When evaluating fantasy football quarterbacks, there are those top 10 that we know will reign in the fantasy points no matter what, but sleepers exist to drive us crazy.
Included in this tier of quarterbacks are guys like Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco who typically qualify as a backup or plug-in play in any given week.
This list focuses on 10 sleeper fantasy football quarterbacks who might just make their way into the middle tier. On some occasions they might even qualify as a QB1 in 2016, depending on the circumstances.
1. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr could be one of the sweet sleeper gems in 2016 due to the fact that his ADP in mock drafts projects him as a later-round pick. Plus, it is difficult to accept that a Raiders quarterback could make a serious starter, given the team’s recent history.
However, Carr is only going to get better as he enters his third career year. He made heads turn when he connected with rookie Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree for a combined 157 receptions, 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Thus, it is completely feasible to expect Carr to rise from last year’s No. 14 fantasy ranking.
2. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston ranked 13th overall in quarterback fantasy points last year, which makes him a contender to keep an eye on as training camp plays out.
His 4,042 passing yards, coupled with 213 rushing yards and six rushing scores, were impressive considering Winston’s rookie status. Though, to become a legit fantasy starter, he’ll have to improve on his middling 22 passing scores. Perhaps that is something that Mike Evans will help out with more this year. At this point, there seems to be more to indicate Winston will improve rather than regress.
3. Geno Smith, New York Jets
As things currently stand, Ryan Fitzpatrick remains in a stalemate with the Jets, and the reality is Smith could be under center. That is a nervous thought for Jets fans but maybe not so much for those who think Smith might find success working with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker — Joe Namath being one of them.
Marshall and Decker combined for a whopping 2,629 yards and 26 touchdowns and aided in Fitzpatrick achieving career highs in both passing yards and touchdowns last year. There’s definitely the potential for some fantasy points to be made by Smith, considering his weapons.
4. Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers
Believe it or not, Gabbert actually ranked five slots higher in fantasy points in his eight games than Peyton Manning did in the 10 games he played last year. Go figure.
This means there is some relevance surrounding Gabbert, if he is indeed the starter this fall. More touchdowns than the 10 he managed last year is a must. Although, had Gabbert kept at his pace of passing yards per game, he would have finished the year with 4,062. He makes for a darkhorse sleeper who might just surprise. If this is the case, Torrey Smith should return to relevance as well.
5. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Bradford has a decent receiving corps, and if they would stop dropping passes he might have a shot at becoming a viable fantasy quarterback.
Granted, this is a big “if,” but provided Jordan Matthews and Co. get their act together Bradford would reap the benefits. As it stands, he passed for an average of 266 yards per contest last year, though only 19 touchdowns were attained. The addition of Rueben Randle into the mix definitely couldn’t hurt Bradford’s status.
6. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Not to shabby in his NFL debut, Mariota ranked 22nd in quarterback fantasy points, and that was after he played in just 12 games in his rookie year.
This season, we can probably expect an increase in short passes to Mariota’s new running back crew in that of DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry. Plus Mariota has tight end Delanie Walker, who received the most targets of all tight ends last season. Look for that chemistry to continue and Mariota’s fantasy points to sneakily pile up to pleasantly surprise those who draft him.
7. Mark Sanchez, Denver Broncos
Wouldn’t it be awesome if Sanchez turned Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back into the fantasy studs they were in 2014? This isn’t likely going to be the case. Although, unarguably, Sanchez has two of the best receivers in the business at his disposal.
Plus, in his two seasons playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Sanchez improved his percentage of completed passes by over nine percent. This could be a good thing for those willing to draft Sanchez as a backup, or even as a second quarterback in a dual QB league. If Sanchez can’t find success stockpiled with his talented Broncos’ receiving corps, he might as well just throw in the towel.
8. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
Osweiler makes for an intriguing fantasy sleeper because it is anybody’s guess as to how successfully be will perform in his first season as an NFL starter. This is why he will be available in the extreme late draft rounds for those willing to take a flyer on him in deeper leagues.
We must keep in mind Osweiler is armed with a fantastic weapon in that of DeAndre Hopkins, who has simply thrived no matter who was throwing to him. Osweiler should also find success with short dump-offs to Lamar Miller, giving him even more potential to score fantasy points. Plus, the Texans drafted two promising rookie receivers, who should aid in Osweiler’s success.
9. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
For those who drafted Bridgewater last year thinking he would at least serve as a decent backup, he disappointed big-time ranking 23rd among his fellow quarterbacks.
This year, the Vikings’ plan is for Bridgewater to improve as a passer, because last season’s 14 touchdowns just didn’t cut it. Stefon Diggs and rookie Laquon Treadwell should assist in Bridgewater’s development. If tight end Kyle Rudolph stays healthy that is a plus as well. Due to Bridgewater’s terrible fantasy tilt last year, he’ll be available at the bottom of the barrel for those willing to take a flyer.
10. Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns
It will take somebody quite daring to give RG3 a chance in the fantasy world after he sat dormant the entire 2015 season. Though in a make it or break it point in his career, he will be attempting to return to the playmaker he was as a rookie when he ranked No. 5 overall in fantasy points.
Griffin has a couple of pass-catching backs in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson to work with along with first-round rookie receiver Corey Coleman. Plus, tight end Gary Barnidge could prove quite useful considering he scored the second-highest fantasy points at his position last year. Should Josh Gordon be granted a return to the league, RG3 should be poised for success.