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NFL Draft

5 Fantasy Football Late-Round QBs To Target

  • The Draft Network
  • July 13, 2021
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There are two different types of people who react to the word “Superflex.” Fantasy football enthusiasts may recognize it as a fantasy format that allows you to start a quarterback in the flex spot. On the other hand, the rest of the world may assume Superflex is a product they saw in a commercial about treating holes and leaks. If you fall into the latter category, hopefully my poor attempt at wit has enlightened you about one of the hottest formats in fantasy. 

While a quarterback in your flex spot opens up a whole new range of possibilities for your team, it also inflates the position in drafts. In Superflex leagues, top passers like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen may be first-round locks. That means you could end up drafting your second quarterback in the fifth round. Luckily, there are a few solid options you can target in later rounds.

To help identify these passers, I looked at last year’s QB1s (quarterbacks who finished in the top 12 of fantasy points) and found a few trends to take note of. I separated them based on two thresholds: pass attempts and carries + rushing yards.

  • 9/12 QB1s were top-10 in pass attempts
  • 8/12 QB1s were in the 50th percentile of carries and rushing yards

Lamar Jackson was the only passer to not be in the first category, yet was the leader in carries and rushing yards by a quarterback. Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins were the only two QB1s to not finish in the top 10 of either threshold, yet they were still top-10 in passing touchdowns and net yards per pass attempt. This supports the idea that neither quarterback is the focal point of their offenses—that would be Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook, respectively. So essentially, we’re looking for quarterbacks who could be 1) top 10 in passing attempts, 2) in the 50th percentile of carries and rushing yards, or 3) have significant weapons around them in an offense designed to hide their weaknesses. That last one may be a bit tougher to decipher. 

For this exercise, I only included quarterbacks who have an ADP outside of QB20 on Underdog Fantasy. That just leaves out Tua Tagovailoa, Cousins, and Baker Mayfield, though I’d prefer each of them to any passer on this list. Still, these five late-round options have some intriguing potential.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Underdog ADP: QB21

Fitzpatrick is the first quarterback to fit the passing threshold, as he just barely sneaks into the permissible range for this exercise. Barring a Taylor Heinicke encore from Washington’s wild-card game, there’s no real competition for Fitzpatrick. Assuming he secures the starting job, he could be in line for a hefty chunk of passes. After all, Washington was ninth in pass attempts last season with 601. 

Do I expect the team to throw as often this season? No, especially since the roster improved over the offseason. But it does help that they added Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown to their passing attack. On top of that, Fitzpatrick may be the most mobile 38-year-old quarterback in recent NFL history. We also shouldn’t expect him to get cozy in the pocket, though left tackle Samuel Cosmi was brought in to help change that. 

Fitzpatrick may not be a weekly starter on your fantasy team, but he’ll probably unleash his FitzMagic now and then. He’s a fine passer to draft based on potential volume alone.

Zach Wilson

Underdog ADP: QB24

I initially excluded Wilson from this list, but I was forced to rethink my stance based on the above thresholds. Look, I may not have been the biggest fan of Wilson’s prior to the 2021 NFL Draft—and his current situation isn’t doing him many favors—but sometimes you need to set aside your scouting hat and put on your thinking cap.

The Jets have a ways to go before they’re competitive. Their best offensive skill player may very well be Corey Davis. Aside from Mekhi Becton, Marcus Maye, and maybe Quinnen Williams, what franchise cornerstones really exist on this roster? The point I’m making here is that the Jets will heavily rely on their rookie quarterback. I wouldn’t be shocked if Wilson enters the 50th percentile of pass attempts. To put that into perspective, New York had the fourth-fewest pass attempts AND the 10th-fewest rushing attempts in 2020. They need someone like Wilson who can contribute in both areas. If Wilson proves worthy of the second-overall pick, he’ll be exactly what this team needs. Wilson has sneaky upside at his current ADP.

Sam Darnold

Underdog ADP: QB25

Darnold is the only quarterback on this list who may fall into the Tannehill/Cousins category. We know he won’t be the focal point of Carolina’s offense—that will be some guy named Christian McCaffrey. We also know he won’t be a huge asset in the run game, as he’s averaged just 38 rushing attempts in three seasons. Yet, there seems to be a lot of Tannehill vibes here. A former top-10 pick who was thrust into a bad situation, who has flashed some upside, and gets a fresh start in an entirely different situation. Like Tannehill, Darnold doesn’t have to be the game-changer in this offense. 

The 24-year-old quarterback also has an often overlooked arm; Darnold’s career average depth of target (aDOT) is 8.4, which was Tannehill’s aDOT in 2020. The Panthers also give Darnold the best weapons he’s had in his three-year career: McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr. He may not have the upside nor experience that Tannehill has, but I can see Darnold reaching 4,000 passing yards in an offense featuring proven deep threats. 

Ben Roethlisberger 

Underdog ADP: QB28

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. At 39 years old, Roethlisberger is just not the same passer he once was. Add that with his durability concerns and we may be seeing the end of a potential Hall of Fame career. Despite all this, he was 12th in fantasy points per game last season (excluding Dak Prescott). He was also third in pass attempts. 

Like with Wilson and the Jets, I don’t expect the Steelers to match last season’s throwing volume. After all, they drafted Najee Harris in the first round. But should Roethlisberger really be the 28th quarterback off the board? Pittsburgh led the NFL in passes last year, though let’s say they decided to run instead of pass 75 times. That’s an extreme number, yet it would still comfortably place Roethlisberger in the top half of pass attempts. Normally, quarterbacks getting drafted around this ADP are either unproven or unconfirmed as starters. Roethlisberger is neither. He seems like a safe bet to crush his ADP, which is a strange thing to say since he’s played just four full seasons in his 17-year career.

Tyrod Taylor

Underdog ADP: QB36

Taylor may be the best value at the position right now. I think my tweet explains my reasoning fairly well, yet let’s go into some more detail.

The Texans had the third-highest pass-play percentage last season, and we shouldn’t expect that to change much this season. This is a bad roster, one that will be playing from behind a lot. That translates to a high projected volume for whoever is Houston’s starting quarterback. Technically, we don’t know who will be under center in Week 1, though I think we can safely rule out Deshaun Watson. That leaves Taylor, Jeff Driskel, and Davis Mills, the latter of which was the team’s first selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

While the Texans may have high hopes for Mills in the future, Taylor was brought in to man the ship for now. He was last a full-time starter in Buffalo from 2015-2017, where he averaged 36 rushing yards in 43 starts. For reference, Josh Allen—who ran for the fourth-most rushing yards among quarterbacks in 2020—has also averaged 36 rushing yards in 43 career starts. We know what Taylor is capable of and he’ll be heavily relied on to make plays. At this price, you should definitely consider Taylor if you miss out on earlier quarterbacks.

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