Fantasy Football Sleeper And Bust Of The Week: Draft Bridgewater, not Big Ben
We talked Allen Robinson versus Kevin White, Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon and now we check in on the quarterbacks in our Sleeper and Bust of the Week series. We all know to wait on quarterbacks these days, but not everyone knows that consistency is an extremely important factor in grabbing a reliable option. Too often, owners focus on the year-end numbers and not the week-by-week performances, and that is a mistake...
Sleeper: Teddy Bridgewater, MIN
Last year, I had Bridgewater as the best quarterback in the NFL Draft. I mention that for two reasons. First, with the loads of information at your fingertips each year, you're not going to remember every player breakdown or ranking.
Secondly, I want to make sure that you know Bridgewater's success isn't surprising. Here is what I said about him last year:
"Forget his pro day, I'm still sold on Bridgewater. There are simply too many positives in my book. Bridgewater handles the blitz extremely well, has great pocket awareness, is rather mobile, doesn't waste movement and showed good accuracy. His downfield throws and touch need work, but Bridgewater can provide higher-end QB2 value if he lands on the right team."
Bridgewater didn't start Week 1 and finished as QB22. To be fair, he had a slow start: zero TDs and three INTs in the first three games. However, over the final six weeks, Bridgewater came into his own with 1,440 yards, 10 TDs six INTs, 112 rushing yards and 17.2 FPPG. The points per game would have tied with Joe Flacco for 16th overall, or high-end QB2.
Some are still hesitant because of the interceptions and lacking of rushing. I use the term "lack" loosely, as Bridgewater is in the Aaron Rodgers/Andrew Luck mold. People see his athleticism and want Cam Newton numbers, but he's more Rodgers/Luck in that he'll run when needed, providing 200-300 yards and a few touchdowns. As for the interceptions, Bridgewater is actually a very intelligent passer but got a bit too aggressive late last year thanks to an inept offense.
The Vikings have Adrian Peterson back… hello open passing lanes! They also brought in Mike Wallace to stretch the field, have Charles Johnson emerging and still hope to get something, anything, out of Cordarrelle Patterson. Needless to say, this is a much better offense than whatever you want to call that mess we saw last year.
Bridgewater's current ADP (FantasyPros.com consensus of ESPN, Yahoo! and CBS) is QB21. That's five and six spots behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. What?! It's also behind Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler. Jump on that value. Bridgewater will reach the higher 3,000s this year with mid-20s touchdowns and those added rushing stats. Put it all together and you have my QB15 who is battling Matthew Stafford and Collin Kaepernick for even better.
Bust: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
Big Ben won't be a big bust at year's end, but he will be when it comes to consistency. Come January, his numbers will look nice. After all, I have Roethlisberger as my QB6, and in seasons of 15-plus games, he's finished as QB10, 6, 16, 8, 13, 8 and 6. But here's the kicker: Big Ben went really big during Weeks 8 and 9 last year, totaling 26 percent of his Fantasy Points. That's not odd for Roethlisberger either. In 2013, Weeks 9, 11 and 14 accounted for 31 percent of his points. In 2012, even though he missed time, Weeks 3 and 14 accounted for 24 percent of his season's total. That's why even though I have Roethlisberger projected to finish as QB6, I wouldn't draft him at that cost… which happens to be his current ADP.
Let's look at Roethlisberger on a weekly basis. A typical QB1 finish is normally around 17-18 points. Roethlisberger only had seven 17-plus weeks. Just seven. Okay, so some weeks 20 Fantasy points isn't enough to crack QB1 status while sometimes just 15 is good enough. When going week-by-week, Big Ben only had eight official QB1 weeks last year. So he gets a boost, but barely. In fact, Roethlisberger had five weeks under 13 points with just 7.7 in Week 2.
Roethlisberger is a great low-end QB1 for your team and a terrific DFS play as seen. However, you want to pair him with an upside option that can take his place for the tougher matchups. Trusting Big Ben every single week just isn't a smart move for 2015.
Main image photo credit: KEVIN PIATT
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