Editor’s Note: This article is co-written by Member Writer Eric Dickens and DLF Partner Ken Kelly. It’s an opinion piece designed strictly to make a strong case for two particular players matched up head-to-head. After reading, cast your vote in the poll for who you would choose between these two players.
As we move deeper into the Summer, it’s a good time for a staple series of articles at DLF – the dynasty debate. These debates are designed to give an argument for either keeping or trading for a player of similar value. Use these debates to help you in making trade decisions or in your initial dynasty league drafts.
The Case for Josh Freeman
Going into the 2010 season, not many had high hopes for Josh Freeman outside of Tampa Bay fans and dynasty football owners. His rookie season in the NFL left a lot to be desired, including completion percentage below 50% and an interception to touchdown ratio of almost 2:1. He also struggled with consistency from game to game, often following a solid performance with a miserable one.
All of that seemed to change overnight with the beginning of the 2010 season. Freeman looked like a different quarterback with command over the offense, good decision making ability, the knack to perform under pressure and most importantly, consistency.
He took advantage of defenses in the bottom third of the league, averaging 26.5 fantasy points per game. Against the top third of defenses, his fantasy averaged dipped to a still respectable 18.8 points per game. His points per game average of 19.25 was good enough to place him as the seventh overall quarterback in standard scoring leagues.
Freeman also improved his interception to touchdown ratio by throwing for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He put up almost 3,500 yards through the air, while adding 364 yards on the ground. All in all, he improved in almost every single statistical category in his sophomore season, but still has a ton of potential before reaching his ceiling.
He is currently listed as our twelfth ranked quarterback in our Dynasty Essentials Guide, which puts him on the edge of being a QB1 in a 12-team league. That ranking could even be perceived as a little bit low, as we’re making a case here to move him ahead of the ninth ranked Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans.
There is a big age disparity between Schaub (soon to be 30) and Freeman, who just turned 23. That difference could equate to quite a few seasons of potential fantasy points for Freeman long after Schaub is finished playing the game. The age difference, along with the age of the surrounding cast is an advantage in Freeman’s favor.
The argument could be made that Schaub has shown his high-level performance over the past few years and has many weapons at his disposal. Although you can’t disagree with that line of thinking, Freeman’s offensive weapons may not be far behind.
In drafting Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn prior to last season, along with the signing of undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount, the Buccaneers have added plenty of firepower at the skill positions. Throw in tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and the recently drafted Luke Stocker and the offense is set for the foreseeable future.
The one concern with the Buccaneers future is the lack of talent on the offensive line, although Freeman’s athleticism covers up for a significant number of breakdowns. Even with a sub-par year from the offensive line, Freeman improved dramatically from the ’09 season to the ’10 season by running for those 364 yards.
Expect to see Freeman take another step forward in his aggressiveness to take advantage of the holes in the defense next year. That, combined with moving through his progressions more rapidly, should improve his yards per completion as well as total passing yards. The emergence of the power running game in the second half of 2010 should also help slow down the pass rush. When rushed, his ability to get outside the pocket and make plays with his feet is what sets him apart from most of his peers.
Expectations for Freeman moving forward are based on several things: the natural jump for second to third year quarterbacks, improvement in the skill position players around him and regression in the rushing touchdown numbers.
If you thought he was impressive last season, just wait.
The Case for Matt Schaub
It wasn’t too long ago that Schaub was holding a clipboard for Michael Vick in Atlanta. While the Falcons have obviously moved on with Matt Ryan, one has to wonder what could have been had Schaub been given a chance with the Falcons. After being moved to Houston, he’s blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in both fantasy and reality.
In fantasy football, numbers mean everything.
It’s pretty simple. Any team with Matt Schaub as an asset boasts a player who has a combined 9,140 passing yards and 53 touchdowns the past two seasons. Only Peyton Manning has more passing yards than Schaub the past two years, besting him by a measly 60 yards. That statistic further illustrates the fact that Schaub has complete control of the Texans offense.
Schaub has evolved into one of the fantasy football’s few constants. His career completion percentage is nearly 65% and his passer rating is over 90, ensuring he’s going to be a starter for a long, long time. With a few years of watching and learning under his belt, you could also make the case his career should be extended since he didn’t take the punishment most rookies and young quarterbacks endure at the beginning of their careers.
If you want to talk about a supporting cast, it’s tough to find one better than Schaub’s. With Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, it’s quite possible the Texans could have an offense that could amazingly produce fantasy football’s premier running back and wide receiver in the same season. Foster is an adept pass catcher who caught 66 passes in his first season as a starter and Johnson has averaged over 100 catches the past three years. If Jacoby Jones, Dorin Dickerson or someone else becomes a viable number two, look out. Schaub has options on every play and has two of the games most explosive playmakers. While Freeman may improve next season, there’s no guarantee that Schaub won’t do the same.
While the Bucs have some great young players, they all have question marks. Mike Williams is still a character risk, Arrelious Benn is coming off a major knee surgery and LeGarrette Blount is far from a role model off the field. If you own Freeman, you’re playing with fire if you think all three of those players are going to be long term staples of the Tampa offense. History has shown a lack of maturity can bring down a career pretty quickly and the tandem of Williams and Blount have a bit of a checkered past. Thrown in a long recovery from Benn and that group’s future is murky at best.
It’s true that Schaub is older than Freeman, that’s not something you can argue. However, he’s shown an element of consistency and a body of work that gives fantasy owners a nice little security blanket. How many times have we seen quarterbacks put up a solid season, then regress back into mediocrity? Freeman put up great numbers, but as noted, he didn’t play nearly as well against better competition. If the Bucs do continue winning, their schedule won’t be a walk in the park any longer. There just isn’t enough history to prove Freeman can put up consistent numbers – at least not enough to pencil him in as your QB1. Even Rick Mirer was good for one season!
Freeman’s future is still largely unknown, while Schaub’s is set in stone. If Blount can keep up the torrid pace he started to set the second half of the season, it could be argued his emergence will hurt Freeman’s fantasy numbers. If Blount can begin to break tackles and be more effective in short yardage situations, many of the short touchdown opportunities simply won’t be there for Freeman. With Schaub, the offense has already evolved around showcasing his abilities. After all, it’s not like Arian Foster could actually be any better next year, right?
In the end, you could take a shot with Freeman since he’s a promising young talent with a growing supporting cast. However, it’s much safer to go with Schaub if you want to pencil in a few more seasons with 4,000 passing yards and 20 plus touchdowns.
After all, it’s all about the numbers.
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