Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27 Sleeper of the Day: Kyle Orton


The preseason didn't begin well for Denver's new starter, who tossed three picks and was booed off the field in his first start of 2009. But he was much improved last weekend (18-for-26, 182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and still has the backing of first-year Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that injury plagued backup Chris Simms is hurt again, and the other QBs on the roster are named Tom Brandstater and Ingle Martin. After the franchise alienated Jay Cutler and eventually traded him for Orton in the offseason, Denver doesn't have many other options anyway.

Orton may not be a marquee name, but it's worth nothing he scored more total TDs than Chad Pennington, Matt Ryan or David Garrard while playing much of 2008 on a bad ankle with the Bears. Now he gets a head coach known for making mediocre QBs into stars (see Matt Cassel), and is surrounded by much shinier toys (Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Knowshon Moreno) and a better offensive line to play with.

I have Orton ranked 15th among QBs this year, which would make him an upper-tier backup in 10-team leagues. He does carry some risk, which is why I'd ideally pair him with a solid performer like Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb. If he can limit his mistakes and the Broncos run the kind of high-octane, imaginative offense one would expect out of McDaniels, Orton could be a big surprise.

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