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Fantasy Roundtable - Week 4

Various staff members will share their views on a range of topics each week in discussion format. Feel free to eavesdrop.

Quick Links to Topics:

Colts
Thomas Jones
Panthers RBs
Drew Bledsoe
Willie Parker
Mewelde Moore
Philip Rivers



Colts

Maurile Tremblay: We’ve got lots of stuff to cover tonight. Let’s start in Indianapolis. The Colts are 3-0, but their offense hasn't had a big game yet. Has the offense regressed since last year, or is it just playing more conservatively because it hasn't had to put up many points to win? If the Colts' defense keeps playing as well as it has been, is that bad news for Manning's fantasy owners?

Marc Levin: In answer to the second question, yes, if the Colts defense continues playing like this, we will not see Manning with the lofty numbers from last year – or even the typical numbers for his career. Manning’s already gotten his individual records; now he wants the Super Bowl. Manning wants WINS this year, not numbers, and he will be perfectly happy handing off to Edge rather than tossing TDs. That is also the overlooked factor here – the running game has been very effective at maintaining long drives and keeping the clock moving. Tossing passes extends the game, running the ball and tough defense shortens the game. That’s how the team has been winning, and they’ll keep doing it as long as it’s working. So, in short, yes, it is going to be a rough year for Manning owners.

Dave Baker: The Colts offense last year had an almost magical spark about them. It seemed as though every opponent was completely intimidated and watched in awe as Manning picked them apart. His numbers have fallen back to earth this year. This is the first time he’s had a three-game span with only two touchdown passes since 2002. Despite a terrible game against Jacksonville’s tough defense, however, Manning has generally played well this year. I think two things have happened: (1) their offense has regressed from an unbelievable 2004 season, and (2) their improved defense has made them less reliant on putting up 40 points a game on offense. I still like Manning to get 25+ TD passes, and Edge should have a great year. But, yes, their improved defense should cause Manning's owners to realize that he's not about to put up 40+ touchdowns again this year.

Will Grant: The Colts may be playing stellar defense, but I don't think any team tries to win by a TD or less. In the NFL, teams can score 14 points in the blink of an eye. I don't see any team dialing it back with only a 7 point lead. I think you'll see Manning bounce back like Culpepper did last week. He probably won’t put up 4500 yards passing this season, but he should put up 4000 yards and finish in the top 5 of fantasy QBs.

Chris Smith: The Colts offense had nowhere to go but down this season, but nobody expected only two passing touchdowns out of this offense after three weeks. Manning isn’t playing all that poorly (he was 17 of 21 last week), but the defense is playing well enough to allow the offense to play conservatively, whereas in the past the goal was to score as many points as possible. Remember, before he came to Indy, head coach Tony Dungy was known for a conservative approach on offense and it appears that the makeup of the Colts in 2005 is allowing him to return to his roots. I would expect 24-26 touchdowns from Peyton Manning over the next thirteen weeks as the defense leads the Colts to home field advantage and ultimately the Super Bowl. (Yes, I am predicting the Colts will shed the 'loser' label this season.)

Jason Wood: The Colts’ offense has definitely regressed. Manning is completing 60% of his passes for a little more than 200 yards per game and, most importantly, has 2 TD passes and 2 INTs. Those numbers are far below where they were a year ago in every single category. Sure, the Colts are fortunate to have what looks to be markedly improved defense, and the running game remains effective, but three weeks into the year, there is no more surprising unit in the league than the Colts’ offense.

Marc Levin: This is going to be a team with the capability to turn it on offensively any game that they need to, but which game will that be? Until they lose a defensive battle, they will continue to move the ball efficiently, not quickly. From a fantasy perspective, though, when do you bench Manning? The answer is never. You are not going to know which of these games he'll have to toss 300/3 to win - but those games will come. So, while Manning is unlikely to be your anchor this year like he was last year, he is still the QB you want in there every game since he has the potential to single handedly win your game in any particular week. As a side issue, this is really problematic for those fantasy owners who drafted the Colts' receivers. Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokely have been invisible. And I believe they will remain so – even in the games where the Colts have to turn it on. I foresee Manning relying on his starting lineup – Wayne, Harrison and Edge – not the bit players like last year. Manning will rely on his "crutches" of dependable players in the come-back/shoot-out games.




