It might seem excessive to argue about fantasy backup quarterbacks, especially when neither side is touting a player as “must have.” Then again, this is the thick of fantasy football draft season. What better time is there to go for excess. RapidDraft.com’s Matt Schauf went to the panel of Mikes at FFToday.com about the site’s low ranking for Matt Moore and found Mike MacGregor willing to back it up.
Schauf: Hey Mike, quick question: I’m going through your site’s QB rankings right now and am just wondering if you remember that the Carolina Panthers are still in the league? Oh, wait, just found Matt Moore buried way down at 28th … beyond Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart (guess that’s about to change), Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Josh Freeman and I guess just about everyone else. I’m ready to state my case for Moore once again, but first let me ask: Did he used to steal Mike Krueger’s lunch money in school?
MacGregor: Mike Krueger always seemed like more of a brown-bag lunch guy to me instead of buying his lunch at the cafeteria. As far as I know he has no personal vendetta against Matt Moore, but we just think he is a subpar QB option, fantasy and otherwise. In terms of receiving options Moore has Steve Smith and … and … and not much. The Panthers have a potentially great running game and a decent enough defense. Even if Moore had more than one above average receiver, there is little need or opportunity for him to pass enough to accumulate worthwhile passing stats. If a game manager is what you are looking for in a fantasy QB, by all means, Moore is your man.
Schauf: Smith alone gives Moore more (smooth sentence construction) at receiver than at least Campbell, Orton and Freeman among those guys I mentioned above, and he has seemed to be plenty for Moore to this point. Between two separate NFL seasons (last year and 2007), Moore has started eight games and produced 1,554 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in only 205 pass attempts. Without adjusting the number of passes up (because every team but the Jets attempted well more than the 410 that would project to over 16 games), the numbers come out to 3,108 yards, 22 touchdowns and six picks over a full season.
Now, I’m not saying we can simply take that projection and put it forth as the expectation for Moore’s first full season of starting, but it does tell us plenty. It tells us that Moore performed WAY better than the erratic veteran he finally replaced (and that began late in 2007, when Moore was an undrafted rookie). It tells us that he has been more protective of the ball than can reasonably be expected of any young quarterback. The next time he throws two interceptions in an NFL game will be the first. We’re talking about fantasy backups here, and in that spot, I’m looking for a guy who can give me a good game while also not presenting the risk that he’ll lose me the week with three picks. That’s Matt Moore.
MacGregor: So you want a QB afraid to take chances and throw it down the field more than once in a blue moon? I thought you were more of a risk taker than that. Personally I’d rather a QB who is going to attempt closer to 30 passes a game (i.e. Campbell, Orton, Freeman) than less than 20 (Moore). Steve Smith isn’t that much better he can help Moore put up stats equivalent to these other guys on ten fewer pass attempts on average.
And about the superior receiving talent at Moore’s disposal versus the law firm of Campbell, Orton and Freeman, I disagree with that. It really is Steve Smith and nothing on the Panthers depth chart. The jury is out on rookie Brandon LaFell. The Raiders and Broncos at least offer up decent receiving options for the QB, between McFadden, Miller, Murphy, Moreno, Buckhalter, Gaffney and Royal. I’ll admit, the Bucs receivers short of Winslow and Caddy leave a lot to be desired, but Freeman makes up for it making plays with his legs. Matt Moore? Moore had twelve rushing attempts last year for minus three yards. Yep, he’s a statue back there.
Schauf: If it’s more downfield action you need, then might I interest you in a quarterback who finished 2009 with more yards per attempt than Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco and the three passers we both just mentioned, as well as at least a full yard more per attempt than Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan? Perhaps you’d prefer the guy who produced six pass plays of 40 yards or more, which tied or beat half of the 32 qualified quarterbacks in the league last year, despite not qualifying himself? (“Qualifying” means having thrown at least one pass in at least 14 games, the league standard to qualify for passer-rating rankings.)
I can’t argue that Carolina will throw a whole lot. It won’t. And I won’t talk up Moore’s rushing. I will, however, point out that of quarterbacks 13-24 in total points last year (backups in 12-team leagues), six failed to score a rushing touchdown. Running certainly helps, but I won’t overrate it. What helps more is touchdown throws, and my simple projection for Moore based on previous starts comes to 22 of those over a full season in just 410 pass attempts. That would’ve tied him for 13th in the league last year, and 410 attempts is even fewer than the Panthers tried while finishing last in the league in that category in 2008. All told, even if you don’t expect 22 touchdowns, it seems pretty clear that level is at least realistic.
Now, in RapidDraft scoring, we have no negative points. So, interceptions don’t matter. Of course, in leagues where they do, the aforementioned ball safety would have to make one more comfortable with inserting Moore for a week here and there.
MacGregor: My point on the rushing, or Moore’s lack of rushing, was a counterpoint in reference to you comparing Moore favorably to Josh Freeman.
Okay, so what we’ve concluded here is that Moore doesn’t throw a lot of passes. He will chuck it down field you say, or at least did in a small sample size of games in which defenses had little background from which to game plan for this guy, and teams likely took the Panthers for granted since they were so dismal and out of the playoff race thanks to their early season swoon. He has one legitimate receiving threat.
Surprisingly, you haven’t even countered that the RB pairing of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are decent pass catchers, to which I would say they are okay. About average. Can we expect 500 yards combined from these guys? If I generously (very generously) give Steve Smith his career best 1,500, Moore needs to carve out another 1,000 yards amongst a rookie and some very mediocre receiving talent just to get to a mundane 3,000 yards. I see no upside with this guy and a struggle to be even a low-end backup (top-24 QB).
You know, I think you should draft Moore this season. Enjoy looking for a better option than Moore off waivers every week as you’ll be constantly trying to replace him.
Schauf: Well, I’m certainly not touting Moore as the best backup option on the market but do think he makes immediate sense for owners of Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning. Moore faces St. Louis when those three starters are on bye. Both matchups with New Orleans and Tampa could prove favorable as well, and overall, I think there’s some spot starter potential.
I’ve gone on long enough about a mid-level backup, though, so we’ll just have to see how he handles a fuller sample size.
Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com. Mike MacGregor is the creator of FF Today’s Cheatsheet Compiler and Draft Buddy software. Compete with them and nine other sets of Fantasy Pros in free fantasy football at RapidDraft.com for a guaranteed $100,000 grand prize.