Two things this week highlighted just how miserable the Falcons franchise has become. One, Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison. Second, the Falcons played a game. Both of these rather sad occurrences devastated the team and demoralized their fan base. Even Dave The Falconer is depressed and that guy is so unrealistically optimistic about the Birds that I wonder about his sanity.
Where NFL fans see a black hole of despair, fantasy football owners see an opportunity. Fantasy football, like nature, abhors a vacuum. The Falcons need a quarterback and the player filling that role will not only be a decent fantasy option himself, he will determine the future fantasy value of a blossoming White, a handcuffed Norwood, and an invisible Crumpler. This is a big decision and the Falcons need to ensure they make the right choice. The right choice being something different from the last time they had to make this particular big decision. There are four main ways the Falcons can find their quarterback for 2008.
1) Stay With What They Have - The Madness of King Bobby has ended so we can expect to see the last of the Harrington-Leftwich-Harrington rotation. Chris Redman looked less-than-horrible in his two games and it's realistic to assume that he'll finish the rest of this season. It's possible the Falcons would stick with him as the starter for 2008, but I don't see how they sell their fan base on that choice. Atlanta could resign either Harrington or Leftwich but nobody wants that. An injured DJ Shockley is still on the roster, but there's no way they start the season with him behind center.
2) Make A Big Trade - There aren't many starting-caliber quarterbacks sitting around on NFL benches these days so this area doesn't hold much promise. Houston's Sage Rosenfels looked good in spots this year and I guess it would be ironic for Atlanta to trade for Houston's backup QB. Seattle's Charlie Frye was a starter this season. Brian Griese? J.P. Losman? Billy Volek? The mind boggles.
3) Sign A Free Agent - The free agent market for quarterbacks is very shallow this year so it's unlikely they'll get any help there. After you throw away the chaff (Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown, Quinn Gray, etc) there are only two real options: Donovan McNabb and Derek Anderson. I suppose the Falcons could outbid the Eagles for McNabb's services - the Eagles are high on rookie QB Kevin Kolb - but that's a real longshot and really only a short-term solution. Derek Anderson is a restricted free agent and so the Falcons would need to sign him AND give up a first and third round draft pick to the Browns. The Falcons are known for trading away draft picks for crap (they once traded away the pick that became Jamal Lewis for a tight end you've never heard of) but that's a lot to ask for Derek Anderson. That doesn't seem likely either.
4) Draft The QB Of The Future (TM) -- The Falcons are sitting on a top five draft pick and are lucky in that most of the teams near them in the draft (Miami, NY Jets, San Francisco, Oakland, St. Louis) aren't in the market for a QB. The conventional wisdom was that the Falcons were going to draft Louisville gunslinger Brian Brohm due to his obvious connection with Bobby Petrino, but with Petrino gone that's no longer the case. People have suggested that Boston College's Matt Ryan is now the likely #1 QB off the board. He would be the fresh face and the fresh start the franchise needs but there's still some question as to whether he's actually that good. The Falcons could also use their first pick on another need (Michigan's monster OT Jake Long perhaps) and then target a quarterback like John David Booty or Colt Brennan in the second round.
No matter which way the Falcons decide to go, the presence of Crumpler, Norwood, White and a new head coach will ensure that their 2008 quarterback is loaded with the most valuable attribute in fantasy football: potential.