Pre Camp Notes and Depth Charts, the Quarterbacks
This is the second part of our 2 part article, viewing the quarterback situations of all 32 teams as they head into camp, part 2, the NFC quarterbacks…
Dallas, Tony Romo threw a commendable 26 touchdown passes in thirteen starts with 8 multiple touchdown pass games. He has averaged twenty seven scores for the past three seasons. Of course now he has to continue on without his best wide receiver Terrell Owens, despite Owens being a constant distraction he is a great wide receiver and will be missed. Former Lion Roy Williams, Miles Austin, and Patrick Crayton will all have to step up, Romo will not be able to throw every pass to TE Jason Witten, Romo is a low QB I but has a tough early schedule facing the Buccaneer, Giant, and Panther pass defenses to start 2009. Veteran Jon Kitna makes for a great back up and should be handcuffed to Romo.
Giants, with the loss of wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, Eli Manning’s value drops, their replacements Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith will not be as productive for Manning. The Giants will rely more on running the ball, Manning is a middle QB II who will make a solid fantasy back up in 2009, but will not be started many weeks. Eight year veteran David Carr has played well in relief of Manning and is one of the NFL’s best back up quarterbacks but offers little as far as fantasy value goes.
Eagles, Donovan McNabb remains a viable starting fantasy quarterback, he threw for 23 scores last year and the Eagles have provided him with a stable of talented wide receivers. DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, rookie Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Basket, and TE Brent Celek form the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, and McNabb also has Brian Westbrook to throw to. McNabb is 8th on the board. If you select McNabb make sure you get a quality back up else where, if McNabb gets injured, his back up Kevin Kolb does not appear to be NFL material at this stage…
Washington, Jason Campbell does not bring much to the fantasy table, he is a high QB III. He threw just thirteen touchdowns in 2008 and has averaged less than one touchdown pass a game over the past three years. Veteran Todd Collins is his back up and has no fantasy value.
Chicago, Jay Cutler arrives in Chicago as the most talented quarterback the Bears have had since Hall of Famer Sid Luckman hung up his cleats in 1950. Cutler threw for 25 scores last year and has averaged about one a half touchdown passes a game the past three seasons. Of course that was in Denver with Brandon Marshall and he had rookie Eddie Royal last year. The Bears do not have the wide receivers the Broncos do but TE Greg Olson who is on the verge of becoming a super star and running back Matt Forte who caught sixty three passes in 2008 should make up for some of it. Cutler is 7th on the board, a QB I. He should be in the mid twenties at least with scoring throws, he may even complete more passes but he will be throwing shorter, his yardage could come down some. The superb Bear offensive line will have to keep Cutler healthy, there is no depth behind him, second year players Brett Basanez and Caleb Hanie will battle for the back up spot, you will have to find a quality back up elsewhere.
Lions, Daunte Culpepper should get the starting nod with rookie Matthew Stafford seeing spot duty early before taking the starting position by mid season. Regardless of which starts both have little fantasy value, both are low QB III’s. Someone though has to throw the touchdowns to all world wide receiver Calvin Johnson, use a late selection on Stafford, there will be some soft match ups for him later in season.
Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers passed for more than 4,000 yards , threw for 28 scores, ran for 4 more, had 10 multiple touchdown pass games and tied Drew Brees with the most completions over 40 yards, (16),in 2008. His schedule is softer this year, his statistics should be better, he is 4th on the board and high QB I. Matt Flynn who was the back up last year will battle Brian Brohm again for the position, handcuff the winner here with Rodgers.
Vikings, it appears as if Brett Favre will be behind center for the Vikings opening day in Cleveland. If he is there, then that signals he has completely healed from his late season injury last year that had him playing terrible football the last 5 weeks of the season. Favre has a favorable opening schedule, facing the soft pass defenses of the Browns, Lions, 49’ers, the Packers in Minnesota, and then the Rams the first 5 weeks. Favre should be able to easily match 2008’s 22 touchdown passes and should have far less interceptions. The addition of Percy Harvin gives Favre more options than just average wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Bobby Wade; Favre also has a great receiver in Chester Taylor to go along with the game’s best running back Adrian Peterson. All this adds up to Favre being a high QB II with some great match ups; take him as your backup. Sage Rosenfels always delivers touchdown passes when in relief along with a few interceptions; he has value if Favre misses starts for any length of time.
