Fantasy Football Truths
Don't go nuts on Newton: Kevin Kolb & Chad Henne (yes, Henne) will end up beingbetter QBs
A whopping 14 quarterbacks threw for 300 yards in Week One of the NFL season. Considering that the 14 didn’t include Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, or, needless to say, Peyton Manning, it’s pretty obvious that some of the long tossers were not the usual suspects.
Now the tricky part is deciding which of these unlikely bombers is in it for the long haul. Here is an overview of some of the most surprisingly successful Week One passers to help you decide.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo: OK, so he didn’t throw for three bills, but he did join Tom Brady as the only quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in Week One. This is not uncharted territory for the former Ivy Leaguer. He had two four-TD games a year ago, and, since taking over as the Bills starter early last year, has just one game without a touchdown.
Chan Gailey’s offense gives him a lot of freedom and Fitzpatrick takes advantage of it. Last year he threw for 3,000 yards and 23 scores. I could see him improving on both of those totals, which makes him borderline fantasy starter material.
Rex Grossman, Washington: Sexy Rexy proved Mike Shanahan right, at least for a week, for choosing him over John Beck. Let’s not get carried away, however, with the numbers he threw up against the Giants. New York was desperate for live bodies in the secondary, and the Skins took full advantage.
Throw in the fact that Grossman has never really had sustained success in the league, and the fact that he still had a few sketchy moments in his Week One bonanza. You’d have to be pretty desperate to turn to him on an extended basis.
Chad Henne, Miami: I included Chad Henne in my deep sleepers list a few weeks back, so I’m feeling pretty good about his 416-yard, two-touchdown outburst against the Pats Monday night. (I also included Jordan Shipley, who had negative yards receiving in Week One, on that list, but I digress.) Henne also added 59 yards and another score on the ground.
Numbers like that won’t be the norm, but I really feel like Henne is going to be a solid mid-tier guy. Stash him on your roster for late in the season; the Dolplins play three of four at home in Weeks 13-16 against less-than-imposing defenses.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Sanchez has brought his team to the playoffs in his first two years, but he hasn’t been on many fantasy radars. He will be now after he lit up the Cowboys. In typical Sanchez fashion, he struggled early before tearing it up down the stretch. Of course, the main drawback here is Jets coach Rex Ryan’s belief in the running game, but he’s going to realize at some point that there just isn’t enough firepower on his roster at running back to sustain that belief.
Look for Sanchez to start having games like Sunday night with increased regularity as the season rolls on.
Kevin Kolb, Arizona: The former University of Houston star has started just eight games in his NFL career, but he has thrown for more than 300 yards in half of them. Last Sunday, he carved up the Panthers in a good, old-fashioned offensive slugfest, and he did it without much contribution from top weapon Larry Fitzgerald.
Another promising factor here is the Cardinals’ porous schedule and equally porous defense, meaning that shootouts will likely be the norm. It wouldn’t stun me to see Kolb residing all year among the top 10 in the league in passing yards, making him a viable QB1 option for the rest of the way.
Cam Newton, Carolina: Until his NFL debut, Newton was probably only on the radar of keeper league owners. That likely changed with his eye-opening performance against Arizona.
Keep in mind that he accomplished it against a Cardinal secondary that failed to realize that Steve Smith could beat them deep, even though he’s been doing it in this league for a decade. Also remember that the Panthers will likely be underdogs against every one of their foes in the NFC South, meaning that Newton will be hard pressed to keep up the great stats. Consistent fantasy excellence is in the cards for Newton, just not this year.
Considering some established quarterbacks (Roethlisberger, Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan) struggled out of the gate, some fantasy owners might be on the lookout for one or more of these options. Temper your expectations in most cases, but don’t be afraid to pick one up, especially if Kolb, Fitzpatrick, or Henne are available.