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Same Old Story?

A field goal had just sent the game into overtime, but the Vikings, led by veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper, had won the toss and seemed determined to march down the field and reclaim the victory that had been stolen from them earlier.

The Falcons, however, had other plans. Linebacker Sam Rogers took Culpepper down for a sack to force a punt from the Vikings on their first overtime possession. The ball would then be put into the hands of the young, emerging, seemingly limitless talent known as Mike Vick.

Vick already had gained over 100 yards rushing during the game, so the Vikings knew he would probably be looking to run. The problem was, however, that knowing this Vick phenom was going to run and stopping this Vick phenom from running were two entirely different things.

Sure enough, Vick ended his team’s first overtime drive, as well as the game, by dodging Viking defenders and then bolting by the safeties en route to a 46-yard touchdown run that would go on to be remembered as one of the most electrifying runs by a quarterback ever.

After this game—played in 2002 (Vick’s second season)—players and analysts alike were singing Vick’s praises, and deservedly so, he had just rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns…as a quarterback! Some of the praise, though, went a little further than his young career’s accomplishments really had merited at that time. Many people said Vick was revolutionizing the quarterback position, going as far as to say that there were no longer going to be pocket passers in the NFL. Others were comparing Vick to the greats, saying that MVPs and Super Bowls were sure to come his way.

Now, in the latter stages of his career, what happened to all of the MVP awards Vick was sure to win? Where did all the Super Bowls go? Who is comparing Vick to the all-time greats?

Sure, Vick has most certainly had some quality seasons throughout his career and has always had the potential to put up colossal fantasy numbers, but the consistency that fantasy owners crave has not always been there. A major reason for this lack of fantasy consistency is caused by the exact same thing that gives him his incredible fantasy potential: his scrambling ability. The extra points available for a quarterback that can rush upwards of 1,000 yards in a season (as Vick did in 2006) and rush in a few touchdowns along the way is unbelievable. However, all the extra rushes that come with those yards also mean the quarterback is taking a lot of extra hits in the open field, which, obviously, leads to a higher injury risk. This is Vick’s tenth season in the league, and in those seasons, he has played in 16 games only once. To state the obvious, players can’t earn fantasy points in games where they do not play. Which leads to the ultimate questions for dynasty league owners: despite all of his flash and potential, is/was long-term ownership of Vick worth it?

While many fantasy owners may argue either way on that issue, the point is more or less moot by now since Vick is on the back half of his career. There is a new player in the dynasty world, however, that now poses owners with that very same question:

Is long-term ownership of Robert Griffin III going to be worth it? 

The talent is undoubtedly there; Griffin has proven that already. Through five games this season, Griffin has amassed over 1,100 yards while completing almost 70% of his passes and his Passer Rating is sitting at 101.0. The extra fantasy points earned on the ground are there as well; Griffin has rushed for over 240 yards and has four rushing touchdowns. Despite the star potential that is clearly evident with Griffin, though, fantasy owners can see the same issues arising with this quarterback as they could with Vick.

At 6’2” 217 lbs., Griffin outweighs the 6’0” 215 lbs. of Vick by a whopping two pounds— neither one of them is big enough to take all of the hits to which they frequently expose themselves. While there is always a chance that it was a fluke, it cannot be ignored that it didn’t even take a full five games for Griffin to experience a hit that was enough to knock him out of a game. Just like with Vick, Griffin’s tendency to tuck and run and his nature to tend to neglect to slide will always keep him in harm’s way. Until Griffin learns to be a little more conservative with his rushing, he will always be a risk for dynasty owners to invest for the long-term.

Which brings us back to the question: is long-term ownership of Griffin worth it?

The answer, much like nearly any answer to a fantasy football question, is very dependent on your roster. Simply put, I would not invest in Griffin as my sole long-term option at quarterback for my team—especially after such a hot start, I would be more inclined to shop him around and bring in as many low-risk, high-value players as I could for him. That being said, if I had a viable backup quarterback, and I was able to keep that backup stored on my bench, I would love to have Griffin.

Basically, it is clear to see that Griffin’s upside is tremendous; however, in the interest of minimizing risk for my team, I could not put all of my eggs in Griffin’s basket. In addition, I would always be listening to offers for Griffin due to the fact that, with his style and mentality, his career is always just one play away from ending.

Think back to that incredible run that Vick had against the Vikings to win that overtime game back in 2002. While that run was truly awe-inspiring, think of how many fumbles Vick has lost or injuries he has suffered trying to pull off runs just like it. When it comes to quarterbacks like Vick and Griffin, what makes them great is the same thing that makes them huge fantasy liabilities.

In terms of scrambling quarterbacks, it is a story that we have all heard before: lightning in a bottle gone bad when they leave the pocket one too many times. Who knows? Maybe Griffin avoids this unfortunate fate, but can your dynasty team afford running the risk of him being the same old story we have seen before?

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Eric MacKenzie
9 years ago

I don’t think his size is as significant a factor as its made out to be. Yes, concussions could be a problem, but the real concern lies in the knees and shoulder. Being big doesn’t help much with the knees and it lends itself to goal line carries which doesn’t help with the shoulder. I see no more risk in Griffin from a serious injury standpoint than I do with Newton.

I think Griffin gets you five solid years broken up by one write off and then becomes low end QB1 similar to Vick. I’m alright with that and if I can win one or two championships riding that production, I take it. I think trading him for anything less than a great deal is a disservice to your dynasty team. Just my opinion.

Eric MacKenzie
Reply to  Corey Mauer
9 years ago

I’d agree with that. I’m always open to dealing anyone for the right price and no harm in shopping a guy around. I just think people need to be wary of taking less than top dollar because they’re worried about potential injuries.

Reply to  Eric MacKenzie
9 years ago

Do you see more risk in Vick than Newton? Because RGIII is basically same size as Vick (Vick is actually more compact).

Eric MacKenzie
Reply to  Luke Bouchard
9 years ago

Well, yes. Right now, but that’s mainly because Vick has a history of durability issues and is much older. There’s really not enough data to make a call on how size impacts the durability of a running QB. Big or small, most guys have had a five to six year window of successful running. Look to Culpepper, Cunningham, McNabb, McNair, Kordell, etc. Any guy that had a season with over 100 carries as a QB. Vick is really the only exception to this and I can’t help but think that the stint in prison allowed him enough recovery time to basically reset. He doesn’t have much time left in his second run though.

On a side note, the advances in treatment are something to consider. ACLs are becoming less and less of a problem to a guy’s career. That’s also a possible reason for Vick’s longevity and something to consider for these young guys like Newton & RGIII.

Nicholas Kundert
9 years ago

I think RG3 has a better arm than Vick. So if he learns to stay in the pocket more, he can become a very good QB.

lostcause
9 years ago

I will say that for these exact reasons, given the choice then and given the choice now, I would still take Luck over RG3. I think that inevitably, RG3 will outscore Luck over the next 5 years, but that Luck will be a top 5-7 fantasy QB for the next decade+. The concussion that Griffin took last week already highlights the danger of being an electric scrambling qb.

ziggy19
9 years ago

My QB`s are Arod, RG3 and Ponder. Should I trade RG3?I could pick up Locker for depth.

GOSKN5
9 years ago

The difference in RG3 and Vick is this:

First, Griffin has a much better head on his shoulders, and is willing to change, learn and adapt his game…. as was evident in the Vikings game, he avoided several hits that he would have taken as recently as last week.. he is learning from his mistakes…

Second, he is by far a better passer than Vick was coming out of college and is probably even a better pass right now… he is not a run first guy like Vick was coming out…

these two things will make his career longer and more succesful IMO….

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