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Spotlight: Donovan McNabb

posted by Will Grant on Aug 13th


Will Grant's thoughts

McNabb was run out of Washington last season, despite a pretty solid performance through the first 13 games. He finished the year as the #21 fantasy QB, and posted eight games with more than 15 fantasy points. Although he finished the year with more interceptions (15) than TDs (14), he did it with a bunch of second-string quality guys at RB and WR. He won the free agency lottery by landing in Minnesota this offseason. Now he'll be lining up with Adrian Peterson behind him and he'll be throwing to guys like Percy Harvin and... well a bunch of other guys.

Minnesota looked to replace the quality of Sidney Rice with a quantity approach
First came former Chicago Bear Devin Aromashodu, who had a couple solid games at the end of 2009, but looked horrible at the start of last season and disappeared into the depths of Chicago's receiving corps and finished with less than 150 yards receiving. Then they added former first round pick Michael Jenkins. He spent seven seasons in Atlanta, but never finished higher than #41 among fantasy receivers, and had just 41 receptions for 500 yards and two TDs in 11 games. They join chronic underachiever Bernard Berrian and journeyman Greg Camarillo as the group of experienced WRs who are hoping that McNabb can reboot their careers. While none of these guys are exciting from a fantasy prospective, McNabb will enjoy a solid group of veteran receivers to choose from each week.

McNabb also has some impressive weapons, as well
Adrian Peterson is one of the top backs in the NFL, both from a fantasy prospective and as a feature back. Peterson's pass-catching abilities have improved over the last two years, and new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has promised to involve Peterson in the downfield attack for the first time in his career. Peterson's rushing ability will keep defenses honest and his receptions out of the backfield will make screens and check-downs that much more effective. Percy Harvin is not your prototypical NFL #1 receiver, but he is electric every time he touches the ball and a genuine threat to take it to the end zone. McNabb is great on those short, quick passes, and will be able to get the ball into Harvin's hands quickly in open space. Finally, Visanthe Shiancoe is a TE who is a great red zone target. With Favre under center, Shiancoe was a top five fantasy TE for two straight years. McNabb is familiar with versatile TEs like Chris Cooley and Brent Celek, and knows how to use them. Especially in the Red Zone. With a solid crew of performers like Peterson, Harvin and Shiancoe, and a host of potential role-players, McNabb enjoys one of the most experienced backfields he's played with in several seasons.

The biggest risk to McNabb this year is that he's obviously a place holder for rookie QB Christian Ponder. The Vikings spent the #12 overall pick to get Ponder, and they like what he brings to their team, both now and for the future. While McNabb won't be looking over his shoulder every play, if he struggles for a game or two, or the Vikings are clearly out of the playoffs by Week 14, the Vikings may pull him to give the rookie a chance to play. McNabb is comfortable in the mentor role, and Ponder has already publically declared that he wants to learn everything that he can from McNabb. This is certainly a nice one-two punch at QB, but a cause for concern in that McNabb may be absent from the starting lineup about the same time the fantasy playoffs come around.

Positives

  • Solid performers around him - with solid players like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe to lean on and a host of veteran receivers behind them to spread the ball around to
  • Top 12 fantasy performances in his last four seasons in Philadelphia. He would probably done it last season as well but he missed the final three games when he was benched
  • Commitment from the Minnesota coaching staff and management to give McNabb control of the team and let rookie Christian Ponder develop slowly. McNabb won't have to look over his shoulder all season

Negatives

  • Lockout-shortened summer means little time to learn the new offense and work with the first team players
  • After Harvin, the list of pass catchers is filled with a bunch of guys who consistently underperform
  • Ponder's presence as the QB of the future means McNabb has a shelf life will be limited the minute he takes the field. Ponder will take over, the starting job at some point, probably before the end of the season

Final thoughts

McNabb hit the free agency jackpot landing in Minnesota this summer. He really never had a fair shake in Washington, and will welcome the opportunity to reboot his career in Minnesota. He also has a nice balance of stud veterans and experienced role-players to really make an impact this season. He's only keeping the job warm until rookie QB Christian Ponder takes over. However, if it happens this season, it probably won't be until much later in the year. McNabb will make an excellent QB2 for your fantasy squad and if you can handcuff him with Ponder, you'll have a solid QB for the entire season.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Raiderfan32904 said:

McNabb is coming to a team that looks to be in rebuilding mode, losing their star wideout in Sidney Rice, and picking up table scraps in Devin Aromashodu as a consolation prize. Closing in on 35, but looks to be much older in football years, he's no longer a fantasy starter with his meager receiving weapons.

FF Ninja said:

Last year McNabb played in most of 13 games and was on a 16 game pace of 338/591 for 4156 yds and 17/18 adding 186 yds on the ground. Rex Grossman took over for him in week 15. Through 14 weeks, McNabb was QB14 by FBG scoring. He is now on a better team and in a better situation (that whole thing got awkward after they pulled him for the 2 min drill in week 8). Yet he is currently being drafted as QB23 with an average staff ranking of QB22. It is impossible to accurately project a QB on a new team, but right now he pretty clearly presents a lot of value, unless you really believe Ponder will be taking over at some point this season.


Donovan McNabb projections

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