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Simplify.

You hear the “life coaches” (don’t get me started on those overpaid mofos) use the word all the time. Unfortunately, I often agree with them, and it is one of the reasons we have shortened the title of my column from “What I Know, What I Think, What I Can Prove” to simply the “KTP Report”.

However, I don’t always agree with the edict of simplify, as I prefer to play in Fantasy Football leagues that are not so simple, especially 2-QB leagues.

Thus, QB fantasy value holds a much bigger place in my heart than most Fantasy analysts. However, I will share that love with you as I discuss five underrated QBs, including three that might be more suited for 2-QB leagues. But let’s start with one that all Fantasy players are aware of….

5 Underrated QBs for 2015

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

I know….the following facts:

  • Since 2006, Drew Brees has not once finished outside the top six quarterbacks.
  • Last year was the first time in five years that he did not finish in the top three when he finished fourth.
  • The number of other quarterbacks who finished as a top four QB each of the last five years? Zero. No one. Zilch. Zippo. Not Aaron Rodgers, not Peyton Manning, and of course not even Andrew Luck who achieved that designation for the first time last year.
  • Brees is tied with Aaron Rodgers for the most top-three quarterback finishes since 2006, ranking amongst the top three a sparkling half dozen times.

I think…that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. Brees amazingly has become an underrated QB representing immense value. Even our own Jack Delany has him outside of the top 5. Jack might have him low, but he’s not alone– NFL.com has him ranked outside the top five also, but neither is as bad as USA TODAY, who has him ranked ninth! Brees has suddenly become an underrated QB and unlike guys like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, that’s without showing any noticeable decline on the field.

I can prove….that even if Brees has less pass attempts this year, he can still put up quality “Top 5” numbers. Let’s concede to the haters that the Saints will run much more this year, therefore Brees will have less passing attempts. How much less? 5%? 15%? I don’t think Sean Payton is going to suddenly completely flip flop his ratios to 60% rushing, but let’s say Brees throws 20% less this year. That’s 130 less attempts, which would give him over 520 this upcoming year, or pretty close to the 514 attempts he threw in 2009.

And how was that 2009 season? Brees threw for only 4,388 yards and 34 TDs. That would have made him No. 6 in yards and T-4 in TDs last year. Doesn’t that sound like a Top-5 QB?

Moving on from Brees, the NFL.com rankings are better in at least one respect than ESPN and CBS, who are under-ranking  Joe Flacco, who they have ranked as the 20th best QB….

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

I know….Marc Trestman’s nickname is the “QB whisperer”. You know it too. It is because quarterbacks under Marc Trestman typically see an elevation in their game/stats, especially the first year. Guess who the Ravens new offensive coordinator is?

I also know that Flacco gets the same amount of points whether he hits Forsett on a quick pass he takes in for a touchdown or if he had hit the departed Torrey Smith in the corner of the end zone. I am not worried about the loss of Torrey Smith, who by the way only had five more receptions than Forsett last year who had nearly twice the amount of YAC (yards after catch) than Smith—299 to 163. Remember how many receiving TDs Forte had two years ago under Trestman for the first time? Do I need to connect the dots further for you?

I think…that Joe Flacco remains an underrated QB but finishes very close to a QB1 ranking this year. The Ravens play four games this coming year against teams that ranked in the top 10 in giving up fantasy points to QBs last year, and that doesn’t include the “meh” secondaries of JAX and SD whom they also play.  Flacco will be worth more than just a bye-week fill-in.

I can prove….that Flacco himself expects the Ravens offense to be better:  “I want us to be better. I think we’re going to be better”

http://www.baltimoreravens.com/news/article-1/Joe-Flacco-Expects-Offense-To-Be-Even-Better/6cf1b994-2442-4cce-8b45-f4e9ec252880?mobile-id=925475&media-type=N

Something tells me he’s not wrong. Although there is another underrated QB that played for the Ravens who is getting even less respect than Flacco, and that’s Tyrod Taylor.

