(In the best John Facenda voice) Training camp is a time when men gather as a team and battle for individual position and prestige in the heat of summer. As training camp begins to unfold, there are some really interesting position battles taking shape. Here are a couple of the quarterback battles to keep an eye, each one with major fantasy implications:
Arizona: No other team has more uncertainty under center than the Arizona Cardinals. Kurt Warner's retirement assured there would drama in Flagstaff this year. Matt Leinart is penciled in (ever so lightly) as the starter, but the offseason signing of Derek Anderson means the heat is on Leinart. In a recent scrimmage, Leinart seemed to separate himself from Anderson, but there is concern about his accuracy and arm strength, and some of the coaching staff believe Anderson has a better arm and might be better suited for their style of offense. When the dust settles in the desert, I think Leinart wins the job, but his grip will be tentative at best.
Fantasy perspective: Leinart has little value and should not be considered as anything more than a bye week filler. I love the Cardinals offensive weapons, but I don't love Leinart at all. Should Anderson win the job, I would consider Anderson a low end QB2.
Cleveland: Call this position battle, the cluster in Cleveland. A crowded field of mediocrity stands alongside the "future" Cleveland quarterback, Colt McCoy. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace were brought into Cleveland to play out this season while new President and GM Mike Holmgren grooms McCoy to take over. The real question is, when will McCoy be deemed ready and will Delhomme improve at all over his putrid performance last season?
Fantasy perspective: Don't even think about drafting Delhomme or Wallace. They are both terrible and have very few offensive weapons to help them excel. In keeper leagues, a case can be made for McCoy being a late round steal. He's a perfect west coast offense-type of quarterback, but if your goal is this year only, avoid any of Cleveland's QB candidates.
Denver: It's not necessarily a real competition in Denver's training camp yet between Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow. Orton is clearly going to be the starter and will likely hold onto that job all season. The real competition comes between Quinn and Tebow. Who will be the #2 QB? Normally that is an irrelevant question when it comes to fantasy, but when one of the candidates was a first round pick and is as hyped as Tebow, it bares watching. The Broncos management loves Tebow. He's obviously not ready to take the ball as QB, but can they find a way to work him into the playbook? They can't do that if he's the emergency/third string QB, so look for Tebow to surpass mega-bust Brady Quinn in training camp.
Fantasy perspective: Orton has decent value as a high end QB2 (nothing more) and in a keeper league, you may consider Tebow with a lot of potential, but for me, there are much better options for quarterbacks of the future. Someone in your keeper league will take the chance on Tebow though.
St. Louis: Not much of a battle between the band aid (AJ Feeley) and the franchise (Sam Bradford). However, Steve Spagnuolo has said that Feeley will start the year under center for the Rams. This is probably a good idea for the long-term health and value of Sam Bradford, but, make no mistake, Bradford will get some reps and eventually move in the starting role this year.
Fantasy perspective: Feeley has no value and Bradford has decent value as a backup QB. If you're in a keeper league, Bradford is THE QB to target. All observers have marveled at his accuracy and poise. If he can stay healthy, he could be a cornerstone to your fantasy squad for years to come.
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Fantasy Football, NFL