"Go big or go home." "Got to risk big to win big." "Insert another cheesy anecdote here." You get the picture. Mantras like these have made men of the world like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates rich beyond our wildest imagination. I'm not giving financial advice here though. If you want that go read a Forbes magazine. I'm talking fantasy football. More specifically, how winning your next championship is located at the street corner of Risk vs. Reward Avenue and Value Boulevard.
This article focuses on finding value at the QB position. Let me start by saying that when it comes to quarterbacks I firmly believe that drafting the likes of Andrew Luck is a smart move. I was in a mock draft the other day and someone drafted him 3rd overall. The flaming immediately commenced from the other fantasy football "experts" who were mocking with us. The only person who supported the pick appeared to be me. I think, bar none, Luck has the greatest upside of any player in any skill position. So I understood taking him 3rd overall. I think secretly, everyone else was just jealous that some guy actually had the balls to do it. While taking a quarterback such as Luck or Aaron Rodgers in the first or second round is understandable (although arguable), I want to offer you a different strategy that I find most successful based on drafting Value players at different positions who offer the most Upside but may come with Risk. The key, of course, is finding the perfect balance between risk and reward.
I must warn you though, others may not understand it. They may laugh at you. Follow my advice though and at the end of the season, when you're rolling around in their league dues with the championship trophy sitting in your Man Cave for the rest of the year, rest assured that you'll get the last laugh. Keep in mind when you are value drafting you focus on a few specific players to build your team around, while adding these value players in other positions to complete your roster. So for example, in PPR formats I might be spending my first and second round picks on WRs, then my third and fourth round picks on RBs, hoping to land one of these quarterbacks below later in the draft.
1) Peyton Manning: The fantasy masses have seemingly moved on from "The Sherriff", declaring him unfit to lead their fantasy football team this year to victory since he is now about the same age as Father Time and after his late season melt down last year. Couple that with a new run-oriented head coach (which isn't exactly accurate according to this amazing article), as well as a new offensive coordinator; Manning's draft position is tanking fast. Their loss is our gain. You should continue to hope that Manning's ADP continues to plummet. That only makes his value that much sweeter. Since Manning arrived in Denver three years ago he was thrown for 14,863 yards (second highest behind only Drew Brees in the same three-year span) and 131 touchdowns (highest of all QBs). He still has Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and emerging Cody Latimer at his disposal. Let's also not forget to factor in the passing TDs that CJ Anderson will presumably rack up for him. Trust in Manning one more season to get the job done.
My 2015 projections: 4,800 yards and 38 TDs with room to grow. In 12-team redraft leagues I'm snagging him in round four or after if he is still available. I'm riding him one more season in dynasty leagues too unless I can find someone willing to offer me a trade I can't refuse. In auction leagues I'm paying around $25 for him assuming a $200 budget. Draft him with swagger. Unlike some value quarterbacks, with Manning you don't need to platoon.
2) Matt Ryan: Dynamic Julio Jones? Check. Tried and true Roddy White? Yep. Up and coming Tevin Coleman? Roger that. New OC Kyle Shanahan is in town, and now ol' reliable Matt Ryan is about to get a boost in value. You see, in the past, Matt Ryan is like that quiet co-worker you have that does all the hard work on a project behind the scenes but you get all the credit. Quietly and consistently, he provides a steady stream of fantasy points that you can rely on from week-to-week. Not sold on him just yet? Consider this: last season he finished 5th in yards (4,694) and eleventh in TDs (28).Don't expect Matt Ryan to notch a season like Luck last year, or Manning's record breaking season two years ago, but there is no reason to think that this season won't be his best yet with a top 5 QB finish on the horizon.
My 2015 projections: 4,600 yards and 34 TDs is a good floor to expect, with a higher ceiling in reach. In 12-team redraft leagues I'm snagging him in round six or after if he is still available. I'm also considering buying low on him in dynasty leagues unless I own a QB by the name of Luck or Rodgers. In auction leagues I'm paying around $20 for him assuming a $200 budget. Draft him with swagger. Unlike some value quarterbacks, with Ryan you don't need to platoon.
