Around Fantasyland: Quarterbacks
Posted By William Del Pilar
OTAs are going on which means nuggets of offseason news and notes for the savvy fantasy owner. Staying on top of the news will give you an edge on draft day when everything else looks equal among similar players.
Ben Roethlisberger is under the impression the Steelers want to return to a smashmouth, ground-and-pound rushing attack. The team does not expect RB Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL) to be ready and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley runs a high-octane offense built around a strong passing attack. Big Ben said he talked to Haley about the no-huddle offense, the passing attack and receivers, which sounds like an offense geared to pass. Big Ben is a No. 2 fantasy quarterback but not a No. 1 as he’s too inconsistent.
The difference maker
The Bears hired Jeremy Bates as their quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator and he helped make Jay Cutler a Pro Bowler in Denver. In 2008, Cutler went to his only Pro Bowl after throwing for 4,526 yards and 25 TDs with 18 interceptions. If the offensive line can hold it together, Cutler has No. 1 fantasy potential. We have said this before, however, and it hasn't happened in Chicago yet, so right now take him as your No. 2 with upside.
Matt Flynn was the best looking quarterback during the portion of the Seahawks’ OTAs that were open to the media. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Tarvaris Jackson has never lived up to expectations and Russell Wilson is a rookie trying to learn to play in the NFL. However, the Seahawks are splitting reps right now. Flynn has No. 2 fantasy quarterback talent with upside.
In name only
Brandon Weeden is proving the quarterback competition in Cleveland will be a sham, as the team already plans on building the offense around the rookie's strengths. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress will expand the playbook to include the no-huddle, a spread offense and throwing downfield — traits normally not seen in a West Coast offense. Regardless, Weeden's 2012 value is only in dynasty and keeper leagues whereas Colt McCoy has no value.
Working to be more consistent
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been working with new Bills QB coach David Lee to work on mechanical flaws that Lee saw in Fitzpatrick’s footwork. Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent and if this helps him get over the hump it does increase his value. However, right now, he remains a No. 2 fantasy quarterback at best.
- Andy Dalton is up to 225 pounds and, according to the team's website, his passes have greater zip. He also is working on his mechanics. However, don’t view him as anything but a fantasy backup right now.
- Josh Freeman has dropped 20 pounds to gain greater mobility and prove he’s still the Buccaneers' quarterback of the future. However, despite upside with new backs and receivers he is still a No. 2 fantasy quarterback with low-end No. 1 upside.
- After working on his mechanics with pitching guru Tom House, Alex Smith has seen noticeable improvement in his throwing motion. Considering he now has a legitimate receiving corps in San Francisco, he has some upside despite barely being a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
- Head coach Joe Philbin said the Dolphins will name their starting quarterback by the third preseason game, as they choose between first-round rookie Ryan Tannehill and veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard.
- Arizona paid a $7 million option bonus to Kevin Kolb and he opened OTAs with the first team. Make no bones about this, the starting job will be decided in a training-camp battle with John Skelton, rendering both players with minimal fantasy value until a winner is determined.
Backup quick hits
- Terrelle Pryor, No. 3 on the Raiders' depth chart, is putting in extra time to transition to the NFL but his value remains in dynasty and keeper leagues. He could see time in the "Wildcat" formation but his field time won’t be enough to draft him.
- Josh Johnson and Colin Kaepernick are in a competition for the 49ers' backup job with Kaepernick having the early edge. Johnson is still learning his playbook but this battle will go into training camp.
- The Eagles' backup job is up for grabs. After adding weight in the offseason, Mike Kafka looks stronger and is outplaying Trent Edwards, who has been struggling.
- It's not a given that Rex Grossman will be the backup in Washington and he will have to compete with rookie Kirk Cousins. However, Grossman does have an edge — he’s a veteran who knows the offense and has a great relationship with coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
- Now with the Bills, Vince Young is battling Tyler Thigpen for the No. 2 job and could see time in a "Wildcat" role. However, unless Young starts, he won’t see enough touches to have fantasy value barring poor play or injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Injury quick hits
- Sam Bradford is suffering lingering soreness from the high ankle sprain suffered last October during a dismal 2011 campaign but he should be fine by camp. The new staff is giving him a pass but in a transition year his value is only in dynasty and keeper leagues.
- Peyton Manning is showing no ill effects from his neck surgeries as it appears his velocity has returned and he is taking part in OTAs. The Broncos and fantasy owners will know his true value once we see him in preseason action.
- Matt Schaub is not working out in OTAs but could have taken part in them as the Texans are merely being cautious as he returns from Lisfranc surgery.
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