Early ADP Musings: Quarterbacks
August 7, 2016 | Ian Goldsmith
It’s that time of the week again, folks. A quick reminder: the change in the rankings you see below are the difference between the player’s current ADP and their 2015 finish in terms of average points per game. Are people overvaluing or undervaluing QBs in early drafts? Are they getting their picks just right? Let’s find out.
You may notice the lack of one Tony Romo. He was, far and away, the biggest riser in ADP compared to his FP/G last season. However, since he only played in four games, I decided to leave him out for the purposes of this column. So, we’re left with two groups of players who are rising in drafts. On the one hand, we have three veterans in Roetlisberger, Rodgers, and Ryan. All three of these guys have been year-in-year-out fantasy studs for much of their careers, but had uncharacteristic finishes for one reason or another. On the other hand, we have two young QBs who early drafters think will up their games.
There is no question that the Steelers offense was on fire for much of the season last year. If it wasn’t for getting injured, Ben Roethlisberger would have easily eclipsed 5,000 yards. Even so, it is shocking to realize that in all of those yards, Ben only had the 16th highest FP/G last season (15th if you don’t count Geo’s one-off), the same place he was in 2013. Of course, sandwiched between those two seasons was a season where he finished 6th in FP/G and overall points at QB, right about where he’s being drafted this season. One of the reason’s I’m inclined to draft him at roughly this position is because it seems that the Steelers will be going for two quite often this year; they led the league in two point attempts last year with 11, a number that should increase dramatically should Ben and Tomlin be believed. That could act as a solid floor for his expected strong numbers.
Even without his #1 WR, and a RB who was carrying two extra briskets with him on each play, Aaron Rodgers still managed to be QB7, though he did finish 11th in points per game. With Jordy back (hopefully in full health), a slimmed-down Eddie Lacy, and two solid options at WR, there is no reason that AROD shouldn’t climb back to top-3 status. People are rightfully recognizing that last year’s low output (for him) was due to circumstance. If you want to draft Rodgers, you’ll have to pay the price.
On a per-game basis, Matt Ryan’s 2015 was his worst season since his sophomore campaign (and lowest TD output since his rookie season). Yet, he still managed to throw for over 4,500 yards for the fourth straight season. Though there was certainly some poor QB play on his part, much of the problem was due to a carousel at WR2. With Mohamed Sanu already solidified as the #2 opposite Julio Jones, perhaps the stability will lead to more consistent production from a QB who is usually a top-10 caliber fantasy QB. His finishes from 2010-14: 8,8,7,14,7. I’m saying last year was an aberration; Ryan is an absolute steal at the 20th QB off the board, even if he only gets back to that QB14 level from 2013. In leagues where I’m not targeting one of the big three, then I’ll be happy to draft Ryan in later rounds while stocking up at other positions.
Can Teddy Bridgewater take his game to the next level? He’s proven himself to be a decent game manager, though he doesn’t take many risks downfield. Is this the year the Vikings allow him to open it up a bit? Does he have enough complementary pieces around him (e.g. is Stefon Diggs a true #1 WR)? He finished 32nd in FP/G, though his durability allowed him to finish the season as QB22, right about where he is being drafted. I’m not so sure that he has enough offensive firepower around him to truly take a leap into high-end QB2, but the conservative play-calling of the Vikings coupled with his high completion percentage (over 64% in both years) should at the very least limit his mistakes and keep him viable as a low-end option in 2QB leagues.
As a fantasy player, I want Derek Carr to succeed. As a Chiefs fan? Not so much. Unfortunately (Chiefs fan talking), his ascension into real and fake world relevancy is undeniable. He is surrounded by exciting young talent and doesn’t make many poor decisions (32:13 TD:INT last season). His current ADP of 13 is right about where he should be going (we have him at QB12 in our Fake Football Consensus Draft Rankings). If I’m waiting for QB, I might wait a bit further and grab a guy like the aforementioned Matt Ryan or Tyrod Taylor, but there is no doubt that Carr will be a great addition to your fake team in 2016.
