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Overvalued/Undervalued - QBs

Each year, the road to a fantasy championship begins with a draft that has each team believing they will be THE team and ends with one team that made enough good draft picks along with several savvy free agent/waiver wire pickups and a number of teams that did not. As many draftniks have stated about the real draft, I wholeheartedly agree that while a team does not win a league with their first-round selection, they sure can lose their league if they blow it. Similarly, I believe that teams – real and fantasy – win with what they do in the later rounds. It is with that in mind that we present a position-by-position overview at some of the “value” that exists in the fantasy marketplace as we kick off the preseason.

This article is going to list three overvalued and undervalued QBs based off of their average draft position (ADP) data from Antsports. The ADP’s in this piece are based off drafts conducted in 12-team leagues.


Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia
Average Draft Position: 5:03

Someone in the projected top six (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Marc Bulger, McNabb) had to fall, so the natural inclination is to pick on the QB coming off injury. But wait, there’s more. While there is still plenty of reason to draft him as the #6 overall signal-caller, McNabb has three potential issues working against him this season.

  1. The recovery from ACL surgery – Just about every player that has suffered an ACL tear has later said that the recovery happens relatively quickly, however, it seemingly takes just as long before they can trust the knee again. If there is a saving grace though, it is that he injured his right knee, unlike Carson Palmer from a year before who injured his plant (left) leg. However, the Syracuse alum stated himself in late July that he “still about 75 percent”. Figure, like Palmer, that McNabb will take at least a month into the regular season to gain the trust needed in the knee. But perhaps there are those that will say he is coming off his best season, so…

  2. The schedule and the transition from a McNabb-based offense to one centered around Brian Westbrook – This isn’t necessarily a death-blow to McNabb’s fantasy star all by itself. Yes, he has rebounded nicely from groin and ankle injuries in the past, but the offense has been all about McNabb for about the whole time HC Andy Reid has been in charge. With OC Marty Morningweg calling the shots until further notice, this offense will likely only see McNabb air it out deep about half as much as they saw it happen last season. And with all due respect, Philly’s first-half schedule last season was not exactly a who’s who of passing defenses (of the nine complete games McNabb played in last season, seven of the Eagles opponents finished in the top 10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs and the Packers were 13th. Only the Jaguars were in the bottom half of the category and, with the help of some hostile weather conditions in their October matchup, shut them down.) A quick glance at the 2007 slate reveals several teams that should be much improved with upgraded talent in the secondary or a scheme that caused Philly problems in 2006. Still not enough?

  3. Transition for likely new starting receiver Kevin Curtis – This is probably the least reason to be afraid of a McNabb bounce-back, but the fact is that is difficult to find two systems that vary more than the Rams system under Mike Martz and Scott Linehan to the one that Curtis moves to in Philly. In the long term, Curtis was a great acquisition and his signing was the right move to make for Philadelphia. For this season, people should assume the quickest that Curtis can make the shift is midseason – even for someone as smart as Curtis who reportedly scored a 49 on his Wonderlic test prior to his draft year. If Curtis is slow picking up the offense in any way, Hank Baskett will need to become the full-time starter. And while Baskett is a talent, there remains much doubt as to whether he will be able to carry the #2 WR title for a full schedule in 2007.

Matt Leinart, Arizona
Average Draft Position: 7:12

This is a hard pick to make for the simple fact that Leinart has so many weapons to work with in the desert. That would typically suggest he should be in the undervalued category. The problem with him is that he is being drafted as a low-end #1 when he should be taken as a high-end #2 QB. What should bring pause to his potential owners is that new HC Ken Whisenhunt wants to run the ball 600 times if he has his way. While that number will turn out to be a bit excessive, one only needs to look at Whisenhunt’s former employer to see that he guided Ben Roethlisberger to good but not stellar fantasy numbers while in Pittsburgh.

Are Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald better than the WRs Pittsburgh had in Roethlisberger’s two seasons? Sure, but understand the Cardinals have not a coach that was as stubborn with the running game – and in this case, that’s a good thing – as Whisenhunt since they moved from St. Louis to Arizona. The general retort to that argument will be since Arizona’s defense is so bad, they will be forced to abandon the run in almost every game they play. My reply to that argument would be that Arizona has rarely stuck to the ground game long enough to give their defense a rest. Understand that each rush that is made against the opposing defense is one fewer that is made against your defense - a particularly important realization that will be made early in the season. The long and short of it is that Leinart will be consistent – just as a healthy Big Ben was - but he should not be going ahead of Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler, as he is in early August.

Brett Favre, Green Bay
Average Draft Position: 9:11

This is more of a speculatory pick (but then again, aren’t they all?) However, this offense is a Donald Driver long-term injury away from falling on its face. And as (bad) luck would have it, Driver failed his physical upon his arrival to training camp. It is a shoulder injury that has had nearly eight months to recover, so the chances it gets better through the rigors of the preseason are not good. Even with a healthy Driver, this WR depth isn’t all that great. So while Greg Jennings will improve on a pretty fair rookie campaign, he is not ready to carry the #1 WR mantle quite yet.