Thomas Jones

Maurile Tremblay: Switching gears a bit, Thomas Jones looked very good again this week, and Cedric Benson didn't touch the ball. As long as Jones keeps playing so well, he'll remain the featured back in Chicago. The Bears care more about winning games than about developing a rookie who held out all preseason, and Jones gives them the best chance to win. Agree or disagree?

Marc Levin: Disagree. It’s plug-and-play at the running back position, in my opinion. The Bears are bringing Benson along slowly with Jones running well, which only makes sense. Unlike the Dolphins, the Bears don’t have to start their rookie RB right away. (If Ricky Williams hadn’t been suspension, I doubt we’d be seeing much of Ronnie Brown this early, either.) But Benson is still the RB of the future in Chicago. Both players have big contracts, but I believe Jones could be jettisoned after this year without much of a cap hit. That being the case, Jones will continue to pound the ball while Benson learns the ropes, but Benson will be worked into the offense this season.

Jason Wood: I agree with Maurile’s statement with one caveat. If the Bears get to the point late in the season where they have no realistic shot at the playoffs, I think the Angelo/Lovie Smith regime has no choice but to work Benson into the equation to see if they have someone who can be a feature back in 2006. The Rex Grossman injury has put a lot of pressure on this group. Personally I think Angelo and Smith have only one more season (2006) to get the Bears into contention before it will be time for wholesale changes. But with the state of the NFC North and the Bears’ quality defense, it's reasonable to think the Bears could be mathematically alive most of the year and, as a result, T. Jones could continue to tote the rock.

Dave Baker: I'm not so sure Jones gives them the best shot at winning, but I also find it hard to believe that Jones will lose his starting job if he keeps playing as well as he is. Benson will see significant playing time only if Jones falters or if the Bears hit a bad losing streak. Once the Bears are eliminated from playoff contention, they might very well look to see what the younger and pricier Benson looks like when given a full load. So I basically agree that right now Jones will continue to be featured as long as he performs at this level. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Benson stepping at some point by around midseason.

Chris Smith: As the Bears begin to fade from the playoff race as is inevitable with a rookie quarterback still learning his craft, Cedric Benson will likely get more and more work to see what he is capable of. If you have Thomas Jones on your roster, now is the time to try to trade him for a player likely to have more success in the second half of the season.

Will Grant: I'd be tempted to agree with this if I saw Benson in the game this week at all. But when the game was out of reach, and the Bears wanted to rest Jones, they brought in Adrian Peterson. I think you'll start to see Benson when he proves that he can block. In a close game, there's no reason to pull Jones because he's doing well. Moreover, in games where the Bears are behind and trying to catch up by passing, if Benson can't pick up the blitz fast enough, the Bears aren't going to put him out there and let their rookie QB get pummeled. I think this is why you don't see Benson as much now – because he isn't picking up the blitz as well as he should be.

Chris Smith: Good point, Will, but we aren't talking about him playing next week. Benson missed all of the preseason, which hurt his ability to pick up the blitz. But he will improve in that area and the Bears are going to want to see what they have in Benson as the season wears on. Combine with that Thomas Jones' inability to stay healthy throughout an NFL season, as well as the possibility the Bears fall from contention this season, and I see some significant playing time for Benson during the second half of the season.

Will Grant: The bigger question in Chicago is: At the end of the first half of last week’s game, Orton already had four INTs. Jones was running well at that point (17 touches for 81 yards). They were only down 10-0. Why not pound the ball with Jones in the second half and give Orton a chance to regain his confidence?

