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FANTASY FOOTBALL PRE-SEASON FEATURES

2006 Fantasy Football Sleepers - Quarterbacks
Huddle Staff
August 9, 2006
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

David Dorey's Quarterback Sleepers

Phillip Rivers, SD – While this will be Rivers first year playing, this is also the same player that was taken with the 1.05 pick in the 2004 draft and swapped for Eli Manning who would not play in San Diego. He has spent two full seasons as Drew Brees back-up learning the same offense that will be used this year. Rivers was considered one of the elite quarterbacks coming out of college and was drafted before Ben Roethlisberger. Rivers heads up an offense with arguably the best tight end and running back in the NFL and faces a softer schedule than most. True – proof comes after you draft him but there’s no reason why he cannot replicate Drew Brees success in San Diego.
                 
Jon Kitna, DET – Already having been named the starter over Josh McCown, Kitna is an accomplished quarterback who was benched in Cincinnati only because the team had to use Carson Palmer. Kitna threw for 3600 yards and 26 touchdowns in his last season as a starter. To his benefit, the Lions have brought in Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and that spells plenty of passing, maybe even when he shouldn’t. The cast of receivers continues to evolve in Detroit but at the least has Roy Williams and several potentially decent wideouts to fulfill the wide open passing attack preferred by Martz. As cheaply as you can acquire Kitna, he should deliver more value than he costs you and he could surprise.

Aaron Brooks, OAK – After being benched at the end of the Saints nightmare season of 2005, Brooks landed with the Raiders in the offseason and with that a chance to rekindle a career that witnessed him scoring at least 23 touchdowns each of the four seasons previous to 2005. Even better – he has Randy Moss who will command plenty of passes and Brook’s ability to scramble can buy more time to let Moss be Moss unlike last year with the immobile Kerry Collins. Throw in the fact that the Raiders defense will likely force the team to pass in most games due to the scoreboard and Brooks is another player that could surprise. One caveat – make sure you pick up Andrew Walter cheap as well since the Raiders may well let Walter have some playing time later in the year.

David Dorey's Quarterback Bust

Daunte Culpepper, MIA – While everyone wants to remember the Culpepper who topped the year-end stats in most leagues for three years, what we saw last year wasn’t just a sudden direction by the Vikings staff to let their offense self-destruct. Culpepper no longer had Randy Moss and also was missing OC Scott Linehan who went to Miami last year and breathed all new life into the Dolphins passing game. But Linehan is gone now and has been replaced by ex-Steelers OC and ex-Buffalo HC Mike Mularkey. The direction is stated to continue to run the same offense but without the architect there and having Mularkey who has ran his own offenses for years, don’t expect the same thing as 2005. Perhaps more important than that, Culpepper is still recovering his knee injury of last year and has to learn at least partially a new offense with all new players and coaches. That’s a tall order to expect a big season from Culpepper in year one as a Dolphin.

Mike Courter's Quarterback Sleepers

Brad Johnson, MIN - The 15 year veteran performed admirably last season (1,885 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and only four INTs in nine starts), cleaning up injured starter Daunte Culpepper’s mess, while nearly leading the Vikings into an improbable playoff spot after the team sputtered out of the gate at 2-5 last year. With the return of Pro-Bowl center Matt Birk from the IR and the import of perennial All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson (Seattle), the Vikings will boast arguably the best offensive line in the league this season, providing the immobile Johnson with the time needed to find his young, talented receiving corps downfield, now led by Koren Robinson and second-year speedster Troy Williamson.  The former Florida State product is ideally suited to run new head coach Brad Childress’ hybrid west coast offense, imported from Philadelphia, especially after Johnson’s four seasons in Tampa Bay under former Eagles assistant coach, Jon Gruden, making Johnson a quiet, late-round candidate to return to 3,200 yards and 23+ touchdowns.