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

I know…that Tyrod Taylor is going undrafted, even in 2-QB leagues. But those of you in deep 2-QB leagues need to consider him. Why? Because…

I think….that Taylor starts for the Buffalo Bills at some point this season. First off, we know Matt Cassel has thoroughly unimpressed the beat writers and coaches at camp. Secondly, do you honestly think E.J. Manuel and his sub-200 passing yards per game is the answer?

I can prove…that if nothing else, one thing Taylor brings to the table is his rushing ability. While Manuel averages less than 3.5 yards a rush, Taylor averages over five yards a carry. Last year, only three quarterbacks had a rushing average over five yards—Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick—all quarterbacks that you’d have to agree are pretty good running the ball right? Taylor screams underrated QB right now in 2QB leagues.

But for those who want an underrated QB who has actually started I give you…..

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles

I know….that the “Sanchise” is my No.1 backup QB right now. He is absolutely one of the most underrated QBs out there.

I think…that Chip Kelly is a mastermind, and if anyone can squeeze value out of Sanchez, it’s Kelly. I also don’t think Sam Bradford is a bounty of injury-free worry, and I would bet on Sanchez starting at least couple games this year if not more.

I can prove….that Sanchez is coming off one of his best year’s, further evidence that Kelly’s system might be the perfect one for Sanchez.

Having never even sniffed a 60 percent completion percentage, Sanchez had his highest QB rating ever, completing 64% of his passes. Yes, that’s better than Matt Stafford and Eli Manning, but that’s also better than….wait for it…Andrew Luck, often one of the first two quarterbacks off the board this year.

Of course if he’s completing more passes, he’s probably completing much shorter passes, right? Wrong. After never having better than 6.7 yards per completion, Sanchez saw 7.8 yards per completion and nearly 270 yards per game. The latter is better than Matt Stafford, Tom Brady, and Phillip Rivers—all quarterbacks being ranked in the top ten. But that 7.8 yards per completion? That’s better than both Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, two quarterbacks typically ranked as Top 5 quarterbacks this year.

Hopefully I have at least convinced those of you in 2-QB leagues that Sanchez is worth the gamble, but finally one more underrated QB that might be worth flier consideration in single QB leagues….

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

I know…that Derek Carr is only the 27th ranked QB, making him not even a QB2 according to a consensus of QB rankings: http://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/rankings/qb-cheatsheets.php

I think…that is nuts and would rather have Carr than Alex Smith and either of the two first round rookies. Carr finished with a decent TD:INT ratio, especially for a rookie. However, he now will have the benefit of another year in the league, another year working with Mychal Rivera, a possibly improved OL, and more importantly, a huge improvement at WR.

Amari Cooper is considered by many to be the most polished receiver in the 2015 class: his athleticism, route-running ability and ball skills could make him a WR1, but his floor might be higher than any other receiver as well. He already understands the West Coast offense, and has played the “Z,” “X” and “F” on the perimeter.

The Raiders offensive line meanwhile was ranked 16th by PFF who “see a foundation laid for a line that has improved” and the addition of veterans C Rodney Hudson and T J’Marcus Webb plus the versatile Miami Hurricane lineman Jon Feliciano can’t hurt.

I can prove…that Derek Carr, truly an underrated QB, led all rookie QBs last year in TD passes, and was also better than more than 50 percent of all of starting QBs in that same stat. Believe it or not, he was ranked 15th in TD passes with 21 touchdown passes. To give some perspective, that’s more than Russell Wilson (20), Cam Newton (18), or Teddy Bridgewater (14).

One final note:  one other piece of advice that the “life coaches” like to espouse is, “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.” So, do me favor—let’s keep these quarterbacks between us please? If you start talking about how good these underrated QBs are, they won’t be underrated for long.

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg remembers making Jerry Rice his first round selection as well as taking a flyer on a young pitcher named Doug Drabek. His Fantasy analysis has spanned multiple sports including football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. A FSWA finalist, his fantasy analysis has been featured in various outlets including but not limited to SI.com, USA Today national magazines, Yahoo! and RotoExperts.

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