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Is it time to sit Matt Schaub?

11/18/2010

The fantasy football world buzzed a little Wednesday night when the news broke that Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub had been hospitalized with a bursa sac in his right knee. Schaub hasn't exactly remained friends with the fantasy community this season after leading the NFL in passing yards and finishing as the No. 5 quarterback in standard scoring formats just a year ago. That, of course, led to him being selected in the third round of ESPN average live drafts, which, uh, hasn't worked out so great for his owners. He's currently 15th in quarterback scoring, barely ahead of David Garrard and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Schaub didn't spend much time in the hospital. In fact, by the time you read this, he'll already have appeared back at the team facility, though he's unlikely to practice. Regardless, the Texans remain confident that Schaub will suit up and handle the quarterback duties Sunday, meaning backup Dan Orlovsky, who took snaps with the first team Wednesday, likely will remain on the sideline. By the way, the team's third-stringer is Matt Leinart (in case you were wondering where he ended up). He'll be holding that clipboard again Sunday, unless there's a Tyler Thigpen-type situation and the team's quarterback depth chart gets used up. So the Texans expect the hierarchy to remain Schaub, then Orlovsky. Then again, the Texans face the New York Jets this week. Were Schaub owners excited to use him in the first place?

I'll say this about the Jets' defense: I'm far more concerned about it from a fantasy aspect in terms of playing my running backs, not quarterbacks or wide receivers. The Jets are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and 11th against wide receivers. In theory, the Jets can be thrown on, and that's including the games awesome cornerback Darrelle Revis has played in. Two weeks ago, the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford picked the Jets apart for a 94.7 passer rating, with 240 yards, two touchdowns and nary a turnover. Fantasy's top player this season is Texans running back Arian Foster, and I bumped him down to No. 6 this week due to the matchup, since the Jets are the best team in the league (in terms of fantasy points) at shutting down opposing running backs. I didn't have similar concerns with Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson.

A week ago, Schaub threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, posting 21 fantasy points against the Jacksonville Jaguars' hapless pass defense. That was no surprise. Schaub should light up that unit. The Texans are actually the easiest team in the league for opposing quarterbacks to torch, which makes for shootouts, and fantasy owners love those. So will the Texans-Jets matchup be a shootout? I ranked Schaub 10th this week at quarterback, trusting his talent and being careful to properly analyze what the New York defense has and has not done well, but certainly the newfound concerns about Schaub's knee have to be taken into consideration. Plus, while Schaub hasn't missed a start since 2008 (viral infection), he certainly has had some injury woes in the past (shoulder, left knee).

Still, let's not overrate this knee bursitis. I'm going to stick with Schaub as a starter in 10- and 12-team leagues for now. Coincidentally, opponent Mark Sanchez of the Jets is my No. 11 quarterback this week, so to answer my own question, yes, I do expect points to be somewhat plentiful Sunday. This is not the shutdown defense the Jets flashed a year ago; the Jets D itself ranks 12th in fantasy scoring, tied with the St. Louis Rams and behind the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions, among other teams. Maybe that's a story for another day, how the Jets' defense is overrated from a fantasy aspect, but the point here is that unless we learn that Schaub's knee is still a problem in the coming days, I'm not going to overreact and change my opinion or rank on him for Week 11. Even with his relatively disappointing campaign, he's still a borderline starting quarterback for fantasy leagues, even this week.