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TGIF: The NFL Quarterback-up Club

No, I’m not referring to Acclaim’s classic NFL video game series, NFL Quarterback Club. I’m reffering to an elite club of NFL players that rarely see the field. They are the five best backup quarterbacks in the NFL: players you usually want to never see because your team’s starter is a better player and leader. But, when called upon, the backup quarterback is expected (perhaps unfairly) to perform extremely well.

This season, seemingly more than any other in recent history, has seen a significant number of injuries to starting NFL QBs, headlined by Pats QB Tom Brady missing the entire season due to injury. If you play in a fantasy league with two QBs (or perhaps even three), you better know who your QB’s backup is. So, who are the five best quarterbacks you never want to see (in terms of fantasy value)?

The Criteria

  • The quarterback could start soon.
  • He is ready to start or relieve at any time.
  • He’s a former starter or proven backup.

1. Sage Rosenfels, Houston Texans

Rosenfels proved more than capable last year when called upon, going 4-1 in five starts for the Texas. Starter Matt Schaub, by comparison, went 4-7 last year as starter. Notice a difference here? Rosenfels plays better and wins, so I feel it’s only a matter of time before he sees the field.

Schaub has gone 0-2 so far in 2008, throwing for 390 yards and one touchdown with five interceptions. He has compiled a 50.3 QB rating, which is atrocious. I will, though, give Schaub the benefit of the doubt considering the tough defenses he was facing in Pittsburgh and Tennessee. He draws another tough one in Jacksonville in Week 4, so he shouldn’t be around for long. Will Houston give him the same benefit of the doubt?

2. Brady Quinn, Cleveland Browns

The former Notre Dame star is the most likely backup QB in the NFL to start, but he’s ranked behind Rosenfels due to his inexperience. At least Rosenfels has started some games. We’re not even sure how Quinn would play as a regular starter in the NFL, but I imagine he has a bright future as he has all the skills to succeed.

Despite Quinn’s lack of experience, he should see the field as a starter very soon if incumbant Derek Anderson continues to play so poorly. Anderson has led the Browns to an 0-3 start and can lay some of the blame on Braylon Edwards’ dropped balls, but most of the burden has to lay on his shoulders. Anderson has 405 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions and a horrible 43.5 QB rating.

3. Todd Collins, Washington Redskins

Todd Collins probably won’t play this season unless Jason Campbell gets hurt because the young QB is playing very well. Campbell has led the Skins to a 2-1 record with big wins over the Saints and Cardinals, and has amassed 647 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Collins, though, is very capable as a backup. Last season, when filling in for the injured/ineffective Campbell, Collins threw for 888 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. So, as you can see, the Redskins are in pretty good shape at the quarterback position.

4. Billy Volek, San Diego Chargers

Billy Volek may be a little closer to playing this year than Todd Collins, considering that Chargers starter Philip Rivers is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Whether he plays or not, Volek will definitely be ready for the call. He spent many years as Steve McNair’s backup, and due to McNair’s advancing age and brittle body, he saw a lot of action on the field.

His most signifcant amount of playing time came in 2004, when Volek saw action in 10 games. He passed for 2,486 yards with 18 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Will you see Volek anytime soon? Not likely. If Rivers gets injured, should Volek be picked up? Yes. With those weapons in San Diego, Volek can be a great fantasy QB.

5. Vince Young, Tennessee Titans

Coach Jeff Fisher recently announced that Vince Young will resume backup duties to Kerry Collins when he returns from injury. Young has proven to be a winner in the NFL, nearly leading the Titans to the playoffs in his first season, and taking them there in his second.

Last year, Young tossed nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions, which is pretty bad. But, Young can run and run fast, so he can get you points as a rusher and as a QB. This dual threat would likely lead to an average of 10 fantasy points per game (can vary vastly depending on format) and be a legitimate QB2 or QB3 in deeper leagues.

Young is currently the most compelling backup QB in the NFL, and knowing how bad Kerry Collins can be at times, he could return this season as the starting quarterback of the Titans.

About KC Downey - @kc_downey

KC is the "head coach" of the Sports of Boston, LLC blog network. Follow him on Twitter: @kc_downey

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