This could be the year of the back up quarterback. We have seen the likes of Roethlisberger, Foles, Brees and Newton step aside to injury. Meanwhile, Eli Manning has been told he has to ride the pine in favour of the Duke rookie, Daniel Jones. Even Darnold has had to take some time out of the season due to the famous kissing infection, mono. However Darnold is expected back for week five, with the Jets on their bye week in week four. So breathe easy if you have him.
This wont be the first time we have seen back up quarterbacks come in and put on a really good show. Putting up competition and a real claim in against the actual starter whilst they are out injured. If you go back to 2001 in week two, Tom Brady took over from Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots have never looked back. In 2016 we saw Dak Prescott take over at the very start of the season from Tony Romo, and the Cowboys haven’t looked back either. Just because you are classed as the backup quarterback it doesn’t mean you can’t stake a claim on the starting job and win it.
If you’ve already taken the gamble of choosing some of the so called ‘back up’ quarterbacks, you’ve probably either congratulated yourself or have been thinking the fantasy gods are just fully against you this season. Here are some points to consider about some of the back up quarter backs. There could even be a hot take in there or two.
Cam Newton – Kyle Allen – Carolina Panthers
In week three, we saw the Carolina backup, Kyle Allen, put on a clinic against the Cardinals. Newton struggled massively in the Panthers’ first two games. Then in game three, Kyle Allen thrived in Norv Turner’s system. Allen may be a perfect wavier wire pick up. But in some leagues, it may be too late as his performance was so promising. If he is still there however, I would recommend you stop reading this right now and go pick him up.
The 23 year old signal caller completed 19/26 passes for 261 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Cardinals. Furthermore, at the end of the 2018 season, Allen filled in for an injured Newton in the final two games of the season. In those two games, he completed 64% of his passes for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns. Once again, zero interceptions.
Despite Newton being only 30 years old, there have been mumblings that retirement isn’t out of the question, especially if he keeps getting injured.
I don’t necessarily agree with those rumours, but we have seen crazier things happen. I’m sure we can all recall the Andrew Luck situation earlier this season. For me (and here’s my hot take), I can see the Panthers moving on from Newton at the end of the year. If they were to do this, it would only be a $2 million in dead cap space, which isn’t bad in all honesty.
For an undrafted quarterback, Allen seems not stereotypically poised and capable.
However, I think there’s a chance that Allen slipped through the cracks in his college career and never had a true opportunity to display his talents. Coming out of high school, Allen was a 5-star recruit and ultimately elected to sign for Texas A&M. Allen won the A&M job halfway through his freshman season and did a mediocre job. For his sophomore year, he actually beat out Kyler Murray for the starting quarterback job. Weirdly enough, following that season, both Allen and Murray decided to transfer away from A&M. Allen ended his Aggies career with 278 completions in 475 attempts (58.5%), 3,532 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in 20 games.
Allen then landed in Houston, where the 6’3” 220 pound quarterback had to red shirt the 2016 season.
He was then named the Cougars’ starting quarterback for the 2017 season. However, he was benched in game three as the team decided to roll with Kyle Postma. He then decided to forego his senior year and enter the draft. It was, therefore, a very peculiar college career for the 5-star recruit. He never truly seemed to gain control of an offence and wasn’t really given an opportunity to lead a team.
He’s lacking significant snaps and experience, due to a limited college career and predominantly sitting on the Panthers’ practice roster. However, from what we’ve seen so far, he’s proven more than capable to lead an offence and put up decent fantasy numbers. Keep in mind, however, that he has only two and a half professional starts. With Newton’s dwindling reliability, and the fact that Will Grier looked shockingly bad in preseason, there could be a significant opportunity for Allen for the foreseeable future. I’m willing to take a risk on him. He’s a definite pick up, and if he keeps producing like he has he could be a sure fire starter in fantasy leagues.
Nick Foles – Gardner Minshew II – Jacksonville Jaguars
In one of the most devastating injuries of opening weekend, Jaguars quarterback, Nick Foles, broke his left collarbone. This looked as it was going to be a tough obstacle for Jacksonville to overcome. The absence of Foles meant a downgrade for all of the Jaguars skill players. Rookie sixth round pick, Gardner Minshew II would get the nod until Foles recovers from injury. A player who was deemed by some as a poor man’s Baker Mayfield. Looking at this season as we stand now, just before the kick off of week four, it seems as though the tables have turned. Is Mayfield a poor man’s Minshew?