Steve McNair, BAL - After being given a less-than-flattering “don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out” sendoff from the team he had spent 11 seasons with, the 33 year old  warhorse arrives in Baltimore with Titan-sized chip on his shoulder and will be looking to save face while leading the Ravens back into the playoffs.  McNair couldn’t have asked for better surroundings in his quarterback renaissance attempt as Ravens head coach Brian Billick has toiled for years with sub-standard QB play and will use everything in his coaching bag of tricks to make McNair successful.  The former MVP will also have at his disposal, long-time favorite receiver (and ex-Titan) Derrick Mason, a bonafide Pro Bowl TE in Todd Heap promising second year playmaker Mark Clayton and a rejuvenated running attack with a now-healthy Jamal Lewis, all elements combining to make McNair a strong sleeper candidate for 2006.

Drew Bledsoe, DAL -  Not a sleeper in the classic sense, after a 2005 season that saw him compile nearly 3,700 passing yards (3,639) with 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, but with the addition of Terrell Owens (see the nitro-effect that T.O. had on Donovan McNabb’s numbers two years ago) and the bolstering of the Cowboys offensive line with the return of two healthy Pro Bowlers,  Flozell Adams at left tackle, Marco Rivera at guard, and the signing of all-purpose OG Kyle Kosier (Detroit) and RT Jason Fabini (NYJ) for much-needed depth , the immobile deep ball thrower will have those extra two to three seconds to find Owens and Terry Glenn downfield, making Bledsoe a threat to rival Peyton Manning this year for top fantasy QB honors, making him a great value for where he’ll be selected in most fantasy drafts.

Mike Courter's Quarterback Bust

Trent Green, KC – Green’s 2005 number’s started to dip (4,014 yards, 17 TDs, 10 INTs) from his career averages and the recent coaching changes in Kansas City, primarily former Buccaneers defensive backs and ex-New York Jets coach Herm Edwards replacing quarterback-friendly Dick Vermeil and Chiefs offensive line coach, Mike Solari, stepping in for vaunted offensive wunderkind Al Saunders, who left to take over the Redskins offense, are not positive developments for Green’s suddenly decreasing 2006 fantasy status.

Edwards has traditionally preferred running the ball and his elevation of Solari as offensive coordinator confirms that his offensive philosophy is not changing anytime soon and with the recent retirement of All-Pro tackle Willie Roaf,  TE Tony Gonzalez will most likely be required to spend more time blocking, rather than performing as Green’s No.1 receiving threat (Last season, Gonzalez virtually disappeared from a fantasy football perspective, in the weeks that Roaf had to sit out due to injury, leading to one of fantasy’s preeminent tight end’s most disappointing seasons in years- two touchdowns).  Green should still perform as a functional starter in 2006, but his days of the 4,500 passing yards and 23+ touchdowns have most likely turned into a distant memory in the Edwards era.

Paul Sandy's Quarterback Sleepers

Jon Kitna, DET - Kitna’s offensive coordinator is the pass-happy Mike Martz. That’s reason enough to recommend him, but I’ll give you one more. Kitna provides veteran leadership at the QB position, something that the Lions and their young wideouts have been sorely missing. Look for the former Bengal and Seahawk QB to finally bring respectability back to Detroit. I predict 26 TDs and 3,600 yards. 

Brett Favre, GB - It feels more than a little awkward calling a three-time MVP a sleeper, but the reality is 2005 was Favre’s worst season as a pro. His value has hit rock bottom. But before you put the final nail in the coffin, consider that Favre was third in the NFL in passing yardage last year. Improved play from the offensive line, running backs, and receivers should pave the way for 25 touchdowns for the future Hall of Famer. 

Phillip Rivers, SD - Rivers will likely have his struggles in 2006, but the talent surrounding him will more than make up for his lack of experience. LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates provide the ultimate outlets for a young QB. If the Chargers are smart and keep the offense simple, Rivers will be a rock-solid QB2 for any fantasy team.

