Predictions

Top Backup QB’s Likely to Hit Field in 2014

Sunday, 22 June, 2014

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Pencil Vick as a starter now. He’ll be the opening day quarterback for the Jets.

It’s inevitable that the majority of NFL teams will need to utilize their backup quarterbacks at some point. Causes can range from injuries, blowouts, or even poor play. Stretches of backup quarterbacks on the field equate to an opportunity from a fantasy standpoint. Seventy percent of these situations usually are void of a fantasy juggernaut. Then there’s the quarterbacks capable of stepping right in and keeping the offense rolling.

Josh McCown did such a fine job that many wanted him to remain the Bears starter. Matt Flynn did not wow anyone with his on field demeanor but had a few games that he performed decent.

Everyone in the fantasy football world has their insurance 100 percent covered at running back and wide receiver. These dual starter positions usually get five to six players drafted on each fantasy team. Quarterbacks tend to be the forgotten insured position. People will draft their sure-fire starter and not give much consideration to the backup. After all they think they’ll be starting their starter all thirteen fantasy football weeks. Be prepared for any possibilities this season. Here are some current backup quarterbacks that likely will get their chance on the football field. They may even end up being a catalyst to help you win on your fantasy football team.

Johnny Manziel
I just wrote a piece on Manziel being a top twelve fantasy quarterback in the month of November. One thing you can count on from fantasy football owners is impatience. Some owners work the trade and waiver wire market too much. Chances are Manziel won’t be stashed away in the majority of fantasy football leagues. By late October I expect him to start. He’ll work his wonders for the month of November.

Michael Vick
Vick is being his own perfect public relations facilitator right now. Everything he states to the media has been politically correct. He stands behind and believes in Geno Smith. We all know that Vick is in New York to try and write a last chapter to his career. Being a permanent backup was the last thing on his mind. The book we saw on Geno Smith last year just has the makings for more early season disasters. New York may start Smith just to procure Vick’s health. He hasn’t been durable the last four years. Maybe bringing him in as starter in late September or October protects him for the rest of the season. Bottom line is that Vick will be on the field, maybe as early as week one.

Brandon Weeden
No one truly knows Kyle Orton’s plans. By bringing in Weeden, Dallas is showing their support to lean on Weeden as the backup. Cowboys fans know all too well Tony Romo’s injury history. Dallas’s organization has been quiet in regards to Romo’s health. Unless Dallas reshapes their offensive playbook, it’ll be a matter of time before Weeden steps onto the field. Their pass happy offense leaves quarterbacks vulnerable to big hits.

Thad Lewis
EJ Manuel missed time on the field on two different occasions last season. For the most part Manuel was a pocket passer. If he doesn’t learn to make quicker decisions with the football, he’ll have more setbacks in 2014. Buffalo kept themselves prepared with Lewis. Lewis shined in a couple of spot starts last year. Buffalo has a solid group of young receivers that was bolstered with the signing of Mike Williams and drafting of Sammy Watkins.

Shaun Hill
Hill seems like he has been in the NFL forever. Throughout his career he has been perceived as a solid backup. While in Detroit he filled in well when Matt Stafford went down. In St. Louis, fans and the media believe this is their year to make a move in the NFC. Sam Bradford is likely on his last leg if he can’t fulfill the first pick he was garnered. If the team struggles, Hill will become the starter, with assets galore offensively around him.

Charlie Whitehurst
Tennessee is making it clear to Locker he needs to become a more consistent quarterback. Some of the blame could go on the shoulders of an unsustainable running game with Chris Johnson. He is gone and the Titans did a fine job filling that position by signing Dexter McCluster and drafting Bishop Sankey. Locker is a veteran now and needs to start playing like one. Tennessee did the right thing by signing Whitehurst and drafting Zach Mettenburger.

