Before reading this, it would be a good idea to brief yourself on my Fantasy Quarterbacks article
Drafting a backup quarterback is an often overlooked, but it can actually have a huge impact on your fantasy team. With any luck, you’ll only have to use your backup quarterback once throughout the season (your QB1’s bye week). How can you make sure that your team doesn’t miss a beat with your QB2 in the lineup? Make sure he has an easy matchup during the bye week of your start. For the sake of this article, we’ll call an easy matchup, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Miami, Cleveland, Seattle, Oakland, and Jacksonville. All of those 8 teams should be among the worst at stopping the pass this year and with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions, they were all the worst against the pass last year as well. In order to be listed on this list, a player must not be a part of my top 15 quarterbacks. We’re talking about players who are most likely going to be available when it comes time to take your backup QB (11th-13th round).
QB1s on bye: Tony Romo, Brett Favre
Vs. Seattle: Sam Bradford/AJ Feeley
If you have Romo or Favre, you may be out of luck in terms of using this technique to find a backup. I wouldn’t feel safe with either of these quarterbacks as my backup. Bradford hasn’t won the job, hasn’t played since last October, hasn’t run a pro style offense before, and has a poor supporting cast. Feeley has done decently in the past, but with significantly better supporting casts. As with Bradford, you also don’t know if Feeley will win the job. Stick to drafting a QB2 by traditional means if you have Romo or Favre, and by traditional means, I mean BPA.
QB1s on bye: Tom Brady
Vs. Jacksonville: Trent Edwards/Brian Brohm/Ryan Fiztpatrick
Vs. Buffalo: David Garrard
Vs. Cleveland: Matt Ryan
Vs. St. Louis: Matt Stafford
Vs. Detroit: Sam Bradford/AJ Feeley
If you have Brady as your QB1, you’re in luck. This strategy will work perfectly. I would suggest staying away from the mess in Buffalo, as well as Bradford/Feeley and Ryan might not be available as a QB2 in most leagues, but Stafford vs. the Rams looks very promising, and for a safer, more proven choice, try Garrard vs. Buffalo.
QB1s on bye: Carson Palmer
Vs. Cleveland: Byron Leftwich/Dennis Dixon
Vs. Oakland: Alex Smith
Vs. Jacksonville: Vince Young
I expect Leftwich to win the job in Pittsburgh for the first 6 weeks (while Big Ben is suspended), but he could be risky. Dixon could beat him out or steal the job by then, and there’s a slim chance Big Ben gets his suspension shortened, in which case Leftwich would be on the bench. If everything goes well, Leftwich should have a decent week against the Browns. Smith vs. Oakland and Vince Young vs. Jacksonville are safer bets though.
QB1s on bye: Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub
Vs. Jacksonville: Matt Cassel
Vs. Miami: Byron Leftwich/Dennis Dixon
Vs. St. Louis: Josh Freeman
Vs. Seattle: Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson
Vs. Oakland: Kyle Orton/Brady Quinn/Tim Tebow
I would stay away from the Denver mess, with all of the other options. Orton should be the starter week 7, but there’s no shortage of guys who could steal the job by then, and he doesn’t have a lot to work with in the receiving corps. Leinart and Anderson are risky too, and not just because both aren’t very good. We still don’t know who is the starter there. As I said with Leftwich under the week 6 write up, there’s a lot of variables that would go into him being the starter week 7, and I wouldn’t take the chance this week with two other good options. Cassel’s best game in 2009 was against the Jaguars and I think he should have another solid week against their miserable secondary this year. Freeman vs. St. Louis is still my favorite of the group, but it’s close.
QB1s with byes: Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Kevin Kolb
Vs. Kansas City: Trent Edwards/Ryan Fitzpatrick/Brian Brohm
Vs. St. Louis: Jimmy Clausen/Matt Moore
Stay away from the Buffalo mess, but I do expect Moore to still be the starter week 8 against St. Louis and that figures to be promising. John Fox always gives vets the first shot at jobs so unless Moore struggles out of the gate, he’ll still be the guy week 8.