Paul Sandy's Quarterback Bust

Donovan McNabb, PHI - While good for the team, the departure of Terrell Owens is terrible for Donovan McNabb’s fantasy value. McNabb is left with one of the most un-tested WR corps in the NFL. What’s worse, he doesn’t scramble as much as he used to. The lack of versatility means the days of McNabb being a top 5 fantasy QB may be over.

Joe Levit's Quarterback Sleepers

Kurt Warner, ARI – Timing is everything. Just a few months ago the Cardinals drafted Matt Leinert and he was anointed as the new starter since he was “the most pro-ready of the rookie QB’s.” Now, he’s held out at camp and has fallen well behind Warner, who put up some huge numbers when he was healthy last year. The presence of Edgerrin James will take some pressure off the pass protection, allowing Warner even more time to find the league’s top receiving duo: Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Expect big things.
                      
Jon Kitna, DET – As long as something wacky doesn’t occur in the preseason games, Kitna has nailed down the starting gig in Detroit. Mike Martz will make something positive happen there, and if head coach Rod Marinelli can keep immature receivers Charles Rogers and Mike Williams focused, this offense can be the breakout story of the 2006 season, with Kitna as the statistical benefactor.

Chris Simms, TB – The great thing about drafting Simms this season is that no fantasy owner will be thinking of him as a starter. But, he certainly could produce like one. He’ll have a healthy Michael Clayton to team with speed demon Joey Galloway downfield. Michael Pittman and starter Carnell Williams are two running backs who can catch the ball, and second-year tight end Alex Smith can improve. There are a lot of targets for Simms. Take him late and see how high his value can climb.

Joe Levit's Quarterback Bust

Brett Favre, GB – Brett might be touting his current squad as the best team he’s ever been a part of, but I don’t buy it. There is inexperience on the offensive line and questions about the running back depth chart. Besides Donald Driver, there is no proven receiving veteran. While he probably won’t perform as poorly as in 2005, Favre is no sure thing to bounce back to fantasy respectability, and fantasy owners will groan when they see him toss plenty of picks again this season.

Bob Cunningham's Quarterback Sleepers

Jake Delhomme, CAR - Although the health of RB DeShaun Foster remains anything but reliable, the Panthers have the makings of a well-balanced, consistent attack.  The addition of veteran wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson opposite No. 1 Steve Smith, and Kris Mangum emerging as an effective middle pass-catching option, give Delhomme enough alternatives that a 30-touchdown season isn't out of the question.

Jon Kitna, DET - As a head coach, Mike Martz's results were mixed at best considering the amount of talent he had to work with during his tenure in St. Louis.  But there's no questioning his ability to get production out of a passing game.  His new gig, as offensive coordinator with the Lions, could result in a pretty strong statistical season for Kitna, who did a solid job leading the Cincinnati offense until some hotshot youngster named Carson Palmer took over.  If the Lions' pride of young receivers can produce someone other than Roy Williams as a reliable target, Kitna's numbers could be sweet.

Phillip Rivers, SD - For this brand new starter, it will be about smarts… because if you take Drew Brees, who was tremendously successful in this system, and add a smidge more athleticism, it might equal Rivers provided he proves strong at decision-making.  Having the league's top tight end in Antonio Gates at his disposal might be enough on its own.  But if RB LaDainian Tomlinson and the running game are effective enough to loosen things up a bit, Rivers could come up big - especially in the second half of the season.

Bob Cunningham's Quarterback Bust

Marc Bulger, STL - I really hope I'm wrong about this, because Bulger is the starting QB on my primary keeper team.  But the departure of Martz combined with his replacement, Scott Linehan, who reportedly desires to go all out to focus the offense on talented young running back Stephen Jackson, means that Bulger's numbers figure to tumble.  Especially in yardage leagues, I suspect Bulger's value to be halved... and that's assuming he can stay on the field for most of the schedule.  He'll still be a decent, middle-of-the-pack option, but he won't be a premier fantasy QB.

