s best seasons have come when he’s been in the top half of pass attempts for the season. In 2008 (his only Pro-bowl year) he had the 2nd most pass attempts in the league. In 2009, he had the 4th most pass attempts and finished as QB12. From 2010 – 2013, Jay was never higher than 20th in the league in pass attempts and never finished higher than QB16 (those seasons matched up, in 2010 he was QB16 while throwing the 20th most passes). Then in 2014 Jay was back at it again and threw the 12th most passes in the league while finishing as the QB14. Finally, in 2015 he was the QB20 while throwing the 17th most pass attempts in the league (that was the Adam Gase year). In order for Jay to have a bounce back year, I think he needs to land with a team who will consistently air it out. I’ve made a table showing his possible landing spots and where they’ve finished in passing attempts per season over the previous four seasons:
So in order for Jay to have much value as a solid to high-end QB2 next season, it looks like he’d have to end up in Houston or to a lesser extent NY. Even though San Francisco hasn’t thrown the ball much over the past four seasons, I wouldn’t rule them out as a good landing place for Jay given the impending signing of Kyle Shanahan as head coach.
Every new NFL season brings with it millions of predictions and projections for real life and for fantasy. 2017 will be no different. With the 2016 fantasy season over and the draft and free agency yet to come, every move will impact multiple players across all positions. This list is a work in progress, but as of today, these are a few players to keep an eye on during the off-season and might be worth grabbing when draft day rolls around.