Matt Moore
Miami burned an above average season with putrid losses. Most of their close losses were caused by single or multiple game killing plays by Ryan Tannehill. When they were winning though, he played a big part in their success. That’s expected for a second year quarterback. In his third season Tannehill must nix those mistakes. He has to show better control for an entire football game. If the play isn’t there, he must throw the football away. Miami’s team is very similar to last year. It’s one of the few teams in football that kept their roster at quarterback the same. Moore has been a fill in starter before in Carolina and in Miami during Chad Henne’s final season.

Kirk Cousins
RG3 supporters are all expecting him to answer to last years debacle with a bang in 2014. In college he responded by winning the Heisman two years after blowing out his knee. It’s going to take a complete 360 from RG3 to get back to his level of 2012. It may be in him, but there is no discounting his second major knee injury. Until he shows that same burst and speed, I won’t be a full believer. Washington sat him the last two games of last year as precaution, but who knows if he further damaged his knee the first fourteen games of the season. As has been the case the past two years, Kirk Cousins will be ready if need be.

CAN JOHNNY FOOTBALL BE A TOP 12 FANTASY QUARTERBACK?

Saturday, 21 June, 2014

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Thus far in Johnny Manziel’s career he has been a spectacle on and off the field. His journey to a media sensation has been stirred to new heights on the professional level. High profiled athletes are always out and about in nightlife Vegas scenes and other major areas.

In fact a week before Manziel was glorified for being in Las Vegas, St. Louis Rams, Michael Sam was there. Both have been getting major attention from the media, but Sam has the spotlight in a different way. I’m 100 percent sure that Manziel and Sam were not the only two NFL rookies that have ventured to Vegas in the past two months.

What it comes down to for Manziel is living up to his draft pick. By falling to the 20′s he is in the range of several quarterbacks over the last five years. Former Cleveland Brown quarterback, Brandon Weeden, was selected 22nd a few seasons ago. Tim Tebow was the 25th pick, Joe Flacco 18th, and Brady Quinn 22nd.

Only one of those four quarterbacks has had success. Quinn has bounced around as a third string backup. Tebow’s story is well documented, and Brandon Weeden was a failure in two seasons in Cleveland.

The high impact fans and the media are labeling Manziel needs to be toned down. Cleveland’s front office is doing their best to calm the media down. By stating that Manziel won’t be handed the job and has a lot of work ahead of him. It’s the way any organization needs to handle a drafted player, but Cleveland is putting it out there for the media’s eyes.

Without a doubt the media pressure will continue to build and inevitably Johnny Manziel will be on the football field in 2014. How will this help your fantasy football teams? Assuming Manziel doesn’t start right away, he’ll likely be thrown into the fray in mid to late October. This is usually when a poor team looks for one last chance. At four or five losses they’d only be a few games away from playoff elimination.

Rookie quarterbacks have shown strong promise before in fantasy football impact. Even Brandon Weeden had his share of 300 yard games. The list extends from RG3, Luck, Locker, Kaepernick, Vince Young, and even Tim Tebow. New quarterbacks on the field tend to cause disruption for defensive schemes and coordinators.

Scouting preseason film and college film is completely different from an NFL game plan. It typically takes defenses a handful of games to adjust to the new starting quarterback.

Therefore, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Manziel catapult himself as a top twelve fantasy quarterback in November. This could be crucial for fantasy teams looking for a new spark at their quarterback position. Manziel has had his critics for his skill to throw the football. His craftiness should allot for him to create on the run and spread the football around. I see no reason to discount his skill set from college to the NFL.

It didn’t stop Colin Kaepernick, Vince Young, Mike Vick, RG3, Tebow, and other scrambling quarterbacks initially.

Place Manziel on your draft lists. He’ll reward you like he did in college against the spread.

IMPACT NEW FACES IN NEW PLACES

Thursday, 19 June, 2014

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The lure of a new contract or a team looking to cut salary cap dollars creates new opportunities. These players sometimes are high priced commodities and others are just roster depth acquisitions on new teams. Time on the field is worth the attention of fantasy football participants. Here are some athletes to keep an eye on for your fantasy football drafts. Their new situations should bode well in transitioning fantasy football points for you.

