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Sometimes the long shot pays off

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Way back in August, who would have believed you if you told them that in Week 15 the top passers would be Michael Vick, Rex Grossman, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Jon Kitna and Tim Tebow.

Ok, Rivers certainly would have made the list and Manning might have been somewhere close by, but Vick, Grossman, Kitna and Tebow?

Vick was a backup to new Eagles starter Kevin Kolb, who the team had just made room for by jettisoning former All-Pro Donovan McNabb to Washington. (On a side note, how smart does Andy Reid look after making this move?)

Kolb had been signed to a new high-dollar contract befitting a starter and was the 10th quarterback off the board in most fantasy drafts (RapidDraft ADP 81.3). However, the 6'3" 220 lb signal-caller out of the University of Houston didn't make it through the first game before being sidelined by injury. Vick, who was a fantasy free agent after throwing just 13 passes in 2009, came in and a star was born.

Besides saving the Eagles season, Vick was also a "god-send" to those who finished Week 1 near the bottom of their league and had the opportunity to pick him up off the waiver wire. In the 14 weeks since, despite missing three- and-a-half weeks with a rib injury, Vick is ranked fourth in fantasy scoring behind only Arian Foster, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

But at least Vick has always had the talent to be a star. Not so with this week's No.2 ranked quarterback. Grossman was named as McNabb's replacement in Washington, but certainly can't be considered the team's starter into the future. He's a journeyman at best, who in eight seasons in the NFL has had just one season where he was a full-time starter and fantasy worthy (2006).

But Grossman lit up the Dallas Cowboys defense for 322 yards and four touchdowns to post the second-best day from a quarterback. Any fantasy owner who started the former Florida Gator should find a high-paying job as an investment advisor or in the fortune-telling business.

Kitna has done a satisfactory job as a replacement for injured Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, at least from a fantasy standpoint. Since taking over the controls in Week 7, the Cowboys are just 4-5, but Kitna has averaged 14.9 points-per-game, not spectacular, but solid from a backup. Kitna was a waiver claim in Week 8 after the Giants had knocked Romo out early in their Week 7 contest. He's started in about 35% of all leagues, so his Week 15 performance was appreciated by many.

Tebow, wasn't started by many fantasy owners, in fact, is only on about 5% of all rosters and those are likely keeper leagues where he was simply stashed on the bench in hopes that he would become a player in future years. Tebow's debut wasn't great, but his 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one passing, one running) likely piqued the interest of a few more owners.

And while these three unlikely fantasy stars shown bright in Week 15, what this all goes to show you is how difficult the quarterback position is to predict. Yes, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are usually there from week to week, but it's likely that a name like Sam Bradford, David Garrard or Matt Flynn can also make the weekly top-10 list.

And as stubborn as I am accused of being, I do learn from my mistakes. I believe in 2011 I'm going to draft at least three quarterbacks on my roster - a solid starter and a couple of long shots, particularly if the league goes to an 18-game schedule where injuries will play an even bigger role. One of those "fliers" might just pay off the way Vick has done for his fantasy owners in 2010.

Week 15 Top-Six Quarterbacks
PlayerTeamComPaAttPaYdsTDINTRuAttRuYdsTDPts
Michael VickPHI21352423110130141
Rex GrossmanWAS2543322421-1024
Philip RiversSD19252733000024
Eli ManningNYG23392894100023
Jon KitnaDAL253730520411022
Tim TebowDEN81613810878122
Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.


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