NFL Education: Quarterback Types and Their Effect on Wide Receivers

FantasyDCCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2009

All right, so the title is a bit of a misnomer. I'm pretty sure most fantasy players inherently can sense a quarterbacks's playing type and without thinking about it place them into the appropriate fantasy category.

However, for those that may not think this way already, this article is to help educate you on the three major types of quarterbacks--in both real life and fantasy--and the effect their style of play has on Fantasy wide receiver production.

Game Manager

This is easily the most commonly-placed label on quarterbacks.

It became really trendy to call quarterbacks managers and completely ignore a their natural tendencies. Make no mistake about it, there are quarterbacks that are naturally game managers--this doesn't mean that can't make big plays or win the game with their arm--and then there are game managers based upon the system they are in.

The best example I can give you is Joe Montana. The guy is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but he played in a West Coast offense, also known as the game manager system.

By nature, he was an excellent decision-maker, and this natural ability to manage the game made for a perfect combination. But he had his tendencies to be a gunslinger--anyone remember The Catch?

On the other side of the coin is Terry Bradshaw. For a majority of each game, Bradshaw was asked to be a game manager. But Chuck Noll, understanding the natural abilities of Bradshaw, over time began to trust him to turn into a gunslinger and win games. \

Bradshaw and his gunslinger ways led to many of the classic Stallworth and Swan catches we remember today.

A modern day game manager that deserves the name is Marc Bulger. He is built to be a game manager, and he is in the system of a game manager.

Some players that don't deserve the title are Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. These guys play in game manager systems--although the Steelers are moving further away each season--but both maintain their nature to sling the ball when they can. This is why guys like Roethlisberger and Flacco will rarely give you top 10 seasons but will consistently give you productive weeks.

One guy who use to fit in this category is Tom Brady. But with a new offensive coordinator and the additions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker, we have seen Brady's true nature of a gunslinger and precision passer, which is a rare and unique combination.

Game managers can have offensive coordinators and new wide receivers cycle through, as long as they have a sufficient defense and running attack.

Their fantasy value isn't very dynamic, despite changes that team may go through during the offseason. These types of quarterbacks make great fantasy football QBBCs--quarterbacks by committee--or backups to gunslingers.

Wide Receiver Effect

The effect these quarterbacks have on wide receivers is simple: You will find very few top 10 wide receivers that have a game manager at quarterback.

However, you're more likely to know what you're going to get each and every season from these wideouts. These wide receivers post consistent numbers almost every season, and while they may not qualify as game changers, they are essential at the No. 2 and No. 3 receiver spots on your roster.

Generally speaking, game managers do have a favorite go to wide receiver, but they also will be more inclined to stick to the game plan and exploit mismatches where the coaching staff points them out. Knowing when your wide receiver should have an advantage could provide you with an advantage in knowing when to sit or start him.

Precision Passer

All right, there are very very few of these.

Being a sharp passer only on short to medium passes does not get you into this list--unless that is all your system requires.

Guys who use to be in this group were Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger. However, both offenses have moved a little more to the vertical game, and both quarterbacks tend to struggle with accuracy on their deep passes.

Someone who is getting very close to be included in this category is Drew Brees. As his accuracy down the field has improved--and has helped his Gunslinger ability--we have seen him rise to a top three quarterback over the past few years.

As I mentioned previously, Brady is also moving into this elite group. He still has his Gunslinger mentality thanks to Moss, but his ability to be accurate while leading his receiver deep down the field has been impressive.

Two players on this list that have suffered "set back" seasons lately are Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Both have suffered injuries and seen their wide receiver play decline in the past couple years, hindering the productivity of these efficient quarterbacks.

These quarterbacks are capable of huge games, since their proficiency against lesser defenses will be staggering. But more importantly, they would generally not lay fantasy eggs.

In the last couple years, though, this statement has become less and less true about Manning and Palmer. It's not that their skills are lacking, but when you have a true precision passer, small changes can create big fantasy effects.

If you're going to draft a precision passer, keeping a sharp eye on offensive line developments and offseason changes is a must. The smallest things can set the train off track, and while you don't want to dump your quarterback, you do need to plan for a backup.

Wide Receiver Effect

Precision passers always develop a favorite target who is always in the right place at the right time.

This wide receiver will lead the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns--think Marvin Harrison, Tory Holt--and in most cases, they push for top 10 numbers.

However the effect for the other wide receivers is more interesting. New wide receivers tend to take time to get in a rhythm with precision quarterback, but once they are in sync, they can produce significant numbers.

Because of the sheer efficiency, even a Team's No. 3 wide receiver can turn into a viable option.


Finally--my favorite quarterback type.

These guys are fun to watch and very dangerous. Gunslingers throw the deep ball, even when your wide receiver is double covered--yes I'm looking at you Tom Brady throwing twice to Moss against the Dolphins--and will throw into the tiniest of holes.

Almost all quarterbacks experience gunslinger moments, but few quarterbacks can play at a high level on a consistent basis. The quarterbacks that can generally have crossed over and developed significant precisions passer Skills.

The best current example of this group is Brees. Early in his career with the Saints, Brees was a pass-happy fiend, and his gunslinger mentality worked for and against him. But as his accuracy has improved, the guy has risen to be a--if not the--top fantasy quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are other players that let their gunslinger mentality go more often than your average quarterback. Both of them still struggle with accuracy and working within systems that don't really approve of gunslinging.

Gunslingers will more often than not get you into your fantasy playoffs, but the cold outside weather that creeps up in November and December can put a brick wall in your path to a championship.

It is always very hard to sit a top scorer, but occasionally, with Gunslingers facing bad weather, your best option is to start a precisions passer or game manager and hope the rest of your team can step up.

If you trust in a gunslinger, reach for them and cherish them. They are a special type of player, but if you don't trust in them, you'll find yourself upset when they lay an egg or negate their touchdowns with stupid interceptions. For every four-touchdown game Brett Favre had, he likely had a four-interception game somewhere down the line.

Wide Receiver Effect

Gunslingers are a wide receivers' best friend.

The main pesky thing about these types of quarterbacks is interceptions, but receivers don't have to worry about them.They get all the same glory yards, touchdowns, and receptions without worrying about getting set back by bad throws leading to picks.

Lead wide receivers playing for a Gunslinger should be at the top of all boards. Larry Fitzgerald exploded in the playoffs, not because of his tremendous play, but because Kurt Warner went gunslinger on a lot of sleeping defenses.

Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal racked up huge points with a gunslinging Cutler last year, and Greg Jennings took advantage of Rodgers being his quarterback. \

All that to say, I hate when people downgrade wide receivers with gunslingers because they "don't have a rushing attack," "no one else at wide receiver," or "he is an injury risk."

Honestly, most Gunslinging quarterbacks put their wide receivers in more danger--it's just a part of the game. But the upside is that your wide receiver is capable of being a beast each and every week.


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