I don't buy into football home/road splits very much, so when it was pointed out to me that David Garrard of the Jacksonville Jaguars was 0-for-the-season when it came to throwing touchdown passes away from cozy but often half-empty Alltel Stadium, I basically ignored the information. Instead, I foolishly chose to recommend him -- and start him on two fantasy teams -- because he was facing the awful Tennessee Titans defense, one that was coming off a 59-0 pasting in the snow.
Score one for the home/road splits, an objective observer might say. Let's take it further, though. Is Garrard even the safest option at home? And what about wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, who also merited a top-10 staff rank at his position heading into Week 8 and managed a fantasy goose egg? Garrard at least scored three points, enough to pass the Ja-Mendoza line (named after Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who continues to provide awful performances on a weekly basis). But Sims-Walker and Torry Holt totaled one fantasy point.
Garrard has still tossed nary a touchdown pass on the road, and while we should give credit to the Titans, let's just say I won't be sitting opposing quarterbacks against them the rest of the way. Luckily for the Titans, next up is Alex Smith and likely a Buffalo Bills backup to be named later, so it might not have mattered anyway. Sorry, but I don't buy it. I blame this one on the Jaguars' poor passing game and their offensive line's inability to protect its quarterback. They all looked mesmerized by a defense that lacks playmakers and depth.
We shouldn't have been fooled. Just a few weeks earlier, in a tasty matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, Garrard was awful in a 41-0 loss. That was the game Sims-Walker was suspended for after missing curfew, and it served to give Garrard an undeserved pass, so to speak. We all blamed the Sims-Walker absence, but look at Sunday, against a defense that had stopped nobody. There's more than enough blame to go around, and none of it should be directed at Maurice Jones-Drew, who more than did his job with 177 yards and a pair of breathtaking touchdown runs. But why did he get only eight rushes? Maybe Garrard would be more effective if he threw the football less.
Despite Garrard having passed for more than 275 passing yards three times this season, the Jaguars don't have a great passing offense. In the other four games, Garrard has averaged 166 yards, including his Sunday dud. While I do think Sims-Walker is a legit threat and worthy of WR2 status most weeks, you won't see Garrard in my top 10 at quarterback again. He's way too inconsistent. Tom Brady had destroyed that Div. II defense in the most one-sided NFL game in years just two weeks earlier, and even though Garrard is no Brady, he still should have succeeded against that defense.
Garrard seems generally to be regarded as an underrated fantasy option with constant sleeper potential, but other than the Week 4 blowout of these same Titans, when he had 25 fantasy points, Garrard has thrown a touchdown pass in only one game. It's not home/road splits because he doesn't inspire much confidence in home games, either. He's inconsistent, and it's difficult to win in fantasy with him as your starter.
I'll continue to trust Sims-Walker because the interceptions and poor decisions by his quarterback haven't stymied his production. Since he came out of nowhere to become a fantasy football item, he has delivered high yardage totals and strong fantasy points in all weeks except for basically this one and the game he was suspended. Garrard hasn't. His is a pattern. The Jaguars' schedule looks like a fantasy trap to me, with quite a few enticing matchups on paper. You know what was the best matchup? The Titans were, and Garrard scored three points. This is a fantasy backup quarterback, pure and simple, and one who tricked nearly 30 percent of his owners in ESPN leagues into starting him. Hey, I started him, too, so consider me fooled as well. The Chiefs are up next for Garrard & Co. this week, and while it seems like a nice matchup and I'd assume he gets projected well, I just can't afford to take the chance of starting him again.