Pity poor Daunte Culpepper. A few years ago he was a top fantasy star, taken in the first round in some drafts. Then injuries set in..injuries and doubts. He gets a fresh start with the Dolphins, but only gets four games in the 2006 season before he gets injured again. This week the Dolphins not only traded for QB Trent Green, they resigned QB Cleo Lemon. Ok, losing out to a veteran like Green is one thing, but Cleo Lemon? Cleo Freaking Lemon?!
The Dolphins have announced they are trying to trade Culpepper (anybody? anybody? hello?) as soon as they can. If the Dolphins can't trade him, they'll end up cutting him before the season starts. With Green, Lemon and rookie John Beck on the roster, there's no way they'll pay Culpepper's $5.5 million salary.
Culpepper doesn't have any fantasy value right now, but there are a few places he could end up where there's some potential.
- Jacksonville is just about ready to give up on the Byron Leftwich Experiment and David Garrard isn't anything more than a fill-in. A healthy Culpepper could do well as the starter there.
-Tampa Bay is saying all the right things about Chris Simms, but come on, nobody believes that. And nobody wants to go back to Bruce Gradkowski.
- Atlanta may find themselves without Michael Vick and a quarterback "battle" between Joey Harrington (ugh) and Chris Redman. Culpepper could be just what the Falcons need to fill in for a Vick suspension.
These are three teams where Culpepper could reasonably expect to see playing time right away. If he ended up on one of those teams, he may be worth something to fantasy players this year. Unfortunately, he's most likely to find work as a backup where he'll be spending time holding a clipboard and praying for a knee injury instead of helping your fantasy team. But there's some hope even then if he can find a backup position on a great team.
Guys like Jamie Martin, Gus Frerotte and Doug Johnson are currently only an injury away from heading up a powerhouse NFL offense. A healthy Culpepper should be better than those guys. If Culpepper can find a backup position on a team like that (in this example New Orleans, St. Louis and Cincinnati, respectively) he could have the chance to be a breakout fantasy player. No, really. If you don't believe it's possible, I have two words for you: Bruce and Gradkowski.
I'll be keeping an eye on where Daunte lands. Nothing looks good for him right now, but some circles of hell are better than others.