Dynasty Draft Profile: The Quarterbacks
April 30, 2015 | Rich Hribar
Evaluating quarterbacks in any capacity is a tall task and one that has proven to yield uneven results, no matter what light you’re dissecting them under. For incoming prospects, it’s the position I spend the least amount of time with in analyzing a player on film. I do watch them, but not a lot of that carries over into my fantasy evaluation, so I look to translatable and predictive measures more often. Measures I’m looking at include career production and consistent improvement throughout a player’s career with an emphasis towards adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A), touchdown to interception ratio (TD/INT) and completion percentage. There’s no exact science here from my end, either, but accuracy and turnover potential largely remain intact for the duration of a quarterback’s career at the next level. As for physical profiles, I’m looking at height, weight and hand size more so than other measurables, with added measured athleticism treated as icing on the cake.
To compound those notions, unlike real football the position doesn’t carry over the same opportunity cost to the fantasy game. In traditional one quarterback leagues, even the best prospects don’t carry over the same weight that they would in the real NFL. With points steadily available and replaceable, there’s not much capital I’m going to sink into the position. Things change up in your “Superflex” and “start two quarterback” leagues, but even then, the position is still largely overvalued once you clear the initial tier of players. So without further hoopla, let’s roll through this draft class.
|Marcus Mariota||Oregon||21.2||75||222||9 7/8||4.52||157||10.98||10.5||11.4||29.8||68.0%||296.9||51.3|
|Jameis Winston||Florida State||21.0||75||231||9 3/8||4.97||131.5||11.52||1.4||7.7||35.9||65.3%||300.5||5.2|
The past two Heisman Trophy winners make up the top tier and this is the tier of early round quarterbacks which very well could feature the only two quarterbacks selected in “start one quarterback” league rookie drafts. In terms of longevity and production, both enter the league ripe in terms of age weighted production, with Jameis Winston having an elite season in 2013 and Marcus Mariota closing his career this past season with phenomenal production. Per Pro Football Focus charting, both were also strong facing pressure.
With Winston, you don’t want to entirely forget about his incredible 2013 campaign, but it’s disappointing on many levels how he regressed this past season, largely in terms of his decision making. As mentioned, that kind of turnover potential has followed nearly every quarterback with those issues into the NFL and dampens the overall fantasy ceiling for Winston. If all things align properly, he projects to be more of a QB2 that will have spouts of QB1 output, but be wildly inconsistent week to week. For an NFL team, that’s still worth making the investment, but I can’t use early second round fantasy draft capital in a player that’s going to likely give me replaceable production.
Mariota is a fairly clean prospect in terms of all of the things I mentioned earlier and comes with that frosting in terms of athletic profile. The rub I have with him is I was also very much into recent quarterbacks that profiled similarly to him in Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, and that hasn’t worked out so great. Mariota relied on the most play action in the country last season, but does come with strong deep passing accuracy and what I believe is an overall feel for anticipating passing windows that Griffin and Manziel had entering the league. He also may not be as creative with his athleticism as Griffin and Manziel were/are, but he uses it in a more controlled fashion that still makes it an added bonus. Not that all of those guys share an entire overlap in translatable traits, but I am little gun shy on endorsing Mariota at a similar spot as Winston considering the skill positions are still very strong at that point. If he were to fall into the back half of the second round, I may consider his ceiling and built in longevity tied to hitting it.
This next group is more for the leagues that allow the possibility of starting two quarterbacks weekly, but may have one or two of these guys slide into the latter portion of single leagues. It’s an intriguing group, but one that could be limited by the pitfalls of invested draft capital by a team in seeking out real opportunity in proving they can play.
Outside of the front half of the first round, quarterbacks face an uphill climb in terms of providing tangible production, with a near similar hit rate from that point on. If you want an elite quarterback, you’re likely paying for one, and that gives the tier one guys the added bonus in making their fantasy capital warranted. It’s incredibly hard to stash a player at a replaceable position, but there are still some intriguing options in the secondary tier.
|Brett Hundley||UCLA||21.5||75||226||10 1/2||4.63||156||10.91||4.4||8.6||30.2||69.1%||242.7||49.5|
|Garrett Grayson||Colorado State||23.6||74||213||10||4.75||155||11.32||4.6||10.31||32.3||64.3%||308.2||-3.5|
|Sean Mannion||Oregon State||22.7||78||229||9||5.14||136||11.68||1.9||6.85||37.8||62.3%||263.7||-25.5|
Brett Hundley is my favorite prospect of this entire class. Not because I believe he is better than Mariota or Winston today, but when factoring in his athletic and production profiles, age, predigree, expected investment and fantasy cost, he’s a guy I don’t mind taking a swing on in the mid to late third round of rookie drafts if some of my other favorite stashes at receiver and running back are gone.
