For those who feel as though there have been an inordinate number of switches at the quarterback position this season, here are some fun -- or not-so-fun -- facts, keeping in mind that most often these switches have come as a result of injury.
Presuming Scott Tolzien takes the field Sunday as expected, he will be the 47th starting quarterback of the season. Yes, in addition to the 32 quarterbacks who started in Week 1, there have been 15 others who have enjoyed that job description since. To frame it differently, only 19 teams have had the same starter all season and, of those, only three have had starters who played in each of the first ten weeks (thanks to byes). Some teams have gone three deep at the quarterback position, including the Green Bay Packers, who went from Aaron Rodgers to Seneca Wallace and now to Tolzien all in less than a 21-day span.
There are still seven weeks left in the regular season, and already the number of starting quarterbacks this year matches the total number from 2012. There is no denying that injuries have played a significant role in the carousel of signal callers this season, and based on the events of Week 10, that does not look to be changing any time soon.
Several situations were impacted by injury in Week 10; the next question is for how long this impact will persist. As noted above, the Packers lost Wallace to an injury (groin) early in their game against Philadelphia. He was replaced by Tolzien, who will start this week while Rodgers continues to heal from his fractured collarbone. Eric Karabell writes that you shouldn't necessarily target Tolzien, but don't be afraid to play your other Packers.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans have already ruled out a return for Jake Locker this season after he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot Sunday. He was immediately placed in a walking boot and on crutches, but it is unknown at this point whether he will require surgery. Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over in Tennessee, and he scored 23 fantasy points in relief in Week 10.
In Denver, Peyton Manning aggravated a pre-existing ankle injury late in the game. Manning originally injured both ankles in the Oct. 13 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In that contest, he suffered a lateral ankle sprain on his left side and a high ankle sprain on his right. This week, the right ankle took a little more of a beating. Manning appeared to have significant discomfort and was limping on the field late in the game. An MRI taken Monday revealed no additional damage, and interim coach Jack Del Rio has confirmed that Manning will play this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Here's more on the fantasy impact of the Manning injury.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler beat the projected timeline for his return following a groin injury, taking the field Sunday. Both Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman said afterward that the groin was not a problem for Cutler during the game. But, as it turned out, the high ankle sprain he suffered late in the second quarter was. Cutler returned after halftime and tried to gut it out, but was ultimately forced out of the game in the fourth quarter.
Josh McCown reprised his role of fill-in for the injured Cutler, and has already been named the starter for this Sunday's contest. Christopher Harris addressed McCown's fantasy value in his free-agent finds column Tuesday.
While reports indicate that imaging of Cutler's ankle did not show significant damage -- which is encouraging -- there has been no timetable for his return. The Bears are calling his status week-to-week. Consider that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a left high ankle sprain in Week 11 of 2011 and returned to play, albeit looking very limited in his mobility, 11 days later. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford also suffered a left high ankle sprain in 2011, missed two weeks and then returned, only to struggle in a few games before the team called an end to his season.
Injuries are always unique to the individual, and vary greatly in their impact depending upon the severity, the athlete's style of play and the prior health. It's worth noting that even if Cutler did not claim to feel any lingering groin discomfort in last week's game, he did not look to be (nor would he be expected to be, given the timetable) fully healthy. Adding a high ankle sprain to the same leg presents a more complicated picture. In this video, I break Cutler's injury down in greater depth.
Thanks to the ESPN Research staff for their assistance in compiling the quarterback injury data.