"Studying the Understudies: QB"
In this new series, we will be looking at the backups for different position groups, in the hopes of unearthing some players that, if the opportunity arose, could lead you to the promised land. Today, we will check out the backup Quarterbacks. Backup QBs are always the fan-favorite. They represent potential, the hope that they may be better than the starter. In fantasy, depending on your format, QBs are either a dime a dozen, or super valuable. These 5 QBs should all be available for basically free and may turn into quality depth for you, especially in SuperFlex. Let’s dive into these understudies, hoping and waiting patiently for a starring role.
Jones was a highly accurate passer at Alabama, setting an NCAA record for completion percentage at 77.4% while leading the country with a school record of 4,500 passing yards while ranking second with 41 passing TDs and 11.2 yards per attempt. He has a great football processor for a brain, but his lack of athleticism and arm strength could be a hindrance. He’ll start behind Cam Newton at QB and will likely be in a game manager role even if he did start. Belichick has shown, however, that he can tailor the offense to his QB needs. The dual-threat of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith should help Jones put up some respectable fantasy weeks, if necessary.
The Stanford product comes into the league with a very light resume. He has only started 11 games total over the past 2 years. Deshaun Watson’s future with the team is highly in doubt, and the Texans are not expected to be realistically competitive. Tyrod Taylor is on the team, but there would be no point in starting him over Mills. Mills had a decent year in college, having a 66.2 completion percentage, 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions; three rushing touchdowns. He has a little mobility which could help his fantasy numbers if called upon.
Teddy has ended up in Denver, where he’ll compete with Drew Lock for the starting job. Bridgewater led the league with red-zone turnovers and he was one of the most unreliable QBs overall in the league. He comes into a situation where the starter is probably just as bad as he is, if not worse. Drew Lock should have a short leash this year, and if he is pulled, Teddy will step into a situation with a plethora of weapons. Denver has a solid defense, good offensive line, and a ton of good pass catchers, which altogether would be the perfect fit for Bridgewater. He had a 69% completion percentage last year with over 3700 yards. That would translate into some sleeper potential if put into the starting role.
Heinicke had an interesting road to the NFL. He was in college when he got a call to join the Washington practice squad last year. He ended up being the biggest speed bump to Tom Brady’s 7th ring, passing for 306 passing yards and pitching in two total touchdowns against the eventual Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Washington saw enough to give Heinicke a two-year, $4.8 million contract, which puts him on track to be the backup. Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick will have some great games, but he always eventually turns back into a pumpkin. When that happens, Heinicke could be leading an offense with improved weapons in Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown to go along with Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas. That should be enough for him to have some surprising fantasy weeks if given the chance.
Former #2 overall pick Marcus Mariota had a taste of starting last year. He came into the Week 15 games versus the Chargers after starter Derek Carr went down with a groin injury in the first quarter, and proceeded to do reasonably well, throwing to the tune of 226 yards as well as chipping in nine carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Carr is certainly not in any danger currently, but a couple bad outings, and Mariota could be getting a look. The Raiders have some decent weapons, led by TE Darren Waller, and Marcus still has a little of that Konami potential that he displayed in college at Oregon. Mariota would be my favorite of all the quarterbacks profiled here if he was given the starting job, as his legs would give him a fantasy floor that the others couldn’t match. Keep an eye out for how the Raiders do this year and scoop him if you have the room.