After the first three weeks of the '07 season, Derek Anderson had eight total touchdowns and four interceptions. He never looked back, finishing his miracle season with 32 TDs, 19 picks and nearly 3,800 yards passing. It was enough to push many fantasy teams to championships, the Browns into becoming a competitive team and the front office to give him a big, fat, juicy three-year, $24 million contract.
But all was not as perfect as it may have seemed -- especially considering his value heading into this campaign.
To begin with, his passer rating was pedestrian, finishing with an 82.5 rating. That ranked him 17th out of qualified quarterbacks. While some talented players such as Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer were in the same range, so were guys you wouldn't want near your fantasy roster like Joey Harrington and Chad Pennington.
But who cares about the passer rating when he can fling the ball around enough to rack up lots of yards and scores, right? The trouble with that thinking was the fact that the Browns have a brutal schedule this season. Through three games, they've faced three very tough defenses (Dallas, Pittsburgh and Baltimore), and there are plenty more on the way with the Giants, Jags and another run with the Ravens on the horizon.
So it's really not that big of a surprise that his QB rating stands at a brutal 43.5. Anderson has only the Chiefs' Tyler Thigpen to thank for keeping him from being ranked dead last in the NFL in this category. He's tied with Jon Kitna and Matt Schaub for the most interceptions (five, though Schaub did that in only two games). He has thrown just two touchdowns. And Anderson's 4.4 yards per attempt is more than a yard worse than any other QB who has started three games.
As if all of that doesn't make you wonder about his future as the starting quarterback for the Browns, don't forget that the so-called future face of the franchise is Brady Quinn, whom the club drafted late in the first round in '07. So we knew coming in that the calls for Quinn would come quickly if Anderson struggled.
And if you thought that big contract would keep Anderson in the driver's seat, think again -- this is the NFL, where contracts can just be nullified, so the Browns really have no long-term investment required.
The big question in fantasy terms is what will happen next and down the line?
Much of that should be answered in Week 4, when the Browns face a pathetic Bengals defense. If Anderson can't get things going against them, we may see Quinn at the helm before the game is done. If that happens, you'd have to expect Quinn to continue to start for the foreseeable future, even if he fails miserably.
In defense of Anderson, his offensive line has been dinged up, he missed most of the preseason with a concussion which left him rusty and his top wide out, Braylon Edwards, is out of synch after missing action with a lacerated foot. Toss in those tough defenses the first three weeks, and it's clear he's had a lot going against him.
Even so, I'm in wait-and-see mode on this one. Or is it "I'll believe it when I see it" mode?
You definitely can't start Anderson this week, and you definitely have to pick up Quinn if you own Anderson.
Then join me in counting the seconds until the clock strikes midnight -- or halftime of Week 4 -- on this pumpkin-orange Cleveland Brown Cinderella story.