Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Plenty of replacement options for Dak Prescott

I’m back with some fantasy content this week. I had to pass on writing my waiver wire column last week because life just got a bit too busy. I guess that’s what happens though when you are buying a house.

Now that I’ve got a bit more free time on my hands, I am able to dive deep into that available players tab and help you find the best players to add to your roster for this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA
For the fourth straight week, Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 20-plus fantasy points. He trailed only Patrick Mahomes in Week 5 among fantasy quarterbacks. Somehow, he is available in 80% (!!!!!) of ESPN leagues. If you are refusing to pick him up because Tua Tagovailoa could take over, you are missing out. He continues to put up huge numbers and heads into a Week 6 matchup with the Jets of all teams. While New York has had some success against Philip Rivers, Nick Mullens and Brett Rypien, that defense has given up 27.2 points per game when facing Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Expect Fitzmagic to be closer to those two.

Tannehill looked sharp in the Titans’ return from an unexpected bye week. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
There are a lot of streaming options/potential Dak Prescott replacements for your lineup this week. Tannehill dazzled on Tuesday Night Football with three passing touchdowns and one more on the ground. It was against a Bills defense missing it’s best defensive player in Stephon Gilmore, but a good sign nonetheless. He faces a middle of the road Texans defense in Week 6 as well. I wouldn’t expect him to replicate his 29-point outing again, but should fill in nicely for the week if you are desperate for a new quarterback.

Justin Herbert, QB, LAC
This rookie came to play. Herbert put up big numbers again against the Saints, topping 22 points for the third time in his four career starts. Now his upside is capped a little bit by the Chargers tendency to run the ball a lot, but he also tends to take a few shots downfield every game. He is heading into a bye in Week 6, but has a ton of value when he returns to action. Herbert’s next five games after the break are against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets. That is about as favorable of a fantasy stretch as you can ask for. He is still available in about 65% of ESPN leagues, but after his showing on Monday Night, he won’t stick around long.

Andy Dalton, QB, DAL
There are a lot of quarterback options this week. Dalton stepped in for the injured Dak Prescott. He will be Dallas’ starter going forward. Even if he is not as talented as Prescott, Dalton has arguably the best receiving corps in the league to work with and a workhorse running back. Given that the Cowboys’ defense can’t stop anyone either, he is going to be throwing the ball a lot. He faces a tough Washington front seven behind a battered offensive line, but I still think Dalton will point up points right away.

Goff has been a bit inconsistent this season, but has three games with over 20 fantasy points. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jared Goff, QB, LAR
Turns out I recommended Goff a week too early. After a lackluster performance against the Giants, he tuned up Washington’s defense with 309 yards passing and three total touchdowns. It is hard to know which version of the Rams offense is going to show up at this point, but Goff faces a favorable matchup in Week 6 against the 49ers. Hard to imagine the 49ers being a team you want your fantasy quarterback to face, but their defense is ravaged by injuries. Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up the Niners’ secondary for the second-most points in fantasy this past week. If you are looking for a streaming option at quarterback, you could do much worse than Goff.

Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
For those of you who drafted Mattison and hung onto him this long, your patience might be rewarded. Dalvin Cook went down with a groin injury early in the second half against Seattle. Mattison finished with a staggering 20 carries, most of which came in the second half. Minnesota ranks fourth in rushing yards and third in attempts under Gary Kubiak. If Cook misses any time at all, Mattison is a borderline RB1 for every week he does. He is probably best in standard scoring leagues, but he can catch a few passes out of the backfield as well. He faces the Falcons in Week 6, who are giving up the second-most points in the NFL. If he is available, go get him.

Damien Harris, RB, NE
Didn’t pick up Harris last week? It’s not too late, but you are running out of time. He had an expected bye week after his game against the Broncos was postponed, which means he will be playing the rest of the season. He has a chance to be the feature back, or as close as the Patriots will ever come to having one. He will now face the Broncos in Week 6. With Cam Newton likely to return, he could lose out on some carries, but Harris will still see enough attention to be fantasy relevant.

Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI
If you are in PPR leagues, Edmonds might already be off the waiver wire. If he is still there though, he could have some spot flex value for your team. He picked on a weak Jets defense in Week 5 and faces a below average Dolphins one in Week 6. Only earning eight total touches is a bit concerning, but he was definitely the more effective running back in the Cardinals’ backfield. I will be curious to see if his role continues to increase with Kenyan Drake struggling. He is worth stashing on your roster, just in case he claims lead back responsibilities.

Chase Claypool, WR, PIT
Where in the world did that come from? Destroyer of defenses Chase Claypool put up 11 more points than the next-highest scoring PPR receiver in Week 5. When Dionte Johnson went down with an injury, which has been a frequent occurrence this season, Claypool stepped up. Ben Roethlisberger seems to trust him already. While it is unlikely he will score four touchdowns again at any point this year, or maybe ever, Claypool carries value in fantasy. Even if Johnson does return for Week 6, Claypool is a big-play and red zone threat. He looks like a matchup-specific flex play at the very least.

Travis Fulgham, WR, PHI
Speaking of the next highest-scoring receiver in fantasy… Proceed with caution on this one. Travis Fulgham was on exactly 0.2 percent of rosters heading into Week 5. He had a monster week though against the Steelers. With 10 catches for 152 yard and a touchdown on 13 targets, Fulgham put up WR1 type production. But was it just a flash in the pan? Desean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey should eventually return to action. Until they do though, Fulgham should hold flex value, especially in PPR leagues. You might have to sit him against the Ravens, but you could consider starting him against the Giants and Cowboys after that.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville
It might be time to get to know Laviska Shenault Jr. The rookie from Colorado has earned at least six targets in three straight games. He racked up seven catches for 79 yards in Week 5 while facing the Texans. What makes Shenault appealing is his consistency. He has scored at least eight points in every contest under PPR scoring. D.J. Chark is battling an ankle injury, which should open up even more targets heading Shenault’s way. If he can start finding his way into the end zone, this will be a guy you want starting in your lineup every week.

Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
With Sammy Watkins set to miss some time due to injury, Hardman has an opportunity to step up. He is best-suited for standard leagues given his big-play nature. Few teams can take the top off a defense like the Chiefs can. However, he is definitely a boom-or-bust type play. He has not had more four targets in four of his five games this season. If you are willing to roll the dice on him in Week 6, he should have a slightly higher floor given that his targets should increase with less competition for Patrick Mahomes’ attention.

Mike Williams, WR, LAC
Williams got healthy and put up a huge statline against the Saints. He became the focus of the passing game when Keenan Allen exited with back spasms. Williams is always intriguing at his size from a fantasy perspective. He tends to draw a solid number of targets in the red zone, which creates a good floor for him. However, if Allen misses time, Williams becomes hugely valuable. However, with Los Angeles heading into a bye, Williams is nothing more than a roster stash that could help you when your other receivers are on a bye.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
If you are in a PPR league, Ebron does carry some solid value as a high-floor tight end. For the the third straight game, he earned at least five targets. Unfortunately, he has not picked up too many yards and only managed one touchdown. Ebron does get a favorable matchup with a Browns defense allowing the sixth most points to tight ends in PPR. What would really help Ebron’s fantasy prospects would be holding onto the football. He has fumbled twice in his past three games. As far as spot starters go, Ebron is a decent option.

Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
If you are in deeper league or look for a deep sleeper at tight end this week, Irv Smith Jr. could be a sneaky play. After back-to-back games without a catch, Smith had four for 64 yards on five targets against the Seahawks. Given how little he has produced up to this point, counting on him replicating those numbers is foolish, but he gets a great matchup with a Falcons defense allowing the second most points in fantasy to opposing tight ends. They are still 8.7 points worse than the average after allowing zero points to Panthers tight ends in Week 5 (because the Panthers don’t have a pass catching tight end they feature in this offense). He is my favorite boom-or-bust candidate of the week at the position.

Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Jared Goff and Justin Jefferson highlight this week’s top adds

The importance of the waiver wire showed up big time in Week 3. If you were like me and started James Robinson, you are probably pretty happy with how your week went. If you are also like me and dropped Justin Jefferson to add Russell Gage, you were probably a bit frustrated.

