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Quarterbacks are almost always the highest-scoring position in any fantasy football league, which makes it important to keep up with their comings and goings, even in the offseason.
Last season, 11 of the top 12 fantasy scorers were quarterbacks, with the exception being Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who finished seventh overall. In 2011, quarterbacks held eight of the top 12 spots on the leaderboard.
This year, most of the quarterback movement comes from players who will be backups on fantasy teams. There were no Peyton Manning-type signings. In addition, while the NFL draft is still three weeks away, it doesn't appear it will provide star performances like we saw in 2012 from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
Backups still play an important role on fantasy teams. While most of this year's top quarterbacks stayed relatively healthy (the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks started 188 of 192 games), that isn't always the case and backups can play a huge role in winning a title.
Fantasy owners who were depending on Ben Roethlisberger to carry them to victory last season will agree with that. So will Michael Vick owners from 2011 as will Tom Brady owners from 2008 who will never forget opening day against Kansas City.
The free agent signing period has been in full swing for a month and a number of quarterbacks have jumped, or been pushed, to new teams. Let's take a look at them to see what kind of fantasy value they hold with their new teams.
Carson Palmer - Oakland to Arizona
Palmer threw 565 passes for 4,018 yards and 22 touchdowns last season to finish 18th among fantasy quarterbacks. For the most part, he did it with no running game - Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were injured or hobbling for a majority of the season. He also was dealing with a mediocre group of receivers led by Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. He arrives in Arizona to find another offense with a questionable running game. But he has an All-Pro receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and a talented second-year wideout in Michael Floyd. Though he may not be able to carry a fantasy team, Palmer could be useful as part of a "quarterback-by-committee" option.
Alex Smith - San Francisco to Kansas City
New coach Andy Reid is likely to install the same past-first offense we saw him run in Philadelphia and Smith will be his quarterback with Chase Daniel the backup. Smith will have a veteran group of receivers in Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster and tight end Tony Moeaki. He'll also throw the ball to Jamaal Charles as Reid figures to use him just as he did LeSean McCoy. Smith never threw more than 445 times in any season for the 49ers, but under Reid, who averaged 578 pass plays over the past five seasons in Philadelphia, that will change and Smith should become a viable low-end starting quarterback for fantasy owners.
Matt Flynn - Seattle to Oakland
Flynn never could win the Seattle job outright during the Seahawks' training camp and a sore elbow led to a rookie getting the starting nod. Turns out Wilson was an extraordinary young quarterback who led his team into the playoffs while Flynn's primary weapon last season was a clipboard. Flynn will finally get his chance with the Raiders as Terrelle Pryor is their only other option at this point. If McFadden can stay healthy, the Raiders will have the talent to run a balanced offense. The receiving corps is still questionable with Heyward-Bey in Indianapolis and a top three of Moore, Jacoby Ford and Rod Streater. This situation doesn't appear to have the necessary ingredients for Flynn to be a full-time fantasy starter, but he could be used as a spot starter.
Kevin Kolb - Arizona to Buffalo
Kolb signed a two-year deal with the Bills after two unsuccessful seasons in the desert and no one thinks he's the long-term answer to Buffalo's quarterback situation. The Bills could easily select West Virginia's Geno Smith with the eighth pick of the draft. Even if Kolb ends up as the opening day starter, Buffalo has just one reliable receiver (Stevie Johnson) and feature the running game behind C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Kolb's fantasy value in Buffalo is only as an emergency option.
David Garrard - Free Agency to New York Jets
Garrard opened Miami's 2012 training camp as the starter, but a knee problem quickly ended his chances with the Dolphins. He's been promised a chance to start for the Jets, who still have Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow on their roster. Even at his best Garrard had barely any fantasy value - he's never thrown for more than 3,620 yards or for more than 23 touchdowns in a season. We don't expect much from him in the Big Apple.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Buffalo to Tennessee
Fitzpatrick was brought to Tennessee with the absolute knowledge that he's the backup for Jake Locker and barring injury won't play on a regular basis. The Titans have a nice core of receivers (Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright), but Fitzpatrick is exclusively a midseason pickup option if Locker gets hurt and nothing more.
Matt Cassel - Kansas City to Minnesota
Like Fitzpatrick, Cassel knows he's the understudy for youngster Christian Ponder and will only play in an injury situation. Given that fact, Cassel should not be selected on draft day and will have no fantasy value unless Ponder is hurt.
Colt McCoy - Cleveland to San Francisco
McCoy will compete with Scott Tolzien for the No. 2 duties in San Francisco and therefore isn't guaranteed to be the handcuff for Colin Kaepernick. Even if he wins the backup role, McCoy never proved in three seasons with Cleveland that he can be a fantasy-worthy quarterback.
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