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The Top 5 Biggest Surprises at QB

No matter how hard we so-called fantasy football experts pour over the names and numbers each preseason to make our predictions as accurate as possible, there is always a handful of players at each position that surprise even us. Here is my list of the top-five biggest surprises at the quarterback position from the first half of 2010. Fantasy points (FP) were calculated by awarding one point for each 20 yards passing, four points for each touchdown pass, minus one point for each interception, one point for every 10 rushing yards and six points for every rushing touchdown.

QUARTERBACKS – BIGGEST SURPRISES

1. Michael Vick | Philadelphia Eagles

 


WK


OPP


CMP


ATT


YD


TD


INT


RSH


YD


TD


FP

1

GB

16

24

175

1

0

11

103

0

23.0

2

DET

21

34

284

2

0

7

37

0

25.9

3

JAX

17

31

291

3

0

4

30

1

35.5

4

WAS

5

7

49

0

0

3

17

0

4.1

9

IND

17

29

218

1

0

10

74

1

28.3


TOTAL


76


125


1,017


7


0


35


261


2


116.8

Kevin Kolb was Philadelphia’s designated quarterback of the future, and Vick would never become a regular starter for the Eagles, because he didn’t have what it took to succeed as a pocket passer. That’s what a lot of fantasy owners and experts had reasonably believed prior to the start of 2010. Kolb’s Week 1 debut as a starter was a disaster. Because of his unexpectedly dismal play and some shoddy offensive line play, Kolb struggled badly against the Green Bay Packers and was knocked out of the game with a concussion. To the surprise of many, Vick stepped in and ran the Eagles’ offense like a seasoned veteran, throwing for 175 yards and one score, and rushing 11 times for 103 yards. Vick started in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions and Week 3 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, torching both teams with very strong performances and putting head coach Andy Reid’s Kolb-is-our-starter plans on hold. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, Vick suffered a rib injury in Week 4 against the Washington Redskins, which kept him out of the starting lineup through Week 8.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2010: Vick returned to the starting lineup in Week 9 and led the Eagles to a triumph over the Indianapolis Colts, which further cemented his hold on the starting job. Following the Week 9 games, Vick is just the fantasy QB23, but that is only because he has played in just five games. Since he is playing for a 2011 contract Philadelphia or another team, don’t expect any kind of drop off in Vick’s numbers. He has mostly favorable matchups until the end of the season, so expect more rock-solid fantasy production. By the way, the Eagles offensive line seems to be getting healthier and improving.


 

2. Kyle Orton | Denver Broncos


WK


OPP


CMP


ATT


YD


TD


INT


RSH


YD


TD


FP

1

JAX

21

33

295

1

1

2

12

0

18.9

2

SEA

25

35

307

2

0

3

-5

0

22.8

3

IND

37

57

476

1

1

2

11

0

27.9

4

TEN

35

50

341

2

1

3

11

0

25.1

5

BAL

23

38

314

2

0

0

0

0

23.7

6

NYJ

14

34

209

1

0

3

22

0

16.6

7

OAK

12

29

198

2

1

2

21

0

19.0

8

SF

28

40

369

1

1

3

18

0

23.2


TOTAL

 


195


316


2,509


12


5


18


90


0


177.2

Because of Brandon Marshall’s departure, the much-heralded arrival of Tim Tebow and Denver’s widely-known preseason plans to utilize a heavy run-first offense in 2010, Orton dropped into the latter rounds of most fantasy drafts or ended up in the free-agent pool in some leagues after draft day. If you were lucky enough to acquire him, you obviously hit the jackpot. Jay Cutler’s replacement has been slinging the rock frequently each week, because the Broncos’ soft defense can’t stop anybody (hint: think shootouts), and their supposedly vaunted Knowshon Morerno-led rushing attack has been sputtering. With an unexpected huge assist from journeyman deep threat Brandon Lloyd and contributions from Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal and rookie Demaryius Thomas, Orton is on pace to amass some career-high numbers. Heading into his Week 9 Bye, Orton was the fantasy QB2. He had ranked second in the NFL in pass attempts (316), fourth in completions (195), second in passing yards (2,509) and fifth (tie) in touchdown passes (12). Orton also tallied an average of 22.2 fantasy points per game.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2010: Although Orton’s numbers probably will cool a bit – assuming Moreno can get on track – the unsexy Orton still looks like a sexy fantasy option. Granted, the presence of Tebow is cause for a little worry. If the Broncos fall out of playoff contention, will we see more of Tebow under center? Don’t rule it out. Head coach Josh McDaniels traded Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Peyton Hillis, so it’s not out of the question to see Denver’s head man bench one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league to give prized pupil Tebow some regular playing time.