Not every player you add from the waiver wire is going to be a winner and sometimes, you have to take the risk that it will be a complete dud. That’s what anyone who started Gardner Minshew this week found out. You can also hit it big and win your matchup as a result, as anyone who started Rex Burkhead found out. It’s not an exact science, but there is a usually a bit of a method to the madness.

Goff came up big with 321 yards and three total touchdowns against the Bills. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jared Goff, QB, LAR
After a lackluster Week 1, Jared Goff has stepped up in back-to-back weeks. He went over 23 fantasy points for the second straight week. He now gets matchups against the Giants and Washington over the next two weeks. It is unlikely that he scores three touchdowns each week, but his efficiency has picked up and he seems to be in a groove with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee. If you need a streaming option at quarterback, Goff is my top choice for the week.

Nick Foles, QB, CHI
Welcome back to fantasy relevance Nick Foles! He took the starting job from Mitch Trubisky and led the Bears to a comeback over the Falcons. Now, Foles won’t benefit from facing the worst fantasy (and potentially real life) defense in the league every week, but he looked comfortable in the starting role. He has to face an improving Colts defense and the Buccaneers in the next two weeks. It is probably worth stashing Foles on your roster as a bye week fill in.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA
If you haven’t hopped on the Fitzmagic train, it’s not too late. Fitzpatrick has scored 24 points in back-to-back weeks. Week 1’s dud against the Patriots aside, he has been one of the top five quarterbacks in scoring these past two weeks. He now faces a Seattle defense that is allowing the second most points to opposing quarterbacks through three games. The Seahawks will unquestionably be the favorite in that contest, but don’t be shocked if Fizpatrick puts up big numbers in a losing effort.

Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, SF
No one can stay healthy on the 49ers. Jeff Wilson Jr. is likely to be the latest beneficiary of taking the starting role. It is not a guarantee that Jerick McKinnon misses Week 4 against the Eagles, but Wilson got plenty of usage even with McKinnon in action this past week. Assuming McKinnon is limited, Wilson will suddenly be a top option. Now the Eagles defense is good against the run, but Wilson got involved in the passing game as well. It is unlikely he scores two touchdowns again, but Wilson could be a flex play if you are suffering from injuries.

Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA
The preseason hype of the Miami backfield centered on Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. Myles Gaskin has emerged as the lead back in the Dolphins running back by committee approach. His usage went to the next level against Jacksonville as he finished with 27 touches. That feels unsustainable and now he faces two tough run defenses in Seattle and San Francisco up next. I would not recommend starting him any time soon, but he is worth adding to your roster for running back depth. He won’t be available for too much longer.

Carlos Hyde, RB, SEA
Another potential injury fill in here. Chris Carson’s status is up in the air against the Dolphins. He suffered a knee injury on a questionable play from Trysten Hill and could be out for a week or two. Hyde has not been fantasy relevant up to this point, but he could be thrust in the starting role on a high-scoring offense. Seattle has moved away from running the ball as much this season, but Hyde was a 1,000 yard rusher a year ago for the Texans. He is about as good of a fill in the Seahawks can hope to have if Carson misses time.

Jefferson flashed the potential that made him a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. (Wikimedia Commons)

Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
There is the breakout we have all been waiting for. Justin Jefferson had five catches on six targets for 70 yards in his first two games. In Week 3, he came up with seven catches on nine targets for 175 yards and a touchdown. Now 71 of those yards came on his touchdown catch, but even if you remove that, a six-catch, 104-yard performance is more than impressive. If this is a sign of things to come, Jefferson is absolutely worth having on your roster. Maybe you were smarter than me and didn’t drop him in the first place. Either way, put in the waiver claim.

