StrategyAugust 19, 2012

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QB Battles

By R.J. White

The 2012 preseason, as virtually every preseason before it, has brought some interesting position battles at the quarterback position. Now that we’re about halfway through the preseason, let’s see how those QB battles are shaping up, and what it means for your fantasy team.

Browns: Colt McCoy vs. Brandon Weeden

McCoy is the incumbent, but this “battle” has already been decided, and Weeden the rookie will be the starter this season. He doesn’t have many passing-game weapons, so he’s not worth considering in standard leagues.

Cardinals: Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton

The Cardinals invested a pretty large amount of money, as well as a defensive starter and a second-round pick, in Kolb, and he’s done nothing but let the team down thus far. With the resources committed to Kolb, this was probably a battle in name only at the beginning of camp, but Kolb’s been so bad that not only has this turned into a true battle, but Skelton may have the upper hand. Larry Fitzgerald played exactly eight games with both these gentlemen (save for a one-pass appearance by Kolb one week). In Kolb’s starts, Fitzgerald had 38 catches for 658 yards and two TDs. In Skelton’s start, Fitzgerald had 42 catches for 753 yards and six TDs. Going by last year, it seems that Fitzgerald would benefit from Skelton winning the battle. At this point, I think Skelton will do so.

Dolphins: Matt Moore vs. Ryan Tannehill

This was a three-way battle also involving David Garrard before the former Jaguar underwent knee surgery. Now we’re left with Moore, the incumbent, against Tannehill, the rookie. Moore was pretty solid after he took over for Miami in 2011, completing over 60 percent of his passes while posting a 16:9 TD:INT ratio, but he hasn’t looked great this preseason. The pre-draft buzz surrounding Tannehill was that he was nowhere near ready; however, he’s had a great camp, and even though he struggled in his first preseason work, coach Joe Philbin hasn’t named Moore a starter yet. That means Tannehill has more than just a puncher’s chance at winning the job. Unfortunately for both QBs, Miami shipped out its talent at receiver this offseason and did nothing to fill the void. The winner at QB isn’t going to have much fantasy value, nor are any of Miami’s receivers or tight ends worth owning. Pass on this passing game.

Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert vs. Chad Henne

The Jaguars brought Henne in this offseason to push Gabbert, and the second-year player has put together a good August, including an excellent second start against the Saints. Gabbert’s not going to be worth playing in fantasy leagues, but a competent Gabbert should allow for Laurent Robinson and/or Justin Blackmon to have some amount of value.

Jets: Matt Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow

Yeah. Rather than rehash everything you hear everyday on ESPN, I’ll just say that Sanchez is the starter now and will be the starter in Week 1. However, Tebow could be QB1 by Week 6 or so. If I end up drafting a stud QB1, especially one with a late bye, I like to target Tebow at the end of my drafts and see what happens.

Seahawks: Matt Flynn vs. Russell Wilson

The incumbent in Seattle is Tarvaris Jackson, and though there was a little noise early on this was a three-man battle, he’s out of it for all intents and purposes. That leaves free-agent acquisition Flynn to battle rookie Russell Wilson. Wilson, who is the highest-rated QB ever coming out of college according to Football Outsiders’ Lewin Forecast, has been outstanding in two preseason games while playing against backup defenders. Flynn has struggled against the starters. Flynn’s likely to earn the starting job. However, if there was one scenario where I could totally expect the unexpected, it’s this one.

Titans: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jake Locker

Unlike many of the “battles” we’ve discussed today, this is a true competition that could go either way. Hasselbeck seemed to have a slight lead in camp, but Locker pulled ahead early in August. However, the second-year player may have given that lead back with an ugly second preseason game. Both QBs proved last year that they can complement the rest of the offense when they’re in the game (though Locker did it in a very small sample size), so the values of players like Nate Washington and Kenny Britt shouldn’t change too much. Locker’s mobility could lead to him getting a few red-zone looks that would otherwise go to Chris Johnson. Hasselbeck and Locker are neck-and-neck right now, and any prediction I’d make would be strictly a guess at this point, so I’ll hold off. Update: Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean says the Titans have named Locker the starter.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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