3 Quarterbacks With High Ceilings to Consider in Fantasy Football Drafts

Everyone loves upside and potential, and these three quarterbacks offer those things in bunches.

No position in football is more highly scrutinized and overanalyzed than the quarterback. Every breath a big-name quarterback takes on and off the field is subject to debate and discussion by every form of media known to mankind.

But simultaneously, no one position has as big of an impact on a game of football as the quarterback. A quarterback's efficiency dictates not only the passing offense for his team, but the success of the running game, and the opportunities provided to the defense.

Quarterback is just as big of a talking point in fantasy football, with different analysts and pundits offering various thoughts and views on how important quarterbacks are to your fake football success, and which players in particular will help you win your league in any given year.

No matter which approach you subscribe to when it comes to quarterbacks in fantasy football, it's fair to say that everyone who plays fantasy sports is a sucker for upside. So which passers have the highest upside heading into 2014?

Using our Confidence Interval mechanism, which can be found as a part of our fantasy football projections, we can figure out which signal-callers have higher ceilings than others, and consider the risk and reward of these potentially game-changing players.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

I know what you're thinking: How on Earth can a record-setting quarterback have a high ceiling?

In my article explaining why Peyton Manning isn't the top quarterback in our fantasy football projections, I pointed out that a combination of historic precedents and age make it a near certainty that Peyton Manning cannot and will not repeat his 2013 performance in 2014.

But what if he does?

That's what gives Manning a high ceiling in our projections, because we have to account for the reality that he just might do it again. It wouldn't make sense, but then again, neither does a 37-year-old neck surgery patient setting every NFL record imaginable.

As a result, the gap between Manning's floor and ceiling in our Confidence Interval (or CI) includes a wider range of outcomes than either Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, the other two top quarterbacks.

Our projections currently have Manning throwing 40 touchdowns (which is still an insane total), with his ceiling adding another handful of scores and yards, meaning our numbers realize the possibility of another historic season, but fall short of flat-out predicting it.

But with a current draft position of ninth overall according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Manning's ceiling is barely enough to get good value for him in the first round. In a standard 12-team league, our customizable fantasy cheat sheet has Manning as a high second-round pick, and the more skill position players you have to start in your league, the less valuable Manning becomes.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

Not on board with taking a quarterback that early, but still want someone with "go absolute bananas" upside? Nick Foles might be the guy to target.

Chip Kelly's agent of offensive mayhem finished as the fourth-best quarterback last season using our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, behind only Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. And if he's able to keep up that level of play, he'll blow past our expectations of him this year.

Foles is currently ranked as the 11th quarterback in our projections, but the high-end of his Confidence Interval is eighth-best. In other words, if every passer does what we expect them to do, he's a borderline QB1, but if every quarterback hit the top of their projected range of outcomes, Foles would finish just shy of the top six at the position.

Considering that Foles finished 11th last year in only 10 starts, why would we not project him to go higher? Just like with Manning, historically good performances aren't easily projectable, and our numbers have Foles slowing down from his ridiculous 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio of last season. But the ceiling is there just in case he can maintain his form from a year ago.

Foles is currently coming off the board as the sixth quarterback according to FFC, and considering how tightly bunched quarterbacks four through 11 are in our projections (fewer than 20 points separate Foles from QB4 Cam Newton), it's tough to blame drafters who believe that what we saw from Foles last year is worth banking on this year.

And when consulting our cheat sheet, a mid-sixth-round pick for Foles is just right based on our current projections, so if you want a passer with upside, Foles is definitely the best one of the bunch after the "Big Three" are off the board.

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer isn't on the average fantasy footballer's mind heading into the 2014 season, as the Cardinals' quarterback is old and tends to have a disproportionate balance of mistakes to positive moments to be worth anyone's time in fake football.

But what if your starting quarterback gets hurt? What if you're in a league that starts two or more quarterbacks? What if you're in a best ball league and need a second or third quarterback to stash on the bench and hope for a handful of solid performances?

Palmer has always been the king of garbage time, playing on less-than-stellar teams and performing well when the game is out of hand, giving his fantasy teams points that matter while racking up significantly less meaningful points for his employers.

Carson is currently our 21st quarterback in our projections, but he has the 19th-best ceiling. This doesn't seem like a huge bump, but it reveals his potential to exceed expectations.

Since 2010, only 15 quarterbacks have posted four or more games with 300 yards and three touchdown passes. Carson Palmer is one of them. For some added perspective, Matt Ryan has the same amount of these games as Palmer (four), while Michael Vick and Alex Smith have fewer, and Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Tannehill don't have as many of these games in their combined careers as Palmer does over the past four seasons.

Palmer's not going to be a draft target for most players in most leagues, but in best balls, two-quarterback leagues, and in case of quarterback emergencies, he's got the potential to carry your team under the right circumstances. The challenge is figuring out when to put him in the starting lineup, which is why best-ball formats remain the best place to own a player like Palmer.