Allen Lazard, WR, GB
Maybe the Packers really didn’t need to draft a receiver. Allen Lazard stepped up big time with Davante Adams out. He torched the Saints secondary for 146 yards and a score on six catches. He might not see eight targets every week with Adams back in the fold, but he has emerged as the clear No. 2 receiver in this offense. It is unlikely he posts the same gaudy numbers he had against New Orleans every week, but he is worth grabbing if he is still available in your league.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SF
Even with Jimmy Garoppolo out, Aiyuk had a big week. He had five catches and 70 yards receiving. That alone would be a solid performance. He also added three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown due to all of San Francisco’s running back injuries. His versatility makes him an interesting prospect going forward. Deebo Samuel will eventually return, as soon as this week in fact, but Aiyuk looks to still have value in this offense as the number two receiver. Expect him to grow into this role as the season rolls on.

Cole Beasley, WR, BUF
I can’t believe I am writing this, but it might be worth picking up Cole Beasley in fantasy this week. He has quietly earned at least six targets in each of his first three games and took it to the next level against the Rams by hitting the century mark in receiving yards. With John Brown out, it is hard to imagine his target share shrinking in an offense that is putting up a lot of points. He faces a solid Raiders defense in Week 4, but gets a disappointing Titans secondary the week after that. As long as Brown is out, Beasley seems like he will be worth grabbing.

Jimmy Graham, TE, CHI
It still seems like the Bears overpaid Jimmy Graham, but he has a real connection with Nick Foles. Graham caught a pair of touchdown passes and earned a solid seven targets after Foles took over at quarterback. It is no secret that Foles likes to rely on his tight ends. Zach Ertz put up good numbers still whenever Foles filled in on the Eagles. It is unlikely Graham becomes an elite tight end option, but he should be viewed as a solid streaming option, even if he is playing against a Colts defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
Slowly but surely, Eric Ebron is carving out a role for himself in this offense. He actually led the Steelers in receptions, receiving yards and shared the team lead in targets. Not to mention he added a touchdown to his statline to complete a really impressive week of scoring. The tight end position has been one of the most frustrating to predict in fantasy this season. Outside of Travis Kelce, is is hard to find a consistent producer at the position. He is far from a slam dunk, but you could do a lot worse than Ebron going forward, especially if Diontae Johnson misses any time due to injury.

Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL
It was not the same type of dominant performance we saw in Week 2, but Dalton Schultz clearly has earned the trust of Dak Prescott. He had four more catches for 48 yards on six targets. That won’t win you your fantasy matchup, but Schultz is deservedly in the conversation as a fringe TE1. With both the 49ers’ Jordan Reed and Eagles’ Dallas Goedert going on IR, this would be a good time to snag him off waivers to hold down the position for a few weeks.

The NFL’s New MVP: Backup Quarterbacks

The NFL changes over time. Before Lawrence Taylor, left tackles did not hold the same value as they did after Taylor battered just about every quarterback he faced. General managers adjusted based on what they were seeing. It seems like it is changing again now regrading the league values backup quarterbacks.

It feels like backup quarterback has become an infinitely more valuable position in the last few years in the NFL. With the rate of injury to starting quarterbacks, it is becoming a necessity to have a good backup. They are quickly becoming a valuable commodity across the league.

nick_foles_calling_play_in_2012
Entering the season, Foles was the second-highest paid backup in the league, behind only Teddy Bridgewater. (Wikimedia Commons)

Think about how many backup quarterbacks you can name during Peyton Manning’s career. Go back further to Dan Marino. Or Roger Staubach. Maybe some of the ones for Marino or Staubach have faded with time, but I grew up during the Peyton Manning-era. Off the top of my head, the only name that comes up is Curtis Painter, and that is mostly because the Colts started him for their final two games of the 2009 season. One of those games was against a Jets team starting Mark Sanchez and needing a win to keep postseason hopes alive. I will forever be thankful for Curtis Painter.

I digress. The point is, most of these backup quarterbacks are pretty much unknown. There wasn’t much value in them unless you were grooming a young quarterback and he needed some guidance. Now, teams are trading for backup quarterbacks, or even notably not giving them up.

The best example is Nick Foles. The backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles had to step in after Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury late in the 2017 season. No doubt, you know what happened by now as Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory and was named the game’s MVP.

