Best and Worst Fantasy Football Value: QB’s
Since the 2011 fantasy football season ended, you’ve had a brief period to recharge. Yet many of you already want to start planning your 2012 drafts. This column will deliver the jump start that you need to begin that process.
We will examine QBs that provided the best and worst value for their owners during the 2011 fantasy season. This will be determined by combining their final numbers, and their average draft position heading into the regular season. We’ll utilize standard scoring of six points per TD, one point per 20 passing yards, and one point per 10 rushing/receiving yards in a 12-team league.
No player had the phrase “if he could just stay healthy” attached to his name with more frequency than Stafford entering the 2011 regular season. He had missed a whopping 19 games due to injury in his initial two seasons, which was the primary reason that he was just a seventh round draft pick, after 10 other QBs had been chosen. But he thoroughly rewarded those who selected him, by remaining in Detroit’s lineup for all 16 games, and leading the NFL with 663 passing attempts. He was one of just three signal callers to exceed 5,000 passing yards (5,038), which surpassed the totals of Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. He also finished third with 41 TD passes. The fact that Calvin Johnson is his primary option remains an enormous plus, and he should be one of the first five QBs selected in 2012.
Eli’s career averages of 3,335 yards, 22 TDs, and 16 Ints in seven seasons were respectable enough, but not necessarily exceptional. Which is why fantasy owners made him a seventh round selection, and chose him 13th among all QBs. However, he became a very sound investment by delivering his best season statistically. First, by establishing a new career high in passing yardage, by narrowly missing 5,000 yards. and finishing fourth among all QB in with 4,933. He also was sixth with 29 TDs, and only tossed 16 Ints, which was a sizable improvement from the 25 that he surrendered in 2010. He has surpassed 4,000 passing yards in three consecutive years, and possesses dynamic weapons at WR, that will help him exceed that number again next season.
There were concerns about his accuracy. His pocket presence. Plus, his ability to move through progressions. And that doesn’t even include the “character issues” that were part of the prevailing concerns surrounding Newton before the season began. As a result, he was just an 11th round selection, as 26 signal callers were chosen before him. Including Kevin Kolb, and Matt Cassel. To say that he proved all doubters wrong would be a massive understatement. He threw for over 4,000 yards (4,051) which ranked him 10th overall, and he also finished 11th with 21 TD passes. He led all QBs with 706 rushing yards, which also placed him 26th overall. Probably his most impressive number would be his 14 rushing TDs, which were the NFL’s second highest, trailing only LeSean McCoy. He should be one of the top five QBs selected next summer. Simple as that.
He was chosen 25th among all QBs, as fellow rookies Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, and Jake Locker were on the list of signal callers who were drafted ahead of him. But he ascended beyond them with his production, while starting all 16 regular season contests, and leading the Bengals to the post-season. Dalton finished 13th with 20 TD passes, and 16th with 3,398 yards. He also completed 58% of his passes, while averaging 6.6 YPA. Dalton has the luxury of utilizing A.J. Green as his primary target, and you should see improvement in his numbers and his draft position next season.
You may be among those who have passed the point of overload regarding Tebow discussions. But for our purposes, he should be recognized as a productive fantasy QB, whose numbers far exceeded those of a 15th round draft choice. Yes, his 45.6 completion % is a concern. And 2,180 passing yards, with 12 TDs and six Ints do not compare favorably with the numbers of the NFL’s elite passers. But in 11 starts, Tebow averaged 47.1 YPG as a rusher, ran for at least 50 yards seven times, and exceeded 60 in five contests. His 660 yards placed him 28th overall for the year, and third among QBs. Plus, six of his rushes resulted in TDs. Let others debate the degree of his skill level, and simply focus on this: if he is allowed the opportunity to start for the Broncos, he will be a steady point producer for your teams.
His amazing renaissance season of 2010 season included a surplus of impressive numbers that were assembled in just 12 games. He passed for over 3,000 yards (3,018) and a career high 21 TDs while throwing just six Ints. Plus, he ran for nine additional scores, while helping many owners to fantasy championships. As a result, he was the second QB selected in the majority of drafts, with a 9.5 ADP. But he failed to replicate those numbers in 2011, as he threw for fewer TDs (18) in 13 contests, while his Ints increased substantially (14). Worse, he managed just one rushing TD. His output was a massive disappointment for those who invested their critical first round pick on the 11th-year signal caller, and he should slide to the third round of your next drafts.
Fantasy owners were sufficiently impressed with Freeman’s 2010 numbers – 25 TDs, 3,451 yards, and just six Ints, to invest in the hope of continual improvement during 2011. He became the 12th signal caller selected, ahead of Eli Manning, and Cam Newton among others. While he finished 13th in passing yardage with 3,592, he was just 18th in TD passes, as his total plummeted to 16. And his Ints increased astronomically to 22, which was the NFL’s second highest total. He would benefit greatly by an infusion of talent at WR, but even if that occurs, you should proceed with caution on draft day.
The Cardinals were convinced that Kolb would thrive in their offensive system, and rewarded him with a $65 million contract. A reasonable percentage of analysts concurred that he would be highly productive, since he was joining an Arizona offense that was conducive to his skills. Plus, he would possess an elite target in (then) four–time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald. Fantasy owners subsequently chose Kolb 16th among all QBs, in hopes that he would achieve the 20+ TD season that some were projecting. Instead, he was alarmingly ineffective while in the lineup, generating just 1,955 yards, nine TDs, and eight Ints. Toe, foot, and concussion issues also reduced his season to nine games, and he was outperformed by John Skelton. After two consecutive seasons of optimistic forecasts, followed only by an enormous letdown, Kolb should not be among your draft options in 2012.
After a commendable rookie season in which he passed for 3,512 yards, and 18 TDs, while connecting on 60% of his passes, many owners believed that he had ascended into a tier that also comprised Eli, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco. Some of them exercised patience, then utilized a seventh round pick to select him, with hopes that he would deliver highly productive numbers. But the 14th QB selected was a victim of numerous shortcomings that engulfed the Rams, and finished just 27th with 2,164 passing yards. He also generated only six TDs, while tossing six Ints. Unfortunately, the only category in which he was among the league leaders was in sacks, where he tied for sixth with 36 despite being in the lineup for only 10 games. His numbers should improve next season, although expectations should remain tempered.
Phil is a proud Hoosier, who relocated in Nebraska, and began playing fantasy football nearly 20 years ago. In his first ever draft, he had the third overall pick and selected Barry Sanders. That choice was instantly mocked by several other owners, but Sanders ultimately scored 14 touchdowns and generated 2,358 total yards during an exceptional season. That instantly taught Phil a very important lesson – even though none of us will forecast with 100% accuracy, you should follow your gut instincts whenever you truly believe in a player. Phil began his writing career with RotoWire, later joined Fanball, and has since returned home to the Gridiron Experts. He remains firmly convinced that the key to happiness can be found through a subscription to the Sunday Ticket.