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:
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?