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The Rookies – Quarterback

It’s the dead of Summer and we’re already sneaking up on preseason football…life is good!  My hand tremors are starting to subside as this NFL junkie gets a strong fix of football fever.  Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be scouting out the rookies.  Whether you’re in a redraft league, or (most especially) a dynasty league, the rooks can push your team over the top if you’re smart and maybe a little lucky.

Today, we’ll be checking out the rookie Quarterbacks.  Traditionally, QB is a position where rookies don’t blow the door off of the fantasy world right out of the gate, and this year looks to be no exception.  But without doubt, several of these guys will see some significant playing time this year.  And I don’t need to tell you dynasty league owners the value of a young QB prospect, especially in a large league.

So let’s get started!  Here they are:

1. Alex Smith  San Francisco 49ers
The top pick in the NFL draft this year, he’s deservedly the top rookie at this point.  This kid has all of the tools to be a star in the league…it just won’t be this year.  Highly intelligent, strong-armed, very mobile…the whole shebang.  Put him on perhaps the most quarterback-friendly franchise of all time, and there’s an awful lot to like here.  He played in a gimmicky shotgun offense in college and will undoubtedly have some growing pains transitioning to the drop and the pro game, but he’s an outstanding prospect.  Perhaps he’ll start the season on the bench, but he’s almost a sure thing to start by week 4 or so, if not right out of camp.
Short term:  A 3rd QB at best in redraft leagues.  The Niners are a bad team and Smith will unfortunately get to show his scrambling skills early and often if they plug him in for Tim Rattay.
Long term:  A blue-chip prospect.  He’s been going around the 10th pick or so in dynasty league rookie drafts, even higher in large leagues where QBs are more scarce.  Quarterbacks are hard to peg long-term, but this kid’s chances look as good as they can right now.

2. Jason Campbell  Washington Redskins
Many thought the Skins traded up needlessly to snag this guy in the first round, and perhaps they’re right.  But there’s no denying his talent…physically he’s possibly the most gifted in the draft. A bit raw compared to Smith or Frye, but had a fantastic year leading an undefeated Auburn team.  May very well get significant playing time if Patrick Ramsey struggles…but will psychotic win-now owner Daniel Snyder push this kid into the lineup too soon?  Let’s hope Joe Gibbs has the first say and Campbell is groomed as he should be.
Short term: Might get some playing time, but not worthy of a redraft pick
Long term:  If he can build on his massive improvement of last season, he might be the leader of a new revival in the Land of the Hogs!  Going in the 20 – 30 range in rookie dynasty drafts, though I’ve seen him picked as high as 8th in one very sharky league I’m in.

3.  Charlie Frye  Cleveland Browns
A small-school QB out of Akron, but that shouldn’t worry you…Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, and Ben Roethlisberger are all fairly recent MAC draftees and they’re doing just fine.  Frye is a hard-nosed leader with smarts and a good feel for the game…he looks to be a Romeo Crenell favorite from the start and with only Trent Dilfer to beat out for the job, it’s only a matter of time till Charlie’s driving the bus in Cleveland.  The Browns have a pretty good receiving corps and Kelly Holcombe showed us that the Browns QB can put up some pretty decent fantasy numbers.
Short Term:  Might get some PT this year, though I suspect Dilfer will hold the job longer than most think, especially if the team gets off to a hot start.  Not worth a pick in most redraft leagues.
Long Term:  A pretty good prospect in a good situation.  May develop into a Pennington or Brady type of player, a leader playing smart and controlled ball and eventually putting up servicable but not fantastic fantasy numbers.

