Commentary

Harris: Byron Leftwich is not the answer

Updated: September 18, 2007, 5:39 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Byron Leftwich signs with Atlanta, and I don't care.

Okay, I care a little. And I'm sure Mrs. Leftwich is quite moved. But the problems with the Falcons' offense go far beyond the mercurial play of Joey Harrington, and I don't believe they'll be cured by Leftwich, even if Leftwich winds up starting right away. Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood, Joe Horn, Alge Crumpler ... none of these fine fellows are turning to fantasy gold because Iron Byron is walking (and then eventually limping) through that door.

Listen, the problems with Atlanta could make a fine doctoral thesis. You can change offenses in an offseason. You can have your megastar starting quarterback thrown into jail in an offseason, and then hire a journeyman with more hate mail than Larry Bird still coming in from Detroit. You can have your starting rusher undergo relatively major surgery. You can sign a washed-up 35-year-old wide receiver to be your top guy catching passes. But I wouldn't recommend you do all these things at once. The offensive line in Atlanta is actually pretty okay, and honestly, Harrington hasn't played terribly. But the rushers have been uninspired, the play-calling has been conservative, and for the umpteenth season in a row, there's really nobody other than Crumpler who can, like, catch.

Also, Leftwich brings a lot of baggage with him. He's not mobile, he's not accurate and his decision-making has been, shall we say, questioned. Jacksonville jettisoned him a week or so before the season in favor of a guy with the same basic throwing problems (though David Garrard does have quite a bit more mobility). And while Leftwich signed a two-year contract to play in the Georgia Dome, and while I haven't seen the actual terms yet, I can't imagine there's a lot of guaranteed money, meaning I don't think the Falcons are married to Leftwich. They'll put him in a backup role for a couple weeks, see how Harrington progresses, and go from there. Maybe Joey turns Joe Montana and all this becomes irrelevant; more likely, he struggles and Leftwich becomes the starter, and still no one starting at quarterback attains fantasy relevance. Let someone else in your league get caught up in this story. Except in exceedingly deep leagues, I strongly doubt Byron Leftwich will help your fantasy team, or anyone on it.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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