Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: New quarterback dilemmas

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Continuing our examination of just how wackadoodle this season is shaping up to be, we come to the quarterback position -- a position of excess and, therefore, lower priority.

Because the two are usually connected, you see.

But while the former has certainly proven to be true -- beyond even what I expected with Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler returning to prominence and Sam Bradford, Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Tannehill entering the fold -- I'm not so sure about the latter anymore.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

It's different from before. The fear of going without a competent player at the position is silly and has been for a few years now. But I'm sensing quarterback has become so deep, with so many good options available for every team in your league, that the need to distinguish between good, better and best is paramount.

After all, the key to winning in Fantasy is having an advantage over your opponent. How can you have an advantage at a position where everyone is equally good?

The answer, of course, is that everyone isn't equally good. Not really. They all meet the expected level of production at the position, but they don't do it at the same time or to the same extent.

When the number of players who meet the expected level of production at a position increases, it seems like a luxury at first -- an opportunity to wait longer to fill that position. But if it continues from year to year, with those players only growing in number, eventually the expected level of production at the position changes. It's exactly what Fantasy Baseball owners have encountered with starting pitchers in recent years.

And when an already high-scoring position becomes even higher-scoring, it only raises the stakes at that position. Particularly in standard CBSSports.com formats, where passing touchdowns are worth a full six points, the quarterback spot has the greatest say in whether you win or lose in a given week. It typically won't have as much fluctuation as other positions, but if your quarterback performs to one extreme or the other, what the rest of your team does is virtually irrelevant.

Now, before I stray down a path that undermines decades of Fantasy Football philosophy, let me be clear: A top running back is still more valuable than a top quarterback. The team with the biggest advantage at quarterback doesn't automatically win the league, after all. You still need advantages at other positions, and a replacement-level quarterback is a much more viable option than a replacement-level running back.

The purpose of this column isn't to compel you to shop your first-round running back for the best quarterback you can get. The purpose is to help you get the most out of a position with far too much to go around.

Basically, I just added Philip Rivers to a roster that already included Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, and looking at what all is still available at the position, I can't help but think other people are in a similar situation. Nobody wants to give up on a quarterback who can consistently deliver two touchdowns, but at the same time, a two-touchdown performance is probably the new baseline at the position. Any more than that, and you've distanced yourself from the competition. Any less, and you better hope to hit the jackpot elsewhere.

With an average of two touchdowns (passing and rushing) in his two games, Luck hasn't been bad, but he hasn't stood out like I hoped he would. Maybe that changes over time. Two games don't make a season, and if Luck goes and throws four touchdown passes at San Francisco this weekend, I won't have much of a dilemma anymore. But what if he doesn't? What if he continues with 1-2 touchdowns week after week? And what if San Diego's new offense under coach Mike McCoy relies so much on Rivers' arm that 3-4 touchdowns becomes the norm for him? Could I really pass up on him now, recognizing that possibility?

That's the differentiator right there. Granted, both classes of quarterback will have some overlap, but the 6-18 points that the 3-4 touchdown guy has on the 1-2 touchdown guy each week will decide many a matchup this season.

To get a sense of which quarterbacks fit where, I've sorted all 32 starters into three groups based on what they've done so far this season ...

The 3-4 touchdown guys (those averaging more than two touchdowns per game):
Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler

The 1-2 touchdown guys (those averaging 1.5 to two touchdowns per game):
Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, E.J. Manuel, Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Tom Brady

Everyone else:
Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Josh Freeman, Geno Smith and Chad Henne

That basically sums up the position, doesn't it? Everyone in the first two groups is worth owning, and everyone in the last group (apart from Wilson, Pryor and maybe Tannehill, who's leading a pass-first offense now even though he doesn't have the touchdowns to show for it) isn't.

But again, two games don't make a season. I'm not classifying these quarterbacks this way forever more. I still think of Brees as being in that first group -- too much of a track record there -- and I consider Ryan, Stafford, Romo and Brady safer bets than not to join him. I also think Kaepernick's and Newton's rushing abilities elevate them over the other 1-2 touchdown guys.

But seeing the way some of those other names stack up makes the rest of the position not so black-and-white.

For instance, if you drafted Vick to be your backup, as so many Fantasy owners did, do you continue to start Ryan, Stafford and Romo over him? As long as he's healthy and the Chip Kelly offense continues to take the league by surprise, I don't see how. But of course, trading Ryan, Stafford or Romo gives you no fallback in the likely event of another Vick injury, which means the best place for them might actually be your bench. Plus, with bargain-bin finds such as Bradford and Schaub outperforming them, you have to wonder just how much they'd fetch in a trade anyway.

