Remember when Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns versus the Detroit Lions in a meaningless Week 17 contest and then signed a three-year, $26 million contract? …
Remember when Brock Osweiler started seven games, only to get benched for an effective Peyton Manning at the end of the 2015 season, and then signed a four year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans to be their presumed starter?
Wow I know I'm going to get killed for this and I don't have a lot of room to talk, but this latest QB contract is unbelievable…….. 😮
— Matt Flynn (@mflynn3) March 9, 2016
The two situations feel eerily similar, don’t they?
Flynn was beaten out by a then rookie Russell Wilson promptly following his three-year, $26 million deal for the starting job in Seattle, and was then eventually traded to Oakland, where he was beat out by Terrelle Pryor. He’s been a journeyman backup since the Raiders released him, making pit stops in Buffalo, Green Bay, New England, New York (Jets), and New Orleans.
Will Osweiler follow a similar path? My Magic 8-ball is broken, so I cannot predict now the answer to that question. But we can attempt to see what his fantasy future has in store…
Brock Osweiler: Texans Savior or JAG?
Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ryan Mallett. Case Keenum. Brian Hoyer. T.J. Yates. Brandon Weeden.
A list of of my favorite quarterbacks? No, but close. It’s a list of the starting quarterbacks Bill O’Brien has had the pleasure of coaching in his two-year Houston stint. In each of the past two seasons the Texans have started at least three different quarterbacks.
You can see from that above list of names, O’Brien really hasn’t had a whole lot of talent to work with. Will Osweiler stop the trend of multiple starting quarterbacks or will he just be the first name on the list for the 2016 season?
The Texans, and 2QBers, hope it’s not the latter. For someone selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, we don’t have a lot of meaningful tape to gauge Osweiler’s talent.
The first three and a half seasons of his career were spent on the bench in Denver, watching Peyton Manning. If it wasn’t for Manning’s declining play and injuries in 2015, Osweiler may have never seen the field at all.
Osweiler did start the final seven regular season games for the Broncos and the results were mixed. In those seven games, he completed 156-of-251 passes for 1,821 yards, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. His weekly fantasy finishes as a starter: QB23, QB9, QB26, QB22, QB4, QB11, QB28.
That’s as up-and-down as you can get, with three QB1 (top-12) finishes, two inside the QB2 tier, and three QB3 (unstartable) performances. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com’s Around The NFL summed it up best when he broke down the signing:
“The Texans are taking a risk by putting so much faith in an unknown quantity, even as it leaves an AFC rival caught flat-footed. Osweiler was streaky in seven starts last season. He handled himself well for a first-time starter but also went through long droughts where he could not move the offense. He showed good arm strength and pocket movement but was slow to make decisions like many young quarterbacks.”
The two words that stand out the most in the above paragraph are unknown quantity. The Texans don’t know what they’re getting from Osweiler as a long-term starting quarterback, and 2QBers don’t know what they’re getting in terms of a fantasy QB2/QB3.
Two things that might help us paint a picture as to Osweiler’s fantasy value: DeAndre Hopkins and Bill O’Brien…
DeAndre Hopkins: A Quarterback’s BFF
Since entering the league in 2013, Nuk has turned into one of the premier talents at the wide receiver position. In 2014, he was the fantasy WR15 in standard leagues (WR14 in PPR), and last season he turned in his first WR1 campaign, finishing as the WR6 and WR4 in standard and PPR leagues, respectively.
Last season, Nuk was third in targets (192), tied for third in receptions (111), third in receiving yards (1,521), and sixth in touchdowns (11) in the NFL. The next two leading receivers in Houston (Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts) combined for 89 catches, 1,142 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns.
To say Nuk WAS the Texans offense in 2015 would be an understatement.
Arian Foster’s injury-plagued season did have an impact though, to be fair. In the seasons Foster was healthy, he had carry totals of 327, 278, 351, and 260. In each of those seasons he was a top-7 back in terms of carries, and his 351 carry campaign in 2012 led the league.
With Alfred Blue leading the way with 183 carries, it’s easy to see why Bill O’Brien went with a more pass-heavy approach in 2015. Still, a weapon such as Hopkins can turn average quarterbacks into fantasy startable assets, which is something that may happen to Osweiler now that he’s in Houston.
Lamar Miller signing in Houston could see the Texans emphasize the run again though, which is something to factor in to your decision when deciding to take a shot on drafting Osweiler in 2QB leagues this offseason.
Bill O’Brien: Quarterback Whisperer
What about the coach and the system though? Our own Anthony Amico recently called O’Brien one of the true quarterback whisperers in the NFL on the most recent 2QB Experience Podcast. And this is where you can build a case for Osweiler as a fantasy QB2, if you were to find yourself in such a situation this upcoming fantasy season.
In an off-season piece I wrote for TwoQBs back in January, I briefly profiled the Houston quarterback situation from a fantasy perspective.
The quartet of Hoyer, Mallett, Yates, and Weeden combined to thrown for 615 passes, 28 touchdowns, and scored 263.24 fantasy points in 2015. To quote my own article, “The 615 attempts would have been the fifth-most in the league, the 28 touchdowns would have been the 14th-most, and the 263.24 fantasy points would have yielded a fantasy QB17 finish.”
With those combined stats, you have yourself a mid-tier QB2. From a weekly fantasy standpoint, Hoyer finished as a top-12 (QB1) fantasy option four times last season, and Brandon Weeden added a fifth weekly QB1 finish under O’Brien.
Combining the 2014 stats of Fitzpatrick, Mallet, and Keenum gets you the fantasy QB19 (222.42 fantasy points). Fitzpatrick’s 179.72 fantasy points in 11 full starts (12 games) saw him finish as the fantasy QB21.
Like in 2015, a Texan signal caller finished as a weekly fantasy QB1 (top-12) five times in 2014; Fitzpatrick four times and Case Keenum once.
To recap, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Case Keenum, and Brandon Weeden combined for ten weekly QB1 finishes the past two seasons in Houston, and the cumulative fantasy points of Houston starters the past two seasons range from mid-to-low QB2.
Maybe O’Brien is a quarterback whisperer.
We’ll have a clearer picture of Osweiler’s fantasy value later in the drafting season, once redraft 2QB ADP begins to formulate. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land in the bottom of the QB2 tier. Last August, the presumed 2015 starter, Ryan Mallett was drafted as the QB29 on average, while Hoyer went undrafted. In 2014, Fitzpatrick’s ADP was QB28.
Osweiler might not be drafted as low as Mallett was last season, but the depth of the quarterback position and the “unknown quantity” aspect will push Osweiler down draft boards. The current average TwoQBs.com staff quarterback ranking for Osweiler is 27.75, with ranks ranging from as high as 26 to as low as 30.
Throwing to Nuk Hopkins and playing under O’Brien makes Osweiler an intriguing late-round quarterback selection in 2QB redrafts this year. Late QB2/early QB3 tier is where I would consider taking him, as there will be plenty of quarterback options to choose from.
In 2QB dynasty formats, starting quarterbacks tend to yield a high price, and with a locked-in starting quarterback such as Osweiler, you’re looking to fork over a starting player at a non-quarterback position or a first/second round rookie pick. I don’t think he’s worth that much, and wouldn’t find myself buying. I would, however, consider selling if my stable of quarterbacks was solid and I needed depth elsewhere or an infusion of rookie picks.
In the end, like any other signal caller, price will play a role in how I approach Osweiler. I would feel comfortable with him as my QB3, but I tend to reserve that spot for quarterbacks who have a higher ceiling. I’m not sure Osweiler fits the bill.