Fantasy football has never had a backup quarterback send so many ripples through its world.
In case your nose has been buried in NCAA basketball brackets or you have been vacationing in Alaska, a guy named Tim Tebow was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. And even though Tebow throws about as well as Martina Navratilova dances, his effect on the NFL and fantasy football cannot be underestimated.
You wouldn’t think a backup quarterback could create such a firestorm, yet not only is Tebow blowing up in New York, with media hounding him and his jerseys flying off the shelves faster than Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos ones, he is making fantasy owners wonder how his arrival will change his fantasy value, along with the values of his new teammates.
You may think Tebow going from Denver to New York and going from starter to backup is a negative to his fantasy worth and many others'. Well, it might be true, but it might not.
So here are three possible positives for fantasy football from Tim Tebow joining the Jets:
A Fire Under Mark Sanchez
Other than Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, you could make the argument that no quarterback had more job security than Sanchez did the past couple years.
Unlike the aforementioned quarterbacks, though, Sanchez’s job wasn’t safe because he played well. It was safe because Sanchez’s backup quarterback was no threat to his job because the guy was 700 years old and was the brother of Father Time himself.
With Tebow in town and frothing at the mouth to be the starting signal-caller, this should light a fire under Sanchez. Now he will have someone pushing him. He knows he cannot be as careless with the football as he has in the past. If Sanchez is a turnover machine, then Tebow, the better ball-security QB on the roster, will probably get plugged into the game.
While Sanchez’s fumbles, interceptions and accuracy did not improve in 2011, he did throw for a career-high 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns, plus he ran for six more scores, also a personal best. So Sanchez can rack up some serious fantasy points when he is not butter-fingering snaps or throwing into triple coverages.
Former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer failed miserably when it came to developing Sanchez, especially when it came to him protecting the ball. Maybe new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano does for Sanchez what New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did for Tiki Barber when Barber was a fumbling fool.
And maybe Tebow’s presence makes Sanchez grip the football just a little bit tighter.
Yes, Sanchez will not be on the field as much if Tebow is replacing him for five to 10 plays per game. But defenses might be so geared up for the spread/Wildcat/option offense Tebow will be running that they will not be as prepared for Sanchez’s normal offensive set.
If Sanchez takes his game and his fantasy value to a higher level, Tebow will undoubtedly deserve some of the credit for it, whether directly or indirectly.
More Running From Shonn Greene
Gang Green’s top tailback has been a fantasy disappointment. His stats are very Cedric Benson-like—1,054 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2011. Nice numbers, but not numbers that will put a player in the Pro Bowl, make fans forget about Freeman McNeil or win somebody a fantasy league.
But look at how Denver’s run-first/run-only offense worked wonders for the fantasy value of another normally-average fantasy performer last year, Willis McGahee. McGahee’s career was winding down and he was an afterthought in most fantasy circles, yet when Tebow took over at QB and Denver focused primarily on running the ball, McGahee had his best season in four years, finishing with 1,199 rushing yards.
Greene is not shifty. He is not going to make tacklers miss. He will not bring back memories of Gale Sayers’ scintillating dashes from yesteryear. Greene is a plower who possesses underrated speed in the open field once he breaks beyond a defense’s front seven. That’s about it.
But running behind the Jets’ talented offensive line in a scheme where the Jets will likely run the ball more than any other team in the NFL, Greene could finally have a breakout season. And with Tebow giving defenders another running option to deal with, it could open up more gaps for Greene than he has seen in his previous three seasons.
If Greene went for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns, no one should be shocked.
More Long Plays From Santonio Holmes
One of the major faults of New York’s offense in 2011 was the incompetence in getting Holmes the ball deep downfield. He is one of the most dangerous and elusive receivers in the NFL, but Sanchez and he clicked less on long passes than Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer click on Two and a Half Men.
While Holmes tied his career high last season with eight touchdowns, he set career lows in receiving yards and yards per catch, and he did not have one reception over 40 yards. Blame Sanchez’s wobbly passes, blame Holmes’ wrong routes, blame Schottenheimer’s play calling.
Blame everyone except Darrelle Revis.
Holmes is not a patient man, nor is he a quiet man. He is the kind of guy who would let everyone in McDonald’s know if his Quarter Pounder was too well done. He constantly complains when he is not getting the ball, especially when the Jets are losing, because Holmes thinks if he had the ball more, they would be winning—and he is probably right.
So with the way Holmes barked when Sanchez and the Jets offense could not consistently put the ball in his hands, how will Holmes handle the even less-accurate Tebow throwing to him?
One thing Tebow did last year, especially in Denver’s offense, was make big plays through the air. Granted, it was not solely because of his throws. It had a lot to do with defenses gearing up against the run and allowing receivers to run free after perfect play-action fakes.
A better Sanchez, pushed by Tebow’s presence and improved by Sparano’s coaching, will help Holmes’ fantasy value. And so will Tebow if he can turn a couple fake handoffs to Greene into 50-yard completions to Holmes.
Holmes is not going to be stuck with another 654-yard year again. Project him for 850-1000 yards and pray for Sanchez and Tebow to be as accurate as they humanly can if you draft Holmes in your league.