Faceoff - QB Daunte Culpepper, Miami Dolphins
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Upside - by Jeff Pasquino
Culpepper is an elite quarterback when healthy. In four of the last six seasons he has finished as the top ranked fantasy QB overall. In every season that he has played at least 14 games, he has finished at the top of that list. Therein lies the true issue – will he be ready for this season?
I prefer to look at Culpepper in a different light. Yes he may miss a few games at the start of the season, although some still expect that he will be ready for September. Even if he does miss a month or so, he still has an incredible track record of posting monster fantasy game after monster fantasy game throughout his career. If you could have the #1 QB at a bargain price, even for just 10 or 11 games, would that not be worth the investment?
Culpepper is currently a sixth round selection according to his ADP. That may be low or high, considering how your league drafts quarterbacks, but he is the eighth QB to be drafted. Getting the best QB on a point per game basis that late represents a good value.
Questions of Culpepper’s abilities have surfaced ever since he lost his favorite target, WR Randy Moss. Miami is not hurting for targets either, with WRs Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, TE Randy McMichael, and RB Ronnie Brown. All of those weapons will be at Culpepper’s disposal as he leads the Dolphin offense.
Culpepper has answered the questions of whether he can produce as an elite NFL quarterback time and time again. The only question that remains for him in 2006 is one of health. If you draft a solid second QB to cover for any delay in Culpepper’s season, you could wind up with a huge value and a formidable team come playoff time. There is even the possibility that Culpepper is indeed ready for Opening Day, which would give you a huge advantage.
Downside - by Jason Wood
Last year, a lot of people argued that Daunte Culpepper didn’t need Randy Moss to be an elite passer. He was, after all, coming off one of the best passing seasons in league history in 2004, part of which came without Moss healthy or in the lineup. But 2005 couldn’t have gone worse for Culpepper. A miserable six TD passes to go along with 12 interceptions over a seven-game span before tearing up his knee and being lost for the season. Now, thanks to a changing of the guard in Minnesota, Culpepper finds himself at the helm of the Miami Dolphins.
Sure, Culpepper has weapons and a good coaching staff at his disposal. However, an injury like his typically isn’t healed for 18+ months, and that’s particularly disconcerting for Culpepper given how important his mobility is to his overall fantasy value. And while reports in early June painted an optimistic tone, remember two things…1) It’s JUNE (everyone is optimistic) and 2) Culpepper hasn’t taken any hits yet.
Let’s assume for a second Culpepper will be healthy enough to play most of this season. He still has to adjust to a new coaching staff, an entirely new offensive scheme and a new receiving corps. All while being unable to practice fully for much of training camp quite likely. Add to that Culpepper’s, shall we say, considerable girth from a year of inactivity, and it’s a risky bet to assume Culpepper will magically return to fantasy stardom in 2006.
Let’s recap for those who still aren’t convinced. To count on Culpepper in 2006 is to make a bet on a quarterback coming off major knee surgery, with no discernible practice time, learning a new offense, with new coaches and teammates, and who has never proven himself able to play at an elite level without Randy Moss at his disposal. In fantasy football, winning is about risk assessment. Culpepper’s current ADP suggests far too much risk for far too little reward.