While one running quarterback was putting on quite the stunning fourth-quarter comeback Sunday, leading his upstart team to a shocking road win against the New York Giants and solidifying his name in the MVP discussion, there was another running quarterback scoring 22 fantasy points in his first NFL start. No, I am not going to logically compare rookie Tim Tebow to proven fantasy stud Michael Vick, except to say fantasy owners must pay particular attention to quarterbacks who can run, because the good ones are special. And Tebow looked special.
It's just one game, of course, and Tebow's passing numbers in Sunday's 39-23 loss to the Oakland Raiders look pedestrian, with only eight completions in 16 attempts, a Jimmy Clausen-like 138 passing yards and one touchdown pass that frankly should not have been (a Raiders defender whiffed and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had the gift fall in his arms in the end zone). Still, that's 22 fantasy points, because Tebow buoyed his passing figures with 78 rushing yards and a touchdown. He managed to provide this in a hostile environment, with nasty weather and with his starting running back on the sidelines. It's way too early to type this with confidence, so don't misread the intent, but aren't those numbers typical of what Vick did in his early Atlanta Falcons years, before he learned how to properly read defenses, use his arm for good and make wise, on-field decisions? And that Vick was certainly fantasy viable.
While I don't take these types of chances in the fantasy playoffs, Tebow might be fantasy viable immediately, and you bet I don't want to see my Week 16 or 17 fantasy opponent using him at quarterback. This week the Denver Broncos, and presumably their rookie quarterback and not 28-year-old Kyle Orton, face the Houston Texans. You know the Texans, the league's patsy against the pass, easily the worst in preventing opposing fantasy quarterbacks from piling up numbers. Kerry Collins looked like Dan Marino on Sunday against them. Tebow won't be a top-10 quarterback in my Wednesday rankings because there are easily 10 safer, more reliable options, but does any fantasy owner want to see his fantasy opponent in Week 16 -- the Super Bowl in many leagues -- add and activate Tebow? I sure wouldn't.
Sunday was a stunning day for quarterbacks making their season or career starting debuts. I do know someone who went with Tebow as a flex play, where there was far less risk there than trusting him as a quarterback. I actually recommended Rex Grossman to a few owners, and felt relieved when he threw four touchdown passes (while also hitting my predicted over/under for turnovers). He looks relatively intriguing the rest of the way. I think Aaron Rodgers returns for Week 16 against the beleaguered Giants, but who wasn't rooting for plucky Matt Flynn to beat the New England Patriots late Sunday night, other than, of course, Patriots fans? The LSU product came ever so close. I don't know who would have used him in fantasy, but if Rodgers gets hurt again, now you know Flynn's capable, just like Philly reserve Kevin Kolb changed minds earlier this season. Two days ago, you would have laughed at the thought of Matt Flynn being useful statistically.
Look, I will never laugh at a fantasy owner who abandons his stud quarterback because of a rough matchup -- think Ben Roethlisberger against the New York Jets -- in the fantasy playoffs for an unknown, because I've seen crazy things happen in fantasy playoffs past. I lost multiple leagues a week or two before I should have because of the stunning play of Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Billy Volek and receiver Drew Bennett in 2004 (wow, was that really six years ago?). The Titans' upstart duo was just sitting there on free agency and I didn't play the keep-away game.
Well, let me tell you, even while I wouldn't confidently trust Tebow or Grossman, or Flynn should he be summoned again for Weeks 16 and/or 17, if I have an unused bench spot, I'd make sure the upstarts aren't available to aid my opponent and wipe me out as well. Tebow might lay an egg against the Texans this week, but the optimist in me says this kid can seriously play, and those who don't take him seriously could pay for not doing so. If Tebow runs his way into our fantasy hearts these final three weeks, it would surprise me because he's a raw rookie; then again, when it comes to running quarterbacks, maybe we should have expected something different all along.