The Tim Tebow Paradox September 1, 2012  |  Drew

Chinese food smells awful but tastes delicious. Likewise, Tim Tebow is a terrible “real” quarterback but a total fantasy football stud. We need to be able to separate the two realities from each other. Winning at fantasy football is not a beauty pageant and we must take care not to coddle our emotions. Drafting all the players on our favorite team because “it is fun” will lead to failure, as will ignoring what Tim Tebow is capable of from a fantasy perspective.

The “real life” problem is part Tebow’s skill set, part direction of the NFL. The NFL is begging teams to become pass-oriented. The rule changes blatantly favor quarterbacks and receivers: You cannot hit quarterbacks while in the pocket below the knees or in the helmet, you cannot touch receivers shortly after the line of scrimmage, and the “defenseless receiver” rules encourage passing over the middle. Meanwhile, the nature of the running game remains mostly the same other than the player safety changes. Smart teams figured this out several years ago and the other NFL franchises are catching on.

Stop for a second and consider the franchises that have had the most success over the past few years- New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers. What do they all have in common? Elite quarterback play, and elite passing offenses. The formula is there. Organizations that refuse to adapt are at a disadvantage by not doing what the league is tacitly asking them to do.

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are going in the wrong direction. Their model is to build around defense and the ground game. Unfortunately for them, they have created the perfect team to be quarterbacked by Tim Tebow. It is likely that they will struggle early in the season and if so, the temptation and pressure to bring in Tebow will be immense. Rex’s personality and philosophy about football will likely push him away from Sanchez and toward Tebow. Ten years ago in the NFL, Tebow could have had a lot more long term success. If this is the direction Rex goes, he may be able to buy himself one more season, but eventually it will be his undoing.

Watching Tim Tebow throw a football is a painful exercise. At the high school and college level there is infinitely more room to fit the ball in to receivers. In the NFL, pinpoint precision is required, magnifying any flaws in the throwing motion. After several years it is evident that Tebow’s mechanics are as bad as they were coming in to the league, despite how hard he has worked.

Tebow’s effectiveness is in his unconventional playing style. Defenses have to adjust because he creates problems, as the threat of the run is his primary weapon. When teams bring in linebackers and defensive backs to rein him in, receivers can be left open. We saw the ultimate culmination of this in the playoffs against Pittsburgh. Long term, this is not a formula for success, particularly when you consider the rules and direction of the NFL. That being said, we need to separate the long term prognosis of Tebow as a quarterback and how many games he will win from his immediate value to our fantasy team. Rushing yards are worth proportionately more than passing yards in fantasy. Ditto for touchdowns. This is what made Cam Newton such a beast last year, and Tebow was a beast down the stretch for the fantasy playoffs as well.

Luckily, I was able to snag Tebow in my two QB league in the 15th round. Depending on the depth of your league you may not have room on your bench for him. Likewise, if you have someone like Rodgers, Brady, or Brees it is unlikely that you are looking for a backup. Keep in mind how erratic fantasy football is, however. You might be set at QB now, but are really just one injury away from disaster. Regardless of your league or your format, keep an eye on Tebow. Last year he won leagues for people down the stretch…could 2012 be a repeat performance?

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