Are you rolling with the quarterback strategy this year, and gunning for one of the top passers in the opening rounds while being satisfied with a risk and a question mark or three at the running back position? Are you infatuated with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees, and have posters of them on your ceiling so they’re the first thing you see upon waking up every morning?
If you answered yes to either of the questions above, I suggest that you start getting friendly with Russell Wilson quickly. Go buy him a bouquet of flowers right now, or maybe even a slow Loris, complete with a tiny umbrella. Best gift ever.
Or better yet, if you’re drafting tonight or in the next few days — and surely many of you are — and you enjoy great, affordable value on a potential high-end fantasy talent, buy Wilson several animals. Because he’s stupid cheap, even after he tore apart the Chiefs in his first career start, and even after he was officially named the Seahawks’ opening week starter late last night. How that decision was made when part of Wilson’s preseason highlight show came against third teamers and when Matt Flynn is getting paid $10 million this year is a little incomprehensible, but we care very little about matters relating to reality and the state of the Seahawks around these parts.
Nope, we care about the greatest number of talented players around the league being put in a position to offer good value, and to succeed after we’ve paid a minimal price on draft day. And among the quarterbacks in the fantasy jungle, the mobile QB is often the king of the slumbering sleepers.
Earlier today I re-stated words of caution regarding Michael Vick, who’s the most mobile quarterback in the history of mobile quarterbacks, and I mean that quite literally. Dude has records to prove it (specifically, the most rushing yards by a QB in a game, in a season, and in a career). But if it’s the sexy allure and the boom/bust potential of the rushing QB that you crave, then Vick shouldn’t be your tonic, because his price is far too high. He’ll cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of a fourth round pick.
Wilson is your man. In his first start he threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and he needed just two carries to rush for 58 yards. So he’s fast, agile, mobile, and all those athletic-sounding adjectives that Vick is whenever his bones aren’t combusting. His weekly production will likely be inconsistent and unpredictable too, as is the case for most mobile quarterbacks to varying degrees. But that’s OK, because while you’ll take a plunge off a cliff into waters that have sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads to get Vick early, the charge for Wilson is roughly equivalent to your morning coffee.
Wilson is still barely being drafted, which is expected since he’s a rookie quarterback who’s only been a starting quarterback for just over 12 hours. Once we reach maybe about 72 hours, his draft cost could start to grow quickly and the buy low period will begin to end. But right now after his 464 passing yards on 8.9 yards per pass, five touchdowns over three preseason games, and 150 rushing yards, he’s still being drafted at about 135th overall in ESPN leagues, and about 150th overall in NFL.com leagues.
That is indeed stupid late, and is perfect flier territory for the aforementioned aggressive pass pursuers who jumped on the likes of Brady, Brees, or Rodgers in the first round. When you’re investing that highly in a quarterback, your season is anchored on his arm. If he’s injured enough to miss significant time your championship hopes will likely be destroyed anyway, so there’s little need to spend highly again on a backup QB.
That’s why you wait, and wait, and then wait some more. Then if, say, your roster is 15 players deep, reach a little early to get Wilson in about the 13th round. In fact, that may not even be a reach, because in some leagues right now that’s on par with Wilson’s current value.
With that strategy executed, you’ll have an elite quarterback during a time in league history when offenses are passing at record rates, and then you’ll have arguably the best flex play at the position. There likely won’t be a better bye week fill-in or short-term injury replacement than Wilson, and largely because of the Seahawks’ schedule.
Vick, Tim Tebow, and Cam Newton were the three leading rushers among quarterbacks last year. Here’s what they did on the ground in 2011 against opponents Wilson will face this year.
Vick: 11 carries for 97 yards and @STL; seven carries for 50 yards vs. DAL; eight carries for 75 yards vs. SF; five carries for 32 and a TD vs. NYJ; two carries for nine yards vs. MIA (first game following three game absence)
Tebow: nine carries for 59 yards @MIA; 12 carries for 93 yards and two TDs, vs. NWE; 10 carries for 63 yards vs. DET; eight carries for 68 yards and a TD vs. NYJ; 12 carries for 49 yards vs. CHI; 10 carries for 34 yards and a TD @BUF
Newton: eight carries for 18 yards @ARI; 10 carries for 53 yards and a TD vs. GB; seven carries for 37 yards and 2 TDs @DET; six carries for 53 yards vs. MIN; eight carries for 32 yards and 2 TDs vs. CHI
There’s the odd outlier, but that’s still nine touchdowns and a combined 822 yards on 6.1 yards per carry for the three QBs. Also, in the 16-game sample, our three rushing arms had 50 or more yards in a game nine times, averaging 51.4 per game. That’s a cool five fantasy points before we count any touchdowns either through the air or on the ground, or the passing yards.
So yes, there’s a far greater boom factor with running QBs, as evidenced by Wilson’s two +30-yard runs during the preseason. The price is tasty, and the return could be pretty delicious too.