Perhaps it’s because his first and last names are so common as to deflect excitement, but an ADP of 28 for Alex Smith is an outright crime. People can make fun of him all they want, but the fact of the matter is that he is a consistently mid-to-high QB2 in the fantasy world, at least since he’s moved to Kansas City. From 2013-2015, he finished as the QB13, QB18, and QB16, respectively. His per-game numbers do look a bit worse, but even last year’s QB20 finish in fantasy points per game made him a very reliable player in 2QB leagues. In each of his three seasons in Kansas City he has topped 300 completions, and in the past two, he has topped 65% completion.
He has legit fantasy stars at every position on offense in Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce, and has been absolutely killing it in the offseason. Here, you go out and do this workout. Barring injury, you are looking at a player who should finish no worse than middle-of-the-pack at QB, and offer both a solid second QB in 2QB leagues and an excellent bye week fill-in. What else does the man have to do before people notice him? Hang out with Johnny Football? If people want to overlook him, fine. I’ll be happy drafting him in the later rounds when everyone else has forgotten that he exists.
Along the same lines as Alex sits the always fantasy relevant Matthew Stafford. Do people honestly think the lack of Megatron will drop his numbers dramatically? Stafford still has Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin to throw to, in addition to an excellent pass-catching back in Theo Riddick. This is still a guy that still projects for roughly 600 passing attempts; 4,000+ yards and 20-25 TDs is basically a given. Anything on top of that is gravy. I might be worried if we were talking about a fragile player, but that label simply doesn’t stick to Stafford anymore as he’s played each game over the past five seasons. This isn’t as big an oversight as the absurdly low placement of Smith, but it is an oversight.
Two of the players in the above list had career years last season, and it seems that fake footballers simply don’t think that they will be able to live up to those elevated standards. I’m talking, of course, about Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’m personally a big Tygod fan. One of the reasons that I am keen to draft him (besides his low ADP) is his consistent ability to run the ball. In 9/16 games, Taylor ran for at least 40 yards, and actually averaged a hair more than 40 yards per game on the ground for the season. Four points per game without even going to the air is a hell of a nice foundation on which to build a floor. Certainly the health of Sammy Watkins will play a role in Tyrod’s ceiling, but the Bills do have a few other fantasy-relevant pieces. The underrated Robert Woods should take a step forward this season and offers another solid WR option; Charles Clay offers an excellent option at TE (should Ryan decide to use him); and LeSean McCoy has dropped weight and has, by all accounts, looks primed for an excellent season. Taylor should build on what he did last season and offers an excellent value play should you choose to wait until the middle to late rounds to draft your QB.
It’s understandable that people would be a little down on Fitzmagic this season. After all, last year was the best fake football year of his career after years of mediocrity. The slow contract talks didn’t help boost people’s confidence in him either, not knowing whether or not he would actually start. People are beginning to remember the magic, however. In the past three weeks (during which time he signed his contract), he has risen from an ADP of 30 to his current 24. Still, that’s pretty low for a guy who finished 11th overall and 15th in FP/G. He has two excellent receivers, and an incredible duo of pass-catching backs, who will complement his 6.9 yards per attempt (lower than Alex Smith’s, I might add). Regression is certainly possible, but I don’t expect him to fall to bottom QB2 territory.
To Start, or not to Start?
Blaine Gabbert is being drafted fairly right now, is only because we don’t know whether or not he’ll be a starter. Is it going to be him or Kaepernick. The QB battle in San Francisco is one of the more interesting position battles in camp this year. From all accounts I’ve read so far, the battle has been pretty even. Kaep certainly has the legs for Kelly’s system, but Gabbert is no slouch when it comes to running the ball. Gabbert has mid to low-end QB2 upside if he wins the starting position.
Brady is going to be Tom Brady. Cool, efficient, and all-powerful in the fantasy realm. I have no doubts about that. People are drafting him as the QB9, which is more-or-less fair given his suspension. On a per-game basis, he’ll probably finish top-5 when all is said and done. If you are patient and draft well, he’ll likely reward you. As for where he will finish in overall points, QB9 is still very inflated. There is simply no way that he’ll finish that high given that he’s missing four weeks. If he does, well, it will have been a 12-game stretch for the ages.
What are your thoughts on where tight ends are being drafted? Leave me a note below or connect with me @ianrgold on Twitter.