2014 Fantasy Football Sleeper: QB Andy Dalton

By Sean Cordy
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

There are some things in life that just don’t make sense. One of those things is why people aren’t buying into Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton as a fantasy football player. Sure, we all love the red-headed signal caller and how he can lead his team to the playoffs every year. But owners aren’t buying him as high in regards to fantasy potential — the opposite of Tony Romo if you will. So it’s time to wake up and realize that Dalton is a legitimate fantasy player, and you need to draft him before it’s too late.

Last season, Dalton ranked as the sixth-best fantasy QB in the league. This preseason, on average he’s the 17th QB selected in mock drafts (averaging in the 12th round). That’s quite the margin and not one that I would expect. For all of the teams he helped win more than projected and the teams he beat, I’m surprised most GMs are forgetting his name. There can’t be 11 other QBs whose stock has risen to the extent in which Dalton would fall down the draft board this much, can there?

Really, there’s no logical explanation as to why he’s being drafted so low. Each year since entering the league, Dalton has moved up the fantasy charts by six positions.

In his rookie season, he was the 18th-ranked QB. The following year he was 12th, and last season he was sixth among signal callers. Now, he can’t possibly keep that up this season (it’s impossible to be the zero-ranked player), but his steady increase in value should at least capture your attention. It’s very unlikely that he’ll drop below the 12th-ranked quarterback. He may not reach his stats from last season now that the more run based offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is running things. But to dip over 40 points in production is just not happening.

In his last eight games, Dalton had what was probably the highlight of his career (statistically speaking). He threw for 17 TDs, over 2,000 yards as well as his only two rushing touchdowns.  Of course, he also threw 13 interceptions, but with the stats he’s shown he’s capable of, does that even matter? Remember, this is the quarterback who threw a mere 13 INTs in his rookie season on 70 fewer attempts.

Defenses have simply started to figure him out a little more (as well as locking down more on A.J. Green). But overall Dalton has increased in his efficiency every year, coming off a career-high 48.1 percent success rate according to AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com. With less pass attempts in conjunction with his increased proficiency, Dalton should be looking at similar output of beneficial statistics and hopefully a decrease in detrimental stats like interceptions.

Overall, I think only a slight dip in Dalton’s production will occur — around 280 fantasy points in standard leagues — but by no means has his value declined. Fantasy owners are buying him at an all time low even though his stock has probably never been higher. Combine those factors and Dalton could be the value pick of the year.

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