Quarterbacks: Mike Vick and Josh McCown
Free agent quarterbacks have not made much noise for the fantasy football world in quite some time. McCown comes to the Buccaneers after surprise production filling in for Jay Cutler in Chicago. No one truly knows what the Jets plans are for Vick or how much Vick has left in the tank. It is arguable though that both could surprise on the fantasy radar. Vick has had a history of strong results and McCown did so just last year. The talent is around both to have watchful eyes in 2014.

Running Backs: Toby Gerhart (Jacksonville), Ben Tate (Cleveland), Knowshown Moreno (Miami), Rashad Jennings (New York Giants), Chris Johnson (NY Jets), Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles), Maurice Jones-Drew(Oakland Raiders), LeGarrette Blount (Pittsburgh)
Rookie contracts tend to take running backs into their third or fourth seasons. For those that are top dollar players, they almost certainly get resigned on their original drafted team. Most end up hitting the true free agent market after their second deals are expired. By then their value is on the decline. Teams look for a veteran fill in back such as Chris Johnson, Knowshown Moreno, MJD, Sproles, and Blount. All of these guys have backup role type of fantasy football value. Their value will be spiked based on the touchdowns they can get and not yardage.

Then you have the unheralded rookie contract backs that outperformed. Toby Gerhart did so in spot starts for Adrian Peterson. One has to wonder if Gerhart will end up being the next Peyton Hillis. Rashad Jennings had short stints in both Jacksonville and Oakland, but is still a fresh young back for the Giants. Ben Tate was arguably the top free agent signee and the Browns assured themselves of a solid back for the next couple of seasons.

You won’t find any top fifteen fantasy running backs in this group. Instead lower tier second running backs and regular fantasy backups. From the tandem back veteran group I would give Maurice Jones-Drew the highest upside. One the Raiders are likely tiring of Darren McFadden. Secondly, the Raiders have produced solid second tier strength backs over the years (Jennings/Bush). From the young crop of backs Jennings offers high intrigue. The Giants backfield is up for grabs. Coughlin being the old coach he is, could roll with a prominent back for a decent amount of carries. If Jennings ends up being the feature back, he could spark a move into a fantasy starting backfield.

Wide Receivers: Desean Jackson, Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith
Out of all the main free agent position signees, wide receiver, has the biggest gap of high chance of return on investment. Drafting any of the aforementioned receivers is going to be a big risk. Even DeSean Jackson should pose as a red flag. He is in a pass friendly offense. But the same could be said all his years in Philadelphia. At times he would disappear even in the high passing offense with McNabb, Vick, Kolb, and Foles.

Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith are bottom tier bench fillers. A possible fifth or sixth spot on your team, with no patience if they don’t produce. All the years for Steve Smith as a number one receiver seem to have taken a big toll on him. I’d be surprised if he came close to 750 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Williams seems to be in trouble to make the Bills roster, and has had questionable character issues off the field. Sanders needs to show timely chemistry in the Broncos offense in a crowded position.

That leaves Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks. Nicks could show a flash or too like he did as a Giant. But his injury history seems to have relegated him to a second or third option on an offense. Decker is the intriguing prospect. Can the Jets get their moneys worth? Signs are pointing that Decker likely was a system receiver in Denver, and that the Jets quarterback issues will weigh him down considerably.

FITZPATRICK ONE OF TOP OPTIONS FOR FANTASY BACKUP

Tuesday, 17 June, 2014

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Over the last five years fantasy owners have become much more cognitive in drafting for depth. Not just ordinary depth but quality depth. A key strong draft gives you the leverage to assist your team properly. Whether you need it all season long puts you in position for key injuries or upgrading via a trade for a disappointing starter.

