Commentary

Can Campbell help fantasy players?

Updated: April 24, 2010, 5:43 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Fool the Oakland Raiders once, shame on them. Fool them twice, shame on them. Fool them three times, shame on them. But you can't fool them a fourth time, apparently. Or JaMarcus Russell won't be given a chance to fool them a fourth time, at least.

On Saturday, the Raiders dealt a 2012 fourth-round draft pick to the Redskins in exchange for Jason Campbell, who was deposed by Donovan McNabb earlier this month (and who already agreed to an extension into '11 with the Raiders). Don't believe any talk about quarterback competition or training camp decisions. Campbell is the new starting quarterback for the Raiders. Former No. 1 overall selection (from 2007) Russell is officially on the outs. He's probably not even the team's backup, as Bruce Gradkowski has the maturity that better suits him for a No. 2 role.

Campbell got better with the Redskins in '09. He posted the best completion percentage of his career (64.5), and also submitted his best yardage (3,618) and touchdown pass (20) totals. It was a pretty decent season. But he also threw 15 interceptions and ran for his life behind a crummy offensive line, and seemed to make enough mistakes in big situations that he couldn't satisfy the new administration in D.C. Frankly, I'm on the fence about Campbell. He has the big vertical arm the Raiders like. He's learned a whole lot of different offensive systems and terminologies in his football career (get ready for an onslaught of stories about that again), so he's no dummy. And by all accounts he's a likable leader in the locker room and huddle. I have no question in the world that he's a vast improvement over what the Raiders had.

But is he a fantasy option? In a league with more and more solid options at quarterback (a whopping 10 players passed for 4,000 yards or more in '09), you certainly can't consider Campbell a fantasy starter. Is he a viable backup? I guess so. But so are (in no particular order) Chad Henne, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Vince Young, Kevin Kolb and McNabb himself. Can I promise you Campbell will be better or more reliable than any of those guys (none of whom is top-10 in my current quarterback rankings) on a weekly basis? No, I can't.

Listen, this makes the Raiders a decent team. Quarterback play has been the most glaring thing wrong with them for a couple of seasons. Young receivers like Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and, yes, even Darrius Heyward-Bey become far more interesting players with someone who can complete more than 60 percent of his throws (heck, more than 50 percent of his throws) tossing them the ball. Zach Miller looks better today, too. I do think Campbell can be a top-20 fantasy signal-caller, and will rank him as such. He'll complete some bombs and lead his new franchise to some wins. But when I think about his performance in the clutch for the Redskins all these years, I still see a lot of questionable decisions, a lot of picks, and a lot of fantasy frustration.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.