The last time the AFC West had the most talked about quarterbacks in the NFL, even for just one week, John Elway was leading the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Since then, we've seen some great play from Rich Gannon, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers, but the ascension of a well-known backup and a shocking trade has a division not recently known for stellar quarterbacking, outside of San Diego, featuring two of the more interesting starters in Week 7.
It's fitting that Tim Tebow would land with a team that has been looking for a second coming at quarterback since the retirement of someone the city deified both during and after his career. Tebow gets his first start this season Sunday against the Dolphins, and there are plenty of fantasy experts bullish on his prospects, including Yahoo!'s Brad Evans and RotoWire's Jeff Erickson.
While I appreciate the argument for Tebow, I'm not buying it this week or for the rest of the season. I see him as no more than a backup or bye-week starter. The argument, as I understand it, is Tebow's legs make him fantasy-worthy, regardless of what he might do through the air. Unfortunately for Tebow and his supporters, the NFL isn't the SEC. You can't get it done in the pros simply by running. Even the most prolific runners from the quarterback position among active players like Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton do a ton of damage throwing the ball. In the past, guys like Steve Young and Randall Cunningham had success on the ground and in the air. It's OK if you're a quarterback who can run. I fear, for Tebow's sake, he's a running quarterback, and that's a completely different story. Adding to his difficulties, the Broncos dealt his best downfield weapon in Brandon Lloyd. With a lackluster running game supporting him, I don't see Tebow making a serious fantasy impact this year.
About 1,000 miles to the west, the Raiders pulled the trigger on one of the more surprising NFL trades in recent memory, sending one and possibly two first-round picks to the Bengals for Carson Palmer. Let's leave aside the fact that the Raiders gave up way too much to get Palmer, a guy who is certainly a better option than Kyle Boller, but not someone who will put them over the hump, at least in terms of making any serious noise in the playoffs. Instead, let's look at how the acquisition affects his fantasy value and that of his new teammates. Over at NFL.com, Michael Fabiano says Palmer is back on the fantasy radar. While I agree that he won't become a weekly starter, I'm not sure he's worth a pickup for anyone but those completely devoid of options under center. In his last two years in Cincinnati, Palmer posted YPAs of 6.6 and 6.8. He had 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He's 31-years old, and he hasn't been the same since undergoing elbow surgery. Now he's in a run-first offense and has an average receiving corps at his disposal. I'm not exactly intrigued. Yes, Tom Brady, Vick, Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick are all on byes this week, so you may need to go fishing for a quarterback. Still, widely available options like Matt Cassel and Colt McCoy are better bets this week.
In this week's other big trade, Brandon Lloyd landed in St. Louis, a move that increases his fantasy value in ESPN's KC Joyner's opinion. I was as down as anyone on Lloyd coming into the season, but I agree with Joyner. There's just so much to like about this trade for his fantasy prospects. As poorly as Sam Bradford has played, he's an upgrade from the quarterback play Lloyd had with Kyle Orton, and would have had with Tebow. He's reunited with Josh McDaniels, his coach in Denver during his breakout season. The Rams have played arguably the worst defense in the NFL, and while some of that has to do with their opponents (Eagles, Giants, Ravens, Packers), plenty of that has to do with a subpar pass rush and secondary. As long as they keep playing poorly on defense, they'll be forced to throw the ball a ton. The Rams still have two games apiece with the Cardinals and Seahawks, both of which are in the bottom third in the league in YPA against. No matter how you slice it, Lloyd got out of a no-win situation and ended up in a much better fantasy environment.
You know the drill. Thanks to byes, starting fantasy lineups have been ravaged. Here are the usual backups who will put up starter's numbers this week.
Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck
Running Backs: DeMarco Murray, Jackie Battle, Jonathan Stewart, Montario Hardesty, Delone Carter
Wide Receivers: Doug Baldwin, Greg Little, Mike Thomas, Devin Hester, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Arrelious Benn
Tight End: Lance Kendricks
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