The Death of a Value Quarterback January 17, 2013  |  C.D. Carter

Rid yourself of any illusions you may have had in December. You’re not getting Colin Kaepernick on the cheap in 2013.

Those owners who love nothing more than a supreme value quarterback pick (me) were foaming at the mouth last month at the prospect of the 49ers’ signal caller as a late-round draft pick next August. Those who snagged Kaepernick from every available waiver wire after he took Alex Smith’s starting gig in Week 10 (me) prayed to all available deities that the long-legged one would stay under the radar, that he’d be thought of as a gimmick quarterback over-managed by a tyrannical head coach.

Kaepernick’s 446 yards and four touchdowns in the 49ers’ Divisional Round thumping of the Packers effectively nuked those dreams. The signal caller who was owned in just 55 percent of leagues at season’s end is no longer our little secret. He’s everyone’s secret, so he’s no one’s secret.

No matter how he fares against the Falcons in the NFC title game, Kaepernick has vaulted himself – conservatively – into fantasy’s top-10 quarterbacks for 2013. In more sophisticated leagues, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see Kaepernick come off the board in the fourth round. Don’t be fooled by various and ridiculous 2013 mock drafts being held this winter. Kaepernick won’t be gettable in the eighth and ninth rounds come August.

Kaepernick, if he torches the Falcons and puts up silly passing and rushing numbers in the Super Bowl, could very well jump into the top-5 quarterback discussion. Fantasy owners’ recency bias — and Kaepernick’s sky-high fantasy ceiling — would have him off the board by the end of the second round or the beginning of the third round in 2013 drafts. I wrote that while assuming the fetal position. It wasn’t easy.

Kaepernick averaged 20.9 fantasy points per game over San Francisco’s last seven contests, saving his fantasy against the Rams and Dolphins with long runs – one for a score – in those games’ waning moments. His fantasy value, however, isn’t limited to miracle fourth quarter scampers.

Aaron Rodgers, in his last seven regular season games, averaged 19.8 fantasy points. Tom Brady averaged 22 points in that span, and Cam Newton averaged 24 points. And for the record, since I know daily fantasy football games are the domain of the deranged this time of year, Kaepernick posted 47 points last week against Green Bay.

In December, even after Kaepernick’s demolition of the Patriots’ defense in prime time, I saw quite a bit of Twitter chatter on Kaepernick as a slightly modified Tim Tebow – a running quarterback whose coaches were afraid to let him play like a traditional quarterback, whatever that might mean.

That’s nonsense, and now – unfortunately – everyone knows it.

“There were throws that were piercing once again in this game where he powered the ball through the defense,” Jim Harbaugh said in a press conference this week. “Thinking of throws to Randy (Moss) in the middle of the field, to Vernon Davis, 45-50 yards the ball is in the air, on a line, to a spot and heck of a grab by Vernon on that particular play.”

Phil Simms, a pretty reliable evaluator of quarterback acumen, agreed.

“He may be the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL,” Simms said. “His arm is not good, it’s special. If you watch the San Francisco 49ers ever since he became quarterback, you see these throws every single week. It’s not only the power. It’s the accuracy. That’s what has really startled me. He can throw it hard on a line, but his touch passes down the field have been spectacular … Forget the running, that arm alone is enough to make you a franchise quarterback.”

There you have it. The kill shot for what looked to be a reliable 2013 value quarterback pick. Value fiends, it’s time to look elsewhere. Kaepernick’s market price has been properly adjusted, to our great horror.


11 Responses

  1. Murph says:

    Isn’t this a bit premature? I mean the same could have been said about Stafford at the end of 2011 and look how that turned out. I’m pretty sure that his over performance in 2011 and slide in 2012 was the death to a lot of fantasy teams that drafted him early. I will be just fine letting CK go much too early next year while I pick up a second tier QB in the late rounds. Not enough of a sample size for me this guy has disaster written all over him, lets see how well he performs when NFL defenses have an entire offseason to game plan.

    • C.D. Carter says:

      Stafford was a very different case. He lit up the league from Week 1 in 2011, effectively crushing his 2012 value pick status before midseason. Kaep didn’t get his shot until November, and didn’t grab fantasy owners’ attention until late December, when he proved he wasn’t a gimmick. I’d never encourage owners to overvalue a guy who has only started nine or ten games — especially a QB. I’m just warning Kaep fantasy fans that their guy has no mid-to-late round value for 2013. He won’t be there.

