Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Tebow Time

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Along with Bob Knight and Pete Rose, Tim Tebow has already been one of the most polarizing figures in professional sports over the past half-century. Visceral love and hate are his constant companions. This Twitter exchange sums up the national attitude on Tebow in a nutshell: SI.com's Jim Trotter is pulling for Tebow because the negative reaction toward him "borders on irrational." Responds Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, "So does the praise and adulation."

Detractors love to paint Tebow Nation as unreasonable acolytes, yet the former have been just as close-minded. Scouts, national and local writers, and plenty of NFL execs have written off a talented player, painting his devout followers as a fervent cult with simplistic notions on the making of a successful NFL quarterback. As Cecil Lammey of Footballguys.com puts it, “The human mind has difficulty processing something it's never seen before. Just because we've never seen a QB like Tebow doesn’t mean he sucks.”

The data at both the college and the pro level suggest that Tebow is indeed a “gamer,” that he’ll rarely impress teammates and coaches in scripted practice sessions. Even more than Ben Roethlisberger, Tebow is a free lancer and an improviser in the pocket. With an ugly throwing motion and a skill-set that is half-fullback, half-quarterback, he calls to mind former Vikings quarterbacks Joe Kapp and Fran Tarkenton a/k/a The Mad Scrambler, Frantic Fran, and Scramblin’ Fran.

The similarities to Hall of Famer Tarkenton don’t end there. Broncos coach John Fox and personnel czar John Elway have made it clear that they would prefer “a dropback quarterback with good accuracy” just as ex-Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin disdained the idea of a mobile quarterback.

As I’ve stated several times before, I have no idea if Tebow will develop into a successful NFL quarterback. Considering his immense fantasy potential, though, I still think it’s a sensible policy to keep an open mind. In three late-season 2010 starts, Tebow was the No. 1 fantasy player at any position. In each of four games with at least 10 pass attempts, he’s scored a touchdown via the pass as well as the run. He accomplished that feat in a fifth game with just one pass attempt and two rushes. Tebow may not be the passer that Cam Newton is, but he could very well be 80-90 percent of Newton as a fantasy option.

Similar to last year’s Michael Vick vs. Brandon Jackson waiver debate, I’m siding with the difference-making quarterback over the fleeting running back. Unless you have a stacked roster at quarterback and dregs at running back, Tebow is the No. 1 fantasy option this week. Just beware he’s heading into the bye week before returning to Florida for Gator reunion week against the Dolphins.

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 6. Full writeups of each player are below.

Editor’s Note: Join subscriber only chats, get weekly rankings before anyone else, plus exlusive weekly projections, stats, dynasty ranks, columns, and much more including the Rotoworld Oracle in our Season Pass.

Quarterbacks
Tim Tebow
Matt Cassel
Alex Smith
Matt Moore
Charlie Whitehurst
Andy Dalton

Running Backs
Jackie Battle
Earnest Graham
Delone Carter
Donald Brown
Roy Helu
Jonathan Dwyer
Bernard Scott
Kregg Lumpkin

Wide Receivers
Greg Little
James Jones
Early Doucet
Damian Williams
Steve Breaston
Doug Baldwin
Mark Clayton
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Naaman Roosevelt

Tight Ends
Jared Cook
Ben Watson
Visanthe Shiancoe
Heath Miller

Defense/Special Teams
Bengals
Saints
Redskins

Quarterbacks

Tim Tebow, Broncos - Coach John Fox announced to his team Tuesday morning that Tebow would be the new starting quarterback. In three late-season 2010 starts, Tebow produced more fantasy points than any player in the NFL. In all four career games in which he’s received significant playing time, Tebow has scored via the run as well as the pass. He also did it in a fifth game with just one pass attempt and two rushes. Tebow and Cam Newton may already be the best goal-line quarterbacks in fantasy history. Consider Tebow 80-90 percent of Newton going forward. There will be bumps in the road, but this is a low-end QB1 right now. Just beware that the Broncos don’t play again until Week 7 at Miami.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Matt Cassel, Chiefs - After a dismal start, Cassel has now put together back-to-back games over 250 yards -- the most recent of which produced four touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe was the best player on the field last week, and Steve Breaston is emerging as a dangerous second option. Cassel has an attractive matchup in Week 7 against a Raiders team that allows the seventh-most points to opposing quarterbacks, but he’s off in Week 6.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Alex Smith, 49ers - Rotoworld’s Aaron Bruski, a Bay Area resident and lifelong 49ers fan, has led chants against Smith as recently as last season. As of Sunday night, though, Jim Harbaugh had him convinced that Smith has turned the corner and may actually go beyond the game manager label this season. He has a passer rating over 90 in four of five games this year while finishing with the highest single-game Total QBR score of the season in Week 5. For the record, I remain highly skeptical that Smith will be a fantasy asset in 12-team leagues this season. His track record suggests a faceplant is just around the corner.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Matt Moore, Dolphins - A favorite of former front-office exec and NFL scout Russ Lande, Moore takes over an offense with some interesting pieces in Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush. While he’s capable of matching Chad Henne’s production, Moore will have to played judiciously in deeper leagues against weaker secondaries. He gets fantasy’s stingiest pass defense in Week 6 (Jets) before a Week 7 matchup against fantasy’s most generous pass defense (Broncos).

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks - At 11-of-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown, Whitehurst played well enough in relief of Tarvaris Jackson to lead Seattle to victory in the second half. The Seahawks won’t know “for a while” the severity of Jackson’s pectoral strain, and surgery hasn’t been completely dismissed. Jackson won’t even throw the ball during the bye week, which would seem to leave Whitehurst as the favorite to start at Cleveland in Week 7. The Seahawks offense is coming alive of late, too, with more yards the past two weeks 796 than the first three weeks combined (644).

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Andy Dalton, Bengals - Dalton may have a winning record, but he’s averaging just over 200 yards and one touchdown per week. He’s proven capable of solid numbers when the Bengals are playing from behind. Unfortunately, the winless Colts are on the docket for Week 6 before a Week 7 bye. Dalton is still limited to two-quarterback leagues.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Hold Off: Blaine Gabbert

Gabbert would have had been held under 150 yards with zero scores had the Bengals not blown coverage on Jason Hill’s long touchdown. His footwork and pocket presence will continue to hold him back.

Watch List: Christian Ponder, John Beck, Richard Bartel

Donovan McNabb got another vote of confidence Monday, but the Vikings won in spite of their quarterback. One or two more losses, and it will be time to join the Broncos in moving on to the future. … Similarly, Beck is just a couple of Rex Grossman meltdowns away from the starting job. … Bartel is purely a stash for deeper leagues. Kevin Kolb is struggling, and the former has shown that he can move the Cardinals offense.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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