Fantasy Football 2013: Quarterback Report, Which Backups To Rely On

Matt Ryan has lost a lot of offense through injury, how does that affect his status in fantasy?
Matt Ryan has lost a lot of offense through injury, how does that affect his status in fantasy?

The quarterback picture has been less than ideal for a lot of fantasy owners.

One of the most surprising things for owners has been the inconsistent (if not dreadful) play of some fantasy quarterback staples. Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Tom Brady have come in at less than spectacular; while Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III are going through the growing pains expected from young quarterbacks year two.

So the million dollar question: what do YOU do about this?

For some of these guys it isn’t as easy as saying “cut bait and run.” Take Eli Manning for instance, sure he leads the league in interceptions, sure he’s only thrown eight touchdowns on the season, and sure his team has looked abysmal on the way to an 0-5 start. Here’s the catch: he’s thrown for almost 1,500 yards (in only five more attempts than his brother Peyton) and has still completed more than 50% of his passes. The problem in New York isn’t Eli, it’s the defense and offensive line; and given his history of durability and being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he is going to figure it out sooner or later with the personnel he has.

I cannot say the same  about Matt Ryan in Atlanta.

I like Matt Ryan as much as the next fantasy owner, but if you can get any value out of him then do it. It isn’t a bad idea to explore trade options for him because there are other options (which I will get to soon) that aren’t going to have to deal with nearly as many issues as he will. Julio Jones (done for the season), Roddy White (hamstring injury), and Steven Jackson (expected back after the bye) have all been hobbled. We’re already seeing what this kind of loss of production is doing to Tom Brady in New England and Matt Ryan hasn’t shown a track record of what he can do without those kinds of pieces. Sell high while you can.

Quarterbacks to sell:

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: It isn’t just the interceptions, it’s the struggles he has in the red zone and lack of production with so many weapons that worries me.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: For fantasy purposes, he just doesn’t cut it. That has more to do with support cast than him.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Doesn’t have that “next level” gear needed for fantasy purposes.

Some options have come completely out of nowhere. Terrell Pryor in Oakland has played himself into a top-15, duel threat quarterback. He’s completed 68% of his passes, has a rating of 97%, and is showing continued growth and confidence at the position. Time to buy on this kid because I think it will continue. Another guy playing better of late is Geno Smith of the Jets. I’m not convinced he is the answer at quarterback for the future, but completing 60% of your passes, coming up big late in games, and throwing for almost 1,300 yards through five games merits a spot on your roster (possibly even your starting lineup.

Pryor and Smith both have multiple games scoring 20+ points, and if Geno can cut down on the interceptions like he did Monday night against Atlanta he can be a guy who turns out to be as reliable as they come.

Quarterbacks to buy:

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: renaissance in San Diego is legitimate. Increased role of Keenan Allen makes it even more so.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Spreading the wealth, making better decisions, and remaining upright has made Cutler a top-10 quarterback instead of the 15-20 tier he languished in for much of his career.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins: top-10 in yards, on the cusp of the top-10 in completion percentage, and developing a chemistry with receivers. All he needs are the scores and to cut down on the turnovers.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Say what you want about the Rams, but don’t say Sam Bradford is the reason for their issues. His TD/INT ratio (10/3) and yards (1,315) through five games has gone unappreciated.

Backups to target:

T.J. Yates, Houston Texans: I sense the time is near for this kid to step in if Schaub doesn’t pick it up.

Thad Lewis, Buffalo Bills: Strong arm, mobile, and points can be had against the Bengals secondary. Could be a smart play.

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