Over the offseason, several teams tried to trade for Foles, seeing as Wentz would come back and take over the starting job as soon as he was healthy. Reportedly, Cleveland offered up its second round pick, the 35th overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft in exchange for Foles. That is exception value to receive for your backup quarterback, who you hope won’t have to play all season. The Eagles declined the offer though. While yes, Philly did need Foles to start the season as Wentz was not cleared for contact by week 1, there were plenty of other free agent quarterbacks that could have stepped to start for those two weeks and the Eagles would have some extra ammo in the draft. It also would have cleared a ton of cap space off the books for Philadelphia. Foles will count for $13.6 million against the cap in 2018. However, the Eagles felt they needed a strong enough backup to have in their back pocket, just in case.

42274775080_dfcf903d5c_b
Teddy Bridgewater (right) has not started a game since 2015, but the Saints traded a third-round pick for him to back up Drew Brees. (Wikimedia Commons)

Philly is far from the only team. Several clubs moved to bolster their backup quarterback situation. The Colts refused to move Jacoby Brissett after he stepped in last season to start for Andrew Luck. Minnesota traded for Trevor Siemian in the offseason, despite breaking the bank to sign Kirk Cousins from Washington. The Seahawks traded a sixth round pick in 2019 for Brett Hundley, formerly a backup in Green Bay. The Packers felt comfortable letting go of Hundley because they already had their backup quarterback of the future in Deshone Kizer. The Packers traded for Kizer after he struggled during his rookie season with the Browns. The Saints joined the fun as well, sending a third round draft pick to New York in exchange for Teddy Bridgewater.  Now Kizer did see some action already due to an Aaron Rodgers injury, but without injury, none of these players would see the field in 2018. Their value exists due to the what if.

This whole trend might actually go back a bit further Nick Foles. It likely originates with Matt Cassel back in 2008. He stepped in after Tom Brady was lost for the season with a knee injury. Cassel, never anywhere as close to as good as Brady, led the Patriots to an 11-5 record. He signed a big 4-year deal with the Chiefs the following offseason and proceeded to look way out of his depth. Even though he flamed out of Kansas City, Cassel has made the roster of five different teams in the past six seasons.

Perhaps the best example of the value teams place in having an experienced backup quarterback is the bearded one himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Harvard grad has toured the NFL as the consummate backup quarterback and spot-starter. Fitzpatrick is not a very good passer. In his career, he has completed just under 60 percent of his passes and thrown 43 more interceptions than he has touchdowns. Usually, that would mean you are out of the league, not playing in your 14th NFL season. Fitz has made a living as a journeyman backup. Spotrac puts his career earning at just over $58 million. The fact that teams still sign him is a testament to the value he still holds in the league.

In a similar boat is Josh McCown. Now a backup on the Jets as the franchise puts its faith in Sam Darnold, McCown has a made a career circling the league as a backup. He has made just shy of $50 million for his efforts despite never starting all 16 games in a single season.

30967597455_cc1ab58ced_b
Bradford has made about $14.4 million on average over his nine NFL seasons. (Wikimedia Commons)

Another interesting study is Sam Bradford. He has never been a great quarterback. In his career he is a 62.5 percent passer who averages about 234 yards per game. His career record as a starter is 34-48-1. Sam Bradford is also the 17th highest paid player in NFL history. Yes, you read that right. Now, that stat is a bit skewed. 15 of the 20 highest paid players in league history are currently playing. Four of the five that have retired did so in the last three years. Brett Favre is the only one in the top 20 to retire more than three years ago.

There are some other qualifiers for Bradford’s status. He is the last player selected first overall to negotiate outside of the rookie wage scale, meaning he signed a six-year, $78 million deal before ever taking an NFL snap. For reference, Cam Newton, who was the first overall pick the following year, signed a four-year, $22 million deal for his rookie contract.

Just this year, Bradford signed a one-year deal with Arizona for $20 million. Bradford has not played a full season of football since 2012. He has never made the playoffs as a starter. Yet, he somehow still manages to command money. The Cardinals also drafted Josh Rosen 10th overall this year, so they have a quarterback of the future. They also have Mike Glennon on the roster. With Rosen taking over the starting job, Bradford is now the most expensive backup in the NFL.

