The quarterback is the most position in the NFL, but in the fantasy world it still plays second fiddle to running backs. Having a Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers is great and gives you a big week-to-week advantage, but in general the position is deep enough that you can usually find a Top 10 guy without having to spend a top five draft pick.
That seems especially true this year. The 2012 rookie class injected a handful of new stars into the pool, and the position looks deeper than ever. With that in mind, let's look at five players who are going higher than they should. All average draft position data taken from Fantasy Football Calculator.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, Average draft position: 118.5
Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs in his first two years, but it looks like he's already hit his ceiling--a competent player who can get the ball to his elite supporting cast, but not a true game changer. He's not a threat to reach 4,000 yards even with A.J. Green and a pair of talented tight ends. He's an okay bye-week filler, but not someone you should be starting every week.
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders, Average draft position: 127.8
Palmer can still sling the ball and managed to get 4,000 yards on a bad Raiders team last year, but he offers little upside behind the Cardinals offensive line. Larry Fitzgerald should benefit from Palmer's arm and Bruce Arians' vertical offense, but you shouldn't be starting him as a QB1. He has more value in two-QB leagues.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Average draft position: 56.0
Make no mistake, Ryan is a top 10 option and still has excellent weapons to work with. At this point, you know what you're getting, but that's kind of the problem with taking him in the fifth round. Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick offer more upside with their running ability, and both should be available in this spot. You won't regret taking Ryan, but wait and see if he doesn't fall a round or two first.
Eli Manning, New York Giants, Average draft position: 108.1
I would like Manning a lot more if he played more like he did in the Giants' two Super Bowl runs, but last year was a frustrating roller coaster as he failed to reach 4,000 yards. It's hard to trust him as an every-week starter, and he appears to have plateaued at age 32.
Any of the rookie quarterbacks
2012 was a bumper crop for franchise quarterbacks, as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson became real difference-makers in fantasy. Don't expect that to happen again this year with so many question marks in the draft class. E.J. Manuel is the only one guaranteed to start, but he's extremely raw and isn't likely to play Week 1 after a knee surgery. Geno Smith flopped in his preseason audition and is clearly not ready to play in 2013. These guys project as roster stashes in Dynasty leagues, but nothing more. Don't waste a draft pick on them.
And in case you're wondering, no, I don't think Jeff Tuel is worth a waiver claim.