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QB Couplets

For the past five weeks, the quarterback situation has been in a state of flux. There have been injuries, suspensions of key receivers, depth chart alterations and even a high profile un-retirement. The net result: there are six QB’s that can be drafted as sure-shot weekly starters (Brady, Manning, Romo, Brees, Palmer and Roethlisberger).

And the remaining quarterbacks? Well, after Palmer and Roethlisberger come off the draft board, you’ll be looking at a group of QB’s that are surrounded by question marks. Some of these guys are certainly capable of locking down a starting spot on your roster, but until they’ve proven their worth in 2008, they are best viewed as situational starters.

So, for all those who’ll be playing the QB matchup game this year, let me give you one piece of advice.

Be very careful when you select your second quarterback. Some QB pairings that look great on the surface may actually leave you floundering at certain points in the season. Let me show you what I mean.

I’ll give you a list of five quarterbacks – see if you can pick out two that would make a good match. Here they are: Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler, Derek Anderson, Brett Favre and Jake Delhomme. I’m sure that you can select at least one promising couplet from this group. How about McNabb/Cutler? Does Anderson/Favre suit your liking? For those who prefer to wait until the later rounds to pick up their quarterbacks, how does Cutler/Delhomme sound?

Unfortunately, no matter which two names you pair together, you’re going to find the same problem. Each player has major obstacles to overcome in the early portion of the season.  

Donovan McNabb will be missing his No. 1 WR, Kevin Curtis, for probably the next 6-8 weeks. Reggie Brown (Phili’s No. 2 receiver) may also miss some time. This is a big blow to a receiving core that was weak to begin with. When you consider that

Philadelphia plays

Dallas,

Pittsburgh and

Chicago in Weeks 2-4, you should expect a bumpy ride.

Jay Cutler will likely be missing Brandon Marshall for the first two or three weeks of the regular season. When you remove this superstar talent from

Denver’s offense, you’re left with a sketchy group of receivers. To make matters worse,

Denver meets

Oakland and

San Diego in Weeks 1 and 2 – these two teams are very stout against the pass. Really, you shouldn’t expect much out of Cutler until Week 4.

Jake Delhomme will be without the services of Steve Smith for the first two regular season games, during which time

Carolina will meet

San Diego and

Chicago. When Steve comes back in Week 3,

Carolina will be heading to

Minnesota. You probably won’t want to start Delhomme until Week 4, when the Panthers play the Falcons.

Brett Favre is still learning a new offense. He’ll be seeing New England and

San Diego in Weeks 2 and 3. ‘Nuff said.

Derek Anderson still hasn’t cleared the cobwebs after that concussion. Even if he plays in Week 1, you don’t

really know what you’re going to get with this guy. Since

Cleveland meets

Dallas,

Pittsburgh and

Baltimore in the first three weeks of the season, I’d be wary of

Anderson. You might want to see how he looks before you throw him into your lineup.

In short, if you draft two of these quarterbacks, you might be very unhappy with your QB situation during the month of September. There is really no need for this. After the top six players at the position, there are no ‘must have’ guys. The low-end quarterbacks are almost interchangeable. As long as you spend a bit of time considering the schedules and situations of these players, you can avoid mismatches without sacrificing potential.  

Basically, I’m suggesting that you consider the pairing before you consider the ranking.

For example, even though Cutler undoubtedly sits higher on your cheat sheet than Kurt Warner, the old man is probably the better quarterback to pair up with McNabb. Brenda’s husband has a cakewalk in the first portion of the season; he can certainly get Donovan over the hump. Warner could do the same for the other four quarterbacks mentioned above. True, Kurt is an injury risk and his hold on the starting job is tenuous (in fact, he hasn’t

officially passed Leinart on the depth chart). But if you draft him alongside McNabb, Cutler, Favre or Delhomme, you won’t need him for the whole season. You’ll need him for the first four or five games, and then whatever else he can give you is a bonus.

You might think that a Favre/Warner combo is ridiculous. It’s not. Their schedules mesh nicely. And this is coming from someone who is very skeptical about Brett’s fantasy value. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article that described how difficult it’ll be to find a suitable quarterback to pair up with the Jets new signal caller. Well, that was before Warner reentered the picture. Here’s something to think about: you might be able to grab Brett at the end of Round 10, and Kurt at the beginning of Round 11. This could be a potent – if risky – QB combo. If you go this route, and you manage to land a decent QB3 as an insurance policy, you’ll be laughing.

Another quarterback that’ll be facing some weak opponents in the first part of the season is Matt Hasselbeck. Granted, he’ll be missing Engram and Branch during this time. But Hass isn’t in the same situation as McNabb.

Seattle has an ineffective ground game; Matt will be forced to put the ball in the air. Against lesser defenses, he’ll still be able to put up some good numbers. So, if you pair Hasselbeck up with Delhomme, you should be well served. Hass can carry you until Week 4, when

Carolina – with Steve Smith back in the fold – hosts

Atlanta. From that point on, you can rotate these two quarterbacks as you see fit.

Okay, I’m not going to run through any more permutations. The point of this article wasn’t to find all the best possible QB pairings. I’m just pointing out that if you don’t land a Top 6

quarterback, you should be looking for the

right QB2; not necessarily the highest-ranked QB2.

 

It takes a bit of time to sort through the possible scenarios, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to face a three- or four-game stretch without a viable option at quarterback.

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