They aren’t the first team to do this either. The Bears did it in 2017 with Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky took over right around the same time as Rosen did. I just mentioned that Glennon is also in Arizona. Experience is key for NFL teams looking to find the solution at quarterback.

Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Matt Schaub, Colt McCoy, Drew Stanton, Robert Griffin III, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler. The list goes on and on of players we know do not have what it takes to be starters in this league. Most of them aren’t even that young anymore and don’t represent future prospects looking for their chance. They all have jobs though due to the fact teams are valuing backup quarterbacks more than ever before.

This isn’t to say there weren’t career backups who made the occasional start for an injured quarterback. Before Nick Foles, there was Jeff Hostetler. Hostetler stepped in for an injured Phil Simms late in the 1990 season and did just enough to lead the Giants to a Super Bowl victory. Hostetler went on to start for a few seasons with the Raiders, even making the Pro Bowl in 1994. He was never a great quarterback.

Hostetler never really returned to his backup role, unlike what so many of these current quarterbacks are doing. There are some great backup quarterbacks in NFL history, but they are few and far between.

Earl Morrall backed up Y.A. Tittle, Johnny Unitas and Bob Griese during his career. He played 21 years in the NFL and started fewer than five games per year on average. Steve DeBerg was replaced by Joe Montana, John Elway and Steve Young during his long NFL career. He finished with more interceptions than touchdowns thrown, but lasted 17 seasons in the league.

Most notable backup quarterbacks are few and far between. Perhaps it’s easier to name all of the current backup quarterbacks now because they are still current players. Still, it is hard to dismiss the fact that general managers and fans alike are paying more attention to the depth chart at the quarterback position than ever before.

The Jets need to Resign Fitzpatrick

It’s time to give up the act and end the stalemate. The New York Jets need to suck up their pride and find a way to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a better offer than the one that they have laid out before him right now.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick played for the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans and Texans before joining the Jets.

Now it doesn’t need to be much more than what they have already offered, which is reportedly around $8 million a year for the next three years. Bumping up the offer to more of a middle ground number is something New York has to do.

There are a number of reason why. First and foremost, this guy just had one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. Fitzmagic broke the single season record for passing touchdowns and came close to the yardage record as well ranking second all in team history.

Fitz has his drawbacks for sure, in the number of interceptions he’s thrown, his rep as a journey man and his inability to come up big when the team needed him to in Week 17 against Buffalo last year, but the Jets have to look past all of that.

For the first time in a long time, Gang Green has a positive locker room vibe going. There is a lot of chemistry among this group of guys. That includes Fitzpatrick even though he isn’t officially under contract. Just Tuesday night, a video surfaced on Instagram of the bearded signal caller hanging out with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and Bryce Petty at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers and Penguins playoff game. That kind of comradery is not something that gets formed overnight.

In Fitz, the Jets would get a guy who clearly likes the talent he has around him and has a great relationship with his potential replacement in Petty. He has shown signs of wanting to mentor the former Baylor quarterback.

Many seem to have forgotten the uncertainty of the NFL draft, as fans and analysts peg the Jets to take any one of a number of quarterbacks in the first two rounds. However, drafting a rookie is a huge unknown and New York doesn’t exactly have the best track record for drafting quarterbacks. There is no guarantee that Fitzpatrick will replicate his production from last season, but he is much more of a sure thing than any rookie the Jets could draft.

And then if they want to entertain the laughable notion of signing another quarterback via free agency, New York kind of has slim pickings. Brian Hoyer reportedly visited yesterday, but he is just as much of a journeyman and his playoff performance against Kansas City was less than reassuring. There is always Johnny Manziel, or of course Matt Flynn. How about Tim Tebow? Point is, there isn’t a great plan B.

In a league where guys as average as Joe Flacco get paid $22 million a year, I don’t see why the Jets are so concerned with paying a guy who put up comparable stats about half of that. Upping the offer to around $11 million shouldn’t break the bank.

If Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles about making the playoffs and competing at a high level this season, they need to have the quarterback position solved. Geno Smith is not the answer and Petty is nowhere near ready right now. Especially with a difficult schedule, bringing back Fitzpatrick is the only way the Jets can hope to stay afloat this season.

