Fantasy Soccer: Buying and selling Teddy Bridgewater places Drew Lock on the clock and offers Broncos a gradual hand

The Broncos have made a lot of noise this off-season because they wanted to host a contest for QB Drew Lock third year, and they did so on the eve of draft on Wednesday when they acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the Panthers for a sixth round selection. Does this move significantly change the prospects for the Broncos from a fantasy perspective?

Not really. Bridgewater is probably better than Lock at this point in her career, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Bridgewater started for the Broncos in Week 1. He’s been the better QB since Lock entered the NFL in 2019 showing pretty clearly:

  • Bridgewater: 9-11, 68.8%, 7.4 Y / A, 3.5% TD rate, 1.9% INT rate, 94.1 passerby rating
  • Lock: 8-10, 59.1%, 6.6 Y / A, 3.9% TD rate, 3.0% INT rate, 79.1 passerby rating

Bridgewater has achieved an average NFL QB score for the past two seasons, combining a high degree of completion with a talent for ball maintenance, while Lock has struggled with sales and overall efficiency and has simply been absent from too many passes. And since there is no shortage of playmakers in this Broncos crime, let’s hope Bridgewater starts at QB for Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, right?

I’m less sure about that. Bridgewater gives the Broncos a higher floor at the QB position and ensures a constant presence when it starts or Lock gets stuck. And it’s not that he was bad news for the Panthers pass catchers last season. DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel all ranked in the top 25 WR in fantasy points, despite only scoring 10 touchdowns.

But that’s the problem. Bridgewater is a solid QB, but his career touchdown rate is only 3.4%, a really low number. Maybe there’s some bad luck or bad sideline to blame – he had a 4.6% rate on five starts for the Saints in 2019 – but it’s probably a variety. Bridgewater has historically been a fairly conservative QB, which helps him avoid mistakes, but also limits the number of big games he hits.

Bridgewater’s average target depth was only 7.1 yards downfield in 2020, and he threw more than 20 yards downfield on only 11.2% of his attempts, despite playing at number 25 in the league with multiple viable downfield targets. You have to take the risk to score. “No risk, no cookie,” as Bruce Arians says. Although in Bridgewater’s case, it’s not like good things happened when he went into the field – PFF rated him 27th on deep passes and he had only three touchdowns to four interceptions on such attempts.

One thing you can at least say about Lock is that he certainly doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. He was second in the league on deep pass attempt rate, despite seven interceptions and only three touchdowns. On Wednesday’s Fantasy Football Today podcast episode, I compared him to a less talented Jameis Winston, who … isn’t a particularly flattering comp, I know.

But this type of play brings a lot of upside potential with it. We saw this at Winston in Tampa even though he threw tons of interceptions. And with the talent the Broncos have in the skill positions, I would prefer to have a QB willing to take those risks – at least to get the season started.

The Broncos should give Lock a chance to prove he’s improved, and if he’s still making bad mistakes, then swap Bridgewater. And I suspect they will – Lock will start after a competition but he won. There’s not much room for error on a team that expects to take a step forward on offense.

The good news is that this definitely makes the Broncos Offensive more reliable. Either Lock plays better and Sutton, Jeudy, Fant and Melvin Gordon benefit, or Bridgewater takes over and at least offers a steady hand on the steering wheel. This is not a trade that moves the needle for fantasy, but it should make you more confident that the needle is not swinging too wildly.

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