Falcons, Can Matt Ryan avoid a sophomore jinx, I not only think he can, but he will score more fantasy points in 2009 than he did in 2008. He had 17 total touchdowns last season and with the addition of future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez at TE and a year of working with wide receiver Roddy White will have Ryan throwing at least 22-25 touchdowns. He is low QB I or high QB II. Former Raven Chris Redman will back up Ryan again but he has little value, they will run more if Redman has to start, select your back up quarterback from another team, do not handcuff Redman.
Panthers, Jake Delhomme has fallen from starting status to a low QB II. The Panthers have taken a run first approach and even with wide receiver Steve Smith Delhomme’s fantasy statistics will continue to suffer. He threw for fifteen touchdowns in 2008, he may throw as many 17 in 2009 but he is back up material at best with a couple of decent match ups in early November. Josh McCown and Matt Moore will battle for the back up spot but they have little or no fantasy value.
Saints, Drew Brees may not throw for 5,000 yards in 2009 as he did in 2008 but he is number1 on the board this year. He will be drafted mid to late first round in just about every draft. A few owners may select Tom Brady as the first quarterback, but everything points to Brees as the number one guy for 2009. He threw for 34 touchdowns and had 11 multiple touchdown pass games and was missing his best receiver Marques Colston for six contests. The Saints have made few changes to their passing game this off season and TE Jeremy Shockey should bounce back from a 2008 season where he did not score a touchdown. Mark Brunell who will be 52 in November…….just kidding, remains as the back up and you should use a late selection to handcuff him with Brees.
Buccaneers, as of now the cast of characters who are battling to be behind center opening day against the Cowboys are journeymen Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown, and rookie Josh Freeman. The Buccaneers threw for just 17 scores in 2008 and regardless of who wins the starting position do not expect any more than that in 2009. Leftwich is a high QB III and the favorite to win the job and McCown is 37th on the board, there is not much fantasy value here.
Cardinals, Kurt Warner’s resurgence to fantasy elite status all started the second half in a week three game here in Baltimore in 2007 and he has been on a roll since. Warner threw for thirty scores, 4,583 yards, and had ten multiple touchdown pass games in 2008. The wide receiving trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, who will play in the desert again despite of what you have read, and Steve Breaston all had 1,000 yard receiving seasons last year and are the most talented receiving corps in the NFL. Warner is 5th on the board and worth an early round selection. Matt Leinart knows his day is coming to start again and the once spoiled brat has improved his work ethic, handcuff him with Warner.
Saint Louis, The Rams scored 20 or more points in just three games and Marc Bulger threw for just 11 touchdowns in the fourteen games he appeared in last year. In his first 5 seasons he had a 95-59 touchdown to interception ratio but that is history. For 2009 the Rams will run their entire offense around Steven Jackson, Bulger with wide receiver Donnie Avery as his only solid wide receiver is a middle QB III, the days of Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are long gone. Baltimore fan favorite Kyle Boller will back up Bulger and should get some work, but for every touchdown pass he throws an interception or two and a fumble come along with it, Boller has little or no fantasy value.
San Francisco, Shaun Hill will win the starting position over Alex Smith. Hill had 5 multiple touchdown pass games in the nine games he started. I am in the minority but he is a solid QB II and has numerous favorable match ups on the schedule, I would not hesitate to make him my back up quarterback. His wide receivers including rookie Michael Crabtree are only average and TE Vernon Davis is worthless, but Hill moves the team and knows how to throw touchdown passes, and running back Frank Gore is a superb receiver. Smith will serve as the back up and has some value if Hill get hurts, but Smith probably will not get drafted.