Fantasy Equity Scores: Top-35 Quarterbacks
August 28, 2015 | Chet
Now for a cheap plug, but one with a lesson.
In my capacity as owner of Draft Day Consultants, a little service that connects fantasy owners with make-believe football writers and analysts, I join clients while they draft their various squads. One thing never fails: By the sixth or seventh round, with most of their leagues mates having secured a quarterback, the client will look at that empty QB spot on his roster and say some version of the following.
“I’m freaking out, man. Why don’t I have a quarterback?”
“Because,” I tell dear client, “your league mates are burning draft capital under the mistaken assumption that you need a top quarterback. They’re chasing replaceable points. You should cheer every time they take a quarterback.”
This is not the year to take an elite quarterback early. Neither was last year. Neither was 2013. Neither was 2012 or 2011 or 2010 or 2009. It’s never the year.
The talk-down-from-the-ledge conversation with Draft Day Consultants clients sometimes starts in the fourth round. Other times, the clients’ pangs of panic don’t start until the 10th round, when some of their rivals have not one, but two signal callers.
Experienced and savvy fantasy owners know that waiting on quarterback is nothing new. But I think peer pressure and the cultural obsession with the quarterback position drive the panic a well-intentioned owner might feel in the middle rounds of a fantasy draft. The freak out happens and a middling quarterback is selected when they could’ve continued to build depth at running back and receiver.
Everyone is a value sometime (which is the name of my forthcoming album, for what that’s worth), so if Aaron Rodgers drops to the third round or Drew Brees to the eighth or Russell Wilson to the 10th, I have to consider taking them. But that’ll never happen, unless you’re in a league of elitist fantasy writers trying to late round quarterback each other into oblivion.
Don’t freak out though. Stay the course, remember that numbers are on your side and let your buddies swipe signal callers early and often. Live that stream.
Median equity score
High equity score
|Andrew Luck||QB1||-1 (QB2)||0 (QB1)|
|Aaron Rodgers||QB2||0 (QB2)||1 (QB1)|
|Peyton Manning||QB3||-5 (QB8)||0 (QB3)|
|Russell Wilson||QB4||-2 (QB6)||0 (QB4)|
|Ben Roethlisberger||QB5||-4 (QB9)||-2 (QB7)|
|Drew Brees||QB6||-2 (QB7)||2 (QB3)|
|Matt Ryan||QB7||-4 (QB10)||-1 (QB7)|
|Tony Romo||QB8||0 (QB7)||5 (QB2)||Yes|
|Tom Brady||QB9||-1 (QB9)||4 (QB4)|
|Matthew Stafford||QB10||-5 (QB14)||0 (QB9)|
|Ryan Tannehill||QB11||0 (QB10)||6 (QB4)||Yes|
|Eli Manning||QB12||2 (QB9)||8 (QB3)||Yes|
|Philip Rivers||QB13||1 (QB11)||3 (QB9)|
* If forced to take one quarterback from the options above, I’m taking Tony Romo. Fantasy scribe Mike Braude makes a compelling argument that Romo could go next-level nuclear in 2015, without a true workhorse running back to take the shine off his eye-popping efficiency. Turn up the Cowboys’ passing frequency with the Rotoviz Projection Machine and Dallas’ quarterback posts a difference-making fantasy season. Romo’s median score isn’t fantastic, but that QB2 high score is something I can’t ignore, especially when Romo will drop to the ninth or tenth round in some drafts. Romo’s sim score comps include Peyton Manning’s 2013 campaign in which he threw for a cool 55 touchdowns.
* I’m officially uncomfortable with Tannehill’s ADP. Still, it’s tough to ignore that Aaron Rodgers’ 2009 campaign pops up in Tanny’s positive comps. That was the year that saw Rodgers finish as QB1 by a wide margin, as he threw for more than 4,400 yards and 30 scores. It remains tough to pass him if you believe that high equity score is within reach. And why not? Tanny was seven fantasy points away from finishing as a top-7 fantasy quarterback in 2014 despite a few clunker stat lines. His usually-heinous deep ball has improved, by all accounts, and he has uber-efficient deep threat Kenny Stills lined up on the outside and Jordan Cameron creating mismatches over the middle in Bill Lazor’s offense. If Miami speeds up its offensive pace — something coaches have discussed — Tanny actually exceeds the high equity score posted above. Not saying. Just saying.
