Scouting Notebook: Unsung QBs step up

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

The Thursday games have been picked over more by now than the Thanksgiving turkey. So in this Scouting Notebook, let’s stick to Sunday – very low scoring until three unsung QBs on draft day rallied late.

Michael Vick(notes) looked like more pre- than post-prison version until the fourth quarter, which he dominated in quasi-garbage time to finish with another 300-plus-yard passing game (two scores). He also threw his first pick of the year. He’s proving he can be an asset even when facing the stiffest competition.

Kyle Orton(notes) was another losing QB who paid big fantasy dividends while playing catch-up most of the day. Eddie Royal(notes) emerged from a season-long hibernation on basically one drive, but I would not project based on that. The Denver Broncos situation is tricky though because Tim Tebow(notes) was a signature pick of Josh McDaniels. With the losses and cheating scandal putting his job in jeopardy, he may go to him to try to catch fire and create some sentiment for his return.

Matt Cassel(notes) and Dwayne Bowe(notes) are just on fire now. Everyone is hip to Bowe, but Cassel was only started in 21 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He’s on pace for 32 TD passes, people. Start him if you got him. He’s benefitting from a great play-caller, an unstoppable receiver and a running game that consistently keeps eight defenders in the box. Next up, the Broncos (who can’t cover at all) at home.

Buffalo Bills WR Steve Johnson(notes) has been making plays but really spit the bit in what could have been a team-building win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Five drops, including the inexcusable game-winner in overtime, a perfect rainbow right in the endzone that looked so easy that the Bills players were celebrating for seconds after. Johnson is a strange dude, taking his “Why So Serious” slogan from a homicidal movie psycho, scrawling it into his towels and even shaving it into his head. He acted like a Hollywood villain, though, screwing up famously when victory seemed most certain.

Fred Jackson(notes) would have been Batman had the Bills won. He’s a top-15 back right now (163 total yards and a TD vs. the feared Steelers run defense).

Matt Ryan(notes) and Aaron Rodgers(notes) are opposites. One wins more than he flashes. The other flashes more than he wins. As for Rodgers, don’t you at least need to win a division once before we call you a great QB?

Mike Goodson(notes) is going to win some important games for owners in PPR formats. The Carolina Panthers have not altered their committee system with DeAngelo Williams(notes) out. So Goodson is Williams, more or less. Except you got him on the waiver wire.

This is two weeks in a row of old-school, gridiron nastiness, this time a Cortland Finnegan(notes) vs. Andre Johnson(notes) undercard in the Texans-Titans game. Finnegan seems like a punk. Johnson would have torn him apart if the refs didn’t step in. But Johnson owners have to worry about a suspension, as he threw multiple punches even though Finnegan was clearly the instigator.

Randy Moss(notes) and Chris Johnson are really making sweet music together, aren’t they? Moss has the Sadim Touch (opposite of Midas). And if the Moss backers still breathing talk to me about Rusty Smith(notes), I’ll scream. When will they be out of excuses?

Regarding Ahmad Bradshaw’s(notes) benching (for fumbling): If a player has a true fumble rate of 1.6 percent (Bradshaw’s rate last year), he will fumble six or more times in 213 touches 13 percent of the time. What if fumbles are random? Or what if they are largely random and then partially an inevitable product of fighting for yards and looking for daylight? The alternative is to have your back hold the ball with both hands and bust through the line while falling down like the movie cops do when breaking down a door. If you want the reward, you have to assume some risk, Tom Coughlin.

If you miss most of a game with an ankle injury, you can’t be expected to play the next one. To be safe, Adrian Peterson owners need to claim Toby Gerhart(notes).

Sidney Rice(notes) owners waited all year for this?

James Davis might be worth picking up, even though he did little for the Redskins. He has a chance to be an every-down back the final month.

Jacoby Ford(notes) can hit the long ball in that old-time Raiders kind of way. He’s worth owning in distance formats for sure but has too low a floor in standard formats.

Anquan Boldin(notes) has as many touchdowns since September (three) as Bowe had this week. Boldin misses that Cardinals system and especially Kurt Warner(notes), who played so much faster than Joe Flacco(notes).

Vincent Jackson(notes) owners waited all year for this? Lesson: Do not expect guys who miss a half season to come back and have an impact. The injury/reinjury risk appears too great. Jackson’s calf injury must be pretty serious for him to be ruled out of Sunday night's game so early (he left before he was targeted even once).

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