Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Baltimore's Joe Flacco led their respective teams to playoff berths in 2008 and Ryan even became a borderline starting fantasy quarterback - but the same won't be the case in 2009 for Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez.
Why you ask?
Because the team's that will surround them are vastly inferior to what Ryan and Flacco had.
Let's look at the 2008 Ravens and Falcons and compare them to the 2008 Detroit Lions and New York Jets.
The Ravens went 11-5 in the regular season coached by John Harbaugh, then beat the Miami Dolphins (27-9) and Tennessee Titans (13-10) before falling to the eventual Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers (23-14). They had one of the strongest defenses in the league (second overall) and had the fourth-best rushing offense behind Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and Ray Rice.
So Flacco, a Delaware Blue Hens product, could learn on the job and not be forced to carry the load. He did exactly that, completing 60.0% of his passes for 2,971 yards while throwing 14 TD passes against 12 interceptions. Flacco wasn't a viable fantasy quarterback with those numbers, but down the road he might be.
Meanwhile, Ryan started off his career with a bang, throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt. For the season Ryan threw for 3,440 yards and 16 TDs against 11 interceptions. Beginning in Week 6, he threw for at least 200 yards in nine consecutive games, twice over 300. Like Flacco, he wasn't the team's primary offensive weapon, that was the running game and newly signed Michael Turner, formerly of the San Diego Chargers. Turner and his 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns led the Falcons running game to a No.2 overall ranking behind only the New York Giants.
Which leads us to the Stafford and Sanchez situations.
Stafford comes to Detroit and the home of the No.30 rushing offense (out of 32 teams). They do have a decent young running back in second-year Kevin Smith and recently signed veteran Maurice Morris, but the offensive line couldn't open up many holes. They also allowed 52 sacks. He'll have a great receiver in Calvin Johnson, but there is a question as to whether he will have a chance to get the ball off. So Stafford walks into the job with nowhere near the offense that both Ryan and Flacco had last year.
Sanchez has it a lot better than Stafford in New York with the Jets. He has a solid offensive line and a veteran running back in Thomas Jones (1,312 yards, 13 rushing TDs). But he doesn't have a great receiving corps which was weakened when Laveranues Coles left for Cincinnati. His two main targets will be Jerricho Cotchery and second-year tight end Dustin Keller. And expectations in New York will be sky high, unlike in Detroit where the team went 0-16 and even a few victories will be an improvement. Sanchez will be expected to lead his team to the playoffs immediately and every mistake will be magnified by the New York press.
Given these situations, I don't think either Stafford or Sanchez will be viable fantasy players in Year 1. Keeper leagues are a different story where both could develop down the road, but for the majority of fantasy owners Stafford and Sanchez will be non-entities in 2009.
2008 Team Offensive Statistics
|New York Jets