Brent Clement's Quarterback Sleepers

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - Most will look at his off season and write Big Ben off, but In last years playoffs, Ben looked unstoppable. TE Heath Miller is a dimension this offense has never had, and his ability to stretch the field down the middle, opens up things outside. Add in the fact RB Willie Parker is an excellent receiving running back, and Big Ben could be a nice sleeper for those who get him.

Steve McNair, BAL - McNair is once again surrounded by weapons, and a TE, that is one of the best in the business. McNair reunites with WR Derrick Mason, and has a compliment receiver on the other side, in Mark Clayton. Throw in the fact RB Jamal Lewis struggled last year running the ball, and HC Brian Billick is a fan of the vertical passing game, and this offense could be a juggernaut.

Phillip Rivers, SD - Notice the trend of sleeper quarterbacks? It’s the TE who opens up the offense, and their ability to be a safety valve when the quarterback gets in trouble. Now I’m not predicting Rivers will be a top 10 QB, but the Charger defense is not as stout as advertised, and with teams stacking 8 and 9 in the box to stop, LT, Rivers will be forced to put the ball in the air.

Brent Clement's Quarterback Bust

Marc Bulger, STL - The loss of Mike Martz as head coach is likely to end Bulger’s top 5 passing numbers, when he is actually healthy and playing. The offense will be tailored around RB Steven Jackson with the occasional vertical pass to Tory Holt. Bulger can’t seem to stay healthy which is a burden for owners who must turn around after drafting him, and burn another high draft pick on a solid backup, who may have to start when he is out of the lineup.

Todd Gray's Quarterback Sleepers

Jon Kitna, DET – Detroit has traditionally been a fantasy graveyard for QB production, and per the norm there are many changes and a number of new names on the Lions roster.  This year may be different – after all, it’s difficult to envision a Mike Martz-led offense that doesn’t do a good job moving the ball and putting points on the board.  There are a lot ifs:  Will the revamped OL gel?  Will RB Kevin Jones rebound from a disappointing 2005?  Will the team’s much-heralded trio of young wideouts (Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Charles Rogers) finally produce?  Regardless, there is too much talent and coaching on this offense to make likely a scenario in which Kitna, if healthy, doesn’t produce at the level of a solid No. 2 QB in fantasy play.

Byron Leftwich, JAC – Injuries hampered Leftwich again in 2005, but he returns healthy, leaner than ever and has consistently impressed his coaches in camp.  Leftwich’s primary targets, Matt Jones and Ernest Wilford, may not be entirely proven, but they’re coming off of promising seasons as is reflected in their popularity as fantasy sleepers.  Injuries are always a concern for Leftwich, but if he can avoid that bug this year he could end up being the best mid-late round QB on the board.

Billy Volek, TEN – No one has forgotten Volek’s 918-yard, 8-TD binge in Weeks 13 and 14 of the 2004 season, but no one expects for it to happen again, either.  It doesn’t need to.  Volek’s favorite target, Drew Bennett, returns healthy, and the Titans added reliable veteran wideout David Givens to go along with a handful of promising youngsters including second-year wideouts Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams.  If there’s one thing that this team should be able to do consistently, it will be to pass the ball with a relative degree of efficiency.  Rookie QB Vince Young is waiting in the wings, which is what he’ll continue to do if Volek is at least average and the Titans win at least 7-9 of their games.

Todd Gray's Quarterback Bust

Daunte Culpepper, MIA – It sounds too good to be true: Culpepper (knee) may be back to full health by the time the season begins, he has a solid cast of receivers in Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Derek Hagen and TE Randy McMichael, and second-year RB Ronnie Brown appears ready to blossom.  Remember, Culpepper looked merely human sans Randy Moss early last season before he blew out his knee, and now he’s entering a new system.  Gambling owners who draft Culpepper in the sixth or seventh rounds may be rewarded with huge dividends, but more frugal drafters may stick with the likes of Trent Green or Jake Delhomme, two QBs who may be available when you’re thinking about pulling the trigger on Culpepper.

