There was a lot of movement this NFL offseason. That means there will be many different teams and players impacted in the fantasy football landscape. I’ve put together this series “Familiar Faces in New Places,” and you can view the rest of the series by clicking on the links below:
Now, let’s take a look at some familiar quarterbacks in new places:
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles & Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams
The biggest QB switcheroo of the offseason involved the rare challenge trade in the NFL, when the Rams traded their QB, Sam Bradford to Philadelphia for their QB, Nick Foles.
Bradford is coming off his second ACL injury (left) in as many seasons and expects to be be fully healthy by the time the season starts. When healthy, Bradford has graded out as a positive each season since his rookie campaign in 2010.
Where he’s going, Philadelphia, attempted the fifth most passes per game (38.9) last season, which was 58% of their plays. They also enjoyed the 8th best pass protection, a far cry from where Bradford came from and Foles is going.
The Rams threw 58.73% of their plays and was 23rd in passing plays in the league at 32.2 per game. St. Louis also deployed the sixth worst pass blocking last season. Worse for Foles, despite the already run heavy approach, Jeff Fisher has already said that not having the burden of a franchise paid QB like Bradford means he can feel free to run the ball more, hence the drafting of Todd Gurley in the first round, despite using high picks on running back in most recent drafts.
Summary: The Eagles offense is far superior to the Rams, ranking fifth overall last season as compared to six worst for the Rams. The Eagles line is better, their running game, with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, should keep teams honest and they run more plays (71 to 60). Bradford has graded out as a good QB, not great, but good, and that’s all he’ll need to be to cash in for fantasy, as long as he can stay on the field. As for Foles, the deflation that going to happen to an already average QB means he won’t manufacture much value and certainly far from what he was cranking out in Philly.
Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
What a difference a season made for McCown, who went from basking in the 2013 glow of a Mark Trestman called offense in Chicago, where he graded out as a top 10 QB for his efforts to the bowels of pass protection in Tampa, getting injured midway through the season and sinking all the way to 34th among QBs with at least 25% of their team’s snaps.
The Bucs were bad on the offensive line, grading out dead last in the NFL in pass protection. Mike Glennon did get more done than McCown, but considering McCown is a lot older than Glennon (10 years older), it’s not surprising he dealt with the worst protection worse.
So what about Cleveland? The Browns, despite the poor QB play last season, actually protected well, finishing second in the league in that area. Despite that protection, the team didn’t pass a lot, which may have had more to do with the QB play than strategy.
Summary: The Browns ran 63 plays per game and pass on 52.87% of them, ranking 27th in the league. This may mean that McCown’s excellence, if he indeed can revisit 2013, may be muted by a run-heavy approach, leaving McCown among the bottom 5-10 starting QBs week to week in fantasy.
Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans
Hoyer is leaving Cleveland as McCown is coming in and Hoyer ended up in Houston. It’s debatable who is leading the Houston Texans race for the starting QB job, with Ryan Mallett trying to hold off Hoyer for the spot.
The good news? The Texans posted the 11th best pass blocking, and the ninth most plays per game. The bad news? They loved to run, and run, and run, finishing 30th in passes per game (30), and dead last with 48% passing plays. The reason why they ran so much is that they were very good at it, finishing even higher in run blocking (6th) than they did in pass blocking.
So either Mallett or Hoyer may be doing little passing next season as the Texans may not shift from their run happy ways.
Fortunately for Mallett, he may not have as tough of a competition as it looks. Last season, Hoyer ranked 35th rated among 39 QBs with 25% of their team’s snaps and was 70th of 75 all QBs who took snaps. And lest you think that Cleveland didn’t offer much protection for their guy, we remind that Cleveland pass blocking ranked second in the league in 2014.
Summary: We’ll watch and see if Hoyer gets the nod, but it likely means little in fantasy because the Texans defense is top 10 and so is their run-blocking, so it won’t make much sense to make sweeping changes and suddenly throw the ball a lot.
Watch your backups
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
If you are Geno Smith and you are still not feeling particularly secure about your spot as the starting QB, then you can’t like seeing Fitzpatrick pulling in behind you as the backup. Fitzpatrick is little that is special, unless you hadn’t heard he went to Harvard (and that means you’ve been covered by a rock since 2008). He’s been particularly below average over his career, but the last two seasons, one in Houston and the other in Tennessee, he’s been graded out slightly above average.
Summary: While he’s not going to be confused with Tom Brady, he looks just competent enough to steal some work from Geno if things come off the rails a bit.
Matt Cassel & Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Matt Cassel was the worst Matt QB in the NFL in 2014, and that’s no small list. There were 10 Matts that took snaps last season in the NFL, and Cassel was the short straw. The Vikings were a bottom 10 offensive pass blocking line last season, but Cassel is not going to fare much better in Buffalo, where the Bills were 12th worst in pass protection.
Maybe that’s why there are already rumors about Cassel not competing with EJ Manuel for the starting job, but getting cut altogether because the Rex Ryan staff may just like Taylor more.
Looking at Taylor’s career, there’s not much to go on here. Since 2011, Taylor has played 127 snaps at QB, with 73 of those coming in a 2012, Week 17 cleanup game against the Bengals. In 2014, he played a total of six snaps. What he has provided in the past is the ability to scramble and run, which is what he did in that one game in 2012, where he ran for 65 yards and a TD against the Bengals.
Summary: Taylor will likely beat out Cassel for the backup job, and may start a few games here and there when the team takes pause with the EJ Manuel era.