No position in team sports is more critical to a team’s success than the quarterback. And with this year’s rookie class wafer-thin at the position, some of the QB-needy teams lower in the draft order are hoping to strike gold with other clubs’ trash. Will it work? Let’s break down the fantasy prospects of the handful of quarterbacks who have swapped jerseys this offseason.
Buffalo Bills – Matt Cassel (Traded)
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Cassel hasn’t been fantasy-relevant since starting 15 games for an injured Tom Brady in New England in 2008–and even then he didn’t even average 20 fantasy points per game, a pretty standard benchmark for quarterbacks. That he may be an upgrade over E.J. Manuel tells you where the Bills were coming from when they shipped the first pick in the fifth round to Minnesota for Cassel and Minnesota’s sixth-round selection.
Fantasy Outlook: Should Cassel beat out Manuel and Tyrod Taylor for the starting gig in Buffalo, he’ll have a couple weapons to work with in Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin. However, quarterbacks on Rex Ryan’s last three Jets teams have ranked 31st, 27th and 31st in fantasy scoring, and the last time Rex’s QBs were fantasy relevant they needed a half-dozen rushing scores to do so; that’s more than Cassel has scored in his 10-year NFL career.
Philadelphia Eagles – Sam Bradford (Traded)
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Chip Kelly’s offseason playbook lifted a line directly out of Fletch Lives (“Fletch, what are you doing?” “Something that at first might seem incredibly stupid”), and his swap of Nick Foles, a fourth- to fifth-round downgrade this year and a second-rounder in 2016 left many Eagles fans scratching their heads. Kelly seems convinced that they system yields results, and he obviously saw something in the handful of games Bradford has been healthy for to make him believe Bradford can run his system effectively. Of course, Mark Sanchez looked reasonably competent running that system last year so the bar isn’t exactly set high. Bradford ran a similar scheme at Oklahoma, so if he’s able to stay healthy–something he hasn’t been able to do in St. Louis, and something that might become more difficult with the Eagles clearing out aging talent along their offensive line–there may just be a method to Chip’s madness.
Fantasy Outlook: On the one hand it’s a high-tempo Philly offense that should yield more throws than Bradford was used to in St. Louis; on the other the Eagles just added DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, so they’re going to be running the ball plenty in 2015. If you get the Bradford who sparkled over the first half of 2013, prior to his latest spate of injuries, he has serious sleeper potential in an offense that has produced top-10 Team QB fantasy rankings each of Chip’s first two seasons at the helm. Just encase Bradford in bubble wrap, cross your fingers, rub your lucky rabbit’s foot, and take out an insurance policy.
St. Louis Rams – Nick Foles (Traded)
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Foles looked sharp for 13 games in 2013 running Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense, but the luster faded last year as his numbers fell off dramatically prior to his season-ending injury. The Rams were tired of Sam Bradford’s medical bills and happy to get out from under his bloated contract as well, and the real key to this deal might be the 2016 second-rounder they acquired from Philly. Foles is no lock to beat out Austin Davis, who played in nine games last year, and nothing else has changed in the St. Louis offense that would lead one to believe a breakout campaign is lurking.
Fantasy Outlook: During Fisher’s tenure in St. Louis, Rams quarterbacks have ranked 28th, 30th, and 22nd in fantasy production. The chances of Foles being the guy to change that around are somewhere between slim and none, especially given that the Rams will bring back essentially the same supporting cast on offense.