Scott Boyter's Quarterback Sleepers

Jon Kitna, DET – All early indications point to Kitna being the solid favorite to win the starting job in Detroit. And from a fantasy perspective, Kitna could be this season’s biggest hidden gem. The addition of Mike Martz as offensive play-caller should make the Lions a force, even though their receiving corps is infected with serial underachievers. If they can’t summon the testicular fortitude to actually produce this season, they’ll be flushed out of the league forever. At least they should be.

But even if Charles Rogers and Mike Williams tank again, Kitna owners should still get some good production from his hookups with Roy Williams and Kevin Jones. Martz loves to throw the ball to his running back, so Jones – if he can stay healthy – could be Detroit’s version of Marshall Faulk.

It’ll be easy for Kitna to slip into the nether regions of your draft. He’ll be worth taking a flyer on him.

Aaron Brooks, OAK – Brooks tanked last season, and he has a reputation as not being the brightest bulb in the chandelier when it comes to managing an NFL offense. But he’s not that far removed from a 3,800-yard, 21-TD season in 2004 and a 3,500-yard, 24-TD (versus only 8 INTs) in 2003. Finally leaving New Orleans should be the tonic that gets Brooks back to being a fantasy producer. Will all due respect to Joe Horn, Brooks has never had weapons like Randy Moss and Jerry Porter (contract squabble notwithstanding). Plus, he’s got a pretty good running back in Lamont Jordan to take pressure off of the passing game. And finally, you know that with Hall of Fame lineman Art Shell returning as coach, the Raider O-line will be significantly improved from the last couple of seasons.

Add it all up and it looks like Brooks is primed for a fantasy breakout. Grab him as your second QB and he may be starting for you by Week 4.

Scott Boyter's Quarterback Bust

Alex Smith, SF – It might be tempting to take a shot at Smith late in the draft, considering the fact that Norv Turner is controlling the 49er offense, and that Vernon Davis looks like an emerging stud at tight end. Mix in a good-looking runner like Frank Gore, and San Fran could have something cooking.

Don’t be fooled. Antonio Bryant has shown flashes in his time with Dallas and Cleveland, there is absolutely no other 49er wideout who stimulates even the slightest bit of confidence. And that receiver group will be the weight that drags down the San Francisco offense all season. Leave Smith alone – don’t even waste your last pick on him.

Kevin Ratterree's Quarterback Sleepers

Philip Rivers, SD - To hear some people tell it, the story is all downhill for the Chargers offense.  A new quarterback is taking over the reins since Brees blew out of town, so naturally the offense will suffer.  That is not a completely invalid theory.  Many quarterbacks struggle when handed the starting gig for the first time in the NFL.  But keep in mind that Rivers has had plenty of clipboard time.  He was highly touted coming out of college.  And he has the luxury of dumping off passes to Pro Bowlers Antonio Gates and Ladanian Tomlinson.  And the reports coming out of training camp seem to suggest that everybody is impressed with Rivers so far.  He may struggle at times, but I suspect that he may surprise some people.  He isn't likely to put up huge numbers, but I'm betting against another Ryan Leaf situation  If you wait one round too long for a back-up quarterback, Rivers might pull you out of the fire.
                                   
Jon Kitna, DET - This may be a stretch.  I have been burned picking sleepers with silver cats on their helmets before.  But the fact is that Kitna has had moderate success when he has been handed a starting job.  In his last stint in 2003 he threw 26 TD's with only 15 interceptions for the Bengals.  That being said, Kitna is a high risk candidate at best.  With Martz running the show defenders may have ample opportunity to key on Kitna, and if the offensive line is not improved from last season Kitna may get familiar with the view of the ceiling.  A lot of fantasy brethren may be scared off Kitna because McCown is also in the mix.  But in my opinion, if the Arizona Cardinals run you out of town, you probably aren't starter material.   The risk is high, but Martz quarterbacks have a habit of ending up in the top 10.  I'll take a chance on Kitna if he comes cheaply enough.

