The backup quarterback is usually the most popular guy in town. He wears a cap, carries the clipboard while wearing a headset, and every fan in town waits for him to get in when their beloved starter is struggling. 2013 has been one of the more prominent seasons where back-ups QBs have seen major action. Twelve NFL teams have had multiple quarterbacks see extensive action this year, some with better results than others. While it is not ideal that you use your second, or in some cases (Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia), your third, fantasy owners have been able to plug in the back-up with great success.
Back in the 1990s, back-up quarterbacks were a different breed of athlete. Typically with the physical make up of a kicker, these men were rarely called upon to start and rarely saw action. Their jerseys were loose and clean, and they looked more like your Dad’s friends then professional athletes. While partaking in one of my favorite activities (timed sports quizzes, I know, I’m a dork), I found an extensive list of quarterbacks that got a start in the 1990s. Here are a few of my favorites and how they compare to the backups of today from the view of a fantasy owner.
Any yinzer can probably share fond memories of Bubby Brister. Hell, he was the full time starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers and even managed to win a playoff game in the 1989 season. As a starter, Brister went 21-22, throwing for forty touchdowns and thirty eight interceptions. Not half bad. As the 1990s rolled around, the Steelers were bring Neil O’Donnell along, and while Brister still started twenty two games over the next four seasons, the writing was on the wall that he was no longer going to be the QB of the future in Pittsburgh.
Bubby would go on to play for four more franchises, even going 4-0 for the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in 1998. Bubby was a reasonably successful quarterback in the NFL and draws an immediate comparison to Nick Foles. He was the kind of quarterback that could come in and make an impact while the starter was out of action. Foles is the second best fantasy QB over the last four weeks and fantasy owners have rushed to the waiver wire to make him their starter.
The Billy Joes
The good old boys of the NFL in the 90s, Billy Joes Tolliver and Hobert were fun, charismatic players who made a significant impact in the NFL as backup quarterbacks. Tolliver is the only one of the two to actually be a full time starter at any point, leading the 1990 San Diego chargers to a 6-8 record in his fourteen starts. Hobert backed up some of the biggest turd QBs in recent history, serving behind a post-New York Giants Jeff Hostetler, Heath Shuler, Todd Collins, and Kerry Collins before becoming teammates and co-starters with Tolliver on the 1999 New Orleans Saints.
They each started seven games before giving way to Jake Delhomme, each going 1-6 in those starts. They proved you can’t build your roster around a pair of Billy Joe’s. They remind me of today’s Josh McCown, a journeyman of the modern times who started for a brief time but is better suited for back up duty. Like the Billy Joe’s, McCown could put up moderate stats and even win a few games, but was a back up for a reason.
The brother of steroid enthusiast Mark McGwire, Dan was destined to be successful if only in name alone. He ended up being less valuable than the infamous 1984 Topps card with his brother’s face on it, but not before taking his fans on a useless ride. Backing up Seattle Seahawks “legends” Stan Gelbaugh, Dave Krieg and Rick Mirer, McGwire didn’t see a whole lot of action in his five year NFL career, starting only five total games and going 2-3, throwing two TDs vs six INTs. The hype behind his name never led to any great NFL success, but when I saw his name on the quiz, I couldn’t help but remember what could have been.
McGwire is the equivalent to today’s Brock Osweiler. He’s high profile only because he is one tragic injury away from Manning (pun intended) the huddle of the NFL’s most prolific offense. Fans don’t really want to see him, but if Peyton should ever struggle, fans may start to clamor for a little Brock action. Probably not though.
WHO? Oh wait, you don’t remember the back-up quarterback for Ken O’Brien, Boomer Esiason, Jim Harbaugh and Bobby Hebert? Nagle was even the starter for the 1992 Jets, going 3-10 in thirteen starts, but not quite being bad enough to land 1993 NFL Draft prizes Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer. Nagle is probably best remembered for having a name synonymous with defecating oneself, but not so much for his on-field career.
Nagle reminds me a little of Carolina Panthers’ backup Derek Anderson. If you can’t recall, Anderson actually started games for Cleveland and Arizona before landing in the comfy role of Cam Newton’s backup. Fans don’t want to see him on the field for anything more than a kneel down here and there. He had zero fantasy value as a starter and wouldn’t be a viable add if Newton were to go down with an injury.
We’re too deep to look back now. Here are my Plays and Stays for Week 12:
Dwayne Bowe, WR Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, Bowe has been pretty much the biggest WR bust of the fantasy season. Expectations for Bowe coming into this season were higher then, well, Bowe about a week ago. Enter the San Diego Chargers. Giving up the fifth most points to opposing wide receivers on the season, the Chargers have been a sieve to opposing pass catchers all season. Six different wideouts have gone for over one hundred yards on the Bolts and they’ve allowed ten touchdowns to receivers on the season.
Coming off their first loss of the season, I expect the Chiefs to be hungry on Sunday and pull out all the stops in attempts to bury their division rival. Look for Bowe to find paydirt while adding 80-90 yards through the air. PLAY
Antonio Brown, WR Pittsburgh Steelers
It pains me to write this, as I am a Brown owner hoping for big things this weekend, but I am legitimately scared to start my wide receivers against Cleveland Browns corner Joe Haden. Only two wide receivers have passed one hundred yards on the season against the Browns, and they’ve given up eight touchdowns as a unit with only one coming coming from a number one wide-out (Jordy Nelson). Joe Haden just held all world stud AJ Green to two catches for seven yards, including a pick six.
With Haden likely in Brown’s hip pocket all day long in a game that will likely be a slug fest, I’m expecting a quiet day for Brown. He has been a PPR godsend, leading the NFL with 74 catches, but I’m suggesting that if you have stronger options this weekend that you should fire them up. He may catch four or five balls, but I’m not feeling a touchdown and yardage will be at a premium. STAY
Zac Stacy, RB St. Louis Rams
You were probably itching to get Stacy back in your lineup anyways after his Week 11 bye, but I want to make sure you understand how great of a start Stacy actually is. The Chicago Bears all of a sudden suck at defense. It’s weird to be a Bears fan right now having more faith in an offense led by a backup quarterback then our usually elite defense, but the Bears are injury riddled on the defensive line, and have allowed five running backs to score twenty points or more in the last six games.
Stacy is as hot as it gets when you look at running backs in general, rushing for 323 yards and three touchdowns in his last 3 games, adding nine catches to those monster numbers. Fire him up as an RB1 this week and if you’re a Bears fan like me, pray that the offense can get far enough ahead to limit the amount of work Stacy gets. PLAY
Follow me on Twitter @BernacK6
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