Extrapolation Station: Nick Foles
February 20, 2014 | Jeff
Welcome to the second installment of the Extrapolation Station, where we take select portions of the 2013 NFL season and extrapolate them out over a full season to get a better handle on the potential of some rising fantasy football contributors. In our first edition, we took a look at Jay Cutler’s 2013 season with the Chicago Bears and analyzed his 2014 fake football outlook by estimating a full season of production based on his limited playing time and the efficiency of Chicago offense as a whole. Check it out right about here, ya’ll. We will now dip into the nutty world of Mr. Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles, as we analyze the 2013 season of quarterback Nick Foles and project his stat line for the 2014 fantasy season.
As we reflect upon the 2013 season of Nick Foles, we must first pay tribute to the most impressive and prestigious award in all of pro sports. This award goes out only once a year and has proven to be a key indicator of future NFL success and even Canton enshrinement. Nick Foles was the NFL Pro Bowl MVP! All joking aside, Foles did turn in a tremendous year as he led Uncle Chip’s offense (Chip sounds like an uncle name, no?) into the postseason and has created quite a conundrum for fake footballers in the land of redraft and dynasty alike (for you dynasty folks, our home boys @Chad_Scott13 and @LordReebs discussed Foles’ dynasty value on the Faked Goods Dynasty Podcast last week). Just how good was Nick Foles’ 2013 season, and what are the chances that he remains among the QB1 crowd at the lunch table in 2014? Let’s find out!
In our 2013 Fantasy Quarterback Review, we discovered that Foles finished as fantasy football’s QB12. As the head honcho behind center after Michael Vick went down with injury, Foles tallied 2,891 passing yards, 225 rushing yards, 30 total touchdowns and only four turnovers. This stat line was good for 255.7 fantasy points (4 pt TD, 25 yards per point), which placed him above both Matt Ryan and Tom Brady for the season. Even more impressive is the fact that Foles racked up these stats in just 13 games for a 19.7 fantasy ppg average, good for 3rd among fake football quarterbacks. This was quite an impressive run, but if we dig just a bit further into Nick Foles’ game log, we will find one interesting fact: Nick Foles did not actually play 13 full games. Foles chucked one pass in Week 2, four passes in Week 4 in a blowout, and came in for an injured Michael Vick partially through Philadelphia’s Week 5 battle with the New York Giants. In actuality, Foles started ten games in 2013 and played in parts of three others. For the sake of this exercise (just fantasy stats, I don’t do elliptical machines), lets consider Foles to have played 11 full games in 2013, with ten starts and essentially one additional full game. This puts Foles at 23.25 fantasy points per game, second to only Peyton Manning’s 25.6 per game in 2013.
Now let’s get those calculators, abaci, compasses. and protractors, and extrapolate Foles’ 2013 season over a 16 game slate. If we take the 11 game average of Foles’ final stat line and expand it through 16 games, we get a line looking like this:
4,205 passing yards (10th among NFL QB)
39 touchdowns (t-2nd among NFL QB)
322 rushing yards (9th among NFL QB)
4 rushing touchdowns (t-3rd among NFL QB)
3 interceptions (1st among NFL QB w/16 games)
372 fantasy points (2nd among fantasy QB)
On a 16 game average, Nick Foles was the most productive fantasy football quarterback not named Peyton Manning in 2013. This was quite a surprise considering the fact that Foles wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of fantasy football drafters last summer. Obviously we won’t be able to comfortably (or sanely) project a 39:3 TD:INT ratio for Foles in 2014, but just how good can Foles be next season?
First, lets take a quick glance at the offense in which Foles resides. How did the 2013 season turn out under the hands of new head coach Chip Kelly?
27.6 Points Per Game (4th in the NFL)
256.9 Passing Yards Per Game (9th in the NFL)
31.8 Pass Attempts Per Game (27th in the NFL)
160.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (1st in the NFL)
31.3 Rushing Attempts Per Game (4th in the NFL)
After cracking our knuckles and applying our bifocals, we notice that Kelly’s offense had little trouble scoring and excelled at running the ball. That all sounds dandy, but this is supposed to about Nick Foles, not LeSean McCoy! By looking at the Philadelphia passing numbers, we spot one glaring development: big plays. The Eagles were 9th in passing yards per game, but only 27th in attempts per game, meaning that when they threw the ball, they were chewing up huge chunks of yardage and racking up mountains of fantasy points. Philadelphia finished the 2013 season tops in the NFL in yards per passing attempt with 8.7 yards per pass, and also yards per completion at a whopping 14.2 yards per completed pass. Having two speedsters like DeSean Jackson (16.2 yards per catch) and Riley Cooper (17.8 yards per catch) at his disposal made Nick Foles’ downfield success even easier. Second to Philadelphia in both yards per attempt and yards per completion were the Seattle Seahawks, giving us further proof that a successful running game allows for more explosive passing plays as NFL games progress.
We have established that Foles won’t lead the NFL in passing attempts as the leader of Kelly’s offense, but he will still be a top fantasy option due to the high powered nature of the offense, as well as his running ability. A fantasy quarterback doesn’t have to have wheels like Colin Kaepernick to increase his fantasy stock, he simply needs to find the endzone a few times over the course of a season and chip in 30-40 rushing yards per game (see Rodgers, Aaron). The fantasy football draft stock of Nick Foles will be extremely interesting to track over the course of the offseason, as the NFL Draft and free agency of wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin change the offensive landscape in Philadelphia. I am willing to forecast an increase in Foles’ numbers next season and will likely slot him in the QB5-QB7 range of our early 2014 rankings and projections. If Foles slides into the middle rounds of fantasy drafts this summer, a profit will be waiting.