Fantasy Equity Scores: Marcus Mariota And Late-Round Upside
July 24, 2015 | Chet
We’re not going to find plug-and-play fantasy starters in the bottom rung of quarterback average draft positions. Probably not, anyway.
We will however, find very useful guys who can exploit good matchups, could have volume or opportunity on their side, and serve as hedge plays on talented receiving corps. What exactly does that last part mean? If you believe a group of pass catchers will produce, you also — by default — believe their signal caller will produce. Not every week, of course, but that’s not what quarterback streamers are looking for.
I wrote last week about quarterbacks I’m targeting in the 10th-13th rounds — guys whose upside is clearly not baked into their ADPs. The set of quarterbacks mentioned below are different because they’re free — they can be scooped up at the very end of drafts, even after some kickers and defenses.
In fact, most of the quarterbacks listed below will be on your local waiver wire come Week 1.
As per usual, I’ve used Rotoviz’s similarity score app as a baseline for each projection. That great little tool, if you’re unfamiliar, “contains the results of what the similar players did after they had a season that was comparable to the subject player.”
While I make adjustments for each player, I’ve found the similarity score app to be more than a little useful in spotting players who are almost universally overrated and underrated in the weeks and months before Opening Day kickoff. I find the app, at the very least, to be a solid starting point for projecting most players. That doesn’t often apply to players who have switched teams over the off-season or whose role has significantly changed from one year to the next.
Click here to see all of C.D. Carter’s fantasy equity score analysis
|Player||ADP||Median equity score||High equity score|
|Jameis Winston||QB25||6 (QB19)||11 (QB14)|
|Marcus Mariota||QB26||10 (QB16)||19 (QB7)|
|Andy Dalton||QB27||5 (QB21)||8 (QB18)|
|Nick Foles||QB28||7 (QB20)||10 (QB17)|
|Robert Griffin III||QB29||4 (QB24)||12 (QB16)|
|Mark Sanchez||QB30||10 (QB19)||13 (QB16)|
|Alex Smith||QB31||11 (QB19)||21 (QB9)|
|Blake Bortles||QB32||4 (QB27)||12 (QB19)|
|Josh McCown||QB33||0 (QB32)||4 (QB28)|
* Marcus Mariota‘s upside is best summarized in this exchange between Rotoviz writers Justin Winn and Heith Krueger, who have vastly different assessments of the rookie’s 2015 prospects. Both guys make solid arguments, but I side with Winn’s take: saying Mariota has low-QB1 upside is underselling his true fantasy ceiling. You can argue that almost every starting quarterback has low-QB1 upside. Winn points out that Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III were both top-5 quarterbacks as rookies, and with recent talk from Tennessee about using Mariota’s legs as a weapon, I think we have decent comparisons here. Not perfect, but reasonable. Terrible Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he fully expects big plays via the ground from Tennessee’s newest franchise player. We should always value efficiency over volume — especially with quarterbacks — but it’s worth noting that the Titans are likely going to face a bunch of negative game scripts that won’t allow for three-yard Bishop Sankey runs in the second half of games. They’ll require drop backs and throws (and rushes) from Mariota. And we have reason to believe Mariota can be an efficient fantasy producer: he owns the fourth and sixth most efficient adjusted yards per attempt seasons on record, per Winn. He doesn’t have the receiving weapons that fellow rookie, Jameis Winston, will enjoy in Tampa, but I think Mariota’s median and high equity scores are anything but unreasonable. I’ll target him in every draft barring a marked ADP rise. The beauty part: if Mariota is nothing but a streamer, we can treat him as such.
* Probably a good percentage of readers blacked out when they saw Alex Smith‘s high equity score. Top-10 numbers from the guy whose trademark throw is a two-yard dump-off to the backup fullback? I checked and double checked these projections because I was surprised too in the wake of Smith’s disappointing 2014 campaign, which saw him finish as QB18, right behind Andy Dalton. His median prospects made a lot of sense to me, but his high score threw me. Then I read Shawn Siegele’s excellent look at the difference between Smith’s 2013 and 2014 seasons. It came down to Kansas City’s schedule, which was brutal in 2014. The Chiefs took on the NFC West and Smith’s fantasy production paid the price. He notched less than 14 fantasy points in those four contests, dragging down his seasonal average and masking his usefulness in more favorable matchups. The pass catching prowess of Jamaal Charles, emergence of Travis Kelce as an offensive centerpiece, the addition of Jeremy Maclin and the presence of vastly underrated weapon De’Anthony Thomas are all fantasy boons for Smith in 2015. It was only two years ago that Smith finished as QB13, just seven fantasy points behind Tony Romo, who was QB10. Is it really outrageous to say top-10 numbers are in Smith’s range of outcomes? I think not.
* A quick note on Mark Sanchez, who proved more than a little useful in his starts last season: these equity scores are based on 16 games for Sanchez in Chip Kelly’s offense. And if you draft Sam Bradford, please don’t “handcuff” Bradford with Sanchez. You’re depleting your team depth and ignoring the undeniable replacability of the quarterback position in fantasy football.
* I’d be excited about any quarterback with Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey and Jared Cook as targets if said quarterback weren’t on Jeff Fisher’s team. I suppose Nick Foles‘ unbelievable 2013 numbers are in the eye of the beholder to some extent: was he simply that red hot during the final three months of the season, or was it some sort of fluke related to Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme? Foles goes from the league’s most exciting, intriguing, fastest paced offense to an ancient relic of yesteryear in St. Louis. That’s what we call “not good” in the business. But hey, Foles is free in re-draft and has a few legit weapons and a possibly really good running back behind him. Foles’ sim score comps include a couple solid seasons from Carson Palmer — including his stellar 2005 campaign that included 32 touchdown tosses — along with Donovan McNabb’s 2006 season, which saw him average 265 yards and 1.9 touchdowns in 10 games. I think Foles has the potential to quickly become a streaming staple.