I could take time to drool all over my 2009 QB love affair with Matt Schaub. I could call him a sleeper, but let’s face it … he isn’t (even though I call him one here).
It seems that everyone is targeting him in the middle of their respective drafts.
A true sleeper is a player that comes out of no where to become a fantasy beast. Anquan Boldin could tell you all about being a sleeper. He’s the Rip Van Winkle of fantasy sleepers.
So, it is time to step up and take a stand. It is time to represent chinstrap ninjas everywhere by treading where others fear. It is time to throw down and make projections and not look back.
Remember a certain six-foot-something QB who was drafted in the top five overall? Remember said QB, who many felt wouldn’t be more than a bench-warming, clipboard-holding backup for at least the first half of the season. You know, that QB who was drafted by a team with a steadily improving defense, a solid running game in transition and a receiving corps that was fairly untested and unknown in the grand scheme of things.
No, not Mark Sanchez (I’ll get to him in a minute). I’m talking about Matt Ryan. Remember what the fantasy magazines had to say about Ryan last year? You don’t? That’s because they had little to offer. Many projections had Ryan producing behind fellow rookie signal callers such as Joe Flacco. An archive search of the message board at www.fantasyfootballcafe.com turned up several rankings where Ryan was slated well below a bunch of quarterbacks (such as JaMarcus Russell and Troy Smith) who majorly underperformed.
So when people write off New York’s Mark Sanchez with similar quickness, I hesitate. The USC product was stellar as a Trojan, finishing his college campaign with 413 yards passing and MVP honors in the Rose Bowl – the yardage was the most for a USC quarterback since now-Bengals QB Carson Palmer threw for 425 against Notre Dame in 2002.
Like Matt Ryan did last summer, Sanchez has been impressive in preseason practices and games. There is little doubt that as long as Sanchez continues to mature as a QB over the next couple weeks, he’ll be starting the season atop the Jets depth chart.
Sanchez has an adequate arm and plenty of QB smarts to make a successful jump to the NFL level. However, what has impressed me so much this summer is his swagger. His mojo.
Tons of rookie quarterbacks with vast potential, skill sets and football know-how have crashed and burned at the NFL level. What most of them lacked, however, was the leadership and confidence that Sanchez has exhibited from day one as a Jet.
Sure, the Jets receivers aren’t exactly star-studded – however, the Falcons had a somewhat similar cast of unknowns when Ryan took the reigns last year. Roddy White had plenty of potential, but no consistency or big-stat contests until Ryan started feeding him the pigskin.
The Jets receivers may not be well known, but they don’t lack in talent. In college, Jerricho Cotchery broke numerous receiving records – including several set by Torry Holt – and is still one of just two pass-catchers in the ACC with both 200 receptions and 3,000 yards. David Clowney is the epitome of unknown potential in the NFL, but did you notice his three-catch, 102-yard (with a TD) performance last week in preseason action? What about uber-talented tight end Dustin Keller – who was drafted in the first round last season by the Jets?
What about the Jets aggressiveness in going after big-name receiving talent such as Boldin, Plaxico Burress and now Brandon Marshall? It is only a matter of time before the Jets make an acquisition that makes Sanchez’s receiving options that much sexier.
With a much-improved defense behind him and a solid mix of veteran and rookie talent at RB (Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and Leon Washington), Sanchez doesn’t need to carry the Jets on his back. He can make the throws he needs to and mature as QB much like Ryan did last year.
While I wouldn’t count on him as more than a QB2 with major upside this year in redraft leagues, he’s a hot commodity in dynasty and keeper leagues, and rightfully so. I predict that he’ll outperform fellow rookie Matthew Stafford, along with a number of NFL starters this year. In fact, I feel that Sanchez will be the starter on a number of fantasy football teams by the end of this season and could crack the top 15 fantasy QBs in overall scoring.
Also, after years of trying to find a franchise QB to rightfully succeed the legend known as Joe Namath, I feel the Jets have finally found their answer.