Marc Levin: Very good question. However, didn't the pace of the game limit their options? The Bengals eventually made it 17-0, so it didn’t seem like pounding the ball with Jones was working for them.

Will Grant: Actually, despite throwing four interceptions in the first half, the Bears were down just 10-0 heading into the locker room. When the Bengals made it 17-0 in the third quarter, the Bears came back and made it 17-7 early in the fourth. So by continuing to run Thomas Jones, they could have kept it close. Instead, they let Orton air it out in the second half, with poor results.

Marc Levin: I think they'd have lost the game either way. The Bengals were moving the ball downfield on them at will.




Panthers RBs

Maurile Tremblay: Stephen Davis has gotten a little more than twice as many carries as Foster so far. But Davis is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry and the Panthers are 1-2. With Foster averaging 4.4 yards per carry, will he start to get more carries going forward, or will the ratio remain at about 2-1 in favor of Davis?

Marc Levin: Remain the same. The backup/change-of-pace runner often has a higher YPC than the starter. Davis got a little bit dinged up in week two and bounced right back to play against a very tough Miami team. That is encouraging for those who were worried about Davis' injury history. Miami is regaining its reputation of being extremely tough against the run, and has had two outstanding run defense games at home, especially near the goal line. I wouldn't read anything into this last game. Unless Davis breaks down physically, he is the team's starter for the rest of the year.

Will Grant: I agree with Marc here. If you give Foster more carries, his YPC probably goes down. I think you're going to see 2-to-1 in favor of Davis as long as Davis is healthy and the Panthers are doing OK. If they are clearly out of the playoff hunt, I think you see a shift in the other direction, as Davis gets more rest and the Panthers get a better look at Foster. Since Foster is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the Panthers will want to see if he is a guy they can count on.

Dave Baker: I think the ratio remains the same unless either Davis starts to wear down or Carolina loses a lot more games. But I think the team likes what is has now in Davis and Foster together. The YPC thing doesn't mean much to me, although I admit that Foster could break out at some point.

Chris Smith: Sounds like a consensus here. I would also have to say that the ratio will stay close to 2-1 as long as Stephen Davis remains healthy. My biggest worry going forward would be his health due to his age and wear and tear, but Foster has been much less durable than Davis throughout his career. Foster will get enough touches to limit the fantasy value of Davis going forward but Davis will be the number one guy.

Jason Wood: Let's not forget that Davis has been a rock in short yardage: witness his 3 TD game two weeks ago. I would imagine the team would genuinely love it if Davis and Foster could each get 15-20 touches, but that’s probably not realistic. If I had to put money on one getting more touches than the other, it would be Davis in a 60/40 split the rest of the way.

Maurile Tremblay: Marc mentioned that the change-of-pace back often has a higher YPC than the starter, which is true. The change-of-pace guy is often used in passing situations, and it’s easier to get yards on 3rd-and-10 than it is on 1st-and-10 or 3rd-and-2. But that doesn't explain the disparity in the case of Foster and Davis. If you just look at carries on 1st-and-10 this year, Foster has 10 rushes for 53 yards (5.3 YPC) and Davis has 26 rushes for 68 tards (2.6 YPC). If that trend continues for another few games, wouldn't you expect to see Foster get more carries on first down?

Marc Levin: Foster's definitely a more explosive, faster back, so it seems to make sense that he would be able to get more yards for the team when there are a lot of yards to get, like on first and ten. I personally favor Foster and would like to see him in the feature role to see what he can do. But for some reason it seems that the team likes the hardnosed approach Davis brings and I don't see the team flipping these players' roles anytime soon. If the running game struggles for a few games in a row, we may see a switch, but the pure YPC situation won't do it.




Drew Bledsoe

Maurile Tremblay: Before the season started, I really didn't think Bledsoe had much of a chance to have a good fantasy season this year. He's looked great, however, in every game so far. Can he keep it up all year?

