Ravitz: Garrard named starter
The news Friday that the Jaguars are going with David Garrard as their starting quarterback might not shake fantasy football to its very foundation, but if you think this is meaningless, it might be time to take a close look at your league's scoring rules.
In 18 career starts in the NFL, Garrard has thrown for 3,199 yards and 16 touchdown passes. That works out to about 2,850 yards and 14 touchdown passes over a 16-game season. That's not too impressive in real life or in fantasy, but don't forget about Garrard's rushing ability. Last season he ranked third among quarterbacks in rushing yards despite playing in only 11 games and starting just 10. Garrard rushed for 250 yards, and only only Michael Vick and Vince Young had more among quarterbacks.
Let's compare Garrard to Philip Rivers for a moment. Rivers rushed for just 53 yards last season, which means Garrard had nearly a 20-point edge in rushing points using ESPN.com's standard scoring system. To put that into perspective, it takes 500 passing yards to equal 20 fantasy points.
Over a full season, Garrard is likely to rush for more than 350 yards and three touchdowns; he had no rushing TDs last season but scored three in only seven games in 2005. Our new official projection for Garrard has him accumulating 2,694 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes, 365 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Those numbers would give him more fantasy points than our projections for, among others, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and wait for it Brett Favre!
Does this mean you should draft Garrard before those players? Not necessarily. There are still some major question marks here. First of all, Garrard has been very inconsistent as a starter; last year he followed a three-touchdown game at home against the Titans with a four-interception game at home against the lowly Texans. The starting wide receivers for the Jags currently are listed as the perennially-disappointing Ernest Wilford and the perennially-"he's still in the league?" Dennis Northcutt. And with a dominant defense and outstanding running game, the Jaguars might look to Garrard simply to manage games and avoid big mistakes.
Nonetheless, the numbers show that Garrard is worth drafting as a backup in 12- and even 10-team leagues. He's best paired with a top-tier quarterback that you plan to use almost every week, but Garrard does have some upside if you're forced to use him in your starting lineup. A final stat line of 3,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns with 450 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns is well within the realm of possibility.
Garrard replaces Byron Leftwich as the Jaguars starting quarterback. Coach Jack Del Rio said the team plans to trade or release the team's former first-round draft pick. It's hard to imagine any team willing to give Leftwich a shot as a starter early in the season. Certainly, the Falcons, Chiefs, Dolphins and Vikings could and should have some interest, but it's too late in the preseason for Leftwich to pick up a foreign offense and take the reins. Although Leftwich is now undraftable in all leagues, he's at least worth following in keeper formats, as he's still a talented passer who could potentially break out on a team with the right offense and training staff.
Nate Ravitz is a fantasy editor for ESPN.com and covers fantasy baseball and football.