 

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick | Buffalo Bills


WK


OPP


CMP


ATT


YD


TD


INT


RSH


YD


TD


FP

3

NE

20

28

247

2

2

3

18

0

20.1

4

NYJ

12

27

128

2

0

7

74

0

21.8

5

JAX

20

30

220

3

0

2

4

0

23.4

7

BAL

29

43

374

4

2

4

20

0

34.7

8

KC

24

48

223

1

1

6

43

0

18.4

9

CHI

31

51

299

1

2

2

9

0

17.8


TOTAL

 


136


227


1,491


13


7


24


168


0


136.2

Buffalo Bills’ players are not supposed to be fantasy relevant, right? Displaying his fairly big arm, scrambling ability and Harvard smarts, Fitzpatrick has played surprisingly well since replacing Trent Edwards (Jaguars) as Buffalo’s starter in Week 3, looking like a good fit for head coach Chan Gailey’s aggressive downfield passing attack. Fitzpatrick has benefitted from some unexpectedly strong play from up-and-coming possession receiver Stevie Johnson, deep threat Lee Evans and the speedy Roscoe Parrish. The Bills can’t run the football very well, and they frequently find themselves playing from behind, which obviously has forced Fitzpatrick to put it up quite a few times each week. In six starts, Fitz has completed 60 percent of his passes while averaging 248.5 passing yards, 2.1 touchdown passes, 1.1 interceptions and 22.7 fantasy points per start. In addition, Fitzpatrick has rolled up a few fantasy points some weeks with his legs. He has rushed 24 times for 168 yards (7.0 yards per rush). If you prorate Fitzpatrick’s numbers for the rest of the season (13 games played), you get 3,231 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 364 rushing yards. Heading into the Week 10 games, Fitzpatrick is – get this – the fantasy QB12.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2010: The loss of Parrish (wrist) for the season may cause a small dip in Fitzpatrick’s numbers, but another receiver likely will step up. Since Buffalo can’t run the ball well and gets into quite a few shootouts, expect a lot of throwing from Fitzpatrick going forward. A majority of Fitzpatrick’s matchups through Week 16 are favorable.

 

 

4. Josh Freeman | Tampa Bay Buccaneers


WK


OPP


CMP


ATT


YD


TD


INT


RSH


YD


TD


FP

1

CLE

17

28

182

2

1

2

34

0

29.5

2

CAR

12

24

178

2

0

4

43

0

21.2

3

PIT

20

31

184

0

1

6

15

0

9.7

5

CIN

20

33

280

1

1

3

20

0

19.0

6

NO

25

43

219

1

0

3

2

0

15.1

7

STL

23

40

212

1

0

5

40

0

18.6

8

ARI

18

25

278

1

0

2

22

0

20.1

9

ATL

11

22

189

2

2

4

26

0

18.0


TOTAL


146


246


1,722


10


5


29


202


0


151.2

Did you know the 6-foot-6, 248-pound Freeman is the fantasy QB11 heading into the Week 10 games? Not many had expected the second-year pro to achieve fantasy relevance this season with such a young supporting cast around him, but Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense are on the rise. He has provided fantasy owners with some solid fantasy production as a bye-week fill-in and as a passable starter in deep leagues thanks in large part to the surprising play of rookie wide receiver Mike Williams. Granted, Freeman has not been a major fantasy force, but he has been rock-solid consistent, averaging 219 passing yards per start and tossing at least one touchdown pass in six of his last seven starts. The second-year pro has been particularly steady during the last four weeks, throwing for an average of 247.0 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per outing.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2010: Can Freeman keep it up? Barring an injury to Williams, Freeman should continue producing and improving. Aside from a Week 12 road date with the Baltimore Ravens, Freeman’s schedule is very favorable. If your fantasy team is playoff bound in a smaller league, he looks like a great insurance policy for your starting quarterback. If you’re using Freeman as a starter in a larger league, you should have no worries.


 

5. Sam Bradford | St. Louis Rams

 


WK


OPP


CMP


ATT


YD


TD


INT


RSH


YD


TD


FP

1

ARI

32

55

253

1

3

0

0

0

13.6

2

OAK

14

25

167

2

1

0

0

0

15.3

3

WAS

23

37

235

1

1

1

2

0

14.9

4

SEA

23

41

289

2

1

2

8

0

22.2

5

DET

23

45

215

0

2

0

0

0

8.7

6

SD

18

31

198

1

0

6

8

0

14.7

7

TB

13

26

126

2

0

2

2

0

14.5

8

CAR

25

32

191

2

0

5

2

0

17.7


TOTAL

 

171


292


1,674


11


8


16


22


0


121.6

Rookie quarterbacks usually don’t play well, but Bradford has opened some skeptical eyes and looks like the franchise quarterback of the future in St. Louis. Prior to his Week 9 bye, Bradford was ranked as the fantasy QB14. He has completed an impressive 59 percent of his throws and has tossed at least one touchdown pass in seven of eight starts. Unfortunately, the loss of the surprising Mark Clayton (ACL) for the season was obviously a blow to Bradford’s fantasy production. With Clayton in the lineup, Bradford averaged 236.0 passing yards and 1.2 touchdown passes per game; however, in his Clayton-less starts, Bradford has thrown for an average of 182.5 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. In addition, Bradford has scored at least 13 fantasy points in seven of eight starts.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2010: Because of the aforementioned loss of Clayton and because bye weeks are coming to an end very soon, it’s hard to justify using Bradford as a fantasy starter – even though his rest-of-the-season schedule is littered with favorable matchups. Unless either Laurent Robinson or Brandon Gibson can step up and provide Bradford with a target to compliment Danny Amendola, it’s hard to expect any dramatic upswings in Bradford’s fantasy production during the second half. Nevertheless, Bradford deserves a nod for his rookie year showing – particularly his fantasy production during St. Louis’ September games.

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