In honor of Tim Tebow’s recent release from the New York Jets, it’s only fitting that we take a look at his future, if there is one, in the NFL. Below is a list of teams that could make Tebow fantasy-relevant again, should they decide to take a chance and sign him. Right now, of course, no teams appear too interested in signing Tebow, so this is all completely speculative.
1. Arizona Cardinals
From a fantasy perspective, I think Tebow could become very relevant in Arizona … it just might take a year. Arizona has no true QB of the future and has shown a willingness to start QBs that most other teams in the league wouldn’t even give the clipboard to. Carson Palmer is a year rental at best, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cards trade him for a pick or two if he starts the year hot (or if they bench him down the stretch once there’s no shot at the playoffs). Either way, sooner or later the Cardinals will look to give a backup QB a chance to prove himself. If they sign Tebow, he would again start the year holding the clipboard. Unlike his brief stint in NY, however, he could actually get a shot at starting down the road. Remember, when he started for the Broncos, he was one of the top QBs to stream at the end of the year. Given the chance, the Cards have a very talented WR core. If Tebowis given the reigns in 2014, he would have a much better O-line to work with than past QBs have had in the desert. This would allow for him to provide fantasy owners with 50-100 rushing yards per game, easy, especially considering who the Cardinals have at RB right now (health-wise, that is). Not to mention he would have Fitz and co. to throw to. Given the Cards struggles behind center, Tebow would seem to have the best shot to produce consistently at QB in Arizona.
2. Oakland Raiders
While in Arizona I envisioned Tebow helping (albeit toward the end of the 2013 season at the earliest) as the sole starting QB, I think he would be better used in Oakland out of the two-QB formation. In Oakland, Tebow would be used best by being paired on-field with Terrell Pryor. In this scenario, Tebow would line up to Pryor’s left (Tebow being a southpaw, Pryor being a righty). The center could hike the ball to either, and the one getting the ball would then have the option to run, pass, or pull a flea flicker option play. This would most certainly keep the defense off-balance, and thus Tebow on the field for more than a play a game. Whenever Tebow would get the ball, he would have three main options. He could run (an obvious strength), throw (including to Pryor, who could run dump-off/wheel routes), or pitch it back to Pryor (and then continue on the route as a second tight end). This means he could get rushing yards, passing yards, or receiving yards on any given play. Even if the ball is snapped to Pryor, Tebow would have the option to catch the dump-off/wheel route or to be on the receiving end of the flea flicker. In any scenario, he would be accruing consistent fantasy points. Of course, star RB McFadden would need to factor in somewhere. Oakland would have to figure out how to keep the running game more than just the Tebow- show, although with Pryor’s running abilities, one could almost argue that Oakland wouldn’t need McFadden at all. Obviously, this scenario is as far-fetched as they come, but if it happens, it would be great for Tebow’s fantasy-owners.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Tebow to Philadelphia would have a similar look to Oakland, only he would be lining up next to a much more experienced QB in Michael Vick. He could also line up as a tight end on any given play, giving him the ability to have both passing and receiving yards in a game (like in Oakland, though with TE-eligibility this time). If Philadelphia moved to a two-TE set more often, he could very easily get 30-40 yards a game, with a TD here and there. Not to mention the myriad of trick-plays that would be possible with Tebow lining up at TE. I don’t see this happening, but again, it would be a good fit for Tebow’s fantasy prospects.
4. New England Patriots
This match would seem to be much more of a “normal” formation (and thus provide less consistent fantasy points), with Tebow spelling Tom Brady only if Brady were injured. There’s no way the Pats would line up Tebow next to Brady (for more than one play a game, at least). More likely, Tebow could be used as a TE with backup QB duties. He could fill in for Gronk or Hernandez when one of them inevitably gets injured, and he could give them the rare three-TE look whenever the situation calls for it. Tebow to the Pats has been discussed (or, more correctly, rumored), and we already know that Tebow has some fans in the New England front office. Of the five teams in this article, I think New England is the most likely destination, if any, for Tebow. However, it wouldn’t be the best landing spot from a fantasy perspective.
5. San Francisco 49ers
I can’t imagine San Fran playing Tebow with Kaepernick, just like I don’t see it happening with Brady in NE. But he could very well play some TE in spell of, or opposite of, Vernon Davis. He would also be a passable QB should Kaep go down with an injury, given they made do with Alex Smith for the longest time. He would be a downgrade, but I have no doubt that Tebow could lead a talented 49ers team back to the playoffs.
No matter where Tebow ends up, his best bet to help fantasy owners in 2013 will be as a tight end with back-up QB duties. Once he becomes TE-eligible, he’ll be the only TE/QB out there. Assuming Tebow makes an NFL roster with TE duties, unless you have one of the top TEs, Tebow could be a huge sleeper. You’ll get mediocre TE stats (which you’d get from any other non-top-tier TE anyway) with the possibility for passing/ rushing yards. That’s three ways to get a TD from one player (passing, rushing, or receiving). And Tebow could very well be the only NFL player in 2013 (or, more likely, 2014, if reality hits and he joins the CFL for a year) to provide such upside. Here’s to hoping someone takes a chance.
Disclaimer: even though he theoretically has huge upside, I still wouldn’t even consider drafting him unless he signs with a team and we know, pre-draft, how he will be used.