Often, the difference between a fantasy team making the playoffs or missing by the skin of its teeth is the consistency an owner gets from the quarterback position.
Tom Brady owners, for example, have been doomed from the start of 2008. When Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury, there were no sure things on the waiver wire. Most Brady owners do not carry a backup quarterback to begin with, so hitching your season to the right arm of Matt Cassel—who had not started a game since high school—in week two was not the most awe inspiring move an owner could make.
It took Cassel several weeks to blossom into a start-able fantasy quarterback. And even now, after his breakthrough performance against the Jets on Thursday night football, Cassel’s consistency has yet to be seen. Until he puts up back-to-back solid efforts, Cassel owners would be taking a huge risk in starting the guy in these oh-so-important fantasy weeks.
But like the old adage goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Despite being an inconsistent, waiver-wire frequenter all season, Cassel could come up huge for fantasy owners on the fringe of the playoffs with the right match up. And he is not the only discarded or recycled fantasy quarterback who could come up big down the stretch.
- Sage Rosenfels @ Browns: As long as Matt Schaub does not make a miraculous return to face the Browns next week, Rosenfels could put up some big numbers against a secondary that has now been labeled as quitters. With a plethora of weapons at his disposal (Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels), Rosenfels will air it out to keep the Texans competitive.
- Jeff Garcia @ Lions: Detroit is going to show up on this list again because they have been giving up a good amount of fantasy points through the air the last five weeks. Despite handling Jake Delhomme in week 11, the Lions got torched on the ground again. But with a less-than-impressive running game, the Bucs could rely on Garcia to move the ball with the short and intermediate passing game. That means lots of yards, a low probability of turnover and plenty of chances to score.
- Marc Bulger @ Bears: If Bulger ever is going to have a serviceable fantasy performance, it could be against a struggling Bears’ pass defense at home in St. Louis. Without weather to deal with, the Rams could get the offensive attack back on track. The speedy Donnie Avery could give the Bears’ secondary fits and give Bulger fantasy relevance … at least for one week.
- Gus Frerotte v. Bears: His numbers—especially the yardage totals—never are too impressive. But like we saw in week nine, Frerotte is occasionally capable of a multi-touchdown performance. If he can avoid the turnovers and toss a few touchdowns after Adrian Peterson marches the Vikings down the field, ole Gus can turn in a good fantasy performance for desperate playoff-seeking owners.
- Kerry Collins @ Lions: Already picked on the Bears twice, now it is time to double-dip on the Lions. Collins has shown the last few weeks that the Titans can be more than just a thunder and lightning running team. He has been able to handle some of the pressure faced by the Titans when opposing defense focus on the run, and it has resulted in a pair of multi-touchdown performances. He appears to be getting hot at the right time for fantasy owners, and this is a peach of a match up … so long as the Lions keep LenDale White and Chris Johnson out of the end zone.
- David Garrard @ Texans: The Jags are fighting for their own playoff lives, and the hope of a postseason looks dim at this point. But Jack Del Rio and Garrard will keep fighting, despite the near hopelessness. Garrard has thrown this team on his back before and will be called upon to do it again down the stretch. Besides, the Texans love shootouts, so Garrard should have some luck through the air against Houston.
- JaMarcus Russell @ Chargers: Not the sexiest of fantasy quarterbacks at this stage of the season, but the Raiders traveled east in week 11 and put in one of their most competitive performances of the season. The offense is getting healthy, too, with Russell and Darren McFadden back in the lineup. There have been flashes by Russell and if his fantasy worthiness is ever to come to fruition it will be against a quarterback-friendly San Diego defense.
- Tyler Thigpen @ Broncos: Thigpen is the fantasy man of the hour. If he still is on the waiver wire, he needs to be owned. Chances are he is gone by now, but if not make sure to grab him for this match up against a pass-happy offense with a lackluster defense. This game, barring significant weather implications, could be an extremely high-scoring affair with aerial assaults galore. Despite the Chiefs’ inability to register a win of late, it could be one of the more fun games to watch.
- Matt Cassel @ Seahawks: Cassel threw down one of those highly-sought after but extremely rare golden fantasy performances against the Jets in week 11. Many see that performance as his coming-out party. If the Patriots are going to keep pace with the rest of the AFC in the playoff race, Cassel will need to throw the ball like that more often. And if he does perform even half as well as he did against the Jets, it will mean good things for New England and for Cassel when free agency rolls around next spring.