Marc Levin: Yes, definitely. Many experienced QBs have had rebirths late in their careers, especially when they have good surrounding talent like the Cowboys have. And Parcells is really a genius at squeezing good years out of veterans. That Bledsoe has a history with Parcells is even more reason to think that this rebirth will continue. I think of Joe Montana with the Chiefs in this regard. I would not be surprised to see Bledsoe have a 3200-3500 passing yard, 25-30 TD season – and for Julius Jones to really flourish with a steady passer keeping defenses honest.

Dave Baker: I was actually pretty high on Bledsoe before the season began. I see the fire in his eyes like I saw his first year with Buffalo. While I don't see him keeping pace with how he's done so far, I think he should end the season with about 25 TDs and 3,800 yards. And other than in 2001 when Bledsoe had internal injuries, he has been a rock and hasn't missed much time. Playing under Parcells with some good, veteran receivers bodes well for Bledsoe, and I think you should pretty much see more of the same throughout the rest of the year.

Marc Levin: I don't see 3,800 passing yards unless it’s at the severe expense of Julius Jones, and I don't see Jones having a bad year. I thought I was a little high with my 3200-3500 prediction. I see 3500 as a really high number for Bledsoe to hit this year, and Julius Jones would have to be on IR for him to do that, in my opinion.

Dave Baker: I hear you. But he only has to average about 227 yards per game to hit 3,800 for the season, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable for a guy like Bledsoe.

Marc Levin: He hasn't had a bad game yet. He’ll throw for under 200 eventually, and it'll happen more than twice. There will also be the games where he'll only have to throw 20 times because Julius Jones is going buck wild, and those will be low yardage games. I think a 230 YPG average from Bledsoe here on out is optimistic. Not unreasonable, but optimistic.

Will Grant: Testaverde opened 2004 with back to back 300+ outings for the Cowboys. He finished with 3500 yards passing – just 203 yards per game average from there on out. I agree with Marc that a healthy Julius Jones reduces the need for Bledsoe to pass. The Cowboys have been in 3 close games, decided in the last four minutes. In games that they are going to be out in front, with their defense controlling the game, you're going to see 25 touches from Jones as they grind the clock. I don't see 3500 yards passing from Dallas this season unless Julius is down for an extended period of time.

Chris Smith: Not so fast, Marc and Will. Having watched parts of all three Cowboy games this season, I don't believe the passing attack is going to vanish. Julius Jones has been a workhorse, but he is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. The Cowboys’ defense hasn't been strong enough to rely solely on the running game, so they’ll still have to pass the ball. Drew Bledsoe has some nice targets to throw to. Terry Glenn looks as fast as he ever has, Keyshawn Johnson has rediscovered the endzone and Jason Witten is a top three tight end. Add it all together and Bledsoe is certainly capable of reaching the 3,800 yard mark this season. He threw for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns with the Bills in 2002 and I feel he is throwing the ball with more authority this season. He will have a great chance to finish inside the top ten.

Marc Levin: Great point, Chris. I’d forgotten that he threw for over 4300 just three years ago. I still don’t think the Cowboys will pass often enough for Bledsoe to have a top ten season. The 2002 Bills were third in the league in pass attempts and 29th in rush attempts. The 2005 Cowboys under Bill Parcells aren’t going to approach that kind of pass-run ratio.

Chris Smith: True, but it’s not like Bledsoe is throwing the ball 40+ times per game as it is. He’s averaged 33 attempts per game so far this year, and the Cowboys have had a balanced offense (98 pass attempts to 94 rush attempts). Bledsoe is putting up good stats because he’s completing over 64% of his throws and he’s passing with confidence and accuracy. He should be able to keep that up.

