A TwoQBs Roundtable on Backup QBs

Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck with the 1.01 pick? Does it matter? Both are in line to finish the season as the overall fantasy QB1. … And either signal caller will cost a first or second round pick in your upcoming 2QB draft. There’s not much draft preparation involved in deciding between the two.

The reason we play in 2QB or Superflex leagues is because of how much time and effort is spent researching the fantasy QB2 tier and learning about real life backup or third-string quarterbacks. That’s why we gathered up the TwoQBs staff to get their thoughts on some unheralded fantasy signal callers who could be impactful at some point in the season.

Is Case Keenum worth handcuff consideration?

Ben Cummins: It sounds like there’s a chance Case Keenum could begin the year as the starter in Los Angeles. We will have to wait and see what happens this preseason, but if he does start, he’ll definitely be in the streamer conversation. However, whenever Jared Goff is named the starter, I can’t see myself burning a roster spot on Keenum. There are plenty of players I perceive having more upside I’d rather stash. If Goff completely throws up all over himself, then maybe I’ll consider a proactive pickup of Keenum, but not a moment before though.

Greg Smith: I’d only roster Keenum in the deepest of leagues with the most desperate of rosters. He’s had his moments of fantasy relevance, but there are too many other backup quarterbacks with more talent and better offenses around them. I’d rather gamble on those other handcuff options.

Joshua Lake: Yes, Case Keenum can be interesting, but only in very deep leagues. Jared Goff should be the clear starter after the Rams drafted him first overall, which hurts Keenum’s value. Then we add the fact Jeff Fisher’s Rams haven’t been very kind to fantasy quarterbacks anyway, so the upside is limited, even if Keenum plays.

Jeff Dumont: Absolutely. After the release of Nick Foles, Case Keenum is the only QB on the Rams’ roster who has started a game. With a career stat line of 15 TDs and 9 INTs on 455 attempts, Keenum has proven to be a quality backup/spot starter in the NFL. While Jared Goff will be given every opportunity to win the starting job this season, throwing a rookie into the fire before he is ready can be extremely dangerous to their development as a professional. Already at the top of the Rams’ depth chart at QB, Keenum has a good chance to start a handful of games this year before handing over the reins to Goff.

Anthony Amico: I am probably not going to invest much in Keenum this year, even as a handcuff. The Rams were one of the worst offenses in football last year under Keenum, and he only had double-digit fantasy points once in five starts. There are other quarterback “handcuffs” that interest me more.

Joe Siniscalchi: Unless you’re in the deepest of leagues, absolutely not. It’s tough to expect much from Los Angeles’ offense even with the improvements they’ve made. If Keenum is in there, that’s probably a bad thing. I’d much rather handcuff Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford, or RGIII with their respective backups if I were to ever handcuff a QB.

Salvatore Stefanile: Even if Case Keenum is officially listed as the starter on the depth chart, the Rams are Jared Goff’s team now. If the rook turns out to be a dud and is benched for Keenum, the vet should be available on your waiver wire, so there’s no reason to use a draft pick on him.

But never say never when Jeff Fisher is involved…

Who is the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in the second half of this season: Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, or Cardale Jones?

Ben Cummins: I know the Bills have seemed reluctant to commit to Taylor in the past, but it sounds like they’re now talking with him about an extension. That’s a positive sign for Taylor owners. But regardless of if the two sides are able to come to terms on a new contract or not, I don’t see Taylor giving up his starting job at any point during the 2016 season as long as he’s able to stay healthy. EJ Manuel has been largely disappointing throughout his career and it’s going to take Cardale Jones at least a year to develop into an NFL quarterback. I have no worries about Taylor’s job security this season and I like him quite a bit in 2QB and Superflex leagues.

Greg Smith: Like many at TwoQBs, I’ve stumped for Tyrod most of the offseason, and I see no reason to stop now. We know E.J. Manuel is #notgood and all indications on Jones say he’s too raw for NFL contribution this season. Meanwhile, reports are surfacing about the Bills entering more serious contract talks with Taylor, something they were reluctant to do earlier in the offseason, so I trust TyGoat to keep sure footing on Buffalo’s QB mountaintop.

Joshua Lake: Tyrod Taylor. I am notorious around these parts for being a “Tyrod hater,” but I am not willing to predict he gets benched for the dreadful Manuel or Jones. I also am not willing to predict injuries to Tyrod. He’s the presumptive starter, so I’ll go with him.

Jeff Dumont: Barring injury or complete ineffectiveness, it will be Taylor. Taylor is entering his age-27, physical peak season. As he masters the mental side of the game he’s a good bet to at least match his 2015 statistical output. Already in long-term contract negotiations with the Bills, look for Tyrod to cash in soon as Buffalo’s franchise QB of the present and future. After declining EJ Manuel’s fifth-year option, his days as a Bill are numbered. He will play out the season as Taylor’s backup and likely sign elsewhere in 2017. Cardale Jones has immense talent but is incredibly raw. He’s a great developmental prospect to sit and essentially redshirt his first few NFL seasons. Having Manuel or Jones start any games in 2016 will truly be Buffalo’s darkest timeline.

