The Denver Broncos were lambasted for bungling the Jay Cutler situation before last season when Josh McDaniels became the head coach and word leaked that he was interested in bringing in Matt Cassell at QB. No saint in the matter himself, Cutler went ballistic and demanded a trade which was granted when he was shipped off to the Bears for a package that included QB Kyle Orton who was a part-time starter there since being drafted. Needless to say, Orton was greeted with much skepticism from the Denver fan base and it seemed he was put in position to fail from the start. So despite some rocky moments at times, Orton actually wound up outplaying Cutler last season to the tune of 21 passing TD’s with 12 picks. No doubt one of the quietest solid fantasy football seasons in all of 2009. And Orton has continued with the solid play through the first three weeks of 2010 as he has thrown for 4 TD’s with 2 INT’s to go along with an insane 1,078 passing yards. So with these numbers as a backdrop is it now time to consider Orton as a starting QB in fantasy football leagues? Or is Orton nothing more than a backup or bye-week fill-in play? Lets find out.
As far as Orton and his ability is concerned, this is a guy who played in a pro-style offense at Purdue and he put up some crazy numbers during his stay there. So that more than anything was the reason the Bears decided Orton would be able to handle starting right out of the gate as a rookie. Despite very mediocre numbers however, Orton was able to do enough to get the team to the postseason. That earned him instant credibility and further cemented his status as a guy who is a natural winner. So when Denver got off to a flying start last season, Orton once again displayed his knack for putting the team into position to win which is the most important stat when judging a QB anyway.
Still since we are talking about fantasy football here, we got to look at the numbers and in that respect, Orton has actually been very useful. The 12 picks last season over 16 games is league average and the 21 TD’s are decent but not spectacular. He also threw for over 3,800 yards which again is a very respectable numbers. No doubt the total package wont blow you away but there were many more QB’s who fantasy football owners were drafting this season that were a lot less proven and had a lot less ability. Such situations included Kevin Kolb of the Eagles, Joe Flacco of the Ravens, Chad Henne of the Dolphins, and Matt Cassell of the Chiefs. Orton was being drafted after these guys and so far he has left them all in the dust. Orton also plays in an offense that is copied from the high octane passing attack of the New England Patriots and so he will have many opportunities to build on his numbers. Sure the passing options took a hit with the departure of Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler but Orton still has above average guys like Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas. So a repeat of last season should be more than repeatable.
All in all, I think Kyle Orton has made himself a very useful fantasy football QB and thus should be considered strongly by those who own any of the guys mentioned above. He wont light the world on fire but Orton’s steadiness will be a nice help to your roster.