Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
As we charge towards the first NFL exhibition games of 2012, its important to know what questions need to be answered. To know why we are watching a preseason game instead of getting out in the fresh air or participating in family functions.
We need to know who is healthy and ready to go. And who is playing hurt.
We must evaluate who is winning the position battles and who will be their backup.
Today we are going to evaluate 11 things to watch at the quarterback position over the next five weeks.
Peyton Manning, Denver - We have seen for many years that a healthy Manning is capable of many good things. But after multiple surgeries on his neck, we need to know whether Peyton in 100 percent before we spend a high draft choice on him. He has enough talent in the receiving corps to again be a top fantasy quarterback and throw for 4,000 yards, if healthy. All the early signs seem to point to yes, but he hasn't yet been hit. This is the most important question to be answered this offseason because it not only effects Manning's selection, but the fantasy values of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme and the running game.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh - It's come to light that Roethlisberger had a slight right rotator cuff tear last November. And looking at the numbers from his final six games he did suffer a few bad games during the span, but there is no reason to think the injury will be a problem in 2012. We will still be watching to verify that analysis.
Matt Schaub, Houston - Schaub is entering a contract year in addition to coming off Lisfranc surgery which cost him the final six games of the 2011 regular season and the playoffs. The team insists he's healthy. Schaub posted more than 4,300 passing yards in both 2009 and 2010 and is a top-10 fantasy quarterback if healthy.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City - Cassel missed the final seven games of 2011 with a fractured right hand. There doesn't seem to be any problems with his throwing, but its always worth watching to make sure he hasn't changed his throwing motion. Cassel's 2010 season was fantasy worthy (3,116 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs), but with Jamaal Charles healthy and newly acquired Peyton Hillis in the backfield, he may not throw the ball enough to be a starting fantasy quarterback.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis - The left ankle sprain that hampered him all of 2011 is still not 100 percent and was obviously bothering him during offseason OTAs. The good news is that he says it doesn't give him pain, but he still feels it. He's got to play in the preseason if he is to develop a rapport with his many new receivers, specifically rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jake Locker, Tennessee - Early thought was that Hasselbeck had the edge as the team had a tough beginning schedule and would go with the veteran. Hasselbeck has looked very good in early training camp work, yet there is still talk of turning the offense over to their "quarterback of the future." Whoever wins the battle may not be as exciting a fantasy value this season as originally hoped for with the question marks surrounding star wideout Kenny Britt (knee, DUI). This one may not be decided until the end of the preseason.
Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton, Arizona - The prospect of having your fantasy quarterback throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and rookie Michael Floyd could be an exciting one. Kolb, who went 3-6 with the Cardinals last season throwing just nine touchdowns, will be given every opportunity to win this battle, but it is truly an open competition.
Matt Moore vs. David Garrard vs. Ryan Tannehill, Miami - Incumbent Moore was 6-3 after replacing injured Chad Henne and should have the inside track although Garrard has looked good in offseason OTAs. Tannehill has no chance to start in Week 1, but his presence makes it hard to believe that Moore or Garrard would be the starting quarterback for all 16 games.
Matt Flynn vs. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Russell Wilson, Seattle - Jackson had his chance last season, but the Seahawks won games because of the defense and the tough running of Marshawn Lynch, not because of Jackson's passing ability. In comes Flynn with a big contract, but he's got to learn a new offense. And the receiving corps is much inferior to the awesome talent he had with the Packers, so the learning process has been slow. Flynn figures to win the job and eventually Wilson will be his backup, however Flynn's fantasy value will be low in his first season playing in the great northwest.
Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow, New York Jets - There actually in NO battle here, the job is Sanchez's to lose. He has the ability to do just that, but we think he'll be the starting quarterback for most of the season, barring injury. The problem is the receiving corps in below average and Tebow will steal enough red zone touchdowns to drop Sanchez's fantasy value to non-factor levels.
Brandon Weeden vs. Colt McCoy, Cleveland - Weeden appears to be the leader heading into the preseason and it's hard to believe the Browns would draft a 28-year-old rookie quarterback with the intention of making him a backup. A mediocre-at-best receiving corps and the selection of talented running back Trent Richardson in the first round means that neither quarterback will have fantasy-worthy value.