Anthony Amico: It will 100 percent be Taylor. We’ve already done a Taylor roundtable talking about how underrated he probably is, and he comes in at 11th in our current staff rankings (I am highest on him at six). I think it is possible the Bills view Jones as the future, but Taylor is their best shot at winning games in 2016.

Joe Siniscalchi: Tyrod Taylor, unless he gets injured. He showed enough last year to earn the benefit of the doubt if he slumps at all. Also, as we saw with the Jets, Rex isn’t the quickest at making changes at quarterback.

Salvatore Stefanile: Barring a catastrophic injury or the clock hitting midnight on Taylor’s Cinderella 2015 season, I don’t see anyone but the goat of ties starting all season for the Bills.

Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett, and Jimmy Clausen each started for two different teams last season. Which backup signal caller could you see that happening with this year?

Ben Cummins: The 49ers have a QB battle going on right now between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. They also drafted Jeff Driskel. Thad Lewis is in camp with the 49ers as well but he seems like the odd man out in this QB situation. Lewis probably gets cut and doesn’t make the final roster. He’s already bounced around the NFL quite a bit and that could continue in 2016. I can see him randomly getting picked up by a couple different teams to start in emergency situations. #FreeThadLewis.

Greg Smith: I hate to foreshadow potential injuries, but I could see Luke McCown fitting the bill and playing for multiple teams this season. Already semi-famous as a backup from his Verizon commercials, McCown would likely get first crack at the Saints’ quarterback gig if Drew Brees goes down. Garrett Grayson is the future at QB for New Orleans, though, he and could usurp the role if McCown struggles in replacement of Brees. If Grayson pulls his weight, the Saints could set McCown free to wander Kung Fu-style in search of his next backup job.

Jeff Dumont: Josh McCown. Even at age 37, his stock around the NFL is still very high. A future coach with perhaps the best mind in the NFL in the post-Peyton Manning era, McCown performed well in 2015 with limited talent around him (12 TDs, 4 INTs, 264 yards/game). Several NFL teams are one injury away from making the trade for McCown. Cleveland is all-in on Robert Griffin and will likely do everything they can to trade McCown and appease RG3’s fragile ego in the process.

Anthony Amico: If someone is going to start for two different teams this year, I think it will be Case Keenum. For starters, Keenum isn’t very good. He went over 200 passing yards just twice last year, and only threw two touchdown passes one time. That said, there is probably a pretty good chance conservative head coach Jeff Fisher starts the season with him. But once Jared Goff takes over, Keenum could absolutely be cut or traded to a team in need, where he could also receive a start.

Joe Siniscalchi: I can see this happening with Colin Kaepernick or Josh McCown. I can envision a scenario where Kaepernick wins the job, plays himself to the bench, and forces a midseason trade to another team with an unexpected QB injury. As for McCown, I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes a spot start for an injured RGIII then somehow lands on another team. I can also see Nick Foles being signed to start a game or two for some random team.

Salvatore Stefanile: I’ll take the easy route with this one and go with Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s already guaranteed to start four games for the Patriots. Once that stint is up he’ll be traded to the Denver Broncos where he has to replace an injured Trevor Siemian at QB.

Who is this year’s Josh Freeman? Someone who comes out of nowhere to start a random game in Week 17?

Ben Cummins: Josh Freeman showed a bit of promise very early on in his career but then it was all downhill from there. Although he’s performed terribly with almost every opportunity he’s been given in the NFL, teams seem to keep giving him opportunities. Freeman likely has his physical gifts to thank. Looking around the backup QB landscape, Zach Mettenberger seems to fit this description pretty accurately as well. He gets my vote for a random start in Week 17.

Greg Smith: Is picking Johnny Manziel too hot a #taek? Like Freeman, he isn’t too far removed from football to have faded fully from general managers’ consideration. I could see a bad team giving Johnny Football a chance at “redemption” in a desperate attempt to put butts in the seats near the season’s end.

Jeff Dumont: The most likely scenario of a one-start, Week 17 guy would be a backup QB on a premier team. I’ll go with Drew Stanton. The Cardinals will do everything they can to keep Carson Palmer healthy after the dislocation of his index finger on his throwing hand late in the 2015 regular season. That injury clearly affected his throws in the NFC Championship game. Arizona will err on the extreme side of caution this time around.

Anthony Amico: This is just a fun guess, but if the Seahawks have things locked up by that week, I could definitely see Trevone Boykin getting a start. With his ability to run the ball, he’d be an interesting flier worth taking a chance on.

Joe Siniscalchi: Is it too soon to say Johnny Manziel? If he gets his act together, I can see a team that’s totally out of it or ruined with injuries at QB give him a shot to see if he’s serious about changing.

Salvatore Stefanile: With talk of Josh Freeman being linked to Dallas in the wake of Nick Foles signing in Kansas City I’ll go with Freeman himself. Or Tyler Thigpen. I don’t think anyone expects to see him suit up again.

