2014 Fantasy Quarterback Review
January 19, 2015 | Jeff
Welcome, fake footballers. By this early point in the offseason, you have probably dusted and shined your new league championship trophy for the 73rd time, and hopefully you’ve spent most of January crafting winning DFS lineups with the help of the wizardry that is our weekly DFS cheat sheet.
Now, Danny Tanner, put away the Pledge and get ready to begin the long, slow offseason march toward the 2015 fantasy football season. We will start by taking a quick look back at each fantasy position and highlight a few surprises and disappointments among the players that led us to the fake football playoffs. We will begin with the quarterback position.
Russell Wilson (’14 Finish: QB3, ADP: QB11)
Wilson was a very productive pick in the middle rounds of 2014 drafts, as the young quarterback was asked to take on more passing attempts than any season in his three-year career. The increased responsibility was to be expected as Wilson furthers his development in the NFL, but his rushing contributions were mouth-watering for fantasy owners. Wilson racked up 849 yards on the ground, which was 210 more than the next highest quarterback (Colin Kaepernick, 639). Although Wilson actually threw six less touchdowns than the previous season, he added 310 rushing yards and an extra five rushing scores to his 2013 tally, which led to his profitable fantasy season.
Any recap of Wilson’s 2014 season wouldn’t be complete without emphasizing the fact that he rushed for 849 yards, which tied him with Denver running back C.J. Anderson and was just 391 yards short of the rushing total for the entire Oakland Raiders team. Wilson’s 2015 ADP will likely be too rich for our blood but his scrambling skills are top notch and a healthy boost for fantasy owners.
Ryan Tannehill (’14 Finish: QB8, ADP: QB19)
The 2014 season doesn’t jump off the page for Tannehill, as the third-year quarterback was just 11th in the NFL in passing yards and 12th in passing touchdowns. Tannehill’s saving grace was his total of 311 rushing yards (fifth among NFL quarterbacks), and his improvements in passing efficiency. As we discussed on multiple occasions this summer here at TFF, Miami brought in a new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, over the offseason. The hope was that Lazor could boost Tannehill’s performance as he had done in Philadelphia with Nick Foles the previous year. Our hope in the Lazor/Tanny connection was rewarded, as Tannehill increased his accuracy from 60.4% to 66.4%, his yards per attempt jumped from 6.7 to 6.9, and he reduced his interception total from 17 to 12. While Tannehill’s numbers weren’t eye-popping by any means, he was a steady weekly contributor.
Ben Roethlisberger (’14 Finish: QB6, ADP: QB17)
Our old friend Large Ben was on his game in 2014, as he pumped out some extremely profitable point totals for fantasy owners who invested in him during the later rounds of drafts last summer. Roethlisberger’s 4,952 passing yards demolished his previous career-high of 4,328 (2009) and he tied a career-high in touchdowns, as he chucked 32 passes that were caught for scores. Ben’s yardage total tied him for the NFL lead with Drew Brees, and came with Roethlisberger’s first NFL season with 600+ passing attempts.
While Roethlisberger was very productive in the air game in 2014, he couldn’t have done it without the help of his teammates who put together some seriously impressive campaigns. Star receiver Antonio Brown hauled in 129 passes on the season, and even Pittsburgh’s running back Le’Veon Bell finished in the top-20 in NFL receptions with 83. With a wide receiver/running back tandem tallying 212 catches, the second-half surge of rookie Martavis Bryant was icing on cake. With offensive coordinator Todd Haley recently inking a new two-year contract extension, Roethlisberger should be a safe bet to finish as a mid-QB1 in 2015.
Matthew Stafford (’14 Finish: QB15, ADP: QB5)
With Detroit installing Joe Lombardi as their offensive coordinator over the 2014 offseason, there was hope that the insanely high passing attempts would continue for Matthew Stafford, as Lombardi was formerly the quarterback coach of the New Orleans Saints. What we got were the lowest attempt (602) and yardage (4,257) totals from Stafford since 2010 and a disappointing fantasy finish. The touchdown total for Stafford (22) was what sunk his 2014 fantasy value, as he finished 14th in the NFL in that category and threw just one more score than rookie Derek Carr.
While Stafford’s passing accuracy jumped from 58.5% to 60.3% and his interception total slid from 19 to 12, the counting stats from Stafford weren’t quite high enough to justify his ADP. Hopefully a fully healthy Calvin Johnson and a more seasoned Eric Ebron will help Stafford rebound in 2015.
Colin Kaepernick (’14 Finish: QB14, ADP: QB10)
The 2014 finish of Colin Kaepernick wasn’t shockingly lower than his positional ADP, but fantasy owners who tabbed Kaepernick as their Week 1 starter were hoping for far more upside than they received. While Kaepernick’s passing and rushing yardage totals actually increased in 2014, his touchdown totals both in the air and on the ground were detrimental to his weekly fantasy scoring output. Kaepernick threw more than a single touchdown pass in just four of 16 games (19 total touchdown passes) and found the endzone just once on the ground. While we could argue that simple touchdown regression was the culprit here, anyone who watched the San Francisco offense in 2014 would caution against that conclusion. With largely mediocre receiving weapons and a coaching staff under construction, Kaepernick’s 2015 value will be better assessed later this offseason but I won’t be leaping off the couch to draft him anytime soon.
Below, you will find the 2014 fantasy quarterback standings. Leave any quarterback questions in the comments section, and feel free to let out all your Nick Foles and Robert Griffin III frustration. We’re here for you!
(All ADP data courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com)