"I have a broken QB, what do I do?"
Matt Cassel, then Michael Vick, then Matt Schaub...one-by-one the phone has been ringing and the email lighting up all day.
Usually, my emails are from wayward souls whom have been hopping from QB to QB in search of a season-saver. This week, people a new group of people join "the QB concerned"...Fantasy GMs, who thought they were locked in at QB...and potentially just got un-locked today.
Let's take a look at these three QB-injury situations, and project what could happen. Then we'll take a look at a few discarded QBs potentially available in the Fantasy Football free agent universe, to see what diamonds in the rough are out there.
Kansas City Chiefs QB situation ahead...
*Assuming Cassel gone for the season
The largest wave of email has come from our "Ricky Stanzi cult." Sorry to longer-term readers, but to those that are new...the very, very short version (but do check out my eloquent long version, link below) -- our computer scouting analysis projects Ricky Stanzi as a future elite NFL QB. NFL Draft Picks 2011 - Ricky Stanzi the Best QB in the 2011 NFL Draft? - Fantasy Football 2011
I would say for every 100 people that I know, and/or readers who email in, and/or private clients we have...about 5% actually believe Stanzi = elite is possible. Which is cool, and understandable. The other 95% have a wait and see fascination with this...which is completely logical.
The projection of Ricky Stanzi as the next great NFL QB, defies everything that all of us knows about football. There is no credible media that has said that Stanzi is a for sure future elite QB, and a 5th-Round 2011 NFL Draft status pretty much lets you know where the NFL scouts stand. Not to be pompous, but we have correctly defied NFL commentators and many talent evaluators for most of 2011 (and 2010). However, even we are anxious about this one (Stanzi). We guarantee nothing, and know that the computer analysis can/will be wrong from time-to-time...it's not perfect, but it's running a nice track record -- a correct call on Ricky Stanzi would be monumental.
With all that build up, you cannot bet on Ricky Stanzi for Fantasy Football 2011. It's not fair/sound logic to bet heavily on any rookie QB for Fantasy Football 2011. As much as we love Stanzi, there are barriers here for 2011. What we think is going to happen:
Tyler Palko will start. Tyler Palko throws a football like his shot-putting a medicine ball. If you take nothing away from the Chiefs QB situation, know that Palko is not a viable Fantasy Football play. Palko will start against the Patriots, and somewhere between the 2nd-half of the NE game and Week-15, Ricky Stanzi will likely take over.
Whether it is Palko or Stanzi, NE-PIT-CHI-NYJ-GB is the upcoming Chiefs schedule. It doesn't matter how good Stanzi, or Palko, might be...they will not have big statistical games against those higher-level teams in the upcoming schedule.
At some point, Stanzi will play in 2011. The Chiefs have to get a taste of whether Stanzi is a franchise QB, or they need to go hunting still. If I read Matt Cassel's contract correct, he is signed through 2014...but not much of a hit to let him go in 2012+, it looks like (someone correct me if I'm wrong) the majority of the signing bonus was paid/accounted for in 2009. Cassel hasn't done much in 2011 to show that he is "the future." If Stanzi is as good as we think that he is, if he gets a shot in 2011...there may be no turning back. Long-term Fantasy Football, we love Stanzi. Short-term 2011, you really can't count on big Fantasy Football stats...it's not logical given all the circumstances (not that we won't be glued to the game to see if it happens!).
Houston Texans QB situation ahead...
It's not breaking news, but Matt Leinart is not a good NFL QB. In this Texans situation, his stats may not be as bad as all the staunch anti-Leinart Fantasy GMs might think. We're anti-Leinart, and we are nowhere near endorsing Leinart at all...just saying he may not be totally dreadful. Leinart will throw his customary 90% RB dump passes, and the Texans have great RBs...so Leinart can produce some decent stats. A typical stat line for Leinart will be 15-22 for 185 yards and 1 TD...nothing to get excited about for Fantasy Football purposes, but better than Tyler Palko.
The dark-horse in this race is T.J. Yates. By no means is Yates a 2011 Fantasy Football play, likely he never sees the field in 2011. We had very strong computer scouting ratings on T.J. Yates coming out of college this year. Just shy of a full endorsement...the computer sees Yates as good at best, not elite. What I saw in glimpses in the preseason, I thought were great (in the context of rookie play). Likely, the Texans sign a veteran QB...maybe a Brett Favre. So, there is no way Yates can take the helm of a potential Super Bowl team...but should Leinart falter, and Yates get a shot...beware that he could shock the world, given his no-name status.
