Alright, so the title is a bit of a misnomer. I’m pretty sure most fantasy players inherently can sense a QB’s playing type and without thinking about it and place them into the appropriate fantasy category. However, for those that may not think this way already, this article is to help educate you on the three major types (Game Manager, Precision Passer, Gunslinger) of QBs (in both real life and fantasy) and the effect their style of play has on fantasy WR production.
So this is easily the most commonly placed “label” on QBs. It became really trendy to call QBs “managers” and completely ignore a QB’s natural tendencies. Make no mistake about it, there are QBs that are naturally game managers (this doesn’t mean that can’t make big plays or win the game with their arm) and then there are game managers based upon the system they are in. The best example I can give you is Joe Montana. The guy is one of the greatest QBs of all-time but he played in a West Coast Offense, aka game manager system. By nature he was an excellent decision-maker and this natural ability to manage the game made for a perfect combination. But he had his tendencies to be a gunslinger (anyone remember The Catch?) On the other side of the coin is Terry Bradshaw. For a majority of each game, Bradshaw was asked to be a game manager. But Chuck Noll, understanding the natural abilities of Bradshaw, over time began to trust him to turn into a gunslinger and win games. Bradshaw and his gunslinger ways led to many of the classic John Stallworth and Lynn Swann catches we
A modern game manager that deserves the name is Marc Bulger. He is built to be a game manager and he is in the system of a game manager. Some players that don’t deserve the title are Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. These guys play in game manager systems (although the Steelers are moving further away each season) but both maintain their nature to sling the ball when they can. This is why guys like Roethlisberger and Flacco will rarely give you Top 10 Seasons but will consistently give you productive weeks. One guy who used to fit in this category is Tom Brady. But with a new Offensive Coordinator and the additions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker, we have seen Brady’s true nature of a gunslinger/precision passer which is a rare and unique combination.
Game managers can have OCs cycle through and new WRs as long as they have a sufficient defense and running attack. Their fantasy value isn’t very dynamic despite changes that team may go through during the offseason. These types of QBs make great FF QBBC (quarterback by committee) or backups to gunslingers/game Managers.
WR Effect: The effect these QBs have on WRs is simple – you will find very few Top 10 WRs that have a game manager at QB. However, you’re more likely to know what you’re going to get each and every season from these WRs. These WRs post consistent numbers almost every season, and while they may not qualify as game changers, these WRs are essential at the WR2 & WR3 spots on your roster. Generally speaking, game managers do have a favorite go-to WR, but they also will be more inclined to stick to the gameplan and exploit mismatches where the coaching staff points them out. Knowing when your WR should have an advantage could provide you with an advantage in knowing when to sit/start that WR.
Alright, there are very very few of these. Being a sharp passer only on short-to-medium passes does not get you into this list (unless that is all your system requires). Guys who used to be in this group were Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger. However both offenses have moved a little more to the vertical game and both QBs tend to struggle with accuracy on their deep passes. Someone who is getting very close to be included in this category is Drew Brees. As his accuracy downfield has improved (and help his gunslinger ability), we have seen him rise to a Top 3 QB over the past few years. As I mentioned previously, Tom Brady is also moving into this elite group. Brady still has his gunslinger mentality (thanks to Moss) but his ability to be accurate while lead his WR deep down the field has been impressive.
Two players on this list that have suffered “set back” seasons lately are Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Both have suffered injuries and seen WR play decline in the past couple years hindering the productivity of these efficient QBs. These QBs are capable of huge games since their proficiency against lesser defenses will be staggering. But more importantly, they would generally not lay fantasy eggs. In the last couple years this statement has become less and less true about Manning and Palmer. It’s not that their skills are lacking, but when you have a true precision passer, small changes can create big fantasy effects.
If you’re going to draft a precision passer, keeping a sharp eye on O-Line developments and offseason changes is a must. The smallest things can set the train off track, and while you don’t want to dump your QB, you do need to plan for a backup.
WR Effect: Precision passers always develop a favorite target. This guy is always in the right place at the right time. This WR will lead the team in receptions, yards and TDs (think Marvin Harrison, Tory Holt) and in most cases they push for Top 10 numbers. However the affect for the other WRs is more interesting. New WRs tend to take time to get in a rhythm with precision QBs but once in sync can produce significant numbers. Because of the sheer efficiency, even a team’s No. 3 WR can turn into a viable WR3.
Finally. My favorite QB type. These guys are fun to watch and very dangerous. Gunslingers throw the deep ball even when your WR is double-covered (yes I’m looking at you Brady vs. the Dolphins TWICE to Moss) and will throw into the tiniest of holes. Almost all QBs experience gunslinger moments. But few QBs can play at a high level on a consistent basis. The QBs that can do that generally have crossed over and developed significant precision passer skills. The best current example of this group is Drew Brees.
Early in his career with the Saints, Brees was a pass-happy fiend. His gunslinger mentality worked for and against him. But as his accuracy has improved, the guy has risen to be a (if not THE) Top Fantasy QB. Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are other players that let their gunslinger mentality go more often than your average QB. Both of them still struggle with accuracy and working within systems that don’t really approve of gunslinging.
Gunslingers will more often than not get you into your fantasy playoffs. But the cold outside whether that creeps up in November and December can put a brick wall in your path to a championship. It is always very hard to sit a top scorer, but occasionally, with gunslingers facing bad weather, your best option is to start a precision passer or a game manager and hope the rest of your team can step up.
If you trust in a gunslinger, reach for them and cherish them. They are a special type of player; but if you don’t trust in them, you’ll find yourself upset when they lay an egg or negate their TDs with stupid INTs. For every four-TD game Favre had, he likely had a four-INT game somewhere down the line.
WR Effect: Gunslingers are a WR’s best friends. The main pesky thing about these types of QBs is INTs. But WRs don’t have to worry about them. They get all the same glory yards, touchdowns and receptions without worrying about getting set back by bad throws leading to picks. Lead WRs playing for a gunslinger should be at the top of all boards. Larry Fitzgerald exploded in the playoffs, not because of HIS tremendous play but because Kurt Warner went gunslinger on a lot of sleeping defenses. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal racked up huge points with a gunslinging Jay Cutler last year, and Greg Jennings took advantage of Aaron Rodgers being his QB. All that to say, I hate when people downgrade WRs with gunslingers because they 1) “Don’t have a rushing attack,” 2) “No one else at WR” or 3) “He is an injury risk”. Honestly, most gunslinging QBs put their WRs in more danger. It’s just a part of the game. But the upside is that your WR is capable of being a beast each and every week.