Phillip Walker Who?

Phillip Walker Who?

I really wanted to title this article ‘Phillip Walker is the Indianapolis Colts QB to Own in 2QB Fantasy Leagues in 2017’ but that felt too hawt taek-y for me, and, well, I have a wholesome brand to uphold. Plus, the whole ‘Insert Backup QB Nobody Cares About + Who?‘ title is sorta my thing.

“Bad quarterbacks” analysis seems to have become my calling card in the fantasy football industry. Ever since my days at XN Sports, I’ve highlighted backup and third-string signal-callers who may or may not amount to much of anything.

Just look at this illustrious list of NFL quarterbacks I’ve profiled over the years:

If there’s ever a case to be made for my Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame candidacy, it’s most certainly a 900-word article on Mike Motherfucking Bercovici…

While we like to kid about backup quarterbacks in fantasy football, 2QBers are well aware of how important they are in our niche fantasy football world. Be it due to injury or ineffective play, turnover at the quarterback position happens frequently in the NFL. Last season we saw 54 different quarterbacks start at least one game in the NFL. The year before that, 53 signal-callers took starters snaps under center, and both Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Clausen started for two different teams.

Ryan. Mallett. And. Jimmy. Clausen. Started. For. Two. Different. Teams. In. One. Season!

Only nine teams over the course of the last two seasons have had the same quarterback start all 32 games:

  • Atlanta: Matt Ryan
  • Detroit: Matthew Stafford
  • Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers
  • Jacksonville: Blake Bortles
  • New York Giants: Eli Manning
  • San Diego (Los Angeles): Philip Rivers
  • Seattle: Russell Wilson
  • Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston
  • Washington: Kirk Cousins

Below is a list of all quarterbacks who have started at least one game over the past two years.

Starting Quarterbacks Since 2015

Quarterback
A.J. McCarron
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Smith
Andrew Luck
Andy Dalton
Austin Davis
Ben Roethlisberger
Blaine Gabbert
Blake Bortles
Brandon Weeden
Brian Hoyer
Brock Osweiler
Bryce Petty
Cam Newton
Carson Palmer
Carson Wentz
Case Keenum
Cody Kessler
Colin Kaepernick
Dak Prescott
Derek Anderson
Derek Carr
Drew Brees
Drew Stanton
EJ Manuel
Eli Manning
Geno Smith
Jacoby Brissett
Jameis Winston
Jared Goff
Jay Cutler
Jimmy Clausen
Jimmy Garoppolo
Joe Flacco
Johnny Manziel
Josh Freeman
Josh McCown
Kellen Moore
Kirk Cousins
Landry Jones
Luke McCown
Marcus Mariota
Mark Sanchez
Matt Barkley
Matt Cassel
Matt McGloin
Matt Moore
Matt Ryan
Matt Schaub
Matthew Hasselbeck
Matthew Stafford
Michael Vick
Nick Foles
Paxton Lynch
Peyton Manning
Philip Rivers
Robert Griffin III
Russell Wilson
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Mallett
Ryan Tannehill
Sam Bradford
Scott Tolzien
Shaun Hill
Teddy Bridgewater
TJ Yates
Tom Brady
Tom Savage
Tony Romo
Trevor Siemian
Tyrod Taylor
Zach Mettenberger

Yup, you read that correctly. A grand total of 72 different quarterbacks have started one game the past two seasons. Of those 72 quarterbacks, 48 posted at least one fantasy QB1 (top-12) finish. Kevin Hogan would have made it 49, but he didn’t start the game he record a top-12 fantasy performance. Below is the list of the 48 fantasy QB1s the past two seasons.

Starting Quarterbacks With One Weekly Fantasy QB1 (Top-12) Finish Since 2015

Quarterback
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Smith
Andrew Luck
Andy Dalton
Ben Roethlisberger
Blaine Gabbert
Blake Bortles
Brandon Weeden
Brian Hoyer
Brock Osweiler
Cam Newton
Carson Palmer
Carson Wentz
Case Keenum
Cody Kessler
Colin Kaepernick
Dak Prescott
Derek Carr
Drew Brees
EJ Manuel
Eli Manning
Geno Smith
Jameis Winston
Jay Cutler
Jimmy Garoppolo
Joe Flacco
Johnny Manziel
Josh McCown
Kirk Cousins
Marcus Mariota
Matt Barkley
Matt Cassel
Matt Moore
Matt Ryan
Matthew Stafford
Nick Foles
Peyton Manning
Philip Rivers
Robert Griffin
Russell Wilson
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Tannehill
Sam Bradford
Teddy Bridgewater
Tom Brady
Tony Romo
Trevor Siemian
Tyrod Taylor

The obvious elite quarterback names are there: Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, and Tyrod Taylor. But you also see the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Case Keenum, EJ Manuel, Johnny Manziel, and Trevor Siemian, to highlight just a few.


Editor’s Note: For more analysis geared towards 2QB and Superflex fantasy leagues, purchase a copy of our Draft Guide that features over 170 pages of league-winning information.


What does this all have to do with Phillip Walker? All quarterbacks matter in 2QB and Superflex fantasy football leagues. The backups and the backups to the backups have a role in the real NFL, and when/if they are ever given an opportunity to play meaningful snaps, they have a place in the fake football world as well.

Where’s Andrew Luck?

The reason why the spotlight of this article is on Walker has to do with the uncertainty of Andrew Luck. The face of the Colts franchise, Luck will be the team’s QB1 and a fantasy QB1 whenever he is healthy enough to play. That is a fact. However, there’s not really any definitive word as to whether or not Luck will suit up for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. Since undergoing surgery to repair a shoulder injury, Luck has yet to be seen partaking in any significant football moves. The below tweet from Jene Bramel of Footballguys gives us an idea of where we stand with Luck.