Kevin Ratterree's Quarterback Bust

Daunte Culpepper, MIA - I already listed Culpepper in my Players To Avoid column a couple of months ago, but it bears repeating here.  It all looks great on paper.  A QB with a rifle arm.  A talented receiving corps.  A running back that is adept at catching passes.  And it may work out like that.  But before you get all warm and fuzzy for Culpepper, keep in mind the severity of his injury last season.  It was a nasty one.  Culpepper has been a force in the league largely due to the fact that he was always a threat to run.  I'm not going to be betting a high draft pick that he comes back, and stays.  Yeah, I know he threw 39 TD's a couple of years ago.  And you know what?  I drafted him that year.  I won't this year.  He will put up average numbers at best.

Fritz Schlottman's Quarterback Sleepers

Eli Manning, NYG - There were two different Eli Manning’s in 2005, the one that was the strong-armed gunslinger who led the G-Men to a 6-2 start to last season or the confused kid that threw four touchdowns and ten interceptions in the second half of last season. With all the talent at the skill positions around him (Barber, Burress, Toomer, and Shocky) he has all the ingredients to put up a huge season if, and it’s a big if, he can improve his mechanics and accuracy.  This will be his third year in the league, which often is a break-out season for quarterbacks and receivers. 
                    
Jake Delhomme, CAR - An established star in this league that never gets the respect he deserves among the fantasy crowd.  He did better than average with only one receiving option last year (Smith).  The addition of WR Keyshawn Johnson can only help his numbers.  Delhomme is not going to single-handedly win you fantasy games, but he’s a solid starter that you can get later in the draft after you’ve drafted your runningbacks and wide receivers.

Fritz Schlottman's Quarterback Bust

Aaron Brooks, OAK - New team, new system, bad offensive line all points to trouble for Brooks.  A fantasy starter for years while he was with New Orleans, Brooks finally wore out his welcome and was replaced by Drew Brees. Brooks goes to a team in dire straights along the offensive line.  Second overall pick in 2004 Robert Gallery moves from RT to LT, where he has in the past struggled against speed rushers.  Frankly, Gallery looks more and more like a bust every week.  With RG Ron Stone departed, the Raiders will have to rebuild the entire right side.  As if it couldn’t get worse, LG Langston Walker missed most of last season with an abdominal injury and how effective he can play remains a concern.  The cast of characters HC Art Shell plugs in to fill the gaps include two rookie tackles and a rookie center.  This looks like another long year for Raider Nation.

Darin Tietgen's Quarterback Sleepers

Aaron Brooks, OAK - Currently listed as the 15th QB taken behind the likes of the always-overrated Michael Vick and Trent Green and injury risks Drew Bledsoe and Kurt Warner.  What's not to like about Brooks as a FANTASY QB?  On a horrible Saint team with arguably only one good wideout, he was able to put up very serviceable fantasy stats.  Now he goes to Oakland, a team whose very hands-on owner is all about the downfield passing game.  And throwing to quite possibly the best WR in the game (when healthy) will be a good thing.  And Jerry Porter is no slouch, either.  Mix in a few other downfield threats and a capable pass-catching RB, and Brooks is on line for a monstrous season, despite rumors that Brooks may lose his job to young Andrew Walter.  Brooks is well worth the mild risk, especially when many are taking the likes of Trent Green and Kurt Warner far too early.

Mark Brunell, WAS - Brunell surprised us all with his early season fireworks last year, and could possibly do even more this year.  Clinton Portis should finally settle into his role with the Redskin offense, and this will open the passing game up.  Brunell's favorite downfield target, Santana Moss, will continue to burn defenders, and the Skins added the very underrated Brandon Lloyd and versatile Antwaan Randle-El.  Plus they still have David Patten, who proved he can be valuable in offenses that spread the ball around, and Chris Cooley, who will supposedly be used more as a TE in blocking and patterns.  Brunell is currently being drafted in the 13th round (25th QB, on average).  This is a complete steal for a very serviceable fantasy QB.