  2. Rob says:

    Also, this should be titled “The death of redraft” because that’s all this says to me. Auction format with no ADP or season stats is the only way to draft. You either know the information and the player or you do not. All major fantasy football sites spoonfeed the pick order and ultimately determine many an outcome based solely on that one factor. You can look across nearly all leagues for each individual fantasy football service that is offered on the internet and see almost the exact same teams across a high percentage of them because of how much ADP inadvetently influences people’s decisions. All I see are training wheels or that ramp kids use at bowling alleys because they arent yet strong enough to toss the ball.

  3. Rob says:

    I got him at auction in a slightly high stakes keeper league (10 keepers) for the lowest possible price as my 2012 sleeper before the season opened. I did the same with CJ Spiller in 2011 (still have him rostered). If you need me, I’ll be laughing my way to the bank.

    This is just another prime reason re-draft leagues are inferior to dynasty and keeper formats. Having the foresight to understand Alex Smith’s incredibly low ceiling, middling production which is not capable of consistently withstanding better equipped opposing units (as exemplified in his Giants meltdown as well as over the course of his long and disappointing career), and draft his freakishly athletic, second year backup, who did all of the same things in college that he is now doing in the NFL, is a level of scouting that should reap more than just single or half season rewards.

    Playing for keeps forces teams to examine the up and comers. Anyone can look at his games NOW and say that he is excellent or look back at CJ Spiller’s 2012 season and prognosticate on the possibilities of his crazy ceiling as so often happens with the industry big box stores (ESPN, Fox, CBSSports, etc), but that isn’t what is required to truly dominate a league.

    It takes a deeper, longer look to come to these conclusions. Provided he works out he will be on my team for the better part of a decade in accordance with our league rules and maximum contract length rules.

    Playing for keeps elicits the hawkish eye required to really understand the NFL and feel like you’ve *actually* found a talent instead of relying on some bum’s season sleeper list of has been’s, never were’s, and trendy annual picks.

  4. Kevin says:

    He dropped 30+FP in Foxboro beating the Pats over a month ago. I thought it was pretty obvious he was special when unleashed, which obviously is the future plan. Did anyone think it was Gore they’d lean on for yet another year after Smith was benched? Anyone who lets one game vault a player up their draft board 5 rounds is an idiot who didn’t watch enough footage of the guy for 8 weeks prior. I just don’t get why this is a story after one playoff win. This even being written at all insinuates you think most ff’ers only watch playoff football.

  5. Kevin says:

    I don’t get it. He played a half a year of great football. Where are these n00bs that didn’t see that? Where are the idiots who didn’t see enough of CK7 prior to his playoff win to not let him slip to these suposed late rounds? This story must be for idiots in free leagues who only tune in and watch playoff football i guess.

    • C.D. Carter says:

      You’re underestimating the risk aversion in the vast majority of fantasy owners. Eight nice games isn’t enough for most people to burn a third round pick on a guy, even someone who looks as promising as Kaepernick. If you agree that he’s not a value pick, you’re ahead of the game. Keep it up, and relax a little bit.

  6. douglas says:

    As more and more Fantasy Footballers turn their hobby into a year-long obsession (a phenomena which I am conflicted about, since on the one hand “yeah for more and more obsessed FFers!” but also “Boo, there goes our competitive advantage!”) what it means to be a value pick seems to be mutating.

    I mean, who are going to be the QB value picks next fall? The floor won’t drop on studs like Brady, Brees and A-Rod. The kids (RG3, Wilson, Kaepernick) will be uber-hyped. So what are we left with?

    Stafford? Will Luck or Newton slip below less sexier names? Big Ben? Ryan? Gasp, Peyton?

    It feels to me that there are more than enough quality QB1s for a 12 team league. Honestly, I’d be happy with any of the 12 guys I’ve mentioned. Do I like some more than others? Sure. Do I like them THAT much more? I don’t know. Do I think they represent a significant value advantage over their peers? My gut says no.

    Death of the Value QB indeed.

    • C.D. Carter says:

      You’re right on a lot of these points, Douglas, and I hope to explore this further in the next couple months. It’s astute for you to point out the proliferation of FF obsession, and how that has had a lasting impact on who is valued and who isn’t.

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