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Faceoff: QB Most Helped By Free Agency

August 12th

Clayton Gray: Is there a quarterback whose fantasy prospects were really helped by free agency? If so, expound on what happened and how it increases his 2011 outlook.

Jeff Tefertiller: The two lesser quarterbacks that were big winners because of free agency were Tarvaris Jackson and Alex Smith. While the Seahawks also acquired Jackson in free agency, the additions of Sidney Rice and Zach Miller are HUGE for the passing game. Seattle now has decent play-makers. It is amazing what that offense was able to do last year given the personnel. In San Francisco, adding a vertical threat for the weak-armed Smith has to help ... especially with the foot injury to Michael Crabtree. There are some other winners, but these quarterbacks went from unstartable to a possibility.

Jeff Haseley: I would argue that Mark Sanchez's stock received a jolt, due to the re-signing of Santonio Holmes, but also the acquisitions of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. Mason may be in the twilight of his career, but he is still a strong-willed player who will give his all on every single opportunity. His gritty style and ability to be a key possession WR will undoubtedly help the Jets and Sanchez in 2011. Burress can be a red zone threat at worst, but his ability to shield defenders on jump balls makes him another weapon, especially on third down plays. The combination of Holmes, Mason and Burress has to give Sanchez a smile on his face that could catapult him into a Top 15 or even Top 12 finish in 2011.

Jason Wood: Let's start with the obvious...Matt Hasselbeck and Donovan McNabb.

Hasselbeck STRUGGLED last year for a variety of reasons, so the fact he quickly landed a multi-year deal in Tennessee had to be a pleasant surprise. The Titans will expect Hasselbeck to be their full time starter for at least 2011, and that makes him relevant.

Donovan McNabb simply never jelled with Coach Shanahan, and ends up in Minnesota a year later than many projected. While the Vikings let Sidney Rice go, let's remember that McNabb has made a career out of solid fantasy value in spite of a subpar receiving corps. In Minnesota, he has Percy Harvin -- who I think can be elite -- as well as Shiancoe, Jenkins and Berrian. It's not an all star cast, but it's better than what he had available in Washington. More importantly, McNabb is back in a system he knows well, and will be able to focus more on playing his game than remembering his plays.

Matt Waldman: Wood is right, Hasselbeck and McNabb are huge winners in terms of moving to better situations. These are teams with quality talent that need the right kind of leadership under center. I agree with Haseley that Mark Sanchez is a winner because they replaced an ultra-talented, but unreliable Braylon Edwards with the ultra-reliable Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress. Tarvaris Jackson wins because he apparently gets a true shot to develop in a town that wants him.

I think Matt Moore and Tyler Thigpen have a shot to be winners. Thigpen gets reunited with Chan Gailey, who helped bring out flashes of starter-caliber play from Thigpen in the past. Ryan Fitzpatrick's shell game got figured out by the opposition down the stretch last year. If he doesn't come up with new tricks, Thigpen could earn a shot. If Moore plays in Miami like he did in spurts in Carolina, he could make a run at Chad Henne's job. This beats being stuck behind Cam Newton for the rest of his career.

Speaking of Newton, the Carolina draft pick is a winner because the Panthers added a safety blanket in Greg Olsen, retained big-time play maker Steve Smith, and somehow kept Deangelo Williams paired with Jonathan Stewart. This team actually gained talent rather than lost it.

From an even longer-term dynasty perspective, I think Nate Davis won big when the Indianapolis Colts acquired him. Although considered intellectually incompetent by many to handle a QB job and he slipped to the late rounds, Davis flashes enough conceptual and physical skill to be a starter. The 49ers Mike Singletary didn't think Davis worked hard enough but last I saw, Singletary was fired and people are taking shots at his evaluation acumen while Davis was added to the team with the most complex offensive in the league and a team that likes smart QBs. If Davis sticks he has a chance to succeed Peyton Manning down the line. As a natural passer Davis is more than qualified. Hopefully, he stays on his team's good side and sees this as an apprenticeship opportunity of a lifetime with Manning as the teacher.

Matt Waldman: Another longer-term dynasty guy is Louisville's Adam Froman, who got signed as a UDFA with the Falcons. The former JUCO starter flashed a lot of nice skills in the pocket and with his legs. He's fast, mobile, has a good release, and maneuvers well in the pocket. I think he has a good shot to beat out John Parker Wilson for the No.3 job and then ascend to the No.2 when Chris Redman leaves next year. If he continues to develop from there, he could be traded or signed by another team as a potential starter in 3-4 years.