|Player||ADP||Median equity score||High equity score||Target?|
|Sam Bradford||QB13||2 (QB11)||4 (QB9)|
|Cam Newton||QB14||6 (QB8)||8 (QB6)|
|Teddy Bridgewater||QB15||-9 (QB24)||2 (QB13)|
|Carson Palmer||QB16||6 (QB10)||9 (QB7)||Yes|
|Joe Flacco||QB17||6 (QB11)||10 (QB7)||Yes|
|Colin Kaepernick||QB18||7 (QB11)||11 (QB7)||Yes|
|Jay Cutler||QB19||1 (QB18)||10 (QB9)|
|Marcus Mariota||QB20||4 (QB16)||13 (QB7)||Yes|
|Jameis Winston||QB21||2 (QB19)||7 (QB14)|
|Derek Carr||QB22||0 (QB22)||2 (QB20)|
|Andy Dalton||QB23||3 (QB20)||8 (QB15)|
|Robert Griffin III||QB24||0 (QB24)||8 (QB16)|
* It seems that Bradford’s high equity score is capped by the myriad unknowns in his role as presumed starter in the Chip Kelly Machine. If Nick Foles can post elite fantasy numbers in that scheme, I don’t put it past Bradford to do the same. The mismatch monster that we call Jordan Matthews won’t hurt Bradford’s cause either. There’s some indication — from Eagles beat writers and coaches — that the team will look to return to their run-heavy ways of two years ago, when they eclipsed the 500-rush mark. It’s not accident that they invested in both Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray this offseason, and we saw last week just how effective that duo can be with Philly’s dominant run blockers. I would be all over Bradford if his ADP had remained around the QB17 mark, but alas, he’s up to QB13 and rising. I’m far more comfortable with Palmer, who has a higher median score and a higher ceiling, per these projections.
* Kap’s radically new throwing motion could be a major factor in how he progresses. If Kaepernick improves on his 2014 shortcomings — touch passes and the like — there’s real reason to believe he could become a reliable fantasy starter. The sim scores list Russell Wilson’s 2014 season among Kap’s positive comps (that comps remains even when you remove Kap’s whacky Week 15 performance against San Diego). He’s never going to stop running, and that’s a good thing for anyone interested in exploiting the Konami Code in the late rounds of 2015 drafts.
* Stop treating Carr as anything but a desperate streaming play. He was beyond awful in 2014 and there’s little reason to believe that changes in 2015. I’d prefer Blake Bortles. Seriously.
* I don’t think anyone should draft Bridgewater in a 12-team league. The Draft Twitter darling might be a fine and dandy real life quarterback, but I — and these equity scores — see him as a nice matchup play and nothing more. Adrian Peterson’s presence is a boost to Bridgewater’s prospects, but a guy who scored as many fantasy points per drop back as Geno Smith did in 2014 isn’t exactly a sparkling late-round target. Bridgewater is Alex Smith without any hint of upside.
|Player||ADP||Median equity score||High equity score||Target?|
|Nick Foles||QB25||5 (QB20)||8 (QB17)|
|Alex Smith||QB26||8 (QB18)||17 (QB9)||Yes|
|Blake Bortles||QB27||2 (QB25)||8 (QB19)|
|Johnny Manziel||QB28||7 (QB21)||10 (QB18)|
|Tyrod Taylor||QB29||10 (QB19)||16 (QB13)||Yes|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||QB30||7 (QB23)||12 (QB18)||Yes|
|Brian Hoyer||QB31||4 (QB27)||7 (QB24)|
|Josh McCown||QB32||3 (QB29)||6 (QB26)|
|Matt Cassel||QB33||7 (QB26)||9 (QB24)|
|Geno Smith||QB34||11 (QB23)||14 (QB20)|
|Ryan Mallett||QB35||7 (QB28)||10 (QB25)|
* Alex Smith is criminally under-drafted thanks in large part to the spate of jokes about his propensity for check-down passes. Smith, two years removed from a top-12 fantasy campaign in Andy Reid’s offense, has been accurate with his limited deep passes, per Pro Football Focus. He completed a hefty 56.4 percent of his deep balls in 2013. Remember that Smith’s schedule was absolutely brutal in 2014, and that it lightens up considerably in 2015. And replacing the ghost of Dwayne Bowe with Jeremy Maclin does a lot for Smith’s floor, if not his ceiling.
* Tyrod Taylor has yet to be named as Buffalo’s Opening Day starter. Probably that’s just a formality at this point. Fellow Fake Football writer Rich Hribar has pointed out that dual threat signal callers like Taylor — who’s completed 12 of his 17 aimed throws and rushed 10 times for 89 yards this preseason — thrive when faced with an evened-out game script. The Bills’ defense could be really good, meaning Taylor won’t be forced to the air in an offense devoid of what we might call “good” receivers (besides Sammy Watkins, who might be decent). He’s shown no hesitation to use his rushing prowess when the pocket breaks down or after he’s gone through his progressions. All equity scores are 16-game projections, and while Taylor won’t be an every-week fantasy starter, I think he’ll be very useful for anyone who goes cheap at the position and deploys the running quarterback in favorable matchups (as dictated by Vegas lines).