Faceoff: David Garrard
Mark Wimer: Garrard is out of favor in fantasy circles due to failing to "take the next step" in his development. While he has produced respectable fantasy points (Garrard was 16th, 11th, and 14th in total QB points over the last three years), he hasn't "wowed". However, with a premier pass-catching RB, Maurice Jones-Drew, powering the offense and a promising, youthful tandem of WRs in the "Mikes" (Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas), and a quality duo of tight ends in Marcedes Lewis and Zach Miller, this may be the year that Garrard finally realizes his promise and moves into the top 10. Reports out of the June OTAs were very positive about Garrard's consistency, rhythm and timing. He appears to be creating good chemistry with his young corps of receivers, which wasn't the case last year - Torry Holt scored zero TDs and hauled in less than 50% of the passes that came his way for Jacksonville last year after arriving from St. Louis. Holt never really looked "in synch" with Garrard. Now that Holt has moved on, we may see improvement by subtraction this year with Thomas now in the starter's role.
Garrard is also the type of QB who will gain hundreds of yards and a few TDs with his legs, which count for more points in most scoring systems. During his last two seasons (a full 16 games in each year), he's rushed for 73/322/2 (2008) and 77/323/3 (2009), a nice bonus for his fantasy owners. Garrard went over 300 yards passing on three occasions last year, which made him more valuable to players in yardage-bonus leagues here and there.
It doesn't hurt that 2010 is a "make-or-break year" for Garrard. He, and almost everyone else, acknowledges that Garrard and head coach Jack Del Rio are on the hot seat - if Garrard doesn't take his game up a notch or two this year, he'll likely be looking for a new team in 2011. Job security is a great motivator, friends.
Garrard should easily blow past his current (July 11th) ADP of QB 24. I think he has a legitimate shot at a top-ten season if he continues to show the strong play we've seen thus far during 2010. He's one of my favorite picks for QB2 this season, as he has lots of upside from where he's currently being drafted in most fantasy leagues.
Sigmund Bloom: In recent years, we looked to David Garrard as a high upside QBBC play because of his running ability and good-enough pass ability to put up marginal QB1 numbers. His finish as QB14 last year makes it seem like he is still a quality option for that role. His ADP of QB24 at this moment makes him seem like one of the steals of the draft at QB. What those year-end numbers conceal is that Garrard has become too inconsistent to trust in your lineup, and by implication, his hold on the starting job is too precarious to spend anything but a very late pick on him in standard twelve team leagues.
Garrard was an absolute disaster on the road last year. He threw for only three touchdowns and fell short of the mediocre average of 200 yards passing in eight games away from Jacksonville. In half of his road games, Garrard couldn't even muster ten fantasy points, a lineup-killing contribution from a QB. He was so inconsistent that his two best fantasy games came against the same two teams his two worst fantasy games came against - the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts.
You may say, "Ah, so the answer is to just play him at home!" It is not the nature of inconsistent players to be consistently inconsistent. Just because Garrard laid his eggs on the road last year doesn't mean that his production will follow a predictable pattern this year. The Jacksonville home crowd is one of the least supportive in the league, so unless there's something about waking up at his own place that fuels Garrard, it's hard to believe that his peaks and valleys will be so regular this season.
Garrard's inconsistency also leads to another major pitfall of drafting him this year - the chance that he might be replaced mid-season. Backup Luke McCown split first-team reps with him in OTAs, and despite reassurances that Garrard is still the man for the Jags, we have to remember that Jack Del Rio is the same coach that replaced Byron Leftwich with Garrard the week before the season started after reassuring everyone that Leftwich was the starter earlier in the offseason. Del Rio is looking like a lame duck coach if the Jags don't get back to winning ways, and Garrard like a lame duck QB. If the Jags start slow, a change at QB will be one of the first likely moves to "shake things up", because Garrard has already shown that he is probably not the QB to get this team "over the hump". Bottom line is, by the time you need Garrard to cover your starter's bye, he might be unable to help your or anyone else's fantasy team.
If you draft an uberstud QB like a Peyton Manning, and think the quality of the matchup at KC trumps Garrard's troubles on the road last year, or an Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees, and you're willing to risk Garrard for his week 10 matchup vs. the Texans, go for it, just make sure you're getting him around his ADP of QB24 (in other words, be one of the last to take your backup), and have a plan B in place. Even better, wait another round and take Josh Freeman, Jason Campbell or Matt Hasselbeck.