Billy Volek, TEN - Volek appears to be a bit underrated.  Sure, the Titans drafted Vince Young, and he may take the job at some point, but he is certainly not going to be the starter come Week 1.  My suggestion, should you agree Volek is underrated, would be to have a backup plan in case Young does actually crack the starting lineup come mid to late season.  Volek will put up some big numbers in the interim, though.  He's proved he can hit his downfield targets with regularity and was locked on to Drew Bennett, and has capable TEs in the red zone.  Take a flier on Volek and reap the early season rewards - but make sure you have a backup plan (heck, even Vince Young) just in case.

Darin Tietgen's Quarterback Bust

Trent Green, KC - Trent Green is overrated every single year.   He is 36 years old and will be throwing to a hit-or-miss 33-year old WR (Eddie Kennison), an unproven 3rd year player (Samie Parker) and a once-money TE (Tony Gonzalez) on his way down.  Add in the fact that they will rely on RB Larry Johnson, and I just don't see how 200 yards and 1 TD (estimated game production) warrants drafting Green in the 8th round  as the 12th QB overall.  I would much rather take a guy like Byron Leftwich, or the aforementioned Brooks or Brunell.

Philip Gentles' Quarterback Sleepers

Jon Kitna, DET – Kitna may turn out to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2006 season. He’s more than capable of being a productive fantasy QB as he proved back in 2003, the last year he was a full-time starter. In 16 games that season Kitna completed 62% of his passes, threw for over 3,500 yards and had 26 touchdowns. The Bengals decided to name their 2003 first round pick Carson Palmer, who they had a lot of money invested in, the starter the next season and while they haven’t regretted that decision it relegated Kitna to backup duty. After several seasons on the bench Kitna decided to test the free agent market and he quickly agreed to a contract with the Detroit Lions. According to reports he picked up the offense right away and offensive coordinator Mike Martz has gone on record to say how impressed he was with Kitna’s ability to learn the playbook quickly. He’s since been named the team’s top QB and with players like Roy Williams and Mike Williams to throw the ball to there is a good chance that he will go on to have a decent season. Will he duplicate his 2003 numbers? Probably not, but if all goes well he could come very close.
                                                 
Andrew Walter, OAK – Many would consider Aaron Brooks, the current Raiders’ starting quarterback, as a big time sleeper this year. He’s certainly had his fair share of big games with the Saints and he now has one of the most dangerous wide receivers in Randy Moss to throw the ball to. But he’s very inconsistent and he commits way too many turnovers. Head coach Art Shell has said on several occasions that he can’t afford to have a starting QB that gives the ball away. So it’s only a matter of time before Shell will be looking to replace Brooks in the starting lineup. So who’s next in line? A little known, but extremely talented second-year QB by the name of Andrew Walter. The Raiders took Walter in the third round of the 2005 draft and he’s shown so much promise that the team felt comfortable passing on QB Matt Leinart in first round of this year’s draft. Walter is a big guy (6’6, 235 lbs) and has a very strong arm. In fact Moss has praised Walter’s ability to throw the ball deep, and we all know how much Moss likes the deep ball. Walter has already moved past Marques Tuiasosopo on the Raiders’ depth chart. And while he hasn’t had a chance to prove himself on the Pro level, if Brooks and the Raiders begin to struggle don’t be surprised if head coach Art Shell hands the starting QB job to Walter for the remainder of the season.

Philip Gentles' Quarterback Bust

Carson Palmer, CIN – Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer, who is coming off of major knee surgery, has done extremely well in his recovery and team officials believe he has a decent chance of being ready for the start of the regular season. But fantasy leaguers are forgetting that Palmer is still only 7 months removed from ACL surgery, and it takes an athlete anywhere from 12 – 18 months post-op before a player has made a full physical and psychological recovery. So even if Palmer beats the odds and is cleared to play in Week 1 (and that is still not a lock), he’ll likely be rusty and inconsistent for much of the season. His final regular season statistics won’t come close to those he put up last year, and since he’s being selected in the 2nd or 3rd round of most drafts he can only be considered a bust.

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