Old Faces, New Places: Fantasy Implications for Free Agent Quarterbacks

 By: Brandon Murchison – Fantasy Football Columnist.
The 2014 class of free agent quarterbacks is an awfully thin one. All of the available QBs are either journeymen or guys that have yet to prove themselves in the league. With so many teams set at the position, the few teams that are in need will be looking to draft someone that they can put under center. With the lack of talent in the free agency pool, who could blame some of these teams to forgo signing a mediocre quarterback? Let’s take a look at the top 5 free agent QBs:
1. Josh McCown (signed with the Buccaneers) – McCown will be leaving the Windy City this season for Tampa Bay, where coach Lovie Smith has already tabbed him as his starter for the year. McCown cashed in on his stellar duty coming in for the injured Jay Cutler last season, putting up 13 TDs to just 1 INT. But how much of that was contributed to the array of weapons (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Matt Forte) around him, or the work of renowned quarterback guru Marc Trestman? I guess we will just have to see this year. The cupboard is not bare with the Bucs; they have some nice pieces themselves with Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and the muscle hamster Doug Martin. As far as his fantasy value is concerned, I would look at McCown as a lower tier QB2. He will be draftable because of the upside, but not counted more than a bye week filler.
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2. Michael Vick (unsigned) – As of this writing, Vick has yet to sign a deal with a new team. His 2013 campaign, was yet again injury riddled. In his limited duty, he compiled 5 TDs to just 3 INTs but as in the case with Vick, accuracy was a problem, throwing for less than 55% before giving way to Nick Foles’ big year. Rumors have him linked to possibly going to New York and playing for the Jets while pushing Geno Smith for the job. However, New York has no weapons whatsoever (save for the signing of Eric Decker) that would help Vick succeed with his style of play. In my opinion, a good fit for him would be in Minnesota, where Adrian Peterson keeps the receivers on the outside in single coverage which could allow Vick to make some easy throws. Regardless, Michael Vick is in the twilight of his career, and at this point should not be on a fantasy radar, unless given a starter’s role on a team with viable weapons.
3. Chad Henne (Jaguars) – Chad Henne signed a 2 year deal to remain in Jacksonville, with Gus Bradley already naming him the starter for game one. The Jaguars staff has stated that they would like for Henne to hold the job for the season. Which is surprising given his eratic up and down play in 2013. Henne was spotty at best, sporting a 13/14 touchdown to interception ratio. The QB carousel between Henne and Blaine Gabbert (now with the 49ers) probably did not help to get into a rhythm either. No matter what the staff in Jacksonville says, they will be drafting a QB this year as early as their 1st pick. So, Henne’s spot is nowhere near secure with this team. Jacksonville doesn’t offer the best talent pool on offense either, thus limiting any quarterback’s potential. Chad Henne will have no value come fantasy draft season, so promptly stay away.
4. Matt Cassel (signed with the Vikings) – Cassel returns to Minnesota on a 2 year deal, and it is safe to presume he will be the week 1 starter for the Vikings, although drafting a quarterback may alter those plans. He had a decent finish to 2013 after replacing Christian Ponder, then getting benched, then back in the lineup, then benched again, then back in again. You see a trend here? By the end of the year, he finished with 11 TDs to 9 INTs and seemed to find a niche in the offense. Of course, it should be pretty easy to play quarterback with a beast of a running back behind you like Adrian Peterson. With all that being said, Matt Cassel is still another waiver wire QB that should only be owned in desperate situations for 2014.
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5. Brandon Weeden (unsigned) – Proving the case that this year’s crop of free agent quarterbacks is mediocre at best, Brandon Weeden comes in at number 5 on my list. Weeden asked for (and was granted) his release from Cleveland. His career for the Browns did not get close to the expectations they had when drafting him in the first round two years ago. 2013 was the final straw, as his 9/9 touchdown to interception ratio was not good enough and eventually led to his benching in favor of Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell. As of this writing, Weeden is without a team, and I can see this continuing for a bit before a squad finds a need for a backup quarterback. So of course, in terms of his fantasy value, he should not be owned this year unless he lands in the right spot and gets a chance due to a starter’s injury. Even then, you could probably find better options.