Wait on drafting a signal caller. Top 10 drop-offs are more drastic at every other position. Value can be found everywhere, and when it comes to a roster spot that scores the most points, build a solid foundation of skill players before pulling the trigger on a quarterback. In the same vein as targeting running backs and wide receivers on good offenses, the opposite can be true for streaming quarterbacks.
I won’t draft a high ranked quarterback according to Fantasy Sharks’ average draft position (ADP). Try looking for a low-key passer with upside based on opportunity and mix and match around their schedules. Zig while others zag. We all know about late-round quarterbacks like Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. I’m talking deeper if players of that caliber get drafted before their ADP, and even then, I’m fine with waiting until a double-digit round because the position is so deep.
If someone better is available late other than the following players, great. But if not, don’t panic. Target any two of these four underappreciated quarterbacks and stream them for the season. If you choose the correct matchup most weeks, odds are they’ll combine to finish the season near QB1-level production.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 13th round)
The 37-year-old is not as bad as last season might indicate, and the word “bad” is too harsh. In four seasons with Arizona, Carson Palmer averaged 3,701 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 12.5 interceptions, 62.73 completion percentage and 92.83 passer rating. Those numbers are skewed due to 2014 in which he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, but he did have 11 touchdowns and three interceptions at the time. Last year, Palmer was a QB1 on many people’s draft boards after throwing for 4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2015. And as disappointing as his 2016 numbers were, he still produced the ninth-most passing yards (4,233) and ranked 10th in touchdowns (26).
Most NFL experts agree that Arizona’s David Johnson or Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell is the league’s best running back. Johnson, like Bell, is a threat on the ground or through the air. Coming off his second year, Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four touchdowns. In the slot, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – who was drafted one year after Palmer – averaged 1,119 yards and 7.5 touchdowns on 108 receptions the past two seasons. John Brown, J.J. Nelson and other receivers will play roles in making Palmer’s life easier, too. On the downside, his arm strength keeps decreasing, injuries are a concern and he may retire after 2017 – but he’s not dead yet.
Entering his 15th season (he didn’t play in 2003), Palmer can get the job done on a limited basis. Arizona faces Detroit (away), Indianapolis (away), and Dallas (home) in Weeks 1-3. Week 2 is a good matchup considering the Indianapolis offense scored the eighth-most points and its defense allowed the 11th-most points last season, as well as 262.5 passing yards per game and 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season. Arizona’s defense ranked 14th overall at 22.6 points per game. Week 3 against Dallas is more favorable than one might think. The Dallas defense allowed 19.1 points per game last season with a soft schedule, but the secondary was vulnerable, allowing 260.4 passing yards per game and 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions total. San Francisco at home in Week 4 and on the road in Week 9 is prime. The San Francisco defense, among other atrocities, was last in points allowed, scrimmage plays and yards per game in 2016.
Bench Palmer in Weeks 5-7 (at Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay, at Los Angeles Rams) and Weeks 10-13 (vs. Seattle, at Houston, vs. Jacksonville, vs. Los Angeles Rams). Not ideal but Palmer could be started in a Week 14 fantasy playoff matchup against Tennessee, which allowed the third-most passing yards per game (269.2) a season ago and 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 16 games. Week 15 at Washington is doable as well. Washington has a high-powered offense and a secondary that allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game (258.1). If you make the championship, bench Palmer at the New York Giants. If your league plays Week 17, sit him at Seattle and then overthrow the commissioner for playing after Week 16.
Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 14th round)
Selected No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft, Sam Bradford’s career has been lackluster. When Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a brutal knee injury in last year’s preseason, Minnesota traded with Philadelphia to acquire Bradford. He set a new single-season record with a 71.6 completion percentage, throwing for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had the lowest net yards gained per completion (9.82), according to stats from Football Perspective. Perhaps that’s not the greatest endorsement of why Bradford’s a good option to stream. Consider him a Jack of all trades, master of none. He will rarely win you a game, but he’s not going to implode if started under the right circumstance.
Minnesota scored 20.4 points per game in 2016, ranked 23rd. Bradford said many times last year that he wanted to produce more bigger yardage plays. Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked the offensive line No. 14 headed into the season.
“Truthfully, I’m surprised myself at the ranking here,” per PFF’s Michael Renner. “Realistically, Minnesota shored their line up enough to where there aren’t any glaring weaknesses, but at the same time there’s little in the way of high level play either. Minnesota finished 29th in our end-of-year 2016 rankings so this would be quite the bump up.” Drafting running back Dalvin Cook should help. Cook is the presumed starter over veteran Latavius Murray. Cook will take pressure off Bradford with his presence alone. I expect Bradford’s connection with tight end Kyle Rudolph to remain intact as he develops more rapport with receivers such as Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright and Rodney Adams.
Stream Bradford at quarterback more so because of his opponents’ .453 winning percentage in 2016. Minnesota is tied for the 25th-easiest schedule. Dear diary, jackpot: Week 1 is against New Orleans and Week 2 is at Pittsburgh. New Orleans and Pittsburgh scored the second- and 10th-most points in 2016, respectively, and New Orleans’ defense also allowed the second-most points (28.4) per game. Pittsburgh has a good defense, ranked 10th last year at 20.4 points per game, and the other downside is Minnesota’s defense ranked sixth last year at 19.2 points per game, meaning the final score could be closer and Bradford’s arm won’t be needed as much. Bench Bradford in home games Weeks 3-4 against Detroit and Tampa Bay due to average offenses and defenses. Week 5 at Chicago is golden. Considering Chicago allowed 24.9 points per game, ranked 24th, and are a bad team in general, it’s no wonder why “Monday Night Football” has been lame in recent memory. Weeks 6-7 at Green Bay and at Baltimore? No thanks. Week 8 against Cleveland (London), the third-worst defense that only allowed 0.2 points fewer than New Orleans and 1.8 points fewer than San Francisco on a per game basis? Yes please.
Week 10 at Washington (see Palmer) is favorable, but Week 11 against the Los Angeles Rans is scary. The Rams allowed 24.6 points per game last season. Expect that to change with the hiring of defensive coordinator Wade Philips. Phillips was Denver’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons. The Denver defense ranked first in winning Super Bowl 50 and was fourth last year. Stay away from Detroit in Week 12 but play Bradford the following week at Atlanta. Atlanta has a great offense and its defense ranked 27th last year at 25.4 points per game. Remember: garbage points count the same. By this time of the season, I expect Carolina’s defense to be much-improved headed into its Week 14 home game with linebacker Luke Kuechly healthy. Don’t mess with Cincinnati (home) and Green Bat at Lambeau Field in a prime-time Saturday night showdown. The odds of Bradford doing well in those two games seems unlikely based on his history of underperforming when it matters most.