Philadelphia Eagles QB situation ahead...
What we theorized on Michael Vick is coming true right before our very eyes...flimsy NFL QB, great Fantasy Football QB (on rushing totals), and too big an injury risk to take highly in the Fantasy Football preseason drafts. The Fantasy Football Shark Tank - Will You "Invest" in Michael Vick 2011
I cannot imagine that Vick will not play in this huge, do or die, game this week. That should not be of total comfort for Vick owners. Takeaway/slash into the rushing totals, and Vick is just an average QB. For those that have been riding 20+ point Vick efforts in games most of the season, the odds will be against it this week.
Vick is also possibly one hit away from being done for the season, especially if the Eagles lose this game and are essentially cast out of the 2011 playoff scene for good. Should that happen, you know the smart money is to rest Vick...maybe even shut him down the rest of 2011.
If the Eagles turn to Mike Kafka, it will be another 23-35 for 232 yards and 1 TD/2 INT type of QB in the world...so nothing exciting for Fantasy Football. Our computer analysis had lower grades on Kafka coming out of college.
The one QB that has Fantasy Football value in all of this post-Vick discussion -- (gulp) is Vince Young. We are not pro-Vince Young the QB/passer/leader. However, we do love rushing totals for QBs in Fantasy Football. Should Young be elevated (and not sure he would be over Kafka) to Eagles starter, he could be very Tim Tebow-esque...with more experience, and surrounded by more weapons. He might be a better version of Tebow (for right now). Young would be playing for his life, so we would assume stats to follow...especially as a runner.
If I had Vick, one of the first moves would be to be sure I had a decent QB-2 on hand if needed. Then, I would have to consider burning another roster spot on Young just in case Vick is done for 2011 after this week, and Young is elevated. Young may out-Vick-Vick if he gets a shot...because his NFL life may depend upon it (much like Vick circa 2010).
Looking for a QB this week/the rest of 2011?
If you are in need of a QB because of Schaub, because of Vick, because of Flacco, Rivers etc...keep in mind, you are not alone. There are several people that have just entered the QB-need/despair situation, and the pickings are slim.
First things first, those that have a great QB-1, and a competent QB-2 sitting on your bench...Tebow, Sanchez, etc. The price of poker just went up...Mark Sanchez may not mean a lot to you if you have Aaron Rodgers as your starter...but the price has just about doubled for Eli, Sanchez, even Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don't sell yourself short, make people pay.
Lesser discussed QB options to think about:
Kevin Kolb -- especially if he is named starter this week. John Skelton has played OK, but Kolb is the franchise (or he isn't). We still see decent metrics here, and we still think (and there aren't many/any left to join us on that) Kolb is a top-12 level Fantasy Football QB. The one QB hated, sitting free in most leagues, that might actually be a star is Kolb. Perhaps, he won't...but the possibility is there. It is not with Palko, Leinart, Kafka, etc
Sam Bradford -- remember when we all thought Bradford was a future star last year? We still think he is. He works with a bad offense, on a mediocre team...but as I watch the tape on Bradford, he's not performing as poorly as you would think. A lot of drops by receivers, and poor protection. The first six games of the 2011 schedule were brutal. In a sea of despair, this is a QB play that at least has talent mixed with hope. Bradford and Kolb are similar, except Kolb has more weapons...but Bradford for sure is playing this week.
Christian Ponder -- the overall stats look weak, but the QB himself looks excellent for a rookie. Two of his 3 games so far have been against the very savvy Packers-Defense. Ahead, Ponder has a great schedule = OAK-ATL-DEN-DET-NO (all 5 of those games in a dome!!). We think Ponder is going to shock a few people with some stats in upcoming weeks. Still, he is a rookie, so we have to be careful getting too far ahead of ourselves.
Tim Tebow -- somehow he is still available in traditional leagues. He should be rostered, and starting for many...except maybe this week against the Jets. Tebow is more Fantasy Football favorable than anyone above on the list (except this week).
John Skelton -- if the Cardinals go bold, and run with Skelton...he's not bad. We don't have great ratings on him, but we've seen things on tape in 2010 that we liked. If everyone in the world is gone, and you are sifting through rubble...I would take Skelton over Leinart, Palko, Kafka, Grossman, etc