Fantasy Football Quarterback Sleepers: Carson Palmer Shaping Up To Be a Late Steal

Waiting on the quarterback position is a time-tested strategy in fantasy football. These four signal callers can help you pull it off to perfection.
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The Staples Series of the SI/4for4 Fantasy Football Draft Kit will cover the three labels fantasy owners have come to know and love over the years: breakouts, sleepers and busts. In this installment, SI’s Michael Beller and 4for4’s John Paulsen give their sleepers at the quarterback position.

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Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (ADP: Round 11)

Dalton finished as the fantasy QB12 in 2016, the QB4 in 2013, and actually has three top-12 finishes in the last five years. A.J. Green is healthy, Tyler Eifert should be ready for camp, and the Bengals added speedster John Ross and the versatile Joe Mixon in the draft. In the last two seasons with a healthy Green available for 23 games, Dalton has completed 65.4% of his passes for 261 yards (8.1 yards per attempt) and 1.57 touchdowns, with just 0.57 interceptions, per game. He also scored an average of 0.26 rushing touchdowns per game during that span. The resulting 18.4 fantasy points per game would have been good for QB7 numbers in 2016, so Daltonis looking like a terrific value as the 16th or 17th passer off the board. Given his ADP, Dalton can be paired with another quarterback to form a potent committee, or an owner could even forgo a backup and start out with Dalton as their sole quarterback. — John Paulsen

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Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills (ADP: Round 10)

Taylor was a 4for4 favorite last summer until Sammy Watkins’ injury, but he still produced top-eight numbers with Watkins in and out of the lineup. He was also a top-10 quarterback on a per-game basis in 2015, meaning he has now produced starter-caliber numbers in two straight seasons. In 29 games over the last two years, Taylor has completed 62.7% of his passes for 208 yards (7.38 YPA), 1.28 touchdowns and just 0.41 interceptions. He’s also a dual threat, adding an average of 41 rushing yards and 0.34 touchdowns on the ground per game, totaling an average of 18.8 fantasy points per game. His fantasy playoff schedule (Colts, Dolphins and Patriots in Weeks 14–16, respectively) looks pretty favorable, as well. To top it all off, Taylor’s age 26–27 numbers compare favorably to Russell Wilson’s. As long as Watkins stays healthy (fingers crossed), Taylor is shaping up as one of the best late-round quarterback values. — JP

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals (ADP: Round 14)

Let’s start with the bad. Palmer is 37 years old and coming off a season of significant regression. He has been a top-15 quarterback just once in his four seasons with the Cardinals, making his monster 2015 campaign the outlier. And yet, I find it awfully hard to resist him in the 14th round. Say what you will, Palmer still has the big arm that has been his hallmark all the way back to his college days at USC. David Johnson is clearly the focal point of the offense, and Bruce Arians is expected to scale back his air-it-out offense to better reflect that fact, but this team is still going to push the ball down the field. Palmer has an attractive set of weapons, starting with Johnson, who could probably be a top-20 receiver if he weren’t the perfect running back for the modern NFL. Larry Fitzgerald is still getting the job done, and John Brown is healthy for the first time since early last season. No one is going to fight you for Palmer, but he has easily identifiable QB1 upside. — Michael Beller

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Broncos Starter TBD (ADP: Round 20)

We don’t know yet if Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch will start for the Broncos this season. What do know that whoever wins the job will make for a great late-round dart throw, and a legitimate sleeper in superflex and two-quarterback formats. Siemian enjoyed a flash of fantasy relevance early last season, ultimately throwing for 3,401 yards, 7.00 yards per attempt and 18 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. His limitations were exposed, and that, coupled with John Elway’s affinity for Lynch, makes this a real quarterback competition. No matter who wins the job, he will have Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles at his disposal. That quartet is more than enough to get excited about either Siemian or Lynch at their respective ADPs. — MB