Will Grant: I agree with everything that you're saying Chris. I see Bledsoe has some swagger back, and he's looked pretty solid in the first three games this season. The Cowboys are playing with more confidence than they have in quite a while. On the defensive side of the ball, there are still some questions. I believe they are good but not great. The Four Minute Monday Night Meltdown showed that. Glancing down the schedule a bit, I don't see many games where the Cowboys will be able to build a huge lead and grind it out. There should be some really close battles the rest of the way... But I think Julius Jones and the running game are going to be the focus of the offense, with the passing game setting up the run. While I know that Bledsoe can throw for 4000, and there's enough receiving talent around him to do so, I just don't see this team maintaining a 280+ yard clip the rest of the way. I think they'll cool off somewhat, and Bledsoe will turn into a solid backup fantasy QB, somewhere in the 12-15 range.

Jason Wood: There really is no great mystery here. Bledsoe is an excellent pocket passer, but his mobility has become so stunted that any pressure severely impairs his ability to play winning football. But as long as the Cowboys can keep him upright and free from pressure, he can make any throw on the field. We saw that in his first year in Buffalo and we're seeing that through three weeks in Dallas. Ultimately I don't think Bledsoe will have enough passing attempts to be a great fantasy option, as Parcells clearly wants to run the ball 500+ times as history dictates that's when his teams are most successful. But give Bledsoe plenty of time and 550 attempts and I think you can have 3,400-3,500 yards and 20-24 TDs; which is fantastic value considering how late he was drafted.




Willie Parker

Maurile Tremblay: Parker was the top fantasy RB in the league after the first two weeks, but he wasn't nearly as effective last week against the Patriots. Nonetheless, the Steelers stuck with him even though Staley was available to play today (and saw some action in passing situations). Does this put the Parker-versus-Staley talk to rest, or does Staley still have a reasonable chance to displace Parker as the starter later in the season?

Jason Wood: Wow, I guess we'll be chatting about FWP every week, huh?

Maurile Tremblay: Just until we’ve go the whole Steelers’ running back situation completely figured out.

Jason Wood: I was admittedly slow to buy into Fast Willie but call me converted. Bill Cowher doesn't mince words and he clearly indicated that Parker is his starter, plain and simple. In addition, both Staley and Bettis have sung his praises and suggested that his explosiveness is a great benefit for the offense and worth keeping in the lineup. The Patriots were "due" for a decent defensive day, but two monster games and one so-so game (limited by circumstance to a point) is more than enough to think he'll remain the main horse.

Will Grant: Everyone says that you can't lose your starting job to injury, but Duce Staley is finding out otherwise. Willie Parker has been on fire for the first three weeks of the season, and I'm not convinced that Staley or Bettis would have done better against the Patriots last week anyway. That being said, I think a healthy Bettis becomes the goal lone back for the Steelers. I think a healthy Staley eats into Parker's carries, maybe even going to a 50-50 split. When Bettis and Staley are healthy, you're going to see a 3 way RBBC in Pittsburgh this season.

Doug Drinen: I agree with Will that Bettis will be the goal line back. It probably does disqualify Parker from having a 16-TD season or something like that, but there is no reason he can't get 8 or 10. On the other hand, I doubt we’ll see a 50-50 split between Parker and Staley. Verron Haynes has 24 looks this year (20 carries and 4 targets), which is eight per game. By giving all of Haynes' looks to Staley, Cowher can get Staley a workload befitting a useful-but-clearly-not-as-good veteran without cutting into Willie's reps much if at all.

Chris Smith: I think Parker gives the Steelers the best chance to win. Duce Staley was never an elite running back and the injuries to his body over the years have taken a toll. He is at best a fill-in back at this point in his career. Jerome Bettis has done everything you could want a big back to do throughout his career but in all likelihood his role with this team for the rest of the year will be a short-distance specialist. Bettis may steal a few touchdowns but won't get the majority of the carries. Fast Willie Parker has proven he can handle 20+ touches per game and is capable of taking the ball to the house on any given play. He has decent vision and is very difficult to take down in the open field. Parker will continue to get the majority of the touches from the Steelers backfield providing he stays healthy.