Looks like Tim Tebow has lost out because Kyle Orton didn't get dealt. This situation could change, but most people expected Tebow to start. Now he's behind Orton and battling with Brady Quinn. Disheartening second year for Tebow, but it's a win for Orton who knows this personnel and gets a shot to make good on a team that hopefully won't be decimated with injuries on both side of the line of scrimmage. The addition of Julius Thomas and apparent return of Eddie Royal (at least thus far in training camp), bodes well for the offense.

John Beck has a big shot to win in free agency. The Redskins seem confident in giving him a true chance to compete for the starting job. Neither Kellen Clemens nor Rex Grossman are big names and the Redskin coaching staff seems confident in his talent. He's the most mobile of the three and will function well in this offense that made Jake Plummer a better statistical producer than he ever was in the past.

Jeff Pasquino: Donovan McNabb's the top winner here, and he does have a history of putting up solid numbers even without top notch wide receiver options. Not to slight Percy Harvin or Vishante Shiancoe, but these guys are not the same without Sidney Rice. McNabb does have Adrian Peterson as a stud RB behind him to balance the offense, but the bigger concern is whether the offensive line can protect McNabb this year. While it looks like a good home on paper - and it is certainly better for McNabb than remaining in Washington - expecting too much from him this year would be a big mistake.

I do like Matt Hasselbeck moving to Tennessee, and he does stand to have a solid year with the Titans, but had he remained in Seattle he would have had better receiving options and a better offensive line. Sidney Rice and Kenny Britt cancel out, and Zach Miller is better than Jared Cook. Big Mike Williams is better than whomever wins the WR2 role in Tennessee, but all of this is just discussion. Hasselbeck is a Titan and could have a solid bounce back year as he feels refreshed with the Titans.

How are we not mentioning Kevin Kolb? Sure he wasn't a free agent, but one of the biggest moves since the lockout was lifted was moving Kolb to Arizona. The ability for him to be the clear starter and throw to Larry Fitzgerald along with TE Todd Heap is a huge boost to his value. The Cardinals have a shot to win the NFC West and with Kolb as their QB their offense should grow right along with Early Doucet, Andre Roberts and the duo of Ryan Williams and Chris "Beanie" Wells in the backfield.

Tarvaris Jackson deserves more love with all the weapons now in Seattle. The Seahawks have a strong ground game and a rebuilt offensive line, plus TE Zach Miller, Sidney Rice and Big Mike Williams gives Jackson plenty of value now. Couple in his ability to scramble and you could see him as a very strong QB2 for fantasy purposes this year.

Mark Wimer: However, Jeff T. and Jeff P. and Matt, Tarvaris Jackson remains Tarvaris Jackson. He's a guy who:

  • has never played a full 16 game season
  • has never thrown for more than 2,000 yards in a season
  • has never thrown for more than nine TDs in a season
  • has only one season in which he threw more TDs than interceptions
  • has never rushed for more than 260 yards in a season

Trying to create a passing attack out of any given roster with Jackson at QB is problematic at best, in my opinion. And his arrival in Seattle and the quick enthronement of Jackson as the starter there makes the Charlie Whitehurst trade/contract look really foolish.

I don't think that Jackson becomes a fantasy-relevant player except in the largest leagues, and even then only as a bye-week filler guy. I'm not buying that he'll be better simply due to relocating to Seattle.

Mark Wimer: I think Michael Vick's wide receiver corps got better for the stretch run into the playoffs thanks to the signing of Steve Smith out from under the Giants' thumb. Sure, he won't be playing until sometime during mid-season, but he's a talented guy who can give the Eagles that extra push during November and December if his knee gets healed up - and he knows the Giants' offense well, which should help out the Eagles' D, too. I really like the sniping of Smith away from the Giants to Philadelphia.

Greg Russell: I'm skeptical about how effective Kevin Kolb can be as a true starting NFL quarterback. When all the blame is on him and he isn't simply stepping into the background again upon the return of the starter, how will he cope? Arizona clearly believes that Kolb can be the answer for them. The investment in Kolb was significant, but as I ponder the move more and more, the more I can understand it. The NFC West is not the most daunting of divisions and the Cardinals' quarterback position was definitely their biggest issue last season after Kurt Warner's retirement. With largely the same cast still in place, I see no reason why Kolb can't succeed. It will be fascinating to examine how Ken Whisenhunt, an astute offensive mind, plays to the strength of Kolb as a passer.

Pete Carroll gets fired up about a lot of things, but I'm betting he is especially fired up at this moment in time about how this Seahawks offense has been revamped. Tarvaris Jackson has the chance to be a respectable starter with the talent he has been surrounded with. The most notable additions, of course, are Sidney Rice and Zach Miller. However, reports from camp indicate that second year pro Golden Tate may be ready to assume the slot receiver role. Add Mike Williams into the mix and you have an offense that can challenge defenses in multiple ways.