Each year, a number of backup quarterbacks come off the bench to
post solid fantasy numbers. Guys like Vinny Testaverde, Trent Green,
Kurt Warner, Jeff George and Aaron Brooks have helped teams to the
playoffs and beyond in the last three years even though they started
on the bench. These guys are usually ranked low on everyone's draft
list, but an owner should never forget about them. We'll help you
sort through whom and why so you can get a step up on the other
There are a number of factors to consider when ranking the backups.
So with that in mind, let's announce the rankings for the top backups
- Backups on high-powered passing offenses where even you or I could
step in and score 30 TDs.
- Players sitting behind a QB that has a history of injuries.
- Players sitting behind a QB that is coming off of an injury.
- Disgruntled starters combined with disgruntled coaches or owners
(see Jeff George/Brad Johnson/Daniel Snyder.)
- Aging vets with rookies behind them on a team that may be ready
to go with a youth movement, no chance at the playoffs and plenty
- Young rookies with aging vets behind them on a team that is ready
to get to the playoffs NOW without time to show patience.
- Questionably talented starters with other questionably talented
backups. Teams may make a switch even if they aren't going with
the more talented player, just to shake the team up.
- Always consider getting your QBs backup if he's on a top offense
with one of your later round picks.
- And there's nothing more fun than grabbing the backup of another
owner's first round QB.
Next to each player's name is their chances of starting at some
time this season, as well as the reason projected:
T=Talent (their talent surpassed starter's)
D=Default (starter benched for various
reasons: youth movement, salary, etc.)
I=Injury (to starter)
These players are ranked according to fantasy value. Some QBs may
start ten games but have less fantasy value than a better QB that
started six. For the sake of this article, it will be assumed that
Jay Fiedler, Aaron Brooks and Shane Matthews will be the starters
for their respective teams.
Joe Germaine | St. Louis - I - 60%
Trust us. Waste a 14th rounder on Germaine. Remember last year
when everyone wanted Trent Green in the 9th round? Now you've
got a chance to add a QB that is one concussion away from leading
one of the highest scoring offenses in the league. Germaine only
has to be adequate to get two touchdowns a game.
Todd Bouman | Minnesota - I - 75%
Last year I told you to not bother drafting Bubby Brister who
was backing up Daunte Culpepper. The critics were saying Culpepper
won't last long and to grab Bubby while you can. We knew he still
had a great running game, a decent O-line, and the best wheels
of any QB in the league with Chicago-sized shoulders. This year
is different. Todd Steussie and, sadly, Korey Stringer are gone
from a team that is only a year away from losing Pro-Bowlers Randall
McDaniel and Todd Christy. Robert Smith moved on as well leaving
a rookie to do what he can. Don't forget Leroy Hoard's been gone
for a year now too. Culpepper will get hit early and often. He
loves to run, but now he'll be taking on more punishment behind
the line as well as in front of it. Bouman makes sense since he'll
get a chance to throw to Randy Moss and Cris Carter. But remember,
the only way he plays is if Daunte goes down. If you have either
Culpepper or Kurt Warner, draft their backups. DO NOT let someone
else hold you hostage just because you thought you could slip
in around the 16th for Bouman. Grab him a few rounds before the
end instead of hoping this is Vincent Brisby's year!
Chris Weinke | Carolina - TDI - 85%
He's older than Jeff Lewis, has a Heisman trophy and a national
championship ring and he's played major league baseball which
we think will give him the poise and maturity he'll need at this
level. As far as talent, his accuracy has been questioned and
some don't think he would have been drafted much higher even if
he was younger. So what. He's still only got to beat out Jeff
Lewis. With Siefert's WCO, and Muhsin Muhammad and Wesley Walls
around, the Panther starter could do pretty good this year. The
line is a little questionable although they'll be tons better
with the additions of Jeff Mitchell and Kevin Donnalley.
Michael Vick | Atlanta - TDI - 60%
Number of things here to consider. Chris Chandolier will break
again. Actually, the fans will probably cheer if he gets injured
this year. Vick will come in sometime this year and you should
expect a number of rushing touchdowns to accompany him. He's one
of the fastest five men in the NFL, right now.
Jeff Blake | New Orleans - TI - 50%
We're assuming Brooks keeps his spot, Blake is still a close second,
which means little or no room for error for Brooks. In cases like
these, it's almost better to be the second stringer. Once he gets
in, he'll have a nice receiving corps, a healthy tight end and
a great backfield to work with.
Jim Miller | Chicago - TD - 100%
He'll be starting this year as soon as he's healthy, but his fantasy
value will be determined by how healthy Marcus Robinson can get
and if David Terrell can become productive in his rookie year.
Ray Lucas | Miami - TDI - 75%
Fiedler starts for now, but Lucas, once again, will bide his time.
If he's given the opportunity, the offense still relies on the
run first plan, although Lucas is a playmaker and could offset
the Dolphins weakness at wide receiver.