Injuries occurring to a fantasy team is inevitable. What also is inevitable are a handful of games that non top ten ranked players will put up a disappointing week. Daring fantasy football owners aren’t afraid to take proper risks of benching a player on occasion. Utilizing your team 100 percent is how you win a fantasy football league title.

Bragging rights in the offseason to your buddies is mixed amongst each other. One will say they led the league in points, another that you eked out a lot of close wins, etc. It’s no different than professional sports when it comes to a win or loss. A win is a win.

Protecting yourself at quarterback is a position that can’t be understated. I’ve seen too many people rely on one main quarterback and think that they are all set. Sure, you’d hope that your Pro Bowl quarterback would compete like one every week, but that just doesn’t happen. There are few players that you can unquestionably start.

One quarterback that should be on many fantasy football players radar is Ryan Fitzpatrick. He is a veteran quarterback that doesn’t necessarily have the brightest track record. One thing he has done well though is perform well in stretches. Being that you should have a solid number one quarterback, Fitzpatrick is that spot stretch starter that can be of use.

More than likely you shouldn’t have to start your backup quarterback more than four to five times. Once for the bye week of course, possible minor injuries, and a better matchup. For the first time in his career Fitzpatrick will actually have a roster of receivers with high fantasy value. You could not say that certainly in Buffalo or last year in Tennessee. His best was spot starts in Cincinnati.

On top of a solid group of receivers, Fitzpatrick will have the benefit of Arian Foster. That should open up things for Fitzpatrick to hit targets and utilize his legs on occasion.

From a future bet standpoint, many are likely going to still discount the Texans after what happened a year ago. Not too many people are high on Fitzpatrick due to the amount of teams he has bounced around from. But this could be the perfect stop gap for Fitzpatrick for another two to three years. With the team healthy this could be a solid bet on the over. Remember the bulk of their losses was a result of Matt Schaub’s horrendous play that dismantled the team.

For a spot starting fantasy quarterback keep your eyes on Fitzpatrick. He’ll be worth the handful of starts.

ELWAY REWRITING HIS CAREER ENDING SCRIPT FOR MANNING

Tuesday, 17 June, 2014

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In Denver, John Elway still resonates as the king of history for the city. He is considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time. As a general manager for the Broncos he has quietly positioned himself to rewrite the ending he had to his career for Peyton Manning.

His first proper move was the perfect handling of Tim Tebow. Many people do not talk about how the Broncos handled moving him out of the picture. Tebow did win games but he showed a Vince Young type of uncanniness that was unsettling too watch. The NFL catches on quickly, and it was only a matter of time before Tebow’s magic ran out. And it did in disaster situations in New York and New England.

Elway being the former quarterback great that he was, knew to move on. His eyes were squarely on Peyton Manning. The Broncos landed Manning and you can say that the first two years were right there. Denver squandered a late lead on a hail mary Joe Flacco bomb, and ran into a defense they just weren’t prepared to counter.

In between those rough ending seasons, the Broncos went out and signed Wes Welker and discovered a gem of a tight end in Julius Thomas. Manning can still be Manning with his high IQ, but it’s apparent the Broncos plan on utilizing a strong running game. Towards the end of John Elway’s career the Broncos did the same thing with Terrell Davis.

The platoon the Broncos used last year worked out well, and should continue to gain with Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, and CJ Anderson. The dollars both Eric Decker, Champ Bailey, and Knowshown Moreno wanted were spent more wisely on Aquib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, and roster fillers.

The entire staff and team knows that this is the season to finally finish things off with a Super Bowl title. This team has endured being one of the best regular season teams only to fall short in the playoffs. The NFL is similar to college basketball in my opinion. Once the post season begins the best team may not always be crowned. It’s a sport where one play can be the deciding factor of it all.

Denver’s 2012 season was ended because of their defensive struggles, which allowed a deep bomb to Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones. Last year the offense’s inability to move the football and early turnovers cost them a chance to win against Seattle.

