Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell will be here all season delivering the edge you need to dominate your fantasy football league. Visit 1500espn.com each Wednesday for a new column and every Thursday for a new episode of the Fantasy Football Party podcast.
The 2017 season is gonna be a blast. We’ve got a ton of new things happening, which we detailed here last week. The one update we have for you is that if you attend our inaugural podcast recording Wednesday, August 9, at Union 32 Craft House and stop by to say hi, we’ll give you a pair of tickets to Saturday’s Fantasy Football Convention with Mike Golic and Mike Golic, Jr. (We’ll be there, too.) We’ve got a limited supply, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. We’ll hit the record button at 8 pm. You can ask us questions right on the podcast, and even participate in our mock draft we’ll do live on espn.com as we’re recording! Follow @TheFFParty on twitter for info on that. We’ll tweet out the room we’re in right before we start, so you’ll have to be quick on the draw to get in.
Our cheat sheets are below and we’ll update them weekly to include with our article on 1500espn.com. Without further ado, let’s talk sleeper quarterback!
John Tuvey’s quarterback sleeper: Brian Hoyer, 49ers
Quarterback is a deep, deep position; in a one-quarterback league you could fall asleep at the switch, wake up, and still land a decent pass-catcher: the likes of Tyrod Taylor, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer all have ADPs south of QB16.
But let’s say you’re in a big league, you spend all your draft capital on other positions, and then you go face-first on the table. When you come to the room is empty—and so is the draft queue.
Never fear; Brian Hoyer is here.
Yes, the same Brian Hoyer who’s on his seventh NFL stop and made 31 career starts since entering the league in 2009. And no, I didn’t wake up next to you on the tavern floor.
Hoyer will go largely undrafted in most leagues, and if you’re a typical 10-or 12-team league that only starts one quarterback you likely don’t need to reach this deep into your bag of tricks. But Hoyer has several factors working in his favor this season.
Let’s start with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. As the Texans’ offensive coordinator in 2009 he made Matt Schaub the third-best fantasy quarterback in the league. He squeezed a similar season out of Matt Ryan in Atlanta last year, and in between guided Robert Griffin III to two 21-plus fantasy points per game campaigns. He’s worked with Hoyer before—Cleveland, 2014—and if Josh Gordon hadn’t been suspended for the season Hoyer would have easily bested his 15.6 fantasy points per game output.
Continuing the Peaches & Herb theme, Shanahan also used the offseason to reunite with Pierre Garçon, who led the league in targets the last time he toiled in a Shanahan system. San Francisco inked Garçon to be their WR1, and Shanahan WR1s feast—four top-five fantasy wide receiver finishes in nine seasons of play-calling. And, in a great stat find from Fantasy Football Matrix, Hoyer loves his WR1s to the tune of 10.7 targets, six catches and 81 yards per game in games he has started.
Bringing together Hoyer, Garçon and Shanahan—on a team that’s going to be playing catchup a good share of the time—means copious opportunity to put up fantasy numbers.
That means “big”. And for a guy you can literally skip your draft and still pick up. All you need to do is show up and collect the trophy.
Bo Mitchell’s quarterback sleeper: Carson Wentz, Eagles
Those of you who had Wentz in your fantasy lineup at any point over the second half of last season have every reason to doubt what I am about to propose: namely, that Wentz could be a useful player this season and, in fact, has a ceiling that could (underscore “could”) make him a (gasp!) QB1 in 12-team leagues.
No, I didn’t come up with this silly idea after sampling every single one of the 32 beers on the wall at Union 32 (home base for this season’s Fantasy Football Party podcast). Just hear me out before hurtling your insults.
First of all a little breaking news: Wentz is not the first quarterback to struggle as a rookie. And in spite of his abysmal second half, he still finished 18th in passing yards while throwing the fifth-most passes in the league. Hardly a great yards-per-attempt ratio, but that attempts stat should smell like opportunity to sage fantasy owners. If there’s anything we, as fantasy owners, like as much as ability it’s opportunity.
The Eagles are going to throw the ball. A lot.
They didn’t go out and spend money to bring in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to leapfrog Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor on the wide receiver depth chart because of their downfield blocking ability. No, the Eagles are going to lean on their first-round draft pick quarterback to pass them up and down the field while letting new running back LeGarrette Blount pick up the tough yards between the tackles as well as the goal-line looks.
Wentz is a lock for well north of 600 pass attempts this season; and with Jeffery, Smith, Matthews, Agholor alongside Zach Ertz and pass-catching backs Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood, Wentz is surrounded in weapons. A top-10 finish in passing yards is not completely out of the question.
Obviously, he will need to improve upon 2016’s 16-14 TD-INT ratio, but the upgrade in wide receiver talent alone should help that. Moreover, the early reports on Wentz out of Eagles camp are, not surprisingly, glowing.
The best part about drafting Wentz, is that you will get him at the price of a low-end QB2 or even high-QB3 – due to his struggles over the final months of last season and because of the overall fantasy depth at quarterback. Nobody is drafting him as their fantasy starter outside of leagues in Fargo, and I am not suggesting you do so either. However, he’s essentially free and could become quite a valuable asset this season.
Anthony Maggio’s quarterback sleeper: Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Are we just picking guys named Carson on teams with bird mascots? Yeah, that’s about it.
Tuvey made mention of Carson Palmer earlier before venturing into the deep end of the pool with Hoyer, so I’ll bring us back to safer waters—or as safe as the waters get for a 37-year-old. After all this is the same guy that would’ve torpedoed me in a couple leagues last season had there not been waiver wire help available. But that’s kind of the point…
Palmer entered the first full week of August as the 20th quarterback off the board according to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, so he’s costing you next to nothing in re-draft leagues. If he doesn’t work out, move along and keep streaming. But Palmer was the MVP runner-up just two seasons ago, and wasn’t as bad as you probably remember last season. Well, that is if you ONLY remember the first half of the year. But in his final nine games Palmer managed a 19:9 touchdown to interception ratio and hit the 300-yard passing mark four times. This despite being basically without John Brown last year, who was a popular breakout candidate before a concussion sidelined him August, his sickle-cell trait caused leg issues all season, and a cyst on his spine nagged at him until it was removed after Week 17. Throw in Michael Floyd’s contract-year flameout that ended in a DUI and release, and suddenly Palmer gets some of his shine back.
Sure, this assumes Brown is back to full health (the team says so, but we’ll have to see it in the preseason) and that Palmer can avoid the dead arm that plagued him in the early part of 2016. Starting the season at Detroit and at Indianapolis helps, too. And if he can keep things rolling for you to use him as a weekly starter, you’ll likely feel good about the Weeks 13-15 stretch that the Cardinals at home against the Rams and the Titans before traveling to DC to face Washington.
Yes, strength of schedule is tough to predict year-to-year so I don’t want to harp on that too much. Consider it the frosting on a delicious Carson Palmer sleeper cake. Go on, take a slice!
Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Party podcast. Bookmark the podcast page for upcoming episodes and subscribe to the podcast now! Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
Maggio hosted Fantasy Football Sunday on 1500ESPN from 2012-2013. Mitchell is Vice President of Content for Sportradar. And Tuvey is Director of Content at Fanball. All three men are kind of big deals, enjoy leather-bound books and have woodwork at home that smells of rich mahogany.
Follow Maggio @MPLSMaggio
Follow Bo @Bo_Mitchell
Follow John @jtuvey