Blessing in disguise

As a fan, you never hope to see a player injured. Well at least you shouldn’t. However, Jets fans probably feel a slight sigh of relief knowing that they do not have to watch Geno Smith under center again for the next 6-10 weeks. On the surface, this seems like a real issue for the Jets. But when you dig a little deeper, things start to look pretty good actually.

Geno Smith
Smith’s injury require surgery and he will miss the rest of the preseason, along with anywhere from 2-6 weeks of the regular season.

Smith is out those 6-10 weeks due to a broken jaw he sustained when he was “sucker-punched” in the locker room by a teammate. That sounds like a discipline problem that would be rampant under Rex Ryan. However, Todd Bowles already took care of the issue by swiftly cutting IK Enemkpali, a 2014 sixth round draft pick, who wasn’t expected to make the team anyway. So the guy who caused the problem is already gone. It wasn’t a starter on either side of the ball or someone who the Jets had high hopes for. That certainly makes the problem a lot more manageable.

As for replacing Geno, the Jets already have a contingency plan in place. Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in the offseason to offer some competition for Smith and will now step into the starting role. Many feel that Fitzpatrick is more suited for the starting job anyway. He showed flashes of brilliance last year, including a six-touchdown performance against Tennessee, while playing for the Texans. He also knows the offense that Smith was attempting to learn for the first time. Fitzpatrick played under now Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey when he was the head coach in Buffalo. He ran the system for a few years and is very familiar with both the terminology and mindset. Fitzpatrick made his only Pro Bowl playing in that offense. Now, it is a bit much to start expecting a Pro Bowl year out of Fitzpatrick but he should be an immediate upgrade over the incumbent Smith given his prior experience.

Ryan_Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick playing last season in Houston. The Texans were 6-6 in games he started.

For management, this opens a previously unforeseen door. This situation should pan out a lot like the Mark Sanchez situation when Smith joined the team as a rookie. Sanchez injured his shoulder late in the preseason and subsequently missed the entire year. That allowed Geno to take over the starting job and the Jets to cut Sanchez when they thought they had a better option in Smith. Additionally, the Jets are able to see what Fitzpatrick can do in this offense. If he excels, the Jets can release Smith and roll with Fitzpatrick under center until rookie Bryce Petty is ready to take over the gig. If Fitzpatrick struggles, then the Jets can turn the offense back over to Geno when he is healthy. This allow New York to see what they have in Fitzpatrick without having to pull the rug out from underneath Smith. It won’t be awkward either to put Smith in either now if Fitzpatrick struggles because he never started previously. Overall, this situation definitely works out in the Jets’ favor.

I’m sure the coaching staff will maintain that they really saw a lot in Smith and were eager to see him start this season but he has two years of mediocre play in his past already that doesn’t promise much. Smith ranked 25th in Total QBR a season ago, tied with Kyle Orton. In 30 career games played, he has thrown for only 5,571 yards with a 6.88 yard per attempt rate. His completion percentage is a lowly 57.5 and he has thrown nine more interceptions than touchdowns. Smith had his few bright spots in his play, namely against Atlanta in 2013 and Miami at the end of last season, but on the whole he has been one of the five worst starting quarterbacks in the league. He would have to make massive strides to get himself on par with even an average NFL quarterback.

Now with Smith out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jets target another quarterback, like Matt Flynn, in case Fitzpatrick gets hurt. The latter did miss the final four games of the season with a torn pectoral muscle last year. The Jets want to avoid putting Petty into game action at all costs so finding another suitable backup will be a priority.

Smith’s career is all but over in New York. This injury is a blessing in disguise. It allows the new regime to find a quarterback they selected to start. It may also be a blessing for Geno. All of the reports this offseason have indicated that this was a great camp for him. With no evidence so far to prove otherwise, that means Smith might draw some interest from other clubs if he is released from New York. He would be a project player but because Smith never had a chance to play, he will be an unknown commodity. That usually isn’t a good thing but it certainly beats out being a proven failure, which Smith would have been had he blown yet another chance in New York. When all is said in done, I think this will settle well for everyone. Now, to go send IK Enempalki a thank you card….