A 2015 Streaming Recap & 5 Quarterback Sleepers for 2016
It is hard to predict how the future will remember the past, but we will likely remember 2015 as the year of the late-round quarterback. As elite quarterbacks struggled, unheralded youngsters skyrocketed to the top of the position. Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning disappointed owners all year. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, and Tyrod Taylor – to say nothing of Cam Newton and Carson Palmer – handsomely rewarded those who believed in them.
Last year, I wrote that quarterback streaming requires you to stay several steps ahead of your competition, to look weeks ahead and scout for soft quarterback matchups. To that end, I recommended you draft Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston if you planned to wait on quarterback. Let’s just say that recommendation worked well.
Through the first eight weeks, Palmer was QB2 and Dalton was QB5, not bad for quarterbacks drafted at ADPs of 151 and 173. Winston started the season slow, but put up reasonable numbers all year to finish the season at QB14. He wasn’t inspiring, but he also was a fine plug-and-play option if you waited on the position.
Each of those quarterbacks was quickly scooped up and held all year, so they weren’t our streaming darlings, to steal a great term from Jennifer Eakin’s article on streaming tight ends. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, and Josh McCown frequently made that list. Each was cheap to draft, but more importantly, they were often on the waiver wire
I expect this year to be more stable at the quarterback position, but history tells us that we will be able to find good values late in drafts and even later on the waiver wire. Like last year, I want to plan ahead and look for sleepers who aren’t being drafted early, so let’s dive into my late-round targets for 2016.
John Paulsen recently released his 19 Quarterback Sleepers & Values. This article provides my own thoughts on the topic, which will bleed into the weekly QB streaming article I will be writing again this year.
Cousins blew the competition away in the second half of 2015, and his offense remains mostly intact heading into this season. He is surrounded by talent, including a first-round rookie WR, Josh Doctson. For now, at least, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson are healthy, and the team appears primed to rely on the pass game again after they let Alfred Morris walk in free agency. Cousins has one of the best first-half schedules of any quarterback, so I expect him to get off to a strong early start. He has a current ADP of QB14, or the end of the 10th round in 12-team leagues. If you draft Cousins, I would pair him with Joe Flacco, another quarterback I'll discuss shortly.
Like Cousins, Dalton has a favorable schedule, but his matchups become most appealing in the second half of the year. The Bengals face a few difficult matchups early, during the time they may be without elite tight end Tyler Eifert. After those first few weeks, however, the schedule turns into cake, and I expect Dalton to rebound close to the top-ten levels we saw in 2013 and 2015. He lost two second-tier weapons in the offseason, but he will still be throwing to A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and Giovani Bernard. Dalton was a top-ten weekly option under two different offensive coordinators in the last three years, and this year's OC, Ken Zampese, was an internal hire who knows the system. Additionally, Dalton's head coach, Marvin Lewis, has been in Cincinnati since 2003, making the Bengals one of the most stable franchises in the league. I am not too worried that the offseason changes will cripple Dalton’s value. His current price is QB15, immediately after Cousins.
The Bills’ starting quarterback is every fantasy analyst’s dream sleeper this offseason, yet his ADP hasn’t gotten above QB18. Lasting into the 14th round of 10-team leagues, Taylor is likely discounted because of concerns about Sammy Watkins' health. Last year, however, Taylor showed that he has independent fantasy value because of his rushing ability. After the team’s Week 8 bye, Taylor added at least four points on the ground in six of his next eight games. All that on top of several impressive passing performances. I too have some concern with the volume Tyrod will get in the passing game, but even if he only throws 25 times in a game, his top-five efficiency last year proved that he can make the most out of those throws.