So, be happy that Favre had his ankle surgery and that he is getting around better and more pain-free now than he has in a while because if owners select him in front of Matt Schaub, J.P. Losman and Jeff Garcia, they will be the ones feeling the pain and, perhaps, a bit lighter in the wallet. It says here to draft Favre as a mid-range #2 fantasy QB and move him up and down that #2 list depending on the health of Driver. I’d rank him with Matt Schaub right now – who is going three rounds later – and prefer the upside of Jake Delhomme over the future Hall of Famer.


Marc Bulger, St. Louis
Average Draft Position: 4:08

Name a more complete offense in the league…there isn’t one, folks. In charge of the play calls is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, HC Scott Linehan. The NFL saw what he did for Daunte Culpepper in 2003-04 (64 TDs, 22 INTs in 30 starts) and current Rams backup Gus Frerotte in Miami in 2005 (career-high 18 TDs), so it was hardly surprising when Bulger set career highs almost across the board in 2006. About the only thing that dropped a bit was his completion percentage (63%), down from 66 % in his last two years with Mike Martz.

So, let us take inventory on what St. Louis did in the offseason. The Rams have had another year to digest Linehan’s playbook, LT Orlando Pace returns after missing the final six games, WR Drew Bennett signed on to give St. Louis a 6-5 slot WR and TE Randy McMichael – who also experienced a career year with Linehan in 2005 – gives the Rams a threat in the middle of the field that have not had in some time. In fact, expect McMichael to record the finest numbers from a Rams TE since Pete Holohan in 1988 (59 catches, 640 yards). In short, Bulger could be sitting there in the fourth round (after most owners have drafted two RBs and a WR) and give his owners numbers similar to the ones Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer will likely deliver. That my friends…is value.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Average Draft Position: 8:12

It took two words to switch my position on Roethlisberger from nice #2 QB option to low-end #1 for this season. Bruce Arians. Who is he, you ask? He’s the Steelers new play-caller. And shortly after he that was announced, Arians mentioned a few more words, “three-and-four-wide”. Folks, Arians likes to see the ball in the air, something the Steelers last saw – with mixed results – during the Tommy Gun years. While spreading the defense out should raise Willie Parker’s yards per carry a bit, it is highly doubtful he will come very close to the number of rushing attempts he had last season (337). What it could mean is that he has the same amount of touches though (368) as Parker figures to be the check-down receiver quite often. Regardless, the whole point is that when a coordinators proposes that he spread defenses out, they do it mostly with the intention of giving the QB more options in the passing game and not as much for the benefit of the running game.

It should already be clear where this is going (and I’m not saying it’s a good thing for the team), Big Ben will fling the ball around more this season than he ever has as a pro. Assuming he can avoid the freakish series of injuries he endured last season, the Steeler QB will throw well over 500 passes this season (roughly five more attempts per game than 2006). I believe his INTs will come down as a result of not trying to play through injuries (into the 15-18 range), but with 35 attempts/game, he will probably average 225 yards/game and make both Hines Ward (who is already a low-end #1 fantasy WR) and Santonio Holmes viable starting options each week in fantasy. It will make for an interesting season in Pittsburgh, as former HC Bill Cowher dumped the Tommy Gun the last year after it was “figured out” so Cowher could go back to his power running game. Will new HC Mike Tomlin follow in his footsteps or is this what the new head man has in mind to make the transition from Cowher’s team to HIS team? Either way, look for Roethlisberger to set career highs across the board.

Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay
Average Draft Position: 13:03

Many people forget that it was not Jon Gruden that helped guide Rich Gannon to his best year as a pro in 2002, it was Bill Callahan. Semantics aside, Gannon was an unwanted journeyman who stepped into the Oakland huddle in 1999 and became a four-time Pro Bowler, with his first one coming at the age of 34. At age 37, Garcia has seen three Pro Bowls already in his career, but he too has become something of a journeyman. No, Garcia does not have two legends at WR like Gannon did, but Gruden will get to dial up the same plays for Garcia that he did for Gannon, as “Chucky” has not had a savvy, mobile veteran QB since he arrived on the scene in Tampa. Gruden understands how to use the mobile QB in his system, which is why he has been so positively giddy about having the former Eagle on his squad for the foreseeable future.

Even though it may not seem like it now (especially after last season’s debacle), the Bucs have some offensive weapons. Cadillac Williams caught 30 balls in 2006 and should be in line for at least that many – if not 10 more – this season. Maurice Stovall should vault over the disappointing Michael Clayton on the depth chart to give fellow WR Joey Galloway some relief from double teams. TE Alex Smith – if he can hold off Jerramy Stevens – is a fine mid-range option and the offensive line figures to be improved, especially if LT Luke Petitgout can return to form after being released from the Giants in a cap-related move, although a season-ending leg injury may have had just as much to do with it. Garcia is going quite late – the 25th QB to go, meaning he’s not even on a roster on in a number of 12-team leagues – in drafts but should be a highly productive matchup fantasy QB at the very worst. Pair him with a top starter in your draft and deal off the lesser of the two QBs at midseason to address your most glaring weakness. It’s mildly surprising someone that will have his job security and offensive scheme is being drafted behind the likes of Alex Smith, JP Losman and Steve McNair.