Fantasy Equity Score: Eli Manning And Top Quarterbacks
July 10, 2015 | Chet
Last year was a good year for quarterback fantasy equity scores. Our median and high prospects for the first 30 signal callers off the draft board pointed to a handful of guys who could not only serve as useful streamers — matchups plays — but as every-week options.
And that’s the point of streaming: to invest very little in the position, stumble upon a gem and suck the equity out of said gem. Don’t Google that.
Equity scores pointed a flaming red arrow at Russell Wilson, the 15th quarterback off 2014 draft boards, as a major equity opportunity. And Wilson delivered, as his unsustainable rushing production launched him into fantasy’s top-3 signal callers. Equity scores said that Andrew Luck, the fourth quarterback drafted, had No. 1 quarterback in his range of outcomes. Equity analysis also pointed to Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford — especially Stafford — as guys who were being over-drafted.
Equity scores had good things to say about Nick Foles’ prospects too, but we don’t talk about that at the dinner table.
It’s critically important, before we jump into these top quarterback equity scores, that everyone understands that this is not “the year” to go big on quarterbacks. That holds true every season, no matter what, in standard scoring formats.
My Living The Stream co-host and prolific fantasy scribe JJ Zachariason reminded us of why early-round quarterback advocates are always wrong, though fantasy footballers shouldn’t wait until the very late rounds to draft a quarterback just because. Everyone — everyone — is a value sometimes. Let’s review.
While quarterback is the single-most important position on a football field, it’s not in fantasy. This supply and demand way of thinking shows just that – there’s a ripple effect that spreads to so many areas of fantasy football because the demand for the quarterback position is so inherently small. … The reason the late-round quarterback strategy is a thing is because it’s based on what happens in nearly every single draft. When you have an outlier, things can change. But that’s the case with anything you do. Just remember that this isn’t a game a chicken – this is a game of value.
Even elite quarterbacks have limited “useable” weeks — that is, weeks in which they finish as a top-12 signal caller. The position remains imminently replaceable, as more than 40 quarterbacks have posted at least one top-12 fantasy performance in each of the past three seasons. An incredible 27 quarterbacks had four or more top-12 finishes in 2014. That’s not inconsiderable.
I sympathize with fantasy football’s set-it-and-forget-it crowd. Not everyone gets a full-on endorphin rush every time they dive into the waiver wire and snatch a great streaming option for Sunday’s games. Not everyone can — or wants to — invest hours every Monday and Tuesday making waiver wire decisions that twist the gut.
There are set-it-and-forget-it options among the equity scores listed below. And not every one is near the top.
|Player||ADP||Median equity score||High equity score|
|Andrew Luck||QB1||-1 (QB2)||0 (QB1)|
|Aaron Rodgers||QB2||0 (QB2)||1 (QB1)|
|Peyton Manning||QB3||-4 (QB7)||1 (QB2)|
|Russell Wilson||QB4||-2 (QB6)||0 (QB4)|
|Drew Brees||QB5||-2 (QB7)||2 (QB3)|
|Ben Roethlisberger||QB6||-3 (QB9)||0 (QB6)|
|Cam Newton||QB7||0 (QB7)||2 (QB5)|
|Matt Ryan||QB8||-2 (QB10)||1 (QB7)|
|Tony Romo||QB9||2 (QB7)||6 (QB3)|
|Tom Brady||QB10||1 (QB9)||6 (QB4)|
|Matthew Stafford||QB11||-3 (QB14)||2 (QB9)|
|Eli Manning||QB12||3 (QB9)||9 (QB3)|
* No quarterback had more top-5 fantasy weeks than Eli Manning did during the 2014 season’s final nine weeks. It’s no secret as to why Eli put up gaudy numbers during most of the season’s second half. It was, quite simply, the OBJ Effect. Using Eli was an arbitrage play on Odell Beckham, Jr., during his unholy run of dominance. Even if Beckham’s production slides a bit in 2015 — and it probably will — he’ll remain a boon for Eli like we haven’t seen since Calvin Johnson made Stafford elite during Megatron’s prime. Eli’s ADP has risen since the dark days of spring, but he remains a value play as the 12th signal caller off the board. Eli still threw a very Eli-like nine picks during the incredible OBJ stretch run, but he also threw for more yards than anyone else during the season’s second half, averaging a tidy 315.7 yards per contest (and 1.7 touchdowns). Eli also had massive volume on his side, as New York went from an offense that passed 54 percent of the time to 62 percent of plays, per The Fake Football writer Rich Hribar. We shouldn’t overlook off-season reports about Eli becoming more comfortable with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system as the season wore on. It’s a narrative, but I think it’s important. You have to pay up for OBJ, but there are a handful of Giants who could be draft day steals thanks to Beckham’s presence, including the guy tossing him the ball. I can’t think of a reason to invest in Roethlisberger, Ryan, Newton, or Brady when I can draft a chunk of OBJ’s production in the middle of the ninth round. Let’s not forget that Eli wasn’t exactly horrid before OBJ’s explosion.
* Tom Brady‘s prospects hinge on his early-season suspension status, of course. We knew headed into 2014 that Brady has and will be an entirely different fantasy producer with Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. Brady goes for 300.2 yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game when Gronk suits up, and 252 yards and 1.6 scores when his monster tight end is out of the New England lineup. Brady also throws a lot more interceptions without Gronk. I hesitate to say Brady is an equity steal at his current ADP, though that high projection is tough to pass on if you — for some reason — need an elite quarterback on your fantasy squad. Probably Brady’s equity will vanish if his suspension is lifted.
* Stop drafting Matthew Stafford as a top fantasy quarterback. Just stop.
* Tony Romo‘s appeal comes with the hope that Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will go back to his pass-happy ways after grinding it out on the ground with DeMarco Murray in 2014. Romo’s meager 29 pass attempts per game in 2014 are set to rise. That much is clear. Twenty-three quarterbacks last season attempted more passes than Romo, who played 15 games. Romo has never been an incredibly efficient passer (from a per-drop back perspective) so that sort of volume spike is central to his chances to hitting that high equity score. It’s worth noting that Romo has traditionally torn apart bottom-half pass defenses, and his 2015 schedule isn’t exactly discouraging.
* None of Russell Wilson‘s upside was incorporated into his 2014 ADP. He was being drafted like the solid if unspectacular fantasy producer he was in 2013. His role in the Seahawks’ offense was set to change, however, as coaches gave more slack to their signal caller. He delivered, outscoring Peyton Manning, who was drafted seven rounds before Wilson. Wilson’s ADP shows us that the secret is out and there will be no more draft day value for the guy who might just go play baseball if he doesn’t get that cash-money. While finding a quarterback who racks up fantasy points on the ground is a great strategy for late-round quarterback disciples, Wilson’s ground production should make us wary this summer. Rich Hribar pointed out in May that 36.7 percent of Wilson’s fantasy points came via the run — a rare feat in fantasy football. Jimmy Graham’s presence may buoy Wilson’s production in 2015, but as Hribar warns: “You should be treating his rushing output as fantasy frosting instead of banking on another historical season.” I’ll pass on Wilson in 2015.