2009 Fantasy Football Sleeper Quarterbacks
by NFL Fantasy Football Analyst Russ Bliss

I am probably a bit different from most when identifying our setting up a list of 2009 fantasy football sleepers quarterbacks list. I don’t count guys like Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer as “sleeper” candidates as much as I do “bounce back” candidates. After all, they recently were two solid starting fantasy QB’s who both happened to a problem with major injuries last year. To use last year as an example, a sleeper is a guy like Phillip Rivers who just happened to be on my 2006 fantasy football Quarterbacks sleeper list, who had never produced over 3,400 yards or 22 TD’s in a single season only to have over 4,000 yards and 34 TD’s in 2008. That’s a sleeper, not someone who two or three years ago was putting up 3,700+ yards and 24+ TD’s. With that understood, I’m always on the lookout for identifying the real fantasy football sleepers, and here are 5 guys who could really surprise in 2009.

1) Matt Schaub, Houston Texans. If only this guy could stay healthy. Schaub averaged 276 passing yards per game in his 11 games in 2008. Pro rate his stats out for a full 16 games and he would have had over 4,400 yards and 22 TD’s, that has 2009 fantasy football Quarterback sleeper written all over it. Blessed with an elite WR (Andre Johnson), a good secondary WR (Kevin Walter), a solid pass catching TE (Owen Daniels) and a real rushing attack led by Steve Slaton; Schaub could be in line to make a big jump in the final fantasy football rankings by the end of 2009.

2) Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills. Edwards has yet to make a mark in the NFL but he looks primed to breakout in Buffalo in 2009. He now has two great WR’s to throw the ball to. Say what you will about Terrell Owens, but throughout his career he has made his QB’s a lot better for fantasy purposes. Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Tony Romo all had their best statistical seasons when they had TO catching their passes. That’s exactly why a normally conservative team like Buffalo brought TO in. Edwards is entering his 3rd season and the game should be coming much more easily to him.

3) Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins. Talk about motivation. If being in the final year of his contract wasn’t enough, Campbell had to endure the very public organizational fiasco’s surrounding first Jay Cutler and then Mark Sanchez. Neither ended up in Washington and Campbell, a relatively low maintenance personality, now has a big chip on his shoulder going into a contract year. Last season, the Redskins went back and forth on whether they thought Campbell was ever going to grasp his 3rd new offense in 4 years, to being nearly extended on his contract, and then back to being questioned about whether he’s really the starter the team wants. The offense isn’t changing in 2009 so there will finally be some continuity for him. Well regarded by his teammates, they will play hard for him. If someone besides Santana Moss or Chris Cooley finally steps up and provides Campbell with another reliable target in the passing game, he could surprise making him a 2009 fantasy football sleeper Quarterback.

4) Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos. The may say it’s an open competition between Orton and Chris Simms, but I’m betting on Orton to easily win the starting job. Orton has never been anything close to resembling a fantasy stud, but he’s also never been in a dynamic offense. There’s a word that cannot be used to describe the Bears offense the past several years. In Denver, Orton will be in a pass prolific offense for the first time in his career and have many weapons to throw the ball to. I’m not ready to anoint him to fantasy starter status, but certainly he is a high upside backup in 2009 fantasy football leagues. It also doesn’t hurt that he has incentive as he is in a contract year, too.

5) David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars. After a solid showing in 2007, Garrard was supposed to break out in 2008. That fell apart after the offensive line got decimated by injuries before the regular season ever began. Garrard got sacked more times in 16 games in 2008 than he did in 22 starts from 2006 and 2007 combined. Despite having a mediocre (to put it generously) WR corps, he still threw for over 3,600 yards in 2008. If the offensive line stays healthy, if Torry Holt has some magic left, and if Mike Walker can stay healthy and live up to his production when healthy, Garrard could have that breakout season in 2009 I expected him to have in 2008.