QB1s with byes: Donovan McNabb
Vs. Detroit: Mark Sanchez
Vs. Oakland: Matt Cassel
Oakland doesn’t have the best pass defense, but Cassel was 43 for 73 for 457 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 picks against the Raiders last year in two starts. Doesn’t give me a lot of confidence. I’d go with Sanchez if I was a McNabb owner.
QB1s with byes: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Jason Campbell
Vs. Detroit: Trent Edwards/Ryan Fitzpatrick/Brian Brohm
Vs. Cleveland: Mark Sanchez
Vs. Miami: Vince Young
Vs. Kansas City: Kyle Orton/Brady Quinn/Tim Tebow
Vs. Seattle: Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson
Vs. St. Louis: Alex Smith
With so many choices, I would rather go with the ones I was pretty sure would have a job on week 10. Sanchez, Young, and Smith all make great choices for owners of Rodgers, Brees, Rivers, and Campbell.
Now, this isn’t the only QB2 strategy. With QB1s you aren’t too sure about (meaning low end QB1s) it is often best to pair them with a high upside QB2, in case your low end QB1 starts playing like a QB2. Chances are, between your low end QB1 and your high upside QB2, you’ll have one functional starter without having to draft a quarterback too early. For the sake of this, I’ll call Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Eli Manning, and Kevin Kolb (QBs 12-15) my low end QB1s.
I am putting these three together. All 3 are 2009 1st round picks who struggled mightly as rookies. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be bad this year. We’ve seen plenty of quarterbacks struggle as rookies (see Peyton Manning) and bounce back and have good career. It’s anyone’s guess which of these three will break out this year, but that’s the fun. All 3 of these guys have the upside to have QB1 type seasons. Some notes, Freeman has reportedly put the most work in this offseason, Sanchez has the best supporting cast, and in my opinion Stafford has the best arm. Freeman is also going significantly later than Stafford and Sanchez in fantasy drafts, so he could be a better value.
I’m grouping this pair together because both are former top 3 draft picks that took over midseason last year and did decently. If either one can start all 16 games and improve their play a bit over last year, he’d be a QB1 type fantasy player. Spread the stats from Young’s 10 starts over 16 games and you get 3006 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 picks. Spread the stats from Smith’s 10 starts over 16 games and you get 3430 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 18 picks.
Henne had 274 completions in 451 attempts for 2878 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 14 picks last year, in 13 and a half games. Do some crazy math and you get 331 for 535 for 3411 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 17 picks. How much better could Chad Henne be this year than last year? Take a look at Kyle Orton. Going from Chicago to Denver, Orton went from a mediocre receiving corps, to a mediocre receiving corps plus Brandon Marshall. Orton threw for 830 more yards, 3 more scores, without having any more picks. There are plenty more reasons why Henne should improve with Marshall than was the case with Orton. Henne has a stronger arm to hit Marshall downfield. Henne isn’t learning a new scheme. Henne is going into only his 2nd year as a starter, 3rd year in the league, and figures to get better simply from experience. Now, some of you may say, yeah, but Orton threw 76 more times between 2008 and 2009. This is true, but this is also a result of playing with Marshall. When you have a true deep threat, teams tend to pass more. Miami will pass more this year, which means more attempts for Henne. More attempts, more experience, better effectiveness, Henne should definitely be on your high upside list. I don’t have him listed as a top 15 quarterback, but he could end up there and if you have a low end QB1 (McNabb, Eli Manning, Cutler), Henne would make a nice backup.
Is he unproven? Sure. But against fairly talented competition, Moore had 990 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 1 pick in 5 starts last year. Spread that out 16 games and you get 3169 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 3 picks. I’ll assume the picks will be higher, but still. If he can hold off Clausen for the starting job all year and avoid falling into the same trap Delhomme fell into (chuck the ball deep to Smith every play), he could be a solid fantasy option. And if he loses his job, just drop him and pick up Clausen. Clausen is a very NFL ready player, taking over a good supporting cast. Think Matt Ryan 2008.