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Pre-Season Positional Battles - Quarterbacks
by Paul Sandy
Updated July 30, 2003
 

Baltimore Ravens

Favorite: Chris Redman
Contenders: Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright

Fantasy Impact
Last year, quarterbacks Jeff Blake and Chris Redman combined for 3,118 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. While not particularly exciting, most would agree that the Ravens are team on the rise – particularly from an offensive standpoint. The presence of Jamal Lewis will continue to take pressure off whichever QB wins the starting job. More importantly, the Ravens have quietly built a respectable group of receivers, including Travis Taylor, Todd Heap (TE), Frank Sanders and Marcus Robinson.

Even with all the positives, the winner of this quarterback race probably isn’t worth anything more than a late-round, sleeper pick in re-draft leagues. However, in dynasty and deep keeper leagues, Boller is worth an early look, as he has the tools to be a star on what could turn out to be a high-flying offense in a couple years.

The Latest
Head Coach Brian Billick has indicated this is a wide open competition. At this point, consider Redman to be the favorite based on his experience. The Baltimore media is reporting that Redman seems to have fully recovered from back surgery and is throwing the ball with more authority. Boller has been equally impressive in mini-camps, wowing Billick and the Ravens staff with his cannon arm, intelligence and athleticism. Even so, the coach says his rookie protégé has “a long, long way to go.” Meanwhile, dark-horse candidate Anthony Wright also has drawn praise with a keen understanding of the offense and a strong arm.

Carolina Panthers

(Added July 30, 2003)
Favorite: Rodney Peete
Contenders: Jake Delhomme and Chris Weinke

Fantasy Impact
With Stephen Davis expected to receive 25-30 carries per game, the Panthers’ focus is clearly on establishing the run. This type of conservative, ball-control offense rarely spawns quarterbacks who lead fantasy football teams to championships. Even so, don’t dismiss the Panther passing game altogether. Last year, starter Rodney Peete was a model of consistency, passing for at least one touchdown in 12 of his 14 starts. A steady performance like this makes Carolina’s starting quarterback an adequate bye week or injury replacement.

The Latest
As the incumbent, Peete is clearly the favorite to win the starting job. The Charlotte Observer reports that the 15-year veteran showed up to camp in great shape. Peete isn’t spectacular, but he is a strong leader who doesn’t make many mistakes – critical in an offense that is expected to rely heavily on the running game. Meanwhile, free agent acquisition Jake Delhomme and 2001 starter Chris Weinke have each shown glimpses of brilliance. However, Delhomme will need to get more comfortable in the offense before he has a shot to win the starting job, and Weinke will likely not start unless both Delhomme and Peete falter badly.

Cleveland Browns

Favorite: Tim Couch
Contenders: Kelly Holcomb

Fantasy Impact
In 2002, Kelly Holcomb and Tim Couch combined to throw 26 touchdowns. To put this figure in perspective, it’s just one less than the likes of Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. With two talented running backs and so much explosiveness at receiver, the winner of this position battle could emerge as a weekly fantasy football starter in 2003. If you decide to delay drafting a quarterback until the middle rounds of your draft, Holcomb or Couch will provide good insurance in case your top QB selection turns out to be a bust.

The Latest
Tim Couch appears to be the early favorite in what promises to be the most intriguing offseason position battle. In fact, Head Coach Butch Davis stated in early June that, despite opening some eyes, Holcomb would have to prove that he is clearly superior to Couch before he wins the job. Even so, Holcomb seems to have the city of Cleveland (and many of his teammates) in his corner, so look for this position battle to heat up come July and August.

Dallas Cowboys

Favorite: Up for Grabs
Contenders: Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson

Fantasy Impact
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback situation should be monitored for enjoyment purposes only. While the team has a decent group of receivers and a proven, new head coach in Bill Parcells, neither quarterback deserves a roster spot in typical leagues until we see that the offense can actually score points.

The Latest
Although Hutchinson supplanted Carter as the team’s starting quarterback around the midway point in 2002, the “Big Tuna” has declared the position is up for grabs. At this point Parcells has it in his head that one of these guys can be effective in 2003. Don’t be shocked if he changes his mind once training camp starts and brings in a veteran free agent.