Steve Beuerlein | Denver - I - 50%
Brian Griese has shoulder problems (name a Bronco that isn't hurt)
and hasn't played 16 games in a season yet. Beuerlein has his
own injuries to worry about but if Griese can play until mid-season,
Beuerlein could be healed enough to take the controls of this
monster offense and finish up averaging in the top five in QBs
for fantasy points.
Neil O'Donnell | Tennessee - I - 40%
Steve McNair is another player that seems to get nicked up at
all the wrong times. O'Donnell proved two years ago that he is
a more than adequate backup. He's a couple years older, and has
a lesser group or WRs, but he could still provide a yardage boost
if called upon.
Trent Dilfer | Seattle - TI - 45%
Here's the opposite of what may happen in Atlanta, San
Diego and New York. Here a young guy comes in (Hasselbeck) and
will try to lead a team through a few rounds of the playoffs.
If he stumbles out of the gate, Mike Holmgren showed last year
that he is not shy about pulling his QB. Dilfer is the experienced
veteran with a Super Bowl ring who can come in and try to play
mistake-free football while his RBs and defense wins the game.
Randall Cunningham | Baltimore - I - 30%
If Grbac gets hurt, the World Champs will look to Randall for
Shaun King | Tampa Bay - I - 75%
Brad Johnson WILL get hurt and the Bucs know what they've got
in King who's come into camp on a mission. He's worked hard this
offseason so that he can take advantage of any shot he's given.
Bobby Hoying | Oakland - I - 25%
Rich Gannon is so old. Hoying would inherit an offense that boasts
a good running back (Wheatley), a great receiving RB (Garner),
a great WR (Brown) and the best WR in NFL history (Rice). Not
Chad Pennington | N.Y. Jets - TDI - 55%
If Vinny falters or the Jets feel they are out of it, Pennington
gets a shot.
Alex Van Pelt | Buffalo - I - 75%
Rob Johnson lies on his back more than Michelangelo
thought I was going to do a dirty joke there didn't you. Well,
that Michelangelo's a real slut
Anyway, Johnson will get
roughed up as he holds onto the ball for 18 minutes per snap.
Van Pelt becomes the temporary patch until Johnson can go again.
Ryan Leaf | Tampa Bay - TDI - 45%
With the fantastic play of Joe Hamilton during camp, the Bucs
may decide to try to trade Leaf, who has better trade value than
Hamilton and doesn't know the system as much as King. Leaf has
looked very bad though. But expect him on another roster. Hamilton
should make a fine No.3.
Todd Husak | Washington - I - 45%
Tendinitis has Jeff George in its grip! Favre owners remember
what that was like last year. Watch carefully. The Skins will
probably sign a veteran as insurance. John Friesz sits by his
Kent Graham | Pittsburgh - TI - 55%
Kordell Stewart is the man once again, but goodness, for how long?
I'm no Graham fan, but if Stewart doesn't get it done, they have
no choice. Tee Martin looked pretty good, but that's like saying,
"I hate milk. Pass the non-dairy creamer." Same thing.
Jim Harbaugh | Detroit - TDI - 60%
Charlie Batch sees the trainer's room more than
who sees the trainer's room a lot
Harbaugh is comfortable
in the WCO and would make the transition nicely if given the chance.
Drew Brees | San Diego - DI - 70%
Doug Flutie is one to get banged up and if Brees gets in camp
and does what he needs to do, he could end up second string with
one foot hovering over the field ready to play. Problem here is
that there is no real fantasy value since they'll be running so
Anthony Wright | Dallas - DI - 65%
They've already started the QB merry-go-round in Dallas. Carter
will have a rough rookie season and surely Wright will get a few
chances to start.
22. Jamie Martin | Jacksonville - I - 35%
23. Dave Brown | Arizona - DI - 35%
24. Akili Smith | Cincinnati - TDI - 30%
25. Scott Mitchell | Cincinnati - TDI - 30%
26. Billy Joe Hobert | Indianapolis - I - 20%
27. Cade McNown | Chicago - D - 25%
28. Todd Collins | Kansas City - I - 50%
29. Jason Garrett | N.Y. Giants - I - 30%
30. Koy Detmer | Philadelphia - I - 40%
31. Doug Pederson | Green Bay - I - 10%
32. Damon Huard | New England - I - 20%
33. Bubby Brister | Kansas City - I - 20%
34. Tee Martin | Pittsburgh - TI - 15%
35. Eric Zeier | Atlanta - DI - 5%
36. Tony Banks | ??? - I - 25%
37. Mark Rypien | Indianapolis - I - 20%
38. Chris Redman | Baltimore - I - 10%
39. Rick Mirer | San Francisco - I - 30%
:: comments to david
David Gonos is the owner and editor of FantasyRef.com,
a four-sport fantasy information site. Getting big-time backup QBs
have been his mission ever since the Bengals tried to pawn off David
Klingler as a viable NFL starter.