Which brings me to my next point. Do Bradford, Schaub and, yes, Rivers really belong in this discussion? Based on what they've done through two games, with each of their offenses leaning more on the pass as part of a growing trend of pass-happy offenses across the league, would you consider sitting your intended starter for them, if only on occasion? Should you?

Ryan, Stafford and Romo are one thing, but does Luck deserve preferential treatment over them now, especially with the Colts likely to adopt a more balanced approach with the acquisition of Trent Richardson? What about Wilson or, shoot, Brady? Compared to the rest of the league, the Patriots' offense is looking positively balanced. Or what about Eli Manning? He has the touchdowns, but with seven interceptions is he still more trustworthy than that guy you just plucked off waivers? Any way you look at it, it's a mess.

My guess is you'll have to pick and choose. The few true standouts at the position -- guys like Peyton Manning, Rodgers and, yes, I'll include Brees -- remain must-starts, and a few others -- Vick, Griffin, Ryan, Stafford, Kaepernick, Romo, Newton and Brady -- should be heavy favorites each week. But with so little differentiation between the second and third tiers at quarterback now, the position, quite frankly, has become matchups-oriented.

And it stinks. The more options you have to choose from, the more potential you have to choose wrong, and if you continually choose wrong, you miss out on all the good weeks, putting you in a worse predicament than if you had just stuck with one guy.

But again, two touchdowns is the baseline for a quarterback now. If you can't trust your guy to do that with the matchup at hand, you're putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Most likely, your opponent has someone who can.

Of course, playing the matchups is easier said than done, particularly at quarterback. Teams tend to pass more when trailing than when leading, so if the matchup is too favorable, it can actually backfire. Then again, starting the quarterback most likely to be involved in a shootout can sometimes backfire as well. Neither Ryan nor Freeman lit up the Saints, you may have noticed.

Trust me: In that league where I own Luck, Russell and Wilson ... or the one where I own Griffin, Wilson and Rivers ... or the one where I own Stafford and Bradford, I don't look forward to making that decision each week. But I think it's the way of the future, and to demonstrate that point, I asked my Twitter followers to provide me with what they anticipate to be season-long quarterback dilemmas. Let's do our best to sort them out:

Rivers vs. Luck -- @Trantice99
For what it's worth, I plan to go with Rivers this week, but I suspect it'll be a week-to-week thing, assuming the Richardson acquisition doesn't cut into Luck's production too much.

Vick or Newton? -- @yeah2low
If I'm going with Vick over Ryan, Stafford and Romo, I'm going with him over a struggling Newton. Newton showed last year why you shouldn't count him out, though. I suspect he'll be your preferred option down the stretch.

Deciding between Pryor and Brady ... sad to say. -- @NoToryousone1
Sad only because Brady underachieved against the Jets, but in the long run, this one won't be much of a dilemma. I don't anticipate the Raiders scoring too many touchdowns.

Griffin and Bradford. Agonized over it last week will again this week. Rams will have to throw a lot, right? -- @wilkinson81
With Steven Jackson gone, their offense has a different look, relying more on short passes than traditional runs. I could see Bradford closing the gap on Griffin in time. But the Redskins' defense has them perpetually in catch-up mode, which has worked wonders for Griffin's numbers.

Vick and Kaepernick. Trying to solve the dilemma by trading one. -- @knowITall_sport
Yeah, but ... for what? A third running back? Vick might fetch more than that if you find someone flipping out over his potential in the Eagles' new offense, but is it worth losing his monster production for however long he's healthy? I might just stand pat.

I have Romo and Eli Manning. -- ‏@BoughtAndPaid9
This one should become a dilemma at some point, but I need to be convinced Manning won't be throwing three interceptions a game first.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Facebook . You can also follow Scott via Twitter @CBSScottWhite .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Mychal Kendricks unlikely to go Week 5
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks is unlikely to play Week 5, according to 94 WIP.

Kendricks has already missed two games due to a calf injury, and it appears he'll miss another Sunday. Kendricks has 10 tackles and one sack through two games. 


Cam Newton hoping to run soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed that he may run more soon, according to the team's website.

Newton is still dealing with the effects of offseason ankle surgery. A rib injury during the preseason has also impacted his ability to use his legs more. Newton stressed that he's looking to be more of a pocket passer, though, even when he's fully healthy. "I look at myself as a pocket passer with the ability to run," Newton said. He added, however, that he's feeling healthier and might be able to show off his running skills soon. "Hopefully I will be able to display my running talents soon," he added.


Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson risky for Week 5
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:41 pm ET) If the last two weeks are any indication, as quarterback Kirk Cousins goes, so go wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Both were complete busts in Week 4, when Cousins threw four interceptions in a laugher against the Giants.

