We all know that the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys will go early in drafts, but the secret to creating a great fantasy team is snagging top performers in later rounds.
Your fantasy team will be a winner if you can get a first-round quality performer in the mid to late rounds of your draft. If that player is a quarterback, he could help your team week to week in a two-quarterback format or provide valuable trade bait in a one-quarterback format.
Here are some factors to consider when drafting a mid-to-late round quarterback.
1. Weapons – quarterbacks with a lot of weapons can produce well beyond their talent level. Finding a quarterback who has teammates with the ability to turn a short pass into long gains and touchdowns could be critical to your team's success. Players like Santana Moss and Lee Evans have made otherwise worthless quarterbacks like Mark Brunell and J.P. Losman into stars on certain weeks. Players like Brian Westbrook and Reggie Bush turn low-risk swing passes and screens into point bonanzas. Keep an eye on such playmakers when choosing your quarterbacks.
2. Opportunities – a quarterback cannot create the statistics that you need without the opportunities to do so. Quarterbacks with great defenses that do not allow many points and with coaches who sit on leads by running the ball should be avoided. On the other hand, quarterbacks on poor teams that are likely to be playing catch-up in most games deserve an extra look. However, if the offense is simply putrid, like last year's Raiders, playing catch up will make no difference.
3. Offensive line – quarterbacks with poor offensive lines are likely to get banged up throughout the season. Such makes them a risky bet when drafting. While gambles can be made in later rounds, one should avoid them when possible. Such is the reason why Kurt Warner was such a risk last year, despite his grading being very positive under my first two factors. This year Matt Leinart should be in an improved situation given Arizona's additions to their offensive line.
4. Ball Security – one critical factor to consider when drafting a mid-to late round quarterback is whether or not they have the potential to kill your team with negative points from turnovers. Quarterbacks who are careless with the football can erase productivity provided by the first three factors. Also, the offensive line can factor into this as well. If a quarterback has a scrub offensive tackle protecting his blind side, you may be looking at some negative-point output as turnovers are forced and your quarterback is knocked out of the game.
To put together a winning team, consider all of these factors when choosing quarterbacks. Solid quarterbacks are valuable regardless of your league's format. Snagging a gem that has been passed over by others could allow you to shore up other positions of need and lead you to a championship and all the bragging rights that come along with it.
I'll give you my list of quarterback sleepers as we approach the season.