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The Importance of a Backup Quarterback in the NFL

In the NFL, quality backup quarterbacks are like spare tires to a car: if you have one, you’re going to go a lot farther than those who don’t have one. Unfortunately for the hometown Chicago Bears, the car they’re travelling in is missing its motor in running back Matt Forte, and a few tires in Jay Cutler. To anyone who’s seen a drive or two of the Caleb Hanie-led offense, there sure-as-hell isn’t a spare tire anywhere in site.

The Bears organization may finally be learning a tough lesson when it comes to quarterbacking. Once a 7-3 team looking like a playoff lock, the Bears have now fallen flat, losing all four of their games in which Caleb Hanie has started. You can pretty much blame Hanie for all of the losses, as he has thrown for only three touchdowns and nine interceptions so far. However, the problem lies deeper than that.

Quarterback problems have always seemed to be a thorn in the side of the Bears. Before Jay Cutler arrived from Denver, the Bears virtually went through almost two decades starting back-up quarterbacks. Now, when you’d think that the Bears are set at quarterback, problems arise once again.

Let’s face it, Jay Cutler is not made of steel. He’s human, he’ll get hurt. It just so happened that he managed to get hurt at one of the most pivotal times of the year, on two separate occasions. If Cutler doesn’t get hurt during the 2010 NFC Championship game against the Packers, he might will us to a comeback victory and probably doesn’t throw a pick-six to B.J. Raji to put the game out of reach. If Cutler doesn’t get hurt this year, the Bears are looking at a record that has at least nine to ten wins, if not eleven, as well as a playoff berth.

That’s two seasons down the drain. It really makes me wonder what could have been if the Bears had a little bit of foresight to develop a serviceable backup quarterback. Looking around the NFL, almost every great team has a serviceable backup that they drafted specifically for that role, or even as a starter in the future. In 2005, Green Bay drafted a quarterback in the first round you might have heard of: Aaron Rodgers. This was a full three seasons before the legendary Brett Favre began the great comeback debate every offseason. The Patriots drafted Matt Cassel in 2005 (who went on to win 11 games in 2008) and even spent a third round pick on Ryan Mallett in this year’s draft, with Tom Brady there for the long term.

Maybe Nathan Enderle (who was drafted in the fifth round in this year’s draft) will be that guy someday, but the fact of the matter is is that the Bears needed a backup now. Either way, this season just proves that the backup quarterback position is much more important than once thought. Teams like the Texans were prepared, and are well on their way to seeing the field after Week 17, while teams like the Bears, Chiefs, and Colts were not and are now the laughing stock of the league.

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Fantasy Football: Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups

Week 13 looks to be another slow week for the wire. No significant injuries occurred, so there are not many likely fantasy game-changers that can be had on the wire. Here are my picks:

Kyle Orton, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Orton steps into a much better situation, receiver-wise, in KC. Moving on from Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker, Orton gets access to talented wideouts Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Jon Baldwin. We’ll see if Orton can pick it back up with a change of scenery.

Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit Lions

Morris has a shot to be the primary back this week against New Orleans. Kevin Smith is listed as questionable with a high-ankle sprain. If Smith can’t go, Morris looks like a solid flex play option for most teams.

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Brown has had one of his best stretches of his career during the last three games. He has averaged 77 yards per game and has scored three touchdowns. However, he has a few tough tasks ahead of him in Baltimore and Houston coming up.

Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago Bears

Knox and QB Caleb Hanie looked to have a nice rapport going against Oakland, leading to Knox’s game high 145 receiving yards. He has also scored a touchdown in the last two weeks and looks to be one of the top players off of waivers this week.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Starter Sidney Rice looks to miss this week’s game against the Eagles, leaving the door wide open for Baldwin to pick up the slack. Baldwin only had 60 yards, but also had 10 targets. Look for Baldwin to have a nice week this week.

Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns

Little finally found the endzone last week. QB Colt McCoy’s favorite target looks like a solid WR3 on most teams, as he’s been averaging about 50 yards a game over the last five weeks.

Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers

Before getting hurt, Floyd has 243 yards and a touchdown in the last three games he played. He’s looking to come back this week, and looks to be an interesting fantasy play. QB Philip Rivers has been anything but good this year, so I suggest you watch Floyd’s progress.

New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams

Nothing much can be said other than they’re the lucky team playing the Colts this week.

Denver Broncos Defense/Special Teams

The Tebow Effect seems to have taken ahold of this defense, which hasn’t given up more than 13 points in three straight games. Don’t take them lightly anymore.

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Fantasy Football: Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups; Midseason Awards

Is Chiefs' WR Jon Baldwin worthy of a roster spot?

Week 8 of the NFL season wasn’t injury-riddled like prior weeks, which means that the waiver wire will likely be less active than usual. Also, the week marked the middle point of the regular season, which means one thing: Midseason Awards.

