Now that we’ve had a little bit of time to digest the draft and overcome our shocks, hangovers, or disappointments, it’s time to start breaking down the players from the most important direction possible—their impact on your fantasy football squad.
This is the first in a series of articles which will cover various positions for both Dynasty and Redraft leagues.
I’ll start by saying something I have said multiple times already prior to and after the draft, and will say pretty much at the top of all of these articles—do not be fooled by last year’s numbers. We will—in all likelihood—not see the success that we did last year.
So for Dynasty, keep thinking about long term ramifications as much as (if not more than) short term. In redraft, do not over-value a rookie and leap on one too early, as it is unlikely most of them will pay off this season.
There will be precious few studs with immediate impact this season—and I would hazard a guess that none of them will reside in today’s category, the quarterbacks.
If this class was a weak one from a pure football standpoint, it isn’t much better from a fantasy one. There are a few who might play this season, a few with long term upside, and many who will be sitting on a waiver wire for a very long time.
With that, here are my thoughts on the 2009 rookie quarterbacks, ranked in order of their draft position, with a rank at the end of how effective I think they will be long and short term.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford has the arm to take advantage of Calvin Johnson’s vertical game and, yes, he’s a guy who can either buy time in the pocket or throw on the run, which he will need unless that offensive line pulls a miracle.
Stafford looks like he might have the tools to succeed down the road, but that’s my biggest concern—will he be allowed to develop or will he be rushed out this season?
The Lions are saying all the right things; that Daunte Culpepper is the guy this year, that Stafford needs time to learn and get used to the NFL.
But six or seven games in, will he be on the bench if the Lions stay lousy?
I know I have been in the midst of arguments that the Lions’ offensive line isn’t that bad off, but I have my doubts about that. And on top of that, I prefer a quarterback to sit for a season before being thrown in to the fire. A QB’s psyche is sometimes a fragile thing.
Yes, Peyton Manning survived and got better in spite of that initial hellish season one. Many, many quarterbacks did not and they far outnumber the survivors.
If he gets most of the season to adjust to the NFL, I like Stafford quite a bit. His arm, his feet, all the little things he does well. But I like him less if he gets thrown to the wolves in the NFC North too soon.
That offense would live and die by his arm and I don’t think it has the tools for him to bring that off. If he goes in, and they double cover Johnson or stack the box against Kevin Smith, what then?
He can’t win it all and behind that offensive line, I worry about the pounding he might get and its results.
First round rookie, with the hopes he gets the time to work up to starter. If you own Culpepper, you almost have to have him unless you have better.
A late addition—probably near QB 28-30. He could bump up if he wins the job outright, though not much and I’m hoping sense prevails and he sits.
Mark Sanchez, NY Jets
Sanchez’s situation is at once similar to Stafford’s and also wildly different.
Let me explain. I love the upside of Sanchez, he can make all the throws you need, is a natural leader, a hard worker, and a very smart player.
That said, like Stafford, he’d benefit from a little time to develop.
Unlike Stafford, though, he has a better chance of survival if he is thrown in the mix early.
Whereas the Lions would need Stafford to do a ton of heavy lifting, the Jets built their offensive line to be a power run blocking line.
Yes, they utterly got away from that when Favre showed up. That’s reason number 4,546 why Eric Mangini is a Brown.
But ultimately, that’s what they are. And in that case, the quarterback’s burden is much easier.
Sanchez is a guy who has already impressed the team with his hard work and overall play and while they—like the Lions—say all the right things about it being a competition, it isn’t looking like that.
Sanchez has a better chance of being stuck in a No. 1 spot at the beginning of the season and he also has a better chance of survival if he is thrown directly into the fire.
That said, even if he’s wildly successful, he’s not likely to have to throw often (assuming the Jets’ defense and run offense work out) and so he won’t be a guy who blows up this season.
Longer term, until they get him a legit No. 1 wide receiver, he will lag behind Stafford assuming he (Stafford) survives.
Like Stafford, he’s a first round rookie, and in his case is probably safer to start in a bye week. But long term right now, I put him behind Stafford. Until the Jets get him some vertical weapons, he is unlikely to match Stafford’s potential long term production.
Again, a guy who you probably look at after most of the veteran starters are gone. I think the same things that might limit his long term potential—the offensive schemes, the defense—make him a safer bet than Stafford to put consistent points up. Those points still won’t make him reliable as much more than a bye week or emergency filler.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After leaping over non-existent teams desperate to grab Freeman and all the “I know this kid, he’s AWESOME” talk from the head coach, I don’t know I believe Freeman doesn’t start at some point.
Still, there is a good chance we see Byron Leftwich as the starter come week one, despite Freeman’s really ill-advised (and perhaps flat out incorrect) statement that Leftwich was just “smokescreen” to throw people off the scent.
Freeman is a big, tough, quarterback with a strong arm who has lots of experience and pretty good mobility.
Two things don’t work for me about him.
First, stuff like that statement about Leftwich really tell me he’s not much of a leader, no matter what many sites have said otherwise. How is that the way you want to enter a locker-room? How do you win that place over?
