Drafting a quarterback late is all the rage in fantasy these days. Thanks to great minds like JJ Zachariason of Number Fire putting the "why" of this strategy into print, more and more casual fans are seeing the light and waiting on a quarterback who is a better value instead of reaching early on a big-name star.
As such, highlighting overvalued passers can be a bit of an arduous undertaking. Aside from the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, basically every other quarterback could be considered a value. Heck, I know it's a league full of analysts, but Drew Brees went in ROUND 10 of our recent PPR mock draft.
Nevertheless, below are the three quarterbacks I feel are being over-valued at their current ADP (average draft position). This isn't to say you shouldn't draft these players at all, but you could err on the side of caution and wait a few rounds until their value is more appropriate. Now, let's get to the list.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
ADP: QB6 on NFL.com, QB8 on FantasyPros.com
With Tom Brady officially ending his crusade to reduce his punishment from the Deflategate scandal, it's time to stop reaching for him in drafts. He is almost assuredly (pending some sort of black magic, NFLPA legal miracle) missing the first four games of the season. Which means you not only have to draft a second quarterback (or stream the position) to cover those four weeks, but Brady is left as dead weight on your bench. That could be a valuable spot to replace an injured starter, or scoop up a high-upside player from waivers. And if you think you'll be fine for four weeks, think again. The list of starters injured in the first four weeks of 2015 includes DeSean Jackson, Eddie Lacy, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch and Andre Ellington, just to name a few. And that doesn't even include Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin, who were both injured in August.
Brady's ADP should adjust as we approach August and fantasy season really kicks into gear, but as of right now he's being tremendously over-drafted. Sure, he will still be an elite passer when he returns and likely put up some great weeks down the stretch, but the opportunity cost of missing out on waiver wire players, or stashing a high-upside sleeper on your bench for those first four weeks (at least) is just too big. If Brady starts sinking into the double digit rounds, then it becomes more palatable to let him ride the pine for a bit. But when you could nab a player like Randall Cobb, T.Y. Hilton, Latavius Murray and Michael Floyd instead at Brady's current asking price, well, the decision becomes much clearer.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP: QB10 on NFL.com, QB9 on FantasyPros.com
Blake Bortles was a fantasy sensation last season, finishing as the QB4 in standard leagues, averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game. Considering his undrafted or waiver wire price tag, Bortles won plenty of fantasy owners championships. However, he succeeded in spite of himself in 2015, and the Jaguars' improvements this offseason speak to a team that's looking to rely a little less on the right arm of northeast Florida's favorite bro.
Part of Bortles' statistical success came as a result of his own deficiencies as a quarterback. He led the NFL in interceptions in 2015 (18), often forcing the Jaguars into pass-heavy, negative game scripts. Per Joe Redemann of Number Fire, this is why 16.67 percent of Bortles' big-play completions (20-plus yards) came in the fourth quarter of games where the Jaguars were down at least two scores. Yes, #garbagepointsstillcount, but they are also entirely fluky and tough to rely upon as a predictive measure. Furthermore, the Jaguars defense is one of the most improved units of the offseason, which could flip the script on the Jaguars offensive play-calling.
Last year, the Jaguars lost first-round pick Dante Fowler on the first day of rookie mini-camp to a torn ACL, hindering their pass rush all season long. He's back to full health now, and along with Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Prince Amukamara gives the Jags an extreme defensive makeover. This unit allowed the second-most points the league last year, and that simply won't be the case in 2016, which should reduce Bortles' attempts.
Finally, the Jaguars were extremely pass-happy in the red zone in 2015, with Bortles slinging the rock 51 times inside the 10-yard line alone! (Kudos to Rotoworld's Rich Hribar for that nugget.) To remedy that play-calling discrepancy, the team signed Chris Ivory to a five-year, $32.5-million contract. Ivory will split work with T.J. Yeldon, but is the prototypical power back that head coach Gus Bradley desires -- especially in the red zone. If Bortles passes less near the end zone, his touchdown total will inevitably drop as well.
All this isn't to say Bortles will be a terrible pick this year, but jumping on him in the 10th round over later-round options with similar, if not higher, ceilings is why the Central Florida product makes this list.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
ADP: QB11 on NFL.com, QB10 on FantasyPros.com
No quarterback had worse luck than Tony Romo last year. I mean, the guy broke the same collarbone twice for crying out loud and lost his starting wide receiver for part of the few games he was healthy. However, despite that injury risk and Romo's age (36), he is being drafted as a borderline starting quarterback in 2016. That's simply too rich for my blood.
When pulling the trigger on Romo in the early double digit rounds, many will cite his epic (and hyper-efficient) 2014 campaign where with a stud running back (DeMarco Murray) and a healthy Dez Bryant, Romo finished as the QB9 despite ranking 23rd in attempts. Romo has Ezekiel Elliott now and a healthy Dez -- why can't he repeat that success? Well, for starters, Romo threw touchdowns at an historic clip that year, leading the league with a 7.8 touchdown percentage. To illustrate how insane that number is, there have only been four instances in the last 10 years of a quarterback finishing the year with a higher touchdown percentage. Three came in MVP seasons from Hall-of-Fame passers -- Tom Brady (8.7, 2007), Aaron Rodgers (9.0, 2011), and Peyton Manning (8.3, 2013). The other? Well, that was the inexplicable Nick Foles 27-touchdown, two-interception year in 2013. If Robert Stack (rest in peace) were still soliciting Unsolved Mysteries, I'm sure that Foles season would be prominently featured in an episode. Anyway, I digress. It is almost a certainty that Romo will fail to throw touchdowns at as great of a clip in 2016. JJ Zachariason (mentioned above) ran the numbers on touchdown rates this offseason in a great article for NumberFire. Of the 11 passers to post a touchdown rate greater than seven percent since 2010, not one posted a better touchdown rate the following year, and the average drop was 2.45 percentage points.
Now, let's bring this back to Romo in 2016. The Cowboys lean more on the run now than in the past, with Romo's attempts slowly declining. So if we take his average attempts per year from 2014-15 (485) and multiply it by his reduced touchdown rate -- assuming the 2.45 percent drop -- of .0535, or 5.35 percent, Romo projects to finish the year with around 26 passing touchowns. That's eight fewer than he had in 2014. Now, this isn't exact, but it helps paint the picture of why Romo is a bit overvalued in the 10th or 11th round. Factoring in the realization that Romo hasn't crossed the 4,000-yard mark in either of his last two full-ish seasons, and it becomes even clearer that passing on Romo at his current asking price is the right move.
Until next time ...