Grouping all the starting QBs

Earlier on Thursday I filled in as host of the Fantasy Focus podcast, and myself and Tristan Cockcroft discussed the news of the day, which was pretty much all directed at backup quarterbacks. Well, they weren't all reserves, but should they be starters? Chad Pennington and Trent Edwards get more starts, Alex D. Smith and David Carr are apparently healthy enough to play and Quinn Gray is the new man in Jacksonville.

And I don't want any part of any of these guys on a fantasy football roster. None of them are Derek Anderson. In case you missed it, Cleveland's DA is now the basis for backup statistical comparison, but other than one nice game for Cleo Lemon and one fourth quarter for Sage Rosenfels, I don't see anyone catching him.

In a season in which Tom Brady is trying to embarrass Peyton Manning yet again -- he wins the titles, gets the girls, now he breaks his record for TD passes? He's relentless! -- the quarterback play around the league has been surprisingly uninspiring. Early this season, a few members of the fantasy football top tier of six dropped out, but who knew so many top-10 quarterbacks would be unplayable? People have to start Chad Pennington because they have nobody else!

Here's an e-mail on the subject from Mitch in Minnesota: "Eric, you said in your Wednesday chat, 'How many QBs have to be played every week at this point? Brady and Peyton?' Do you not feel that Tony Romo and Carson Palmer are everyday starts anymore? Who would you view as the top-5 fantasy quarterbacks going forward?

Well, let's answer Mitch and update all the quarterback situations around the league, shall we?

Top Notch, Don't Ask About Ever Sitting Them

Tom Brady, Patriots: Who cares why he's doing this, just enjoy the ride. It's back to 27 TDs for the season in 2008. I mean, this is incredible. His next TD will tie a career best, in half a season!

Peyton Manning, Colts: Ironically, he has a better shot of keeping the TD record if he loses to Brady in Week 9, thus making it more likely Brady sits out Weeks 16 and 17!

Very Good, Still Some Questions

Tony Romo, Cowboys: Brady-like start, but only 11 fantasy points per game in past three weeks.

Carson Palmer, Bengals: Seven interceptions and five touchdowns in his past four games. Other than the six-TD Browns game, he's been Pennington.

Trustworthy, But Have A Backup Plan In Case

Derek Anderson, Browns: Yeah, I don't feel so good putting this guy fifth, but who else? Anderson has one fewer fantasy point than Peyton Manning! His upcoming schedule is magically delicious (Rams, Jets, Bengals, 49ers, wow). Amazing he lost out on starting Week 1 to Charlie Frye. How did that happen?

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: He's on a bye this week, but that's a major positive, since he didn't look healthy in Week 7.

Eli Manning, Giants: Kinda under the radar, but might end up with 30 touchdowns. No, really. Might throw 20 picks, too. But he has been somewhat consistent.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Has a pair of four-TD games, and four other affairs in which he's been merely average. And his December features New England, Jacksonville and Baltimore. Yuck.

Somewhat Trustworthy

Brett Favre, Packers: Of course you think he should be in the above group, but unlike those guys, Favre has some miserable games, a 4-pointer against Philly and 3-pointer versus Washington. Eli and Ben haven't had games like that. The lack of a running game has to eventually hurt Favre.

Jon Kitna, Lions: Has a total of five fantasy points the past two games. Can we blame Kevin Jones for this? Or Mike Martz? Schedule isn't easy, either.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: Has played one good half all season. This is amazing; in 22 quarters of play (minus the first half against Detroit), McNabb has three touchdown passes. You have to use him this week at Minnesota.

Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers: Scrappy for sure, but fewer touchdown passes this season than since-departed Jake Delhomme. Garcia's main value, and reason for his ranking is that he hasn't thrown an interception. He has to at some point.

OK, let's pause now. We've discussed 12 quarterbacks, and basically said really good things about two of them, and mostly good things about two others. Everyone else is a question mark, and the not-so-funny thing is, these guys have to start in fantasy. There's nobody else. This has to be, after Brady and Manning, one of the worst years in memory for fantasy quarterbacks, right? Well, not really. Six quarterbacks have thrown 13 or more touchdown passes, and none of them have played more than seven games, so that's at least six passers on pace for 28 or so touchdowns. That's actually pretty good! So while it seems like a down year, it's not. What's changed is our trust in them due to erratic play.

If I Squint They Look Like Fantasy Starters