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In examining the rookie wide receiver crop last week, I wrote that it's very difficult to get any consistent fantasy production from them in general. Not so with rookie quarterbacks. There is no way in hell you'll get any fantasy value from a rookie QB. Even Peyton Manning had a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio in his rookie year. However, just like kids, quarterbacks eventually grow up. Maybe they do it by driving you crazy with interceptions or by watching and learning from the sidelines. There isn't any point in projecting fantasy value for 2010 for this year's group, no matter who starts or sits. Instead, let's take a look at what's in store for them a few years down the road.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis: Bradford is going to be one of those rookie QBs shoved into the deep end of the pool. St. Louis knows they have no shot of competing, so they're going to let the kid learn while getting his head beat in. While the Rams offensive line isn't as bad as it once was, it's still not good. Bradford will run for his life often, affecting not only his vaunted accuracy, but also his ability to stay healthy. He's not the most durable character; both of his previous seasons ended early with shoulder injuries. Presuming he stays healthy, look for lots of handoffs to Steven Jackson over the next two years. In the passing game, he's working with one of the league's most unsung group of WRs. Donnie Avery hasn't hit the 700 receiving yards mark in his two-year career, and neither Brandon Gibson nor Laurent Robinson proved they're NFL-caliber wideouts. Bradford is looking at a long, hard slog to fantasy relevance. It could take him two or three years, and it wouldn't surprise me if it never happens for him. David Carr springs to mind ...
Tim Tebow, Denver: As an LSU fan, my seething hatred for former Florida Gator Tebow is well placed and morally justifiable. Any psychologist/psychiatrist/head shrinker (from the Deep South) will tell you so. However, since he's a pro now, I'll put my personal feelings on the shelf and look at what Tebow brings to the Denver franchise in the long term. Basically, it's not much. Yes, Josh McDaniels is head over heels in love with him, but that's not going to turn maybe the greatest college football player ever into an NFL quarterback. Tebow is like the Six Million Dollar Man: he'll have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Here's Tebow's honey-do list: remake slow, wonky throwing motion; learn to take a snap under center; learn five and seven step drops; learn to read defenses; fight overwhelming natural instinct to tuck and run when the rush comes; and become more accurate. Basically, every skill a QB needs to have, Tebow has to learn. He's a great leader? Hey, run for Congress. NFL players won't be led by guys that can't ball. With the way McDaniels gutted the franchise over the last two years, I'll be amazed if he's around three years from now to see first-hand what type of player Tebow becomes. For you dynasty league owners, here's the Cliff Notes version: Byron Leftwich, circa 2003.
Jimmy Clausen, Carolina: There's loose talk that Clausen will get a shot to start this year, but that's just so much noise. No matter what happened in the draft, John Fox is coaching for his job and the lineup will reflect that. There's no way he starts a rookie QB unless absolutely necessary. Matt Moore earned the job, by virtue of an 8-2 TD-INT ratio in his five starts. Who knows what the future holds if Fox is fired? Maybe the next coach doesn't like Clausen. In addition, he still has to beat out Moore. The WR corps isn't that promising, either. Steve Smith is entering his 10th year, and as of yet, no one has stepped up opposite him. That would certainly stunt Clausen's development. If he does win the job in a year or two, Smith's presence makes his life much easier. Any longer than that, and Carolina had better acquire someone to help Clausen out. Whoever it is will need to be big, as well, because Clausen's game is accuracy in the short zones. The way Carolina is currently configured; it's difficult to see Clausen throwing for 4,000 yards in a season, which is roughly the threshold for a QB1. At best, his destiny is a fantasy backup.
Colt McCoy, Cleveland: Having the sloppy sandwich of Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace in front of him is probably the best thing that could have happened to McCoy in the draft. Those two take all the heat for getting Eric Mangini fired, and McCoy steps in about a year or two from now as the savior. Mike Holmgren will see to it that the team runs a version of the West Coast Offense, which fits McCoy's skills perfectly. He has the smarts and accuracy to develop into a good QB in that system, even if his arm strength isn't the best. The only problem if McCoy takes over in the near term is that the Browns have the league's worst group of WRs. McCoy doesn't have the skills to overcome that, but with a bit of seasoning on the part of everyone concerned, he could wind up as the best QB of the 2010 draft. Regardless of what happens, he's a dink and dunk QB until he gets some experience. QB2 is the limit of his capabilities for the next few years.
Levi Brown, Buffalo: Gotta throw a deep sleeper in here from Troy University of the mighty Sun Belt Conference. Honestly, it's not that outlandish to suggest that Brown could beat out Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick for a starting job. Chan Gailey has no allegiance to any of these barking dogs. Honestly, has there ever been a QB competition less heated? Edwards will probably win based on throwing for a 2.4 yard average and no interceptions, then get injured in the second quarter of the first game. Why not send in Brown? Brohm and Fitzpatrick both had their shots and haven't done a thing. Brown has the size and the quick release to get the job done. Fun stories aside, though, whoever wins the job in Buffalo has almost zero chance to succeed as a fantasy QB.
Mike Gilbert is RotoExperts.com's Senior NFL Editor. Need accurate and up-to-date daily and weekly MLB player ratings? Check out RotoExperts Xclusive Edge Rankings.