In case you haven’t heard, Tim Tebow is on the Jets.
The league’s most popular backup quarterback also happens to arguably be its most popular player, period. I watched Tebow’s one-yard touchdown run out of the “Wildcat” in practice on Thursday replayed on ESPN what seemed liked countless times in the span of two minutes.
You can call the media circus that surrounds Tebow what it is — a circus — but the fact is that Tebow is an exceptional athlete who showed he could make things happen on the field last season, and there's reason to believe he will be a weapon for the Jets' offense.
With all of the discussion about Tebow in the “Wildcat,” on the punt team, on kickoffs, at right tackle (OK, I made that one up) and so on and so forth, we are losing focus on the most important Tebow-related question:
When should fantasy football owners draft Tim Tebow?
Last year, Tebow ranked 15th among quarterbacks in total fantasy points, and he scored 15.36 points per game. He certainly won’t be throwing the ball 271 times this season, nor will he run it 122 times, but the Jets have made it clear that Tebow will be a key component of the team’s short-yardage packages, which means one thing for fantasy owners: he's a potential touchdown vulture.
It’s important to remember that Mark Sanchez was no slouch in the red zone last season, and he even rushed for six touchdowns. Shonn Greene is a more-than-capable running back near the goal line as well.
It’s difficult to compare Tebow to another player when it comes to his fantasy value. He’s simply in a league of his own. He won’t get the high number of carries that No. 2/goal-line backs like Mike Tolbert (10.09 points/game in 2011) have received over the years, but he also periodically will throw the football, offering more opportunities for fantasy points. Getting Jets-specific, he can’t be compared to a 2010 version of LaDainian Tomlinson, as Joe McKnight is expected to get those third-down touches.
The fullback is no longer a necessary position for many teams, though one fantasy comparison for Tebow could be Packers FB John Kuhn, who had 30 carries and four rushing touchdowns last season. Kuhn scored 3.43 fantasy points per game.
Not enough is known about Tebow's role to make an argument he will get more points than an average starting quarterback. The chatter about Tebow replacing Sanchez in the red zone has done wonders for his fantasy value, but it's extremely unclear how that situation will unfold in games. If Sanchez marches the team downfield with his arm, would Tony Sparano take him out? If Shonn Greene bulled his way to the red zone, shouldn't he continue to get the rock? Fantasy owners won’t have the luxury of knowing the number of touches and fantasy scoring opportunities Tebow will receive each week.
The problem with Tebow in fantasy leagues will be his designation as a quarterback, unless leagues get creative and give him RB- or FB-eligibility so he can play in a flex spot. Assuming Tebow is only eligible to be in your lineup as a quarterback, he might not be worth drafting in standard leagues. When your starting QB is on a bye, won't you want a starting signalcaller? Tebow is the prototypical late-round, if not final-round, flier type of pick. He is the type of pick that will induce groans and laughs at your draft, but he does have the potential to score a touchdown every week.
The nice thing about having Tebow on a fantasy team — owners will never have to worry about finding news and updates to help decide whether or not Tebow should be in the lineup. Turn on ESPN for a minute or so, and you'll know.
- Tim Tebow