By Brian Spencer
Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos – We have a saying around here to explain inexplicable randomness such as Orton’s early-season fantasy domination: Football! Woooooo football!
Orton came into the season, his second in Denver, with a career 75 QB Rating and was considered one of the least sexiest starting quarterbacks in the entire league (if you throw out Carolina, Cleveland, and Buffalo since we all know they don’t have a fucking clue what to do about the position). Lord knows nobody wanted Orton on fantasy draft day: he went undrafted in ETB’s 12-team league, and his Yahoo! public league ADP was a rousing 132.7, or early in the 14th round. To reiterate, that was behind studs like Matt Leinart (ugh), David Garrard (yuck), Matt Moore (haha!), and… Tim Tebow (amen).
Well, the joke has been on us wiseasses so far: after shredding the Swiss-cheese Colts secondary on Sunday (at least in terms of yardage), Orton is sporting a healthy 97.4 QB Rating, has completed over 66% of his pass attempts, and has thrown for 1,078 yards, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs. That makes him the sixth most valuable fantasy quarterback after three weeks, 0.28 points behind Drew Brees. Geez.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles – You may have heard hushed whispers and murmured rumors that Vick has taken over the starting job for the Iggles. You know that, right? Story hasn’t gotten many legs just yet, but something tells me that once ESPN sniffs this, like a dog in a crotch, you might start hearing about this heart-wrenching story of redemption before too long.
I’m sure Vick has turned his life around, loves dogs, spends his free time doing non-required charity work, and takes the blind for walks while reading books to the deaf; just ask ESPN. That’s great, good for him and good for the world at large. Most fantasy players are simply concerned with the bottom statistical line: this guy has come out of nowhere and is playing the best overall football of his career. If he keeps this up, Vick is a shoo-in Pro Bowler and possibly, all things considered, the fantasy MVP of 2010.
Through three games, the 30-year-old vet has an astounding 110.2 QB Rating (career: 76.2) thanks to 750 yards passing, 170 yards rushing, 7 TDs (6 passing, 1 rushing), and 0 INTs. He’s yet another fantasy draft-day afterthought who was scooped up on waivers after incumbent Kevin Kolb was knocked out of the game–and the starting job–with a concussion in Week 1. Sure seems like there are a lot of undrafted guys kicking ass this year, eh?
Let’s keep Vick’s early-season performances in perspective though: the bulk of his eye-popping stats have come against the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars. You won’t find secondaries much worse than the ones those respective squads are trotting out there this year. We’ll find out more about Vick in the coming weeks as the Eagles move into the meat of their schedule, but for now, only Peyton Manning and (barely) Philip Rivers are more valuable fantasy quarterbacks.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets – Just for the record, ETB are not “Sanchise” fans. Not at all. We didn’t like him last year as a rookie (though begrudgingly gave him credit for his solid postseason performances), didn’t think he’d be any better the second time around, and thought he came across as an unprepared, petulent brat in HBO’s Hard Knocks; a player who reads and believes his own headlines.
Geez, between Pierre Garcon, Darren McFadden, Visanthe Shiancoe, and now Orton and Sanchez we are having to eat a ton of crow, and it’s only Week 3. (Football!) Let’s see how he holds up over the entire season before anointing him the King of New York, but so far Sanchez has been steady-handed and fantasy productive as he carries a 104.9 QB Rating into his team’s Week 4 cake walk against the Buffalo Bills.
What’s most impressive to me is the touchdown-to-interception ratio: a year after throwing 12 TDs and 20 INTs, through three games he’s tossed 6 TDs compared to 0 INTs. That’s golden for a ball-control team like the Jets, and speaking as a Santonio Holmes owner that has me tentatively patting myself on the back for drafting Holmes and sitting on him as he serves out his four-game suspension. Holmes returns in Week 5 at home against the Denver Broncos; I’m predicting, oh, 15 catches for 325 yards and 4 TDs.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – Another “just for the record” caveat: Hasselbeck sucks. He sucks so bad, in fact, that despite the fact that he’s put up the tenth-most fantasy points of any quarterback in the NFL, he’s still on waivers in ETB’s league. It’s embarassing to start him, much less carry him on your bench, unless your name is Tim Hasselbeck, his brother and onetime NFL quarterback who also sucked.
But, anyway, Hasselbeck finds himself on this list because, well, I guess he hasn’t sucked quite as much as expected: his Seahawks somehow have a winning record at 2-1 (which is especially depressing to Lions fans like myself), and he’s somehow been just good enough to be fantasy relevant again, I guess, in accruing a 75.4 QB Rating and throwing for 623 yards, 4 TDs, and 5 INTs… wait a second. Those numbers are terrible.
What’s going on here? Oh, right: he has 8 carries for 30 yards and–the fantasy kicker–2 touchdowns. Woo hoo! Or should I say… football! Wooooo football!