4. Aaron Rogers  Green Bay Packers
Wow, was it tough watching this kid’s free-fall to the end of the first round on draft day after being touted as the potential top overall pick just a week or two beforehand?  Ouch!  This kid seems to have all of the tools it takes to be the successor to Brett Favre in Packerland.  Like many of the real-life GMs on draft day were, I’m a bit more sceptical than most fantasy players though.  Despite his yearly groanings to the contrary, Favre may not disappear as quickly as widely acknowleged…we’ve seen the next Green Bay quarterback more than once, haven’t we?  And something about this kid screams bust to me, though I think he’ll get his crack as a starter somewhere down the line.
Short Term:  Stay away unless Favre missing time to injury.  Yeah, right!
Long Term:  Hazy…he’s got a chip on his shoulder due to his draft-day slide, and he’s looking to cause regret amongst GMs across the league.  Going in the 20 – 30 range in rookie dynasty drafts, but I’ve seen him go as high as 8th in a large league.

5. Kyle Orton  Chicago Bears
Believe me, I’m probably one of the few touting Kyle Orton as the #5 rookie QB, but this kid is having a strong camp and his stock is rising fast.  Orton is described by many as a first-round pick who had a lackluster senior season.  Grossman has yet to prove he can stay healthy and hold down the starter job, and Chad Hutchinson isn’t scaring anyone.  The Bears QB coach also coached Orton at Purdue, so look for an easier transistion than most.  Kyle is somewhat of a ‘sleeper’ rookie pick, but he’ll be heard from before the season is over.
Short term:  Probably not worth a redraft pick, but if Grossman is hurt or struggling, may be worth a waiver wire pickup.
Long term:  Not the physical prospect of those listed before him, but a sneaky hunch tells me he might have more of a crack at the job than most suspect.

6.  Adrian McPherson  New Orleans Saints
A freakish physical prospect with a 50-cent head.  Crazy fast wheels and a rocket arm make him a big tease in the dynasty world.  A former Florida HS player of the year in both football and baseball…are you kidding?  He’s been honing his skills in the Arena League, winning Rookie of the Year this past season.  But with an expulsion from Florida State for check fraud, along with some sports gambling troubles, coupled with a shaky knowledge of the game, there’s too much not to like here.  Massive upside if he gets his head screwed on straight, but might be a better wide receiver down the road.
Short term:  Nope
Long term:  Could be Randall Cunningham, could be Todd Marinovich.  I’m not optimistic that he’ll become a consistent fantasy starter, but it’s hard not to resist the temptation to squirrel him away on a dynasty team roster.  Going in the 15 – 25 range in dynasty rookie drafts.

7. Andrew Walter  Oakland Raiders
A pocket passer with a big arm.  Could cause some damage throwing to Moss, Porter, and Curry every week if he gets the shot.  Kerry Collins is getting older and is notoriously streaky, so perhaps Walter gets an audition down the road.  A complete non-threat to run and he’s recovering from a severe shoulder seperation.
Short term:  Nothing to see here.
Long term:  An intriguing prospect…Oakland runs an offense this guy could do well in.  Monster receiving weapons on a team constantly playing from behind makes for big fantasy numbers.  Going in the 30 – 40 range in rookie dynasty drafts.

8. Dan Orlovsky  Detroit Lions
With Joey Harrington running out of chances to win and backup Jeff Garcia getting long in the tooth, Orlovsky might have his term at the helm someday.  The Lions have a monstorously talented receiving corps and could make for some nice fantasy numbers from a quarterback who can actually get them the ball.  He’s not a threat to run, but is a true leader with a big arm and strong fundamentals.
Short term: Probably not.
Long term:  Another interesting pick with a nice upside should the other Lions QBs falter.  Going in the  35 – 45 range in dynasty rookie drafts.

9. Stefan Lefors  Carolina Panthers
Could this gritty little QB run the show should Delhomme go down?  Stay tuned.

10. David Greene  Seattle Seahawks
Hasselbeck has come back to earth.  Can Greene show enough to take the job?  Not great measurables, but he can play.  A lefty, but he’s no Stabler.

11. Ryan Fitzpatrick  St. Louis Rams
Perfect Wonderlic score combined with a Mike Martz offense?  Could be a match here someday, but a long shot. 

12. Derek Anderson  Baltimore Ravens
Rocket arm, little more.


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