Let’s be honest–sometimes putting up great numbers does not make you a great player, especially when those great numbers come in one magical season. It seems like every year, there are players across every position which either benefit from a surprise factor (defensive coordinators don’t scheme around them or they have yet to breakout), or they just actually play up to their abilities and hype for once in their life.
At least once every year, there’s one quarterback that steps up, earns widespread respect while putting up close to record-setting numbers (for their usually QB-deprived teams) and drives their team either into the playoffs or close to them, but then never is able to replicate that success again.
Remember Derek Anderson’s 2007? Every week that guy went out there and made play after play. Now he has trouble completing passes to Larry Fitzgerald. Go figure.
Then there was Jake Delhomme’s first year in the league when he put up good numbers AND led the Panthers to their first and only Super Bowl. Sure, he had a few decent years after their defeat, but his legacy is sure to be that of a guy who thrived with Steve Smith for a few years then turned into a turnover machine.
Vinny Testaverde had two of these years in ’96 and ’98, but he only won a decent amount of games in 1998.
The key in fantasy football is to pick up on these hot signal-callers and ride them to a championship. As you can tell by the title, I believe Kyle Orton is that guy this year.
1. Passing Offense–Did you know that Josh McDaniels loves passing the ball? Seriously, this guy seems to look at the position of RB as though it’s a waste of his time and offense and that it doesn’t take much talent to pick up a few yards (why else would he have drafted Knowshon Moreno?).
It’s not really like this is a vertical offense either. Maybe the longest pass pattern anyone runs will be 30 or so yards. Instead, the Broncos like to operate out of shotgun in an almost college-style spread offense which demands accurate, short passes. They like to throw it and then throw it some more. Orton averages 34 passes a game so far this season and close to 300 yards in the air. He’ll definitely get you some yards.
2. No Running Game–I know that I already referenced this with a bad joke about Moreno, but seriously, this running game is awful. Moreno, the lead back, averages a ridiculously bad 2.9 yards per carry while his backup, Correll Buckhalter, averages an even worse 2.0 yards. This is on a combined 56 rushing attempts as well, so it’s not like the Broncos haven’t been trying. They have to pass because it’s the only way they can move the ball.
3. Young QBs–Alright, so I can’t really quantify this one, but it’s still an important issue to address. The last time I checked, the Broncos drafted the legendary (cough) Tim Tebow to be their QB of the future. You know McDaniels would love any excuse to get him on the field. I’m sure every Denver fan is just sitting back, waiting for Orton to mess up.Well I’ve got news for you, I don’t think he will. Lost in all the Tebow-hype is how well Orton has played this season and how well he figures to continue to play. Orton is a perfect fit for McDaniels’ ball-distributor offense. He doesn’t do anything flashy, but he does play the QB position efficiently. I’m sure that Orton is tired of all the disrespect he feels like he’s been getting his entire career (benched in favor of Rex Grossman, traded in favor of Jay Cutler and his successor drafted after only one season starting in Denver). He’s stepping up, and I expect him to continue doing the same.
Negative: He’s Kyle Orton
That may be harsh, but as last season showed (and every other season of his career), defenses don’t have much trouble figuring out Orton. The fact is that all of his benchings and his trade to Denver and the drafting of Tebow were done because he lacks the physical talents to ever truly excel at the position.
He’s accurate and has the right demeanor, but his arm won’t allow him to take advantage of his drive. In that respect, he reminds me a lot of Chad Pennington–a guy that will win you games but that GMs will instantly try to replace if given the option.
The Broncos started 6-0 last year before finishing the season at a disappointing 8-8. Some of this can be credited to the steady downturn of the Broncos defense, but it can also be attributed to Orton. As I previously mentioned, the Broncos like to run a short passing offense, one which defenses can beat by really selling out against these shorter routes. In order to beat this (if you want to continue dinking and dunking), you have to be able to consistently complete passes deep. You need to be able to back the defense up. Orton simply just can’t do this on a consistent basis.
Despite this fact, there’s nothing wrong with starting Orton in your fantasy football league. Will the Broncos make the playoffs with Orton? Probably not. But you might make your fantasy playoffs. He piles up yards and a decent TD total, making him a consistent 15-20 point play every week (in standard scoring leagues). If you lack one of the Top 5 QBs, you could do a lot worse than Orton. Oh, and Orton is in the Top 5 for fantasy player thus far, by the way.
He-of-neck-beard, go forth. Pass for yards and the occasional score, and get no credit whatsoever.