As offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, Ken Whisenhunt joined with head coach Mike McCoy to help Philip Rivers quicken his release, through technique revision and an overall scheme change. Norv Turner's vertically inclined design left Rivers vulnerable to pass rushes, and he's not the most mobile guy to escape those situations.
Don't lock up Locker yet
So seeing what Whisey will do with Jake Locker will be intriguing. The early indication is that they're trying to transform Locker into more of a pocket passer. The Washington alum has elusiveness and is known for moving to the outside too quickly more often than not. This can buy time, a la Ben Roethlisberger, if done right, but so far, it hasn't clicked.
Don't fear. The alteration to Rivers' game actually restored his yards per attempt to 8.2, up from 6.8 in 2012 and more reflective of his previous seasonal numbers. If deployed properly, Locker's arm strength can take advantage of aerial weapons like possession monster Kendall Wright, potential breakout chip Justin Hunter and even Dexter McCluster and Delanie Walker, who could enter TE1 territory (notably in PPRs) if Whisenhunt can give him a similar boost to what Antonio Gates received last year. Rookie RB Bishop Sankey would help if he starts off quickly, too.
Locker's mechanical development will be quite important as to whether he can remain patient in the pocket. Whisenhunt knows how to call plays that get the ball early into the hands of receiving targets. Building up Locker's short game will lead to the long one finding its groove, too. A refined throwing motion could also tap into the potential hidden for years in his right arm.
One of the primary ways to succeed at fantasy football is to identify repeated patterns -- system, development, roles, etc. -- that can be translated to once unsuccessful environments to make them flourish. Whisenhunt's arrival and plan to tweak Locker as he has done with so many other quarterbacks, including Kurt Warner, is a low-cost case that could pay off.
Locker carries more upside than some fringe QB2 or 3 options -- definitely more than Matt Schaub and Alex Smith. I'd take him before Johnny Manziel and perhaps EJ Manuel, though Manuel is probably safer. Locker's past hype, as calm as it was, has died down significantly. Now's the perfect time to stash him late in a draft.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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