Monday, October 24, 2011

Lousy QB play tarnishes an otherwise golden era

I’ve heard several commentators refer to this as the “golden age” of NFL quarterbacking, or some hyperbolic variant of the same theme. I don’t think they’re watching the same games I am.

To be sure, it doesn’t get much better than Drew Brees’ five-touchdown performance on Sunday night. We are obviously witnessing two of the all-time greats in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Michael Vick can be spectacular, Ben Roethlisberger has some serious skins on the wall, and only a neck injury is keeping Peyton Manning from continuing to re-write the record books.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, an unusually large contingent of young, old and downright incompetent quarterbacks has managed to tarnish this so-called gilded age.

On Sunday, Charlie Whitehurst and Colt McCoy combined to put up 273 passing yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions and nine measly points for two teams. Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer teamed up for 177 yards, six interceptions and a goose egg while making Raiders fans yearn for the glory days of the Jason Campbell era.

Philip Rivers, Curtis Painter, A.J. Feeley and four Matts (Moore, Hasselbeck, Cassel and Stafford) looked like amateurs. For all but five minutes, Tim Tebow looked worse.

Holy pick-six, Batman! This can’t be as good as it gets.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings. The rookie played well enough to beat perhaps any other team not led by Aaron Rodgers. Though his 219-yard, two-touchdown debut was marred by two costly interceptions, Ponder showed enough swagger and accuracy to suggest that much better days lie ahead.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders. Bush is among the best backups in the game, as he showed with his 111-total-yard effort in a blowout loss after McFadden left with a sprained foot. Though the Raiders are heading into their bye week, Bush is still a wise handcuff for McFadden’s owners.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos. Just when you thought it was safe to give up on Moreno, Willis McGahee goes out and fractures his hand. We don’t yet know how much time McGahee will miss; but Moreno is suddenly relevant again. That said, Lance Ball is also in the picture; and the biggest touchdown poacher of them all, Tebow, will limit Moreno’s upside as well.

Evan Moore, TE, Browns. Need bye-week help at the tight end position? With both Ben Watson and Mohamed Massaquoi suffering concussions in Sunday’s game, Moore could again become a frequent target. That assumes, of course, that McCoy gets his act together.

Don’t be fooled

Kregg Lumpkin, RB, Buccaneers. If his not-exactly-flashy name doesn’t excite you, Lumpkin’s play in relief of the injured Earnest Graham won’t help. With Graham lost for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, Tampa Bay is praying that LeGarrette Blount will be ready to return after the team’s Week 8 bye. If he’s not, the team will likely bring in outside help rather than rely on Lumpkin.

Alfonso Smith, RB, Cardinals. He took over after Beanie Wells sprained his knee in the second quarter, but managed just 17 yards, including a short touchdown plunge. We’ve seen this movie before and gave it two thumbs down. With the Ravens up next, Smith is not even a short-term option; especially with LaRod Stephens-Howling also in the mix, primarily as a receiver. Wells could miss up to two weeks.

Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins. We haven’t gotten official word yet, but all signs point to a season-ending knee injury for Hightower. You can safely drop him to make room for free-agent help.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos. I’d like to get excited about Thomas’ potential, since he was clearly Tebow’s favorite target Sunday. But Denver’s 2010 first-round pick is perpetually injured, and he hasn’t yet earned a starting job over Eric Decker and Eddie Royal. Unless Tebow continues to lock onto him, there aren’t enough (accurate) passes to go around in this offense to make Thomas a consistent contributor.

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