Orton officially an elite fantasy QB

Posted Oct. 10, 2010 @ 6:35 p.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

Don't look now, but fantasy's best passer might be a guy who went undrafted in more than a few leagues.

After carving up some soft secondaries in the season's first month, Kyle Orton proved to be the real deal in Sunday's loss to the Ravens. Facing a pass defense that was ranked No. 1 entering Week Five, the Denver QB went 23-of-38 passing for 314 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Nobody can call him a fluke now.

Largely ignored in fantasy drafts after the Broncos traded away his top target, WR Brandon Marshall, in the offseason, Orton has played the best football of his career in 2010 and has put up better yardage numbers than any passer in the league. The sixth-year signalcaller, known during his days in Chicago as a "game manager," has thrown for at least 295 yards in all five contests this season and is averaging 346.6 passing yards. At this rate, he'll throw for an obscene 5,546 yards, blowing away Dan Marino's single-season record by nearly 500 yards.

What makes Orton's accomplishments all the more impressive is that he's doing it with mostly a ragtag group of receivers. Brandon Lloyd had washed out in multiple places and looked like his most productive days were behind him, but he has emerged as one of the league's more dangerous deep threats in head coach Josh McDaniels' offense. With five catches for 135 yards and two TDs on Sunday, he's now gaining 117.8 yards per game and 19.6 yards per reception.

Jabar Gaffney, another journeyman wideout, also has become a very dependable target for Orton, catching nine passes for 87 yards Sunday and 26 passes over his last three outings. Slot guy Eddie Royal and high-upside, injury-prone rookie Demaryius Thomas round out a receiving corps that lacks a true No. 1.

Thus far, it hasn't mattered to Orton. He has found a way to make due with what he has and use the system to pile up yards in bunches. It will be difficult to bench him regardless of the opponent moving forward, so owners with Orton on their bench might want to think about trading away their starter. It's still early, but Marino's record is definitely within reach if the Broncos' running game continues to struggle and they have to keep airing it out 40-plus times per game. Right now, there aren't a whole lot of QBs you can trust more from week to week.