Fantasy plays: Steelers’ Pickett, Saints’ Carr among late-round QB sleepers

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Everybody who participates loves good fantasy football value.

And while they’re not always easy to find, one place where we can really look for big hits is at quarterback.

We need only one (in most leagues), and that means that maybe 12 or 15 QBs are rostered for most of the season on a rotating basis.

Now, there’s a lot of appeal now in the elite quarterbacks because they can combine rushing totals with high passing stats, so simply waiting on quarterbacks isn’t as viable of a strategy as it has been in recent seasons when pocket-passers headline the top of the fantasy ranks.

But if you miss out on Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and other top-flight fantasy quarterbacks, consider these names in your upcoming fantasy football drafts.

All five should be available toward the later stages of your fantasy drafts.

Late-round quarterbacks to target for 2023.

ANTHONY RICHARDSON, QB, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Indianapolis Colts selected Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft.

The former Florida Gator can move and he has size.

That makes him an appealing fantasy football quarterback. Oh, and he’ll play his home games in a controlled environment at Lucas Oil Stadium.

He has the upside to play his way into a top-12 season.

Since 2000, QBs finishing fifth or better in rushes among the position have an average fantasy rank of 10.2, and 67.2% of them finished as a top 12 fantasy quarterback with 48.3% of them finishing as a top eight fantasy quarterback.

RUSSELL WILSON, DENVER BRONCOS

Russell Wilson underperformed in 2022 in his first season in Denver.

Wilson is projected for top 12 rushing volume at the position and those carries can add up quickly.

Passers in the top 12 in rushing volume since 2000 finish, on average, as the QB13.2.

Even if we narrow that list to QBs seventh through 12th in carries, they have an average finish of 15.4.

With big things in store from a revamped Denver Broncos coaching staff and a strong receiving group, Wilson is an obvious candidate to overperform his draft capital.

KENNY PICKETT, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

It’s not often you want to be targeting QBs with a higher interception count (nine) than touchdown tally (seven) from a season ago, yet there are reasons to like Kenny Pickett.

The Pittsburgh Steelers′ second-year signal-caller can also run.

Last season, Pickett, in games in which he played at least half of the Steelers’ snaps, averaged 4.0 carries and 19.0 rushing yards per game.

That made him one of eight quarterbacks to rush at least 4.0 times per game over eight or more games, and that would put him on a 17-game pace of 68.0 carries.

Chemistry with George Pickens as well as Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth gives Pickett enough paths to upside to consider him when missing out on the elite group of fantasy passers.

DEREK CARR, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

You generally want a semblance of upside from your fantasy quarterbacks even if you aren’t investing much fantasy draft capital into them. That’s why almost everyone on this list has rushing potential.

Derek Carr hasn’t had too much of that in recent seasons while with the Las Vegas Raiders.

He’s now under center for the New Orleans Saints, which gives him a combination of indoor games, a good receiving group and a pretty easy schedule for 2023.

But in looking at expected touchdown numbers, Carr is due for some improvement.

Carr has totaled minus-17.7 touchdowns over expected since entering the league in 2014 based on my regression model, and that includes minus-21.4 TDs versus expectation over the past five seasons alone.

If you’re targeting a true pocket passer, you can also prioritize Jared Goff (QB17), but with a chance for better touchdown numbers, Carr should be a viable late-round option for those who missed out on higher-upside options.

SAM HOWELL, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

I know I’m talking a lot about rushing volume, but the reason for it is that it matters for fantasy football.

While you aren’t often going to get a guaranteed, high-volume rushing quarterback for virtually no investment, we might have a chance to do it with Sam Howell.

Howell will be the starting QB going into the regular season for the Commanders.

In one start last season, Howell played 63 snaps and ran five times for 35 yards and a touchdown.

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