There are always situations in which a gem could go in the later rounds of your drafts/auctions. Last year it turned out to be Victor Cruz, coming literally out of nowhere to a potential top 10 wide receiver for fantasy.
In this issue of Fantasy in Five, I will give five quarterbacks this season who could go under the radar in your draft that can have a huge impact on your team this season.
1. Josh Freeman- After what’s been going on for the Bucs this past offseason, I’m really starting to buy into this guy. Sure, last year Freeman was miserable, but you have to understand his circumstances.
Freeman had to put the team on his shoulders every game last season. LaGarrette Blount failed as the starting running back, the offensive line couldn’t hold back a sitting duck, and Freeman’s only logical target he could consistently go to was Mike Williams.
Turn the clocks to today. The Buccaneers signed deep threat Vincent Jackson, left guard Carl Nicks, veteran tight end Dallas Clark, and drafted Boise State’s running back Doug Martin. Not to mention the hiring of Greg Schiano has helped Freeman lose more weight to become more mobile in the pocket.
You really can’t go down from last season, so the sky’s the limit for Freeman. I just don’t see how this past offseason isn’t a sign for some decent success. He could start off as your backup, but could work his way to either trade bait or your starter by week six.
2. Tim Tebow- Yes, I know he isn’t starting for the New York Jets this season (not yet). Yes, his arm delivery is slower than attempting to walk in quicksand. Yes, he gets a lot of unnecessary media attention that tires the fans (not pointing out any names).
But if you look behind all of these three obstacles, Tebow can actually be a consistent option at quarterback. Maybe not passing-wise, but this Wildcat/goal line offense the Jets are running with him at the helm could help him rack some decent points. If he’s playing goal line, Tebow should be able to score running the ball pending his physique, while a five-yard slant in the end zone won’t hurt him.
I love the way Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano are attempting to use him. It helps the Jets, Mark Sanchez, and any fantasy owner who has a hard time finding a quarterback. Tebow’s in Freeman’s situation where he’ll start off as your backup but could become a starter pending on play this season.
3. Jay Cutler- The only reason I have Cutler on this list is because of his season-ending injury in 2011 and the hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who’s a ground and pound type of guy. Many experts believe that the 29-year-old will have a hard time adjusting from Mike Martz into Tice.
However, Cutler can really breakout this season. The first reason is reuniting with his former Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall. Cutler’s best statistical season was in Denver with Marshall getting most of the attention. The second is the Bears’ defense is starting to age, as Brian Urlacher has dealt with recent leg issues. Playing in the same division as the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will result in some nonstop air displays.
I can see Cutler duplicating his 2008 breakout year, of course if he doesn’t get hurt again. Owners may think twice to draft him, but I say risk it for the biscuit and give him a shot.
4. Matt Schaub- Schaub is in the same boat as Cutler; season-ending injury that makes him undervalued in drafts. Only difference is Schaub has only had two full seasons in Houston.
If he stays healthy, a 4,000 yard season could be in the works. Defenses would have to focus on Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Once they try and crash the middle, Schaub could just throw it down the field to Andre Johnson (if he stays healthy) or Kevin Walter. Houston has a scary good offense, and it showed last year when they won their first franchise playoff game with a third string rookie.
The 31-year-old has potential to be a top 10 quarterback in fantasy. My only concern with him comes the health. If Schaub can show his durability, there should be no reason why you skip out on him.
5. Peyton Manning- It seems as though one year has completely changed the Indianapolis Colts. From being a playoff contender with one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game, to a whole new team with a rookie who’s been compared to the likes of John Elway.
Last year showed not only how much Manning meant to the Colts, but his neck issues. He sat out all of 2011 and took a while to regenerate his nerve, while signing with Elway’s Denver Broncos this offseason. Apparently he’s doing a good job in practice but reasonably misses a few miles on his spiral.
We didn’t see Manning play last season, but if he’s healthy as proclaimed, he can be a huge steal. I’m not expecting him to go too high in this draft, so the mid-round sounds reasonable. Manning has shown he’s elite his whole career, so take the risk.