Fantasy Preview: Quarterback Competitions

QB Training Camp Battles to watch in 2014

Training camp battles are always important for Fantasy owners to pay attention to, as many of the late round gems often emerge out of these camp battles.  This year, there is no shortage of offensive skill position battles that could have a big impact on your draft.  

Additionally, with Dynasty Owner, the salary element makes for an even more compelling drama.  In most scenarios, Dynasty Owners are rooting for the player with the more cap friendly contract to win the battle, especially if it's someone they think can have a break out performance.  This is usually the case with young guys or rookies still on their first NFL contract.  Getting a breakout performer early in their rookie contract can make a huge impact on your Dynasty franchise.  So be sure to watch these camp battles closely heading into the pre-season games.  We start with the quarterback position.

Jets:  Smith vs Vick

New York Jets: This will be the storyline of the Jets preseason as we watch these two quarterbacks compete for the job and HC Rex Ryan dance around announcing a decision.

  • Geno Smith ($1.2 MM/Yr)
  • Michael Vick ($4.0 MM/yr)

While incumbent Geno Smith has a friendlier contract, this one is not as cut and dry because Michael Vick's presence, even at this later stage in his career, will cast a shadow on Smith all throughout camp.  While Ryan and the Jets front office has been very vocal about it being Smith's job to lose, bringing in Vick in the offseason sends the signal that they aren't entirely sure Smith is their Franchise QB yet (or perhaps he's not yet ready).  

Smith was very up and down in his rookie campaign, throwing for 6TDs and 13INTs. While he did run for 6 TDs, that seemed like more of an aberration due to a weak Jets running game (which has been upgraded with Chris Johnson's arrival) and the fact that Smith is not an elite scrambler.  

Vick on the other hand, who in his prime was the definition of a duel threat QB, hasn't had a great fantasy season since 2010, and it seems a revival in a much more conservative offense than the one he came from in Philly is highly unlikely.  

Who will win the job:  Geno Smith

Who fantasy owners should want to win the job: Geno Smith

Browns:  Hoyer vs Manziel

Browns: This will probably be the closest and most competitive battle of all QB competitions, simply because both guys are such unknowns but enter camp with a fair amount of hype.

  • Brian Hoyer ($2 MM/Yr)
  • Johnny Manziel ($1.8 MM/Yr estimated, contract not yet signed)

While no player has more celebrity than Johnny Football, it's easy to forget how Hoyer captivated that town for the 2 games he played before losing his season to an ACL tear last year. In those 2 games he threw for 5 TDs and almost 600 yards and most importantly the entire team seemed to rally around his presence.

That small sample size coupled with the fact that QBs coming off an ACL tear tend to struggle the first year back caused the Browns to draft the hype machine Johnny Football in the 1st round this year. And you simply don't draft a player like that to watch him sit.

As of June, head coach Mike Pettine has said Hoyer remains ahead of Manziel but that's to be expected this early. Pettine also said the door is open for Johnny to win the job outright in the preseason.

Given that their contracts are both very friendly for the QB spot, we see the best case scenario for Dynasty Owners being Manziel winning the job outright in camp. If this happens owners won't necessarily have to spend a late pick on his handcuff in Hoyer, but if Hoyer wins the job most owners will want to grab Manziel as well, since it's only a matter of time before the switch is made this year. So Hoyer winning will essentially cost owners 2 draft picks. Short of a dominating showing where the Browns win some early games they aren't expected to win, Hoyer has a very small chance of being the QB for the entire season. Most experts actually see the change happening at the week 4 Bye, when the Browns enter an extremely soft part of their schedule where 7 of their next 9 games are against the Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, Buccaneers, Texans, Falcons and Bills. On paper that is the weakest strength of schedule stretch any team will play all year. Perfect time for 'Johnny Time'.

Who will win the job out of camp: Brian Hoyer

Who fantasy owners should want to win the job: Johnny Manziel

Vikings:  Bridgewater vs. Cassel vs. Ponder

What a mess the Vikings QB situation was last year.  Incumbents Ponder and Cassel return to battle with Rookie 1st Rounder Teddy Bridgewater, whom the Vikings traded up to get before the 1st round concluded.  Making such a move shows they know they don't have the answer on the roster today, regardless of how much they still speak glowingly of Ponder in the press or how much Norv Turner says he likes Cassel.

  • Matt Cassel ($5.25 MM/Yr)
  • Christian Ponder ($2.5 MM/Yr)
  • Teddy Bridgewater ($1.5 MM/Yr estimated, contract not yet signed)

It's complicated enough when two QBs are fighting for a job, but when you throw a third QB in the mix it's usually a situation to avoid altogether for fantasy owners.

The best case scenario here is that Teddy Bridgewater wins the job outright in camp and sees initial success to where he has the job all year. But that seems unlikely, given the fact that the Vikings are in the same camp as the Jaguars and seem leery not to overwhelm the rookie QB by throwing him in the mix too early.

Who will win the job out of camp:  Matt Cassel

Who fantasy owners should want to win the job:  Teddy Bridgewater

Buccaneers:  McCown vs Glennon

McCown vs Glennon seems to be split right down the middle when you ask more than one person in Tampa.  Even the Head Coach and GM seem divided.  When Lovie Smith was asked if Josh McCown was his starting QB in March (keywords - in March) he said yes.  However GM Jason Licht later said it will be a competition and has made several statements about Glennon being the QB of the future.  

  • Josh McCown ($5.00MM / Yr)
  • Mike Glennon ($800k / Yr)

Since neither player has an obvious right of passage to the job (like Bridgewater or Manziel above), this will probably end up as the most performance driven QB competition in the league.   From a Dynasty Owner standpoint, this is also the trickiest competition to slot as Glennon clearly has a more friendly contract, but McCown's performance last year in Chicago opened eyes of fantasy owners, as he performed at an elite level for 8 games, throwing for 13TDs and only 1 INT including a 3 game stretch where he threw for 350 yards + in all three contests.  

Glennon was widly inconsistent last year, showing signs of promise and signs of being overwhelmed equally.  So we like McCown this year, both to win the job outright and to be the better bet in Dynasty Owner.

Who will win the job out of camp: Josh McCown

Who fantasy owners should want to win the job: Josh McCown