Both sides of the football and the front office led by John Elway are ready to finish things off.

Look for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to get right back to the Super Bowl. They may not be the best team in football but may get help from the NFC. The right matchup does wonders, and I’m not sure the Seahawks can return to the promise land.

Either way look for this Broncos team to have the San Antonio Spurs mentality exhibited this year and in the playoffs. The mental fortitude to shake off a hard title loss and use it as motivation to get the job completed.

Veteran Quarterback Sleepers

Friday, 13 June, 2014

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The names ring a bell but do the have any fantasy football value? Surely if the opportunity presents itself they might end up being a starter. In some situations they are already in position to win the job or improve upon their season from a year ago. Kurt Warner set the stage for veteran success on multiple occasions.

Look around the NFL and there are several elite quarterbacks still performing at a high level past the age of 35.

Here are some quarterbacks that likely won’t get drafted but may end up on fantasy football rosters sooner than later.

Kyle Orton
It’s hard to believe that Orton is just 31 years old. He’ll have to beat out Brandon Weeden to retain the backup duties in Dallas. Without question, the Cowboys have the offensive tools to make either an adequate fantasy fill-in if Tony Romo were to go down. Based on Romo’s injury history, chances are high that Orton could see the field once again.

Carson Palmer
Palmer gets to his second season under center in Arizona this fall. You could say the same patterns of problems with Carson that were issues in Oakland and Cincinnati plagued him in 2013. Unless he cuts back on his ill-advised interceptions, it could be a short lived second season as a Cardinal. Arizona has Drew Stanton as a backup and drafted Logan Thomas as another prospect.

Thad Lewis
Buffalo is hoping that they can count on EJ Manuel to remain healthy this season. If not, Lewis, will be called on once again to handle duties. Lewis won a key game at Miami and exhibited fair capabilities for a backup quarterback.

Jason Campbell
Out of all the backups in the league, I’m still not sure I know why Campbell never got a true chance to be a starter beyond Washington. His days in Oakland don’t count. As a starter for the Redskins he seemed to be a poised quarterback capable of being a yearly starter. Obviously the rest of the NFL did not see it that way, and Campbell is now settled in as a journeyman backup. With the talent that the Bengals have and the high tension from fans and the media on Andy Dalton, Campbell could see the field as a Bengal.

Brian Hoyer
Hoyer had the most detrimental injury of all quarterbacks last season. He was playing so well in a couple of games as a starter, and winning games on top of it. Who knows how much different May’s draft would have been if the Browns had won more games with Hoyer under center. The future is obviously Johnny Manziel. The question will be if Hoyer can hold off Manziel in camp. Also, if Johnny wins the job if he can remain healthy an entire season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
It’s not often a career journeyman quarterback gets the starting job so often. Fitzpatrick’s needs to pay his agent just a smidge more after his latest job in Houston. From the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, and now Texans, Fitzpatrick has seen it all in his ten year career. For everyone of those teams he has been a starter. Three of those cases were due to injury (Titans, Rams, Bengals). One thing Fitzpatrick does do, is he goes out and lays it on the line each time he is on the field. Houston needs that desperately after what occurred last season.

Mike Vick
Does anyone besides the Jets PR writer, believe that the Jets truly expect Geno Smith to be their starting quarterback all season? The second Mike Vick was signed a kindergartner could put two and two together of what the future lies for the Jets. It’ll be Mike Vick likely before the preseason ends as the starter. Smith just does not have the accuracy or savvy to be a starting quarterback. This high draft pick mistake the Jets can admit their wrongdoing and move on accordingly. Unlike what they did with Mark Sanchez. Vick has been waiting for a true chance to push forth. He had it momentarily in Philadelphia, but got caught in his injury woes and Andy Reid’s last stand as an Eagles head coach.

If there is any veteran quarterback that can climb himself back into legitimate fantasy worthiness it’s Vick.