TGIJ. Thank Goodness It’s June. For those of us who are fantasy football geeks, June means it is finally okay to publicly talk about fantasy football without feeling guilty or nerdy or both.
And so, here’s a pop quiz to kick off the unofficial start of the fantasy football season.
In standard scoring, which quarterback ranked sixth overall in fantasy performance per game during the regular season last year? Which QB was ranked fourth in yards per game and in the top eight overall in TDs per game?
The answer will be the starting quarterback on most of my fantasy football teams next year.
A number of years ago, I was burned by my worst trade of all-time. I dealt some stud players to capture the cream of the QB crop that season, Kurt Warner.
Still with the Rams, he was coming off a surprisingly effective season and was primed for super-mega things. A greenhorn in fantasy football circles at the time, I was enamored by having the consensus super-stud, can’t-go-wrong fantasy QB to anchor my team.
The problem, of course, was that Warner did go wrong. He fell off the end of fantasy football relevancy table.
I vowed at that moment, as my team subsequently crashed and burned that year, to never buy into the "best QB out there" scenario. Instead of spending a pick in the top third of a draft on a QB, I strive to identify the QBs that will fall off other people’s radars who are in good situations and primed for a big season.
This year, I targeted Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler in my drafts. Last year, it was Brett Favre. The year before, it was Carson Palmer.
While a lot may happen with the Houston Texans roster this offseason, I’ll be taking a long, hard look at Matt Schaub on fantasy draft day.
People seem to forget how good Schaub was at times this past season. Missing five weeks of the season to injury, Schaub was never able to really compete with other QBs in terms of overall stats, but when comparing per game averages, Schaub, as referenced earlier, ranks right up in the upper echelon of signal callers.
It helps that he has, in my opinion, the best receiver in the game to throw to. It also helps that the Texans finally developed a consistent and respectable running game this year behind rookie Steve Slaton.
The steady emergence of WR Kevin Walter and TE Owen Daniels have become reliable receiving options. The Texans defense finally found traction as the season wore on, too.
Next year, there are a number of QBs that will be gobbled up before Schaub on draft day (Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, perhaps Eli Manning). In fact, there is a good chance that every other team in your league will snag their starting QB and won’t even consider Schaub until they start looking for QB depth late in the draft (rounds 8-10).
Drafting a QB early isn’t a sure-fire way to pad your offensive stats. Just ask those who drafted Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and even Peyton Manning (who had a number of statistical nightmares before finally catching on later in the season) last summer in redraft leagues.
I’ve always liked the progression of the Texans (although it may not seem like progress on the surface). They are on the cusp of big things.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they not only made the playoffs next year, but made a serious run at a Super Bowl berth. At the center of my optimism for next year isn’t just the emergence of Slaton, but the potential of Schaub.
Not just on the field for the Texans, but in my starting fantasy football roster— especially knowing that the rest of my fantasy starters will be better because I was able to wait and draft Schaub.