Gardner Minshew II, was a graduate transfer from East Carolina. He put CFB on notice by thriving in the high powered Washington State offence. At the Cougars he completed over 70% of his passes for 4776 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was the PAC-12 O.P.O.Y and finished fifth in the Heisman voting. A very spectacular year for him. However with limited experience in a Power Five conference, despite his production, it was hard to say if he was going to be flash in the pan or a future good quarterback.
Minshew warrants serious consideration.
The rookie looked great in his debut after being tossed into the fire. He completed 88% of his passes in week one, for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns despite not playing a full game. I was really impressed with how he handled pressure and punishing blitzes, throwing for two touchdowns, which you rarely see from a rookie. Foles may have to step aside from Minshew instead. I think there’s a good chance he holds on to the starting gig even when Foles returns.
Foles’ injury hasn’t been the death sentence that it seemed it would be.
Minshew has kept the ship afloat, and looks to be a more than an adequate fill in. However, as teams get more tape on Minshew they will begin to make adjustments. It’s only a matter of time before the rookie has his “welcome to the NFL” moment. We’ll see how he handles that, and if he has the grit to pick himself up from off the turf and go again.
So far this season, Minshew is 65/88 passes for 692 yards, five touchdowns and 1 interception. In his almost three games he’s played in this season, Minshew has completed 73.9% of his passing attempts. This currently gives him a quarterback rating of 51.2, currently leaving him sitting in 15th place on the rating charts, only three places outside of a quarterback one position. For me, I love Minshew more then any other back up quarterback. I don’t know if it’s that 80’s porntash, or if it’s the fact he’s grabbed this opportunity like you grab a bull by it’s horns, but something tells me he isn’t giving this job back to Foles without a damn good fight.
Eli Manning – Daniel Jones – New York Giants
Firstly, let me address something that is really eating away at me. What the hell is with these awful nicknames that the rookies of 2018/19 have been given. Danny ‘Dimes’ Jones, Scary Terry McLaurin? If we are going to be giving athletes nicknames, can we at least make them good ones? Please!
Jones played his first regular season game against the Cowboys in relief of Eli Manning, where he completed 3 of 4 passes for 17 yards and lost a fumble as the Giants lost 17-35. On September 17th, Jones was named the starter over Manning for the week three match up against the Buccaneers. In his first start, Jones completed 23 out of 36 passes for 336 yards with a 112.7 passer rating and two passing touchdowns along with 28 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a 32–31 comeback win against the Buccaneers, despite losing two fumbles.
Jones led the Giants back from an 18 point deficit to beat the Buccaneers. He became the seventh rookie quarterback since 2010 to have a game winning drive in their first career start. He was also named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. It’s safe to say that Daniel Jones put on a show for the ages, against what many considered to be a new and improved Buccaneers defence.
Jones checks the boxes in terms of key factors I look for in quarterbacks to succeed from a fantasy perspective:
1) Opportunity, 2) Surrounding Talent and 3) Rushing Upside.
I feel like Jones has all three. Most importantly he has the rushing upside. Based on the preseason, he places the ball a lot better than I imagined, which is an added bonus. With Barkley, when he eventually comes back from injury, Engram and Sterling Shepard at his disposal, I think Jones can be a solid contributor in year one for your fantasy team.
Eli Manning has ranked 27th, 22nd, 25th in quarterback rating for the last three seasons. There’s no way around the fact that he has been absolutely awful and proved that he is not a winning quarterback (despite having one of the most talented wide receivers to ever grace an NFL field in Odell Beckham Jr.) I don’t want to be too down on Manning as he has won a Super Bowl with the Giants. More impressively for me, is how he has handled this entire situation with dignity and professionalism. Any other person may have just become withdrawn and unsupportive to the man who’s taken his crown but that isn’t the case with Manning.
Whether you believe in Jones’ talent or not, it doesn’t matter because the organization clearly does; proven by them investing the sixth overall pick. They are going to give him the opportunity to play.
Most think that the Giants roster is devoid of talent but I don’t think that’s the case.
They have the best running back in the NFL in Barkley. A top four talent at tight end in Engram, and a decent mix of wide receivers who are effective in the intermediate part of the field which is what Jones will rely on heavily. That plus the improved offensive line means Giants quarterback has solid talent around him.
Daniel Jones rushed for over 1300 yards over his three year career at Duke. He runs a 4.81 40 and has an 84th-percentile burst score. Jones has definitely got some wheels and if you look historically at the rookie quarterbacks who have found success, having a rushing floor is a big part of the reason why.
Feature Image Credit: theringer.com