If Luck were to miss Week 1, or be put on the PUP list, backup Scott Tolzien would be in line to start for the team versus the Los Angeles Rams. We all remember what happened when Tolzien started for an injured Luck last season, don’t we?

In Week 12 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tolzien finished with 8.8 fantasy points and was the QB31 on the week. Only Sam Bradford scored fewer fantasy points that week (6.96). Tolzien was a QB2 streaming option heading into Week 12 because the Steelers had allowed five QB1 (top-12) finishes in 10 games and gave up an average of 16.14 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. The Steelers had allowed 15+ fantasy points in a game seven times out of 10 games, and allowed QB1 finishes to the likes of Carson Wentz and Alex Smith. Tolzien’s single-digit fantasy performance was a letdown, to say the least.

At least we’ll always have Spin Move Tolzien.

Who is Phillip “P.J.” Walker?

Since we’ve seen what Tolzien can do, and already know a little bit about him. Let’s put the focus on Walker.

If there were any “more” Philip Walker player news blurbs it’d be his first on Rotoworld. And Player Profiler doesn’t seem to be a safe haven for Walker either

By the time Walker ended his collegiate career as a Temple Owl, he led the American Conference in career attempts (1,458), completions (830), and total yards (11,439), and was second in passing yards (10,668) and passing touchdowns (74). He also threw the most interceptions (44). Walked also sported an average adjusted passing yards per attempt mark of 7.0 in his career, and had an AY/A of 8.0 his final collegiate season.

While the stats were impressive, they came in an American Conference, where the leaderboard features such noteworthy conference alums as Dane Evans, Paxton Lynch, Gunner Kiel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Blake Bortles. Walker did make the 2016 Davey O’Brien watch list for the best college football quarterback, but that’s also saying I made the watch list for the Alex Smith fan club.

My Walker curiosity was piqued when our own Derrik Klassen wrote about him as a late-round/undrafted quarterback prospect to monitor prior to the start of the 2017 NFL Draft:

I followed up with Klassen recently to give me his current thoughts on Walker’s fit in the Colts’ offense, if he were to see meaningful regular season snaps under center. Here’s what Klassen had to say:

Phillip Walker is a deep-drop quarterback, similar to Andrew Luck. He does not possess the same caliber of traits that Luck does, but he is the same style of passer. Walker is at his best when he can utilize his arm. Intermediate and deep routes are his comfort zone, and he has the velocity to test the boundary. Designed rollouts and play-action also suit Walker quite well. He needs to hone his field vision and reign in his ball placement, but he has the baseline ability to become a functional NFL passer.

Sometimes, “functional NFL passer” is all it takes to become relevant in the NFL.

What About Stephen Morris?

The coaching staff in Indianapolis announced this weekend the backup quarterback reps would go to Stephen Morris, as the team prepares for their preseason tilt versus the Steelers.

The bump down to QB3 in theory means I should have never written this article, but is Morris that big of a threat to Walker? Since entering the league in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, Morris has signed with three different teams and been cut six times, including being signed and cut by the Colts in 2015. He has never thrown a regular season pass. Morris might be the backup now, but it could very well be Walker next week. It wasn’t that long ago Walker was the QB2 and deemed to have more upside, according to an article in the Indianapolis Star:

Coach Chuck Pagano said this preseason that he loves Walker’s arm. But he also sees plenty of room for him to grow. That’s why the Colts are so intrigued by his upside, and giving him an edge — for now — over Morris.

“He’s got talent. He’s got arm talent. He’s got a big arm; he can make all of the throws,” Pagano said. “He’s making a ton of mistakes like the rest of the young guys out there. He’s still learning but he’s wired the right way.”

The reality of the situation is that both Morris and Walker are backups to Tolzien, the potential QB1.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

The following needs to happen for Walker to become relevant in 2017:

  • Andrew Luck needs to not be cleared to play Week 1.
  • Scott Tolzien would have to get injured/play so poorly the rest of the preseason the Colts bench him.
  • Ditto above for Stephen Morris.
  • The Colts would have to not sign a veteran stop-gap free agent quarterback.

That’s a lot of what ifs.

But maybe Walker is the next Russell Wilson?

#RIP Matt Flynn’s Seahawks career.

Remember, 72 quarterbacks have started a game the past two seasons; a list that includes Zach Mettenberger. We also should remember that even if Walker starts Week 1, it might only be a one-week stint, and only owners in the deepest of deep 2QB leagues would even remotely consider starting him. We also have to brace ourselves for the possibility that Walker is not good at football. And that maybe this article should have been titled Stephen Morris Who? I’ll be the first to admit it’s a long shot Walker starts in 2017, but we’re now into Year Two of the Trevor Siemian era, and Case Keenum scored nearly 30 fantasy points in a game last season. We need to be prepared for any and all possiblities. Also, not enough attention has been paid to the fact Walker used to go by P.J., instead of Phillip or Phil. Don’t you want to start a quarterback in your fantasy lineup named P.J.?

*Stats used in this article courtesy of FantasyData, Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, Sports-Reference/CFB, and Pro-Football-Reference.

Salvatore Stefanile

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and has been playing fantasy football since his high school days. He is a proponent of 2QB fantasy football leagues and his work has been featured on XN Sports, RotoViz, and Rotoworld. His writing on 2QB fantasy football leagues earned him the FSWA award for 'Best Fantasy Football On-Going Series' in 2013. He earned a second FSWA nomination in 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @2QBFFB

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