Early Sleepers for 2017 - Quarterbacks

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Everyone seems to have a different definition for what makes a fantasy football "sleeper." For some, it's simply a player they expect to greatly exceed expectations based on their draft position. For others, sleepers are more like unknown commodities - deeper under the radar than mere value picks. For example, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson currently have average draft positions of 10th and 11th, respectively, among quarterbacks. Both should rebound from injury-plagued seasons to return greater value in 2017, but they're hardly sleepers.

Below we've highlighted a handful of quarterbacks that have a chance to break out next season as viable fantasy quarterbacks, like Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott did this season. Note: 2017 average draft positions from Fantasy Football Calculator are in parentheses.

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Quarterback Sleepers for 2017 Fantasy Football

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10.04)

Final 2016 stats: 4,090 pass yds, 28 TDs, 18 INTs; 165 rush yds, 1 TD

At first glance, it's easy to think Winston already had his breakout season in 2016. His final numbers (4,090 yards, 28 TDs) are solid, but upon closer inspection, his rookie season was actually more productive from a fantasy perspective.

Winston's passing touchdowns increased by six in his second year, but his interceptions also went up (15 to 18). Most notably, his rushing numbers dropped from 213 yards and six touchdowns to 165 yards and one score. Winston will only be 23 years old when the 2017 season begins, so his best days should still be ahead of him. With one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL (Mike Evans) and an up-and-coming tight end (Cameron Brate), Winston is one more weapon away from approaching 4,500 yards and 30-plus touchdowns.

Considering he's being drafted in the 10th round as the 16th overall quarterback, Winston carries significant upside entering his third NFL season. He's hardly unknown, but at this point he qualifies as a sleeper for next season.

 

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (13.01)

Final 2016 stats: 29 pass yds, 1 TD, 0 INT; 0 rush yds, 0 TDs

Of course we had to include America's most popular backup quarterback. Romo suffered a back injury in the preseason and watched from the sideline as the rookie Prescott took over the Cowboys' starting job. Prescott guided Dallas to a 13-3 record and established himself as the team's long-term quarterback.

Romo is widely expected to be playing for another team next season, so although we've listed him as a Cowboy, consider his future uncertain. He'll be 37 at the start of the 2017 season, but he has a proven track record of impressive fantasy production.

Romo's age and injury history will make him a risk, but he's still an attractive option, especially if he lands in a fantasy-friendly environment like Denver or Washington (as opposed to Cleveland, Chicago or the New York Jets). Romo's currently being drafted as the No. 22 quarterback, which makes him an intriguing high-upside player to monitor.

 

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (14.02)

Final 2016 stats: 2,241 pass yds, 16 TDs, 4 INTs; 468 rush yds, 2 TDs

Kaepernick, like Romo, is expected to move on from his current team in the offseason, so his fantasy future is difficult to forecast. He acquitted himself well this season after taking over the starting job from the ineffective Blaine Gabbert, showing the same dual-threat ability that helped carry the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII.

Kaepernick's elite rushing ability will always give him added fantasy value, but if he remains proficient as a passer (16-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2016), he'll far exceed his 14th round average draft position.

Kaepernick's fantasy value is less tied to the talent around him than Romo, and Kaepernick showed this season he can be productive on a losing team. If he lands with a rebuilding team like Buffalo, Chicago or the Jets, he could still return solid value.

 

Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos (N/A)

Final 2016 stats: 3,401 pass yds, 18 TDs, 10 INTs; 57 rush yds, 0 TDs

Siemian had ups and downs in his first season as the Broncos' starting quarterback, but he showed enough promise to warrant fantasy consideration next season. Siemian's job isn't guaranteed -- 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch will push him, and a veteran like Romo could still be added.

If Siemian enters the 2017 season as Denver's starter, he could be a sneaky option at quarterback. The Broncos have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, and the additions of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave should benefit the 25-year-old Siemian.

He isn't currently being drafted among the top 26 quarterbacks, so he won't cost more than a late-round pick, if he even requires a selection at all. Siemian is someone to monitor throughout the offseason.

 

Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (N/A)

Final 2015 stats: 3,231 pass yds, 14 TDs, 9 INTs; 192 rush yds, 3 TDs

This is the deepest sleeper of the bunch. Bridgewater missed the entire 2016 season due to a catastrophic leg injury suffered late in the preseason. The Vikings were forced to trade for veteran Sam Bradford, and it's unclear whether Bridgewater will be ready for the start of the season.

Even if Bridgewater is healthy, he might have to compete with Bradford, who passed for 3,877 yards and 20 touchdowns in 15 starts. He also set the NFL record for completion percentage in a single season (71.6%), which won't be overlooked by the coaching staff. When we last saw Bridgewater in action, he helped lead Minnesota to the postseason, but was largely unimpressive for fantasy purposes.

The Vikings' offense, with the emergence of wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph, looks far more fantasy-friendly now than it did in 2015, so Bridgewater would be stepping back into a decent situation. Like Siemian, he's someone to monitor as the offseason progresses.

 

Honorable Mention

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (N/A)

Final 2016 stats: 1,089 pass yds, 5 TDs, 7 INTs; 16 rush yds, 1 TD

A new coaching staff could do wonders for the Rams offense, but that's far from guaranteed for a club that finished 2016 dead last in total offense. They were the only squad to average less than 300 total yards per game (262.7), although Goff's role in that statistic was limited to seven games.


Check out RotoBaller's famous 2017 fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!


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