Marc Levin: I'm not as convinced that Parker will be the clear starter all year. A lot can change in three weeks. The Patriots contained Parker pretty effectively last week, and the NFL is a copy-cat league. The rest of the Steelers’ opponents will study how the Patriots’ shut down Pittsburgh’s running game, and will likely try some of the same tactics.

Maurile Tremblay: Wouldn’t that work to Staley’s disadvantage just as much as it works to Parker’s?

Marc Levin: Yes, it would.

Maurile Tremblay: I think the question is which guy is better, and in my opinion the answer is Parker.

Marc Levin: I don't think it is as simple as which is "better." Staley has his own set of skill that are different from Parker's. My point is that if defenses figure out how to game plan Parker, Staley might have success against the same game plan, thus creating a situation where Staley is a better starter. I am speculating, as I agree that right now Parker's the best bet. I’m just saying that a lot can happen between now and week six or seven, so I don’t see Parker as a sure thing to be the clear starter.




Mewelde Moore

Maurile Tremblay: Have the Vikings settled on their starter at running back? Will Moore be a legitimate fantasy starter (e.g., top 24 RB) from here on out?

Will Grant: I think it's too early to tell. I know it's too early to call Moore a top 25 fantasy back after just one good game against a team ranked 24th in rushing yards allowed. Moore's worth a waiver wire pick up if he's available, but I'd hold off yet before naming him the starter the rest of the way.

Dave Baker: Trying to figure out what Mike Tice will do next is a difficult task. If given the opportunity, we know that Moore can be a legitimate fantasy starter. Just look at last year's numbers (he averaged 179 total yards per game in his three starts) and add in him rushing for more than 100 yards this past week and you can see that. So the ultimate question here is, will he retain the starting job? If he can protect Culpepper when necessary, I believe Moore keeps the job. Bennett has enticing speed and Tice might very well look towards him again at some point, but it's getting increasingly more difficult for Tice to ignore what Moore has done when given the shot.

Jason Wood: Moore is an interesting character. Last year in his limited starting time, he was on pace to have more than 2,800 yards from scrimmage, an astounding pace. That said, he didn't find the endzone. Lo and behold, this past week the Vikings offense looked rejuvenated and Moore got 100 yards, yet no touchdowns once again. Whether that's simply a quirk of circumstance or a true measure of how the team wants to use him (i.e., between the 20s) remains to be seen. Personally I worry that the lack of offensive coaching prowess and the state of the offensive line will limit the team's ability to produce a consistent top 20 option at tailback, but I wouldn't mind having Moore on my fantasy bench to see if he develops.

Chris Smith: It is time to come to terms with the fact that Bennett is not a legitimate NFL running back. He has plenty of speed, but no run-vision or moves. He needs a wide open lane to run through, and unless he gets it, he is ineffective. The only thing holding Mewelde Moore back from being a legitimate fantasy producer is a poor attitude. He is clearly the best option the Vikings have in the backfield and he will likely get every opportunity to put up solid numbers from this point on. He should average 15-20 touches per game.

Marc Levin: Moore has proven that he should be the starter. I’m not sure what Tice's mental hangup is on continuing to start Bennett. Tice obviously doesn't see his running backs the way the rest of the football universe does. I’m not sure Moore is in the right situation to be a top 24 RB. The Vikings don't play at home versus the Saints every week, and they still have a lot to work out on the offensive side of the ball. I think if Moore retains the start, and if he isn't "Tice-ed" out of the game, he is a great start against the right match-ups. Tough run defenses will stifle the Vikings’ running game, so you’re really just looking to play Moore against the Green Bays and Detroits of the world. The real question here, in my opinion, is what happens to Michael Bennett’s value. Is there any merit to any of the trade rumors?