3) Eli Manning: If there was a fantasy stat for the biggest pouty face in the NFL, Eli would certainly score the highest. Unfortunately, there isn't. Here is something to consider though - last season Eli quietly finished 6th in yards (4,410) and 9th in TDs (30). Oh, and did I mention that was without Odell Beckham Jr. (a.k.a Randy Moss 2.0) in the first four games? Keep in mind that Victor Cruz, Salsa King of the East Coast, should be back and new addition Shane Vereen can only improve Eli's situation. If he can hold on to the ball then Larry Donnell should be a red zone threat as well. I'll order some pouty face with a side of fantasy football championship, please.
My 2015 projections: 4,500 yards and 33 TDs, with a healthy dose of classic Eli interceptions, is realistic but the potential for much more is there. In 12-team redraft leagues I'm snagging him in round eight or after if he is still available. He should be available to draft in dynasty leagues. In auction leagues I'm paying around $10-15 for him assuming a $200 budget. Draft him with swagger. With this value quarterback you should consider a platoon.
4) Ryan Tannehill: To anyone who watches the NFL it was obvious that Tannehill officially hit talent puberty last season. His accuracy, and overall QBR, saw a major spike in productivity because the coaching staff for the Dolphins have finally figured out how to maximize his potential by throwing short-to-intermediate passes. Tannehill, surrounded by new shiny toys Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, and vaunted rookie DeVante Parker (assuming his foot injury is a quick recovery) is about to have one of the best offensive entourages in the game. Sophmore WR Jarvis Landry is an instant chick magnet, if the chick was a football of course. If rookie RB Jay Ajayi's knee doesn't implode, expect a more potent run attack as well. Stacked boxes and single coverage will only help his cause this season, in which I predict a top 10 finish at the QB position.
My 2015 projections: 4,300 yards and 32 TDs is all but assured as a reasonable expectation but the sky is the limit. In 12-team redraft leagues I'm snagging him in round nine or after if he is still available. He should be available to draft in dynasty leagues. In auction leagues I'm paying around $10-15 for him assuming a $200 budget. Draft him with swagger. With this value quarterback you should consider a platoon.
5) Sam Bradford: If you're like me, you lost sleep for many nights after Chip Kelly traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford because you laid in bed asking yourself, "Why is Sam Bradford a better QB option than Nick Foles?" WHY CHIP, WHY!? Well this article does an incredible job explaining it. The potential is there. If Mark Sanchez, Master of the Butt Tackles, can put respectable fantasy points in an Eagles offense, then surely Sam Bradford can and then some. Let's not forget that two season ago Foles had a Cinderella season under exact same offensive scheme before he fell from grace last year which ultimately led to his trade. In a high octane offense, with an almost identical offensive system that won Bradford a Heisman Trophy in college, expect big things this year as long as his knee holds up. That's a big "if", but remember, value and risk my friends. Value and risk.
My 2015 projections: 4,200 yards and 30 TDs is within reason assuming his knee doesn't disintegrate the first time he tries to juke a defender. In 12-team redraft leagues I'm snagging him in round ten or after if he is still available. He should be available to draft in dynasty leagues. In auction leagues I'm paying around $10 for him assuming a $200 budget. Draft him with swagger. With this value quarterback you should consider a platoon.
Other value QBs to consider: Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco, and Jameis Winston.
When playing fantasy football slow and steady doesn't win the race. The brave and the bold win championships. Don't be afraid to take risks by drafting value players who are oozing with upside. Go for the higher ceilings with the lowest cost (which will have some risk), not the lower ceilings with the average costs just because they are "safe". Think back to Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple along with Steve Wozniak, that I mentioned earlier. They risked big. Do you know who didn't? Ronald Wayne, the often unrecognized third co-founder of Apple. Do you know why you don't know who that is? Because he sold his 10% share for $800 dollars before the company took off. He didn't risk big. If he did, that $800 is actually worth $13.6 billion now. Tough break, bro. Be a Steve Wozniak of fantasy football. Don't be a Ronald Wayne.
Remember fellow fantasy football addicts, "Don't just draft... draft with swagger!"
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