Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) runs during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McCown 2014 Fantasy Football Outlook

It was just a season ago that we saw a career revival. Josh McCown was a mere backup behind Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears, and suddenly he was called into action.

No one could have possibly expected what happened next.

McCown saw time as the Bears’ starting quarterback for two different stints, producing a ridiculous 13 touchdowns to just one interception in just eight appearances. In the end, he put up 1,829 passing yards in eight trips to the field, averaging 228 yards per contest.

More importantly, Chicago was highly competitive when he was under center, as McCown seemed to be a completely new player. The credit for his quick development likely goes to Chicago head coach and known quarterback guru Marc Trestman, although McCown actually publicly credited former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner as his main reason for turning in such a solid showing.

But what did McCown’s 2013 season really tell us? That he was a hidden gem all along? That Warner and/or Trestman are reason for his success? That Chicago’s system and weapons were the perfect recipe for one randomly awesome, flukey season? Or that this was just lightning in a bottle for a 34-year old journeyman?

The latter seems to be the most likely answer, but former Chicago Bears and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith clearly through it was more of the former. So much so, that Smith signed McCown on for two years to be the head of the Bucs’ offense and to also help mentor young quarterback Mike Glennon.

But McCown is here to do some serious damage with the Buccaneers, that’s for sure. That’s the plan, at least.

However, for fantasy owners who want to take the dive on a player who is sure to be a major sleeper heading into the 2014 fantasy football season, where’s the proof that he’ll get the job done again?

Let’s break things down bit by bit so we can get a clearer picture of what we can expect out of McCown in the fantasy realm in 2014:

Who McCown Was Before Chicago

The important thing most people forget is that McCown was actually a very interesting prospect coming out of Sam Houston State. He was only a mid-round pick due to concerns about his pocket presence and decision-making, as well as the level of competition he faced on a regular basis.

However, he entered the league with a ton of upside due to having excellent size, a big arm and very nice athleticism. He was such a solid natural athlete, in fact, that he played wide receiver for a game back when he was with the Detroit Lions.

McCown might have actually turned into a solid starter long ago, had it not been for some sketchy management by Dennis Green back when McCown was with the Arizona Cardinals. He had several huge games thanks to some shootouts, and really benefited from some solid talent.

Unfortunately, his Arizona days seem like forever ago, so all anyone remembered leading into 2013 was that he was some random backup that had bounced around from the Lions, to the Raiders, to the Panthers and ultimately landed in Chicago.

In reality, he was always a very physically gifted passer that merely went untapped. Marc Trestman tapped into him last year, and the production poured on out.

McCown in Tampa Bay

Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) passes the ball during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) passes the ball during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The major change from Chicago to Tampa Bay is McCown’s system and coaching, but otherwise things are very similar. He still has a stud running back, a good offensive line and massive targets in the passing game.

He was already going to have the studly Vincent Jackson to work with on a weekly basis, but then the Bucs made sure he was right at home with some big targets when they drafted Mike Evans at receiver and Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end. Throw in Tim Wright and Brandon Myers and McCown has a litany of big targets to throw to.

McCown does have Mike Glennon breathing down his back, but it appears to be pretty evident that the Bucs would prefer it if McCown was the main man in 2014 and probably even 2015.

With the starting gig seemingly his for at least this year, McCown should be able to pick up right where he left off in 2013.

Fantasy Value Summary

So, how much fantasy value does McCown really have? First off, it’s important to note that McCown isn’t quite as athletic as he once was and his arm isn’t quite as big, either. But the talent is still all there, and so is some considerable upside. Toss in an awesome supporting cast, good coaching and a solid defense to back any mistakes, and McCown really could be in for an awesome 2014 fantasy season.

We do need to curb our expectations a bit, though. For one, the entire coaching staff is in their first year with the team, just like McCown. So is Myers, as well as the aforementioned rookie targets, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins.

McCown is going to need to prove he can just come in and pick up the new offense, nail down top level chemistry with his weapons and keep throwing way more touchdowns than picks. Considering he hadn’t been able to do that for his entire career until last year, it’s a valid question to wonder if it’s something he can actually do.

I think he can. Again, the talent and weapons are both there, and I truly feel he never got a fair shake in past stops. Most of his past stops were on bad teams where he played very little, too. Or if he did play, he had trash talent around him or terrible coaching.

Last year and this year, all of that has been turned around and he finally has his best chance to succeed. The best part is it is all unfolding (and already has) at a very high level of play.

Obviously you can’t go risking your entire fantasy season on the guy as your QB1. That would be silly. However, even extrapolating his insane 2013 season out to 16 games would give the guy 26 passing touchdowns and over 3,600 passing yards. Also, just two picks. He’ll throw more picks and might not hit on quite 26 touchdowns, but overall I think that’s about where his value is going to lie.

That makes him a rock solid QB2, if not slightly better. He’s being drafted in the 12th round in most fantasy mock drafts, and considering how unproven he really is despite his age, that might be a bit rich. With that said, he looks to project well on paper, and that’s with cautiousness. The guy really has the ability and the supporting cast to turn in a terrific season. Draft McCown as your backup and watch gladly as he potentially turns into a steady QB1. Just don’t bet the farm on it.

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