Fantasy NFL

Searching for undervalued quarterbacks

By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - If you have been, or are, a part of the investment industry, then the following phrase should be very familiar to you: past performance is not an indicator of future results.

The phrase has just as much significance in the fantasy world as in the investment community.

Although knowing what a player did in the past may give you an indication of his performance level for the upcoming season, nothing is guaranteed.

It's interesting that in the latest fantasyfootballcalculator.com results, the ADP (average draft position) of five quarterbacks has little relationship to their performance of a season ago.

The five quarterbacks listed below performed well above the respect they are receiving from fantasy owners to date. As you can see from the chart at the bottom of the page, they produced more points than the quarterbacks ranked ahead of them, sometimes by a significant margin.

It's important, therefore, to find the underlying reason for questioning their ability to duplicate their 2013 results. If the reasons are real then they are probably correctly ranked, but if we find a flaw in the thinking then we will likely have found a huge bargain for the upcoming draft.

Let's evaluate the quarterbacks in question.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia - Taking over for Michael Vick in midseason, Foles surprised everyone with his scintillating play averaging 21.8 fantasy points per game. His 27 touchdowns to two interceptions were outstanding and his interception percentage (0.6) was the lowest of any quarterback with at least 10 starts. However, heading into 2014, the Eagles gave up on their top speed receiver (DeSean Jackson) and will go with Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and rookie Jordan Matthews. That's a lot of question marks as targets. Maclin is coming off ACL surgery, Cooper was as much of a surprise as Foles and Matthews, as a rookie, is still an unknown quantity. Foles will have two of the league's best receiving backs in LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.

Defensive coordinators have had an offseason to diagnose and develop strategies against coach Chip Kelly's offense. Add in a division winner's schedule and contests against the NFL West, including the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, and it's going to be a much tougher road for Foles in 2014. As the No. 6 quarterback off the board, I think he's correctly positioned.

Cam Newton, Carolina - The fear in selecting Newton is not the lack of talent from the quarterback himself, but of the absence of talent at the wideout position. The truth is, however, he has never had much talent on the outside and he's managed to post top-five fantasy numbers for the past three seasons despite the deficiency. Steve Smith's best seasons were probably already behind him when Newton arrived in 2011 and the team never adequately filled the spot opposite Smith. Now Smith himself is gone and fantasy owners are nervous about choosing Newton. He'll be throwing to rookie Kelvin Benjamin and journeymen Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood in 2014. But he'll also have a top tight end in Greg Olsen.

Selecting Newton has never been about big numbers in the passing game, it's also been about his ability to run and score touchdowns in the red zone. That hasn't changed. He's still the best running quarterback in the NFL. Given that, Newton should be a nice bargain in the seventh round (ADP 81.9) as the 10th quarterback off the board.

Philip Rivers, San Diego - Despite losing his top receiver before the season ever got underway (Danario Alexander) and his No. 2 guy two weeks in, Rivers put together a season that won him the 2013 AP Comeback Player of the Year. He averaged 17 points per game, which was seventh-best among starters while throwing to an aging tight end, a rookie wideout and his running backs. As the No. 14 ranked passer, he's apparently not even being thought of as a starter. So why is he failing to get respect from fantasy owners? Beats me! Floyd is back, Keenan Allen is a year smarter, Gates is still in town and running back Danny Woodhead's 76 receptions aren't a fluke.

Fantasy owners should love being able to pick him up in the 10th round (ADP 110.4) after he threw for 4,478 yards and 32 TDs last season. No reason he can't do it again in 2014.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati - One thing about Dalton, he's in the lineup every week. Heading into his fourth year, he's yet to miss a start (48-for-48). He also averaged more fantasy points per game than Matthew Stafford or Andrew Luck, yet while they are top-five picks, Dalton is the 17th quarterback off the board. That's insanity. He has one of the best receivers in all of football in A.J. Green, a productive receiver in Marvin Jones, two quality tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, and an explosive receiver out of the backfield in Giovani Bernard.

As a 11th-round pick, he's the best quarterback value on the board. Do not make the mistake of passing him by if he's still available anywhere after the 10th round.

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay - Replacing an injured Jay Cutler, McCown was magnificent throwing for 308 yards per game and 11 touchdowns (one interception) in his five starts (22.8 points per game). Of course, he was throwing to two of the most talented receivers in the game in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Though the Buccaneers are trying to imitate that duo in Tampa with Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans, it isn't likely to work out as well.

I think he's being undervalued as the 19th quarterback off the draft board, but he comes with the inherent risk of a new team, new set of receivers and new game plan. He's a nice value as an early 13th-round selection, but he shouldn't be expected to be an every week starter.

fantasyfootballcalculator.com QB ADP as of July 11

Rank Player....................2013 PPG (full games only)

1....Peyton Manning............26.7

2....Aaron Rodgers.............20.6

3....Drew Brees................22.9

4....Matthew Stafford..........17.5

5....Andrew Luck...............17.2

6....Nick Foles................21.8

7....Robert Griffin III........14.4

8....Tom Brady.................14.3

9....Matt Ryan.................14.2

10...Cam Newton................16.5

11...Colin Kaepernick..........14.7

12...Tony Romo.................16.1

13...Jay Cutler................15.7

14...Phillip Rivers............17.0

15...Russell Wilson............15.0

16...Ben Roethlisberger........14.6

17...Andy Dalton...............17.6

18...Johnny Manziel*............0.0

19...Josh McCown...............22.8

20...Eli Manning................8.9

21...Carson Palmer.............12.0

22...Ryan Tannehill............12.3

* - NFL rookie

07/11 14:39:43 ET