Will Grant: The Vikings aren't going to get rid of Bennett. He's a proven commodity, even if he's underperforming. Moore had 3 good games last season against Houston, New Orleans and Tennesse. After his 168 yard performance in week six, he had just 13 touches over the next 12 games! While he's shown some real promise, he really hasn't proven anything.

Marc Levin: I disagree. If Michael Bennett is a proven commodity, what’s proven about him is his habit of underperforming. Except for a 13 game stretch a few years ago, what has Bennett done? With Moore, Fason, and Williams on board, the team should be trading Bennett for a 3rd round pick if they can get it, or for offensive line help. If they don't trade him now while he has perceived value, they simply let him walk at the next free agent opportunity he has and get nothing for him.

Chris Smith: I agree the Vikings should trade Michael Bennett while he has any value at all. My question is how many teams are going to give the Vikings a 3rd round pick for a guy who has done absolutely nothing this season and very little throughout his career? If the Cardinals pick him up to run behind that suspect offensive line, he may be thought of as a bigger bust than J.J. Arrington (whom he reminds me of, actually). If the Vikings are smart, they will ditch Bennett to another team immediately.

Mark Levin: Chris, you are right, I don't understand the Cards rumors except that Denny Green drafted Bennett. With Arrington and Shipp on the squad, that team should be worried about the OL opening holes for the runner, not trying to find a new runner.

Will Grant: Getting back to the Vikings, what role does Moe Williams play? What role does Fason play? What role, if any, will Bennett play the rest of the season?

Maurile Tremblay: I think it's telling that Moe Williams hasn't had more than six carries in any game yet this year, and Fason has yet to touch the ball. I think the Vikings would like to pick one RB and go with him, and it looks like it's between Moore and Bennett. And between those two guys, my money is on Moore. Last week, Bennett touched the ball only twice while Moore was the workhorse rushing for over 100 yards. As bad as the Vikings' offense looked in the first two weeks of the season, they do have some offensive firepower and whoever starts at RB for them could rack up some pretty good numbers. Moore's got the inside track right now, although anything can happen as the season unwinds.




Philip Rivers

Will Grant: Drew Brees had a very efficient game against the Giants on Sunday night. If Brees continues to do well, at what point (if any) do the Chargers turn over the offense to Rivers?

Maurile Tremblay: Never. If Brees has another Pro Bowl season, the Chargers will give him a long term contract, and either keep Rivers as a backup or trade him in the offseason. If Brees has an average season, they'll let him go in the offseason and Rivers will start in '06. I think Rivers has very little chance to start in '05 as long as Brees is healthy. Brees would have to play pretty poorly for that to happen.

Will Grant: I agree that you have to let the guy who's in there play, especially if he's doing well for you, but will they ever be able to get the value for Rivers that they should if he's never played a game? At some point they're going to have to make a decision one way or the other. That's a lot of money tied up in a backup QB.

Jason Wood: When the Chargers franchised Brees this year, I viewed it as a one year tryout to become the team's long-term starter. If he has another solid season where he plays at a Pro Bowl level and/or leads them into the playoffs, I think Rivers will become an expendable chip but not someone they would absolutely deal. If a team wanted to bowl them over with an offer, I think they would consider it, but otherwise he would remain Brees' backup.

Will Grant: That's a good point. I'm sure Rivers is expensive, but his contract is probably loaded with incentives that he's not making right now as well. Given the fact that he's not seeing much action on the field, I don't see teams coming in with any huge offers to land Rivers. From San Diego's prospective, I can think of few teams that would kill to have two 'first round' quality QBs on their roster. It's not that bad of a position to be in.

Maurile Tremblay: Rivers’ signing bonus has already been paid, so from here on out he’s really not very expensive. He’ll make just $615,000 next season in base salary, which isn’t that expensive even for a backup. The Chargers could keep both guys if they want to. The question is how long Rivers will remain a happy Charger if he never gets a chance to start. He’s shown a great attitude so far, but it could become a problem. That’ll wrap it up for this week. Great discussion as always, guys. See you back here next week.

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