Fantasy MVP: QB Cam Newton

Newton gets it ahead of Rodgers simply because Rodgers is a 1st/2nd round pick. It’s Most Value-able Player.

Biggest Draft Steal: TE Jimmy Graham

This guy was going in between rounds 12-15 before the season began. Next year he’ll be going in rounds 3-5.

Brandon Lloyd Award: QB Cam Newton

The Lloyd Award is a player who can be found on the waiver wire and ends up tearing it up the rest of the season. No doubt Newton gets it.

Biggest Bust: RB Chris Johnson

Not sure what’s going on with this guy, but it’s not funny for owners.

Here are my waiver wire pickups for the week:

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

 

Bradford is out of the walking boot and ready to sling it to newcomer Brandon Lloyd. He has a favorable matchup this week against Arizona.

Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

You gotta like Cassel in the second half of the season. Not only have the Chiefs drastically improved their game altogether, but Cassel gets to face Miami, Denver, and New England in the next three weeks.

Javon Ringer, RB, Tennessee Titans

Like I said last week, Ringer should be seeing more and more time ahead of fantasy bust Chris Johnson. He got 33 snaps to Johnson’s 30 against Indianapolis, and it’s only a matter of time before Johnson’s warming up the bench.

Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Big Jon Baldwin made some big plays for the Chiefs in their win over the Chargers Monday night. Baldwin’s got the size and skill, but the Chiefs’ offense raises a concern and I don’t think he’ll be consistent for the rest of the year. Pick him up if you really need a WR.

Early Doucet, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Doucet has made good on his limited play, scoring once in each of the last two games. If the Cards ever decide to give him more snaps, he’ll be pretty productive.

Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Twenty five points in the past two games for Celek should result in a waiver wire pickup for most teams. Also, he gets the Bears, who give lots of leeway to opposing tight ends, on Monday night.

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Fantasy Football: Week 6 Waiver Wire Pickups

I hate to gloat (just kidding, I love it), but last week’s waiver wire pickups did not fail to disappoint. If you looked at the stat line, a majority were winners. Seattle’s Doug Baldwin caught eight passes for 136 yards and a score, Houston’s Kevin Walter caught five passes for 81 yards and a score, Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham caught five passes for 21 yards and a score, and finally, the Bengals’ defense/special teams managed to rack up three sacks and force two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. This week’s waiver wire picks seem to be geared toward quarterbacks, so hopefully you picked your fair share of receivers last week.

Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos

Tebow finally got his nod last week, after starting QB Kyle Orton put up a stinker, and looks to finish out the rest of the season as Denver’s starting QB. Tebow started the second half of last week’s loss to San Diego, managing to throw for 79 yards and a score, as well as run for 31 yards and a score. Think of Tebow as Cam Newton-lite, and looks to be an intriguing start for teams in need of a QB.

Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

After putting up a few dismal starts to start the season, it seems as if Cassel has picked it up. Through the last two weeks, Cassel has had a QB rating over 100 and has thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He gets to face another shaky defense in Oakland this week. He could be used as a spot starter in deeper leagues.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has been surprisingly efficient for a rookie quarterback on what was to be one of the worst teams coming into the season. Dalton hasn’t put up any huge games as of yet, but if he does, it could come this week against the hapless Indianapolis Colts. He should be used purely as a spot start this week.

Earnest Graham, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Graham looks to make his first start of year in place of the injured LaGarrette Blount. Graham hasn’t gotten many reps on the ground, but has proven to be a valuable pass-catcher, racking up 23 receptions. He doesn’t face a favorable matchup against New Orleans this week, though, so beware.

Jackie Battle, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Head coach Todd Haley recently compared Battle to 2010 breakout star Arian Foster. Potential fantasy owners hope that Haley is correct, but I highly doubt that Battle will come anywhere close to Foster’s output. Battle put up great numbers last week (19 carries, 119 yards), albeit it was against the Indianapolis Colts. Battle could end up being a solid RB2 at best, but he’ll likely just hold a spot on your bench.

Damian Williams, WR, Tennessee Titans

Like Doug Baldwin, Williams put up a surprising day (11 targets, six receptions, 66 yards, one touchdown) and has found the endzone the last two weeks. He is starting opposite of WR Nate Washington and as QB Matt Hasselbeck airs it out more and more, Williams will see more production.

Steve Breaston, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs resurgence has led to many of their offensive weapons becoming waiver wire pickups, and Breaston is yet another player to fit the bill. Breaston is coming off of a solid 50 yard, two touchdown game against the Colts and looks to snag more touchdowns away from stud WR Dwyane Bowe.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders

The former seventh overall pick in the draft finally looks like he’s playing up to par. Although Heyward-Bey has only shown flashes in the past two weeks, he worth a spot on the roster just in case he continues getting nearly 100 yards a game.

Editor’s note: I have no faith whatsoever in any of these guys this week, as opposed to all my other waiver wire write-ups.

 

 

 

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