The correlation is especially troubling with the Redskins set to host defending champion Seattle in Week 5. The Seahawks, in case you haven't heard, are pretty stellar on defense. Though statistically, they don't rank as high against the pass as you'd expect thanks to some tough matchups against Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning to begin the season, Cousins isn't of the same caliber. And not all of them did so hot anyway. Rodgers threw for just 189 yards in Week 1.

If you're going to pick one, Garcon is probably the better choice since his role as the possession receiver should theoretically make him a little more consistent than the boom-or-bust Jackson, but neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard has either higher than 32nd at wide receiver this week.


No reason to trust in Eric Ebron yet
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:31 pm ET) Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron scored his first career touchdown Week 4 at the Jets, which is nice and all, but frankly, given the circumstances surrounding the performance (star wide receiver Calvin Johnson hobbled by a sprained ankle, fellow tight end Joseph Fauria in a walking boot, etc.), I would have hoped for more.

He caught only three passes for 34 yards, and his four targets weren't even a season high. The Rams' Jared Cook has had more catches and targets in all three of the games he's played this season, and you don't see anybody rushing to add him.

The Lions host the Bills in Week 5, who rank 25th against the pass, allowing 266.3 yards per game, but I wouldn't consider Ebron any sort of sleeper yet, at least not in standard 12-team leagues.


Golden Tate's value tied to Calvin Johnson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:19 pm ET) As Chris Towers so deftly noted Sunday, Golden Tate's breakthrough performance in which he caught eight passes for 116 yards Week 4 at the Jets may have had something to do with Calvin Johnson playing only 57 percent of the Lions' snaps because of a sprained ankle. So presumably, Tate owners would like to know how Johnson is doing now.

Well, he missed practice Wednesday but recently told The Detroit News his ankle is "definitely better" than it was last week. He missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday leading up to that game.

I'm thinking the Lions would rather give Johnson a chance to get healthy than run him out there as a decoy every week, so if he's active again Week 5 against Buffalo, I wouldn't be particularly optimistic about Tate's chances.

Then again, the floor is pretty low for Tate. In four games, he has yet to go for less than 51 yards. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him in the 20-30 range at wide receiver, which would make him an advisable starter in 12-team leagues. That sounds about right.


Matt Schaub rejoins Raiders Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub has rejoined the club Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Schaub was away for a couple days while dealing with a non-injury situation. He rejoined the club Wednesday, and could play Week 6 if Derek Carr is unable to go. 


Rivera: So far, so good for Panthers RB Chris Ogbonnaya
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) Panthers just-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya impressed Ron Rivera on Wednesday. The team hopes the former Cleveland back can bolster what has been an injury-plagued backfield.

"Chris had a good day," Rivera told the team website. "He's a smart young man. He's been in a very similar system. There is a lot of overlap with the terminology. He seemed to assimilate very nicely to it."

Ogbonnaya has racked up 660 rushing yards and 714 receiving yards in 46 games in the NFL, mostly with the Browns.


Joique Bell not a great start either way
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) Though Joique Bell missed practice Wednesday after leaving early in Week 4 with a concussion, the Lions aren't ruling him out for Week 5 against Buffalo. But even if he plays, you probably wouldn't want to start him in Fantasy.

The Bills rank third against the run, allowing 71.5 yards per game and just 2.9 per carry. They limited the Texans' Arian Foster to 6 yards on eight carries in Week 4 and have allowed the sixth-fewest Fantasy points to running backs this season.

Those yards per carry may have been skewed by the Chargers' Donald Brown's 62 yards on 31 carries in Week 3. It's pretty clear by now he's just a bad running back. But it's not like Bell has been a world-beater himself. Splitting carries with Reggie Bush, he has only once run for even 40 yards in a game this season and is averaging 3.2 yards per carry.

Especially coming back from a concussion, he's just a desperation play this week.


Cowboys WR Dez Bryant finally practices in full Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) Cowboys stud wide receiver Dez Bryant practiced in full Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right shoulder on Sept. 14 against Tennessee.

Bryant has participated in every game, but has been limited in each of the last six practices. His status, however, has not affected his performance in games. Bryant has caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns since sustaining the injury.


FFT Blog: Looking at the most-dropped list
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) At the Fantasy Football Today blog, we took a look at the most-dropped players in CBSSports.com leagues.

The five most-dropped players are Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and tight end Niles Paul, Chargers running back Donald Brown, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey

You probably won't regret dropping Williams or Paul given their injuries, and Cousins' next few matchups will probably bring out more bad habits. However, if Brown is available in your league (as he is in 19 percent of leagues), you might want to snatch him. He has a tough matchup in Week 5, but we think he can run all over the Raiders in Week 6. 


 
 
 
Rankings