Not smart. Worse, it smacks (in my mind) of Ryan Leaf. He expects to be “the man.” I wonder if that work ethic, which was a plus in college, will exist at the Pro level.
More importantly is that he was incredibly streaky in college and, as much as he would succeed, he would go a game throwing picks and bad passes. For example, his November 1 game against Kansas. Freeman threw no touchdown passes in the 52-21 loss, while tossing three interceptions and getting sacked three times.
The fact that the Bucs were at that game disturbs me. So does the fact that he didn’t throw any touchdown passes in four games against Texas A&M, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.
Yes, he lacked big time players. I still say some of the best—most successful—quarterbacks had success at the college level despite a dearth of top talent.
And who does he have in Tampa? Antonio Bryant, who finally lived up to expectations last year but who isn’t a sure bet to repeat, and a decent run game. And some real questions on the defensive side of the ball.
Does it really sound all that much better?
That doesn’t mean he won’t succeed. I just don’t like his chances.
A distant third behind Stafford and Sanchez and even then I don’t like him. To me, he’s a project (which really all these guys are to some extent) and I’d rather grab another skill position and pick up another quarterback later or trade out for a QB in next year’s draft.
I wouldn’t even draft him unless he was sure to start and even then, I don’t know if I would go for him when he might get drafted. I would rather pick up a backup earlier and then value at another position while someone risks a pick on Freeman.
Pat White, Miami Dolphins
Is he a quarterback or is he a wide receiver? Is he an every down player or is he a gadget guy like Brad Smith of the NY Jets?
These questions make him a risky pick in any draft.
Still, taking him in the second is a sign they expect something of him and reports are that he will challenge Chad Henne for backup duties.
Henne had the locker room and skills last season, and might have started if Pennington hadn’t arrived. Until the draft, many were predicting Henne would start sometime in 2010.
On top of the extreme athleticism and trick play skills, White is actually a decent quarterback and many scouts stopped looking at him as a hybrid or wide receiver conversion. He’s smart and looked very accurate in every workout the past few months.
Still, it’s one thing to throw balls in shorts and perfect weather (or no weather like at the Combine) and another with Bart Scott bearing down on you.
It’s a little soon to guess which way this is going to go and how White will adjust to the NFL. Many players like him have failed as QBs and either transitioned to another position or dropped out of the league.
But he has the upside and potential to be a dynamic player at this level too. It’s a coin flip.
Do keep in mind—if he is categorized as a quarterback by the league, most league sites will do the same and then he may not be available to you as a flex player, which might be his best value if he gets used in the Wildcat formation a ton.
A guy you take later in your rookie draft as a pure upside pick. If you don’t have a ton of holes, he’s worth a look. But if you have other needs, don’t burn the roster spot. When he takes a year or two to develop, owners may get frustrated and you could find him on the waiver wire to pick up at your leisure.
You’ll have to wait, but if you can hold on until the last quarter of your draft, he could be a really interesting upside pick.
If he is integrated as a new wrinkle on the Wildcat, he might prove a useful flex player assuming your league is set up to accommodate. But the trick will be waiting long enough to where you won’t be angry when you drop him for more consistent injury or bye week help.
Nate Davis, San Francisco
You have to keep an eye on the guy who has only Shaun Hill, Damon Huard, and Alex Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.
Davis has a strong arm, is a good team leader, and has great touch and timing. He’s a hard worker and exceedingly competitive, which strikes me as a very Singletary trait.
He does have a learning disability but that hasn’t fazed the 49ers, and he definitely needs some work both in mechanics and the fact that he rarely worked under center.
Still, there isn’t a lot of incredibly impressive talent in front of him and with Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce, and the newly drafted Michael Crabtree, whoever the starter is has some fantasy potential.
Davis is likely a longer term project but you never know and he’s worth keeping an eye on.
More attractive if you happen to have Alex Smith on your roster already but Davis is likely to slip out of a rookie draft in all but the deepest leagues with a long rookie draft. Watch the QB battle in San Fran over the summer closely and be ready to hit the waiver wire. Just in case.
Not someone you’ll be drafting in a redraft league unless you draft late and he’s won the job. But like in a Dynasty league, you’ll want to keep an eye on the QB battle and a finger on the waiver wire trigger. The weapons in that offense could be very productive, and in that case, Davis could be as well.
The following two QBs are worth noting in Dynasty leagues but not worth looking at really at all in a redraft.
Stephen McGee, Dallas Cowboys
McGee is a very underrated quarterback who could take over down the road if he develops well and Romo keeps losing games late in the season. Very raw though and will burn a roster spot unless you have a taxi squad in your league.
Tom Brandstater, Denver Broncos
While it’s unlikely he’ll see the field anytime soon, Brandstater has a nice touch, timing, and is very smart. Is this McDaniels’ attempt to replicate Cassel? Probably not due to a lack of arm strength but there is enough confusion at the Denver QB position to keep an eye on him in Dynasty leagues.
This will be worth revisiting during the summer and we will, here as well as on The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday. Some street free agents may end up being worth a Dynasty look and some of these players may find themselves firmly in possession of a clipboard.
But for now, here’s hoping this helps you start to get ready for your Fantasy Football drafts.
I’ll be back next week with a breakdown of running backs.