Does Colt McCoy pull a Kirk Cousins?

Ben Cummins: If you’ve read my QB profile of Kirk Cousins on this very website, you know how high I am on him for the 2016 season. Love this question, but I think Cousins leapfrogged RGIII because of Griffin’s inability to accurately and competently deliver the football to his receivers on a consistent basis. Cousins proved to me last year he’s capable of doing that and I think it continues this year.

Greg Smith:

Joshua Lake: Will Colt McCoy get named the starter before Week 1? No. Could he get snaps in Washington? Yes. I am on record supporting Kirk Cousins for 2016, but he has a limited enough record to make it possible he struggles and gets benched, even though I think those odds are low.

Jeff Dumont: He has a good chance to. Scot McCloughan is one of the best General Managers in the NFL and has refused to give in to Kirk Cousins’ contract demands, effectively turning 2016 into a “prove it” season for Cousins. This will be a lot of pressure for the physically-limited Cousins. With the Redskins over/under season win total at 7.5 and odds of making the playoffs at +160, it’s likely that Cousins and the Redskins as a whole will regress in 2016, making McCloughan look like a genius. Washington signed McCoy to a 3-year contract in March, proving he is part of their future plans. Cousins’ leash will be a lot shorter than people think this year and McCoy has been ready to take the starting QB job for a few years now. I have to believe part of the Redskins’ brass will be rooting for this outcome as well.

Anthony Amico: Nobody Kirk Cousins’ Kirk Cousins… nobody.

Joe Siniscalchi: And unseat Kirk Cousins? I don’t think so. You don’t suddenly bench a quarterback you’ve given the franchise tag to and talked long term extensions with because he gets cold.

Which Matt has a better chance to start this season: Matt Cassel or Matt McGloin?

Ben Cummins: I’m going with Matt McGloin. We saw enough of Cassel last season. I won’t lose sleep if he stays on the sidelines this season.

Greg Smith: The better odds are on Cassel. Marcus Mariota is more likely to take hits and get injured than Derek Carr based on their respective offensive lines and styles of play.

Jeff Dumont: There’s a good chance Connor Cook will leapfrog Matt McGloin for the Raiders’ clipboard holder position so I will have to go with Cassel. The Raiders also have one of the best offensive lines in football so Carr’s likelihood of injury is pretty slim. The Titans’ offensive line gave up the most sacks in the NFL in 2015 and Marcus Mariota missed the final 4 games of the season with an MCL sprain. Already susceptible to injury being a slim, mobile quarterback, Mariota and the Titans desperately needed an experienced signal-caller to come in and start at a moment’s notice. Cassel will fit in perfectly and has a good chance to see action this season.

Anthony Amico: This has to be Cassel. He is the clear backup for Marcus Mariota, who already missed a few games in his rookie season due to injury. I think Derek Carr has much less injury risk, and McGloin would also have to deal with Connor Cook, who the Raiders invested a fourth round pick on in this past draft.

Joe Siniscalchi: Cassel, easily. Mariota already has durability concerns as a quarterback, and if the team is serious about running with him more, they’re only exposing him further to an injury.

Does Carson Palmer play 16 games this season or will Drew Stanton steal the show at some point?

Ben Cummins: Funny you ask. I have fears Palmer is going to get injured this season. He’s 36 years old and we all know his injury history. I really hope it doesn’t happen though, as the Cardinals could very easily find themselves in the Super Bowl if Palmer is able to stay healthy.

Greg Smith: Predicting injury is generally a fool’s errand, so I’ll take the optimistic view here and say Palmer delivers another full season of top-12 fantasy quarterback play. Besides, if I really expected him to get hurt, why do I have so many shares of David Johnson and John Brown? Keep manning that clipboard, Drew!

Jeff Dumont: I think Carson stays upright all season and will only miss a game if he’s rested in Week 17. The Cardinals already had a strong offensive line in 2015 and added one of the best guards in this league this offseason in Evan Mathis. A seasoned veteran, Palmer is unlikely to take many big hits this season and should stay healthy and fresh to make a deep Super Bowl run.

Anthony Amico: I don’t think Stanton takes the job from him outright, but I could see Palmer getting hurt at some point and him stepping in. Palmer missed 10 games in 2014 and is now 36 years old.

Joe Siniscalchi: I don’t think Carson Palmer plays all 16 games, but I also don’t think Stanton will steal the show. He held back the entire offense in 2014 when he filled in for Carson Palmer.

Salvatore Stefanile: Drew Stanton has already stole the show…


Salvatore Stefanile
Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and has been playing fantasy football since his high school days. He is a proponent of 2QB fantasy football leagues, and his work has been featured on XN Sports, RotoViz, and Rotoworld. His writing on 2QB fantasy football leagues earned him the FSWA award for 'Best Fantasy Football On-Going Series' in 2013. He earned a second FSWA nomination in 2015 for 'Humor Article of the Year'. You can follow him on Twitter @2QBFFB

One thought on “A TwoQBs Roundtable on Backup QBs

Leave a Reply