Although he wasn’t taking giant sized steps, Hundley still improved across the board in completion percentage, AY/A and TD/INT ratio in every season at UCLA. The main issue with Hundley as a passer is he struggles vertically and on the boundaries. Darren Page’s charting from the season illustrated those areas but also highlighted the strengths of his intermediate and short passing game. In the proper system that can utilize those short area strengths in conjunction with his measured athletic ability, he could be an asset.
|Cam Newton||Auburn||2011||1||21.6||77||248||9 7/8||4.56||35||126||4.18||6.92||4.3||11.2||66.1%||203.9|
|Brett Hundley||UCLA||2015||TBD||21.5||75||226||10 1/2||4.63||36||120||3.98||6.93||4.4||8.6||69.1%||242.7|
Am I really going to try and sell you that Brett Hundley is completely comparable to Newton and Luck? No, I won’t go that far, but his overlap in several areas does show that the NFL largely makes decisions in pricing the quarterback position by things that aren’t quantifiable. Hundley doesn’t have the bullish mass of Newton as a runner nor the translatable full field passing ability of Luck, but how far-fetched is it to believe that he’s not a mash-up of each in lesser form? I probably just lost half of the readers with that fit of potential lunacy, but overall Hundley feels undervalued on my end.
Garrett Grayson is in the same bucket of consistent career improvement across statistical measures as Hundley, he just doesn’t come with the added athletic bonus or as much age insulation. He also finds himself in a rather unique bucket of final season passers since 2000 that tallied an AY/A rate of over 10 yards on over 400 passing attempts.
|Garrett Grayson||Colorado State||2015||TBD||23.6||420||4006||4.6||10.3|
|Philip Rivers||North Carolina State||2004||4||22.1||483||4491||4.9||10.1|
|Ryan Dinwiddle||Boise State||2004||UDFA||23||446||4356||4.4||10.5|
|David Carr||Fresno State||2002||1||22.4||533||4839||5.1||10|
|Chris Weinke||Florida State||2001||106||28.4||431||4167||3||10.1|
Only Keenum and Dinwiddle went undrafted out of this group with six first round selections. Grayson was the second ranked passer overall in deep ball accuracy charted by PFF, which lends to the notion that vertical passing is as much about anticipation as it can be about raw arm strength. He also ran into issues with handling pressure as well as others in this class. He’s still a longer play based on age and likelihood of being behind someone else to begin his career, but also ranks in the undervalued group for me.
Both Bryce Petty and Sean Mannion had monster 2013 seasons before taking steps back this past season in terms of on field statistics. Petty has the same age and handling pressure concerns as Grayson, the same dip in touchdown to turnover potential as Winston, and the same system reliance issues that people question in Mariota. Overall, he compares to a more expensive and better packaged Case Keenum entering the league with too great of a blend of negatives for me to believe that he can be a potential starter and fantasy contributor.
Mannion has the feel of an overall serviceable backup, failing to meet thresholds in production and athleticism while lacking the arm strength to consistently make the throws he’ll need to overcome his physical shortcomings. Best case scenario is he is a game managing type of quarterback who needs propped up by his surroundings.
There are still some favorite long plays for others out there, but the rest of this quarterback crop has a steeper road to climb. Outside of the top two tiers, even your favorites don’t require initial fantasy draft capital spent on them, but continue to keep a pulse on those guys and their destinations for if they ever do get a legit opportunity. Fields entered with a 100 or zero are unavailable data and entered that way for sorting purposes.
|Connor Halliday||Washington State||100||75||196||8 3/8||0||145||0||2.9||7.5||58.4||67.3%||419.2||3.2|
|Taylor Kelly||Arizona State||23.8||73||202||0||4.58||142||10.96||4.4||8.4||27.8||59.4%||211.4||25.6|
|Bo Wallace||Ole Miss||22.5||75||211||0||5.1||136||0||1.6||7.9||29.3||60.1%||245.7||15.3|
|Jerry Lovelocke||Prairie View A&M||22.2||76||248||10 1/2||4.99||144.5||11.81||2.1||7.0||35.1||57.5%||247.3||21.7|
|Cody Fajardo||Nevada||22.8||73||223||9 1/2||4.63||150.5||11.05||1.6||5.8||31.2||59.0%||192.2||80.5|
|Bryan Bennett||SE Louisiana||22.8||74||211||9 1/2||4.81||162||11.33||2.3||8.2||22.2||49.5%||181.3||51.5|
|Jake Waters||Kansas State||22.8||72||216||0||0||145||0||3.1||9.1||30.5||66.0%||269.3||37.2|
|Brandon Bridge||South Alabama||22.8||76||229||9 1/4||4.72||143||11.55||1.9||6.1||27.9||52.1%||175.2||27|
|Anthony Boone||Duke||23.2||72||231||9 5/8||5.03||126.5||12.09||2.4||6.0||34.8||56.3%||207.7||28.8|
|Tyler Heinicke||Old Dominion||21.8||72||214||0||4.62||158||11.17||1.9||7.3||38.1||63.2%||289.7||11.6|
|Shane Carden||East Carolina||23.2||74||218||9 3/4||4.94||133.5||11.62||3||7.9||47.5||63.5%||364.3||5.8|