Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Quarterbacks

Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Quarterbacks

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Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Quarterbacks

OTHER POSITIONS:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

What’s the opposite of position scarcity? The glut of passing game production—2014 saw record numbers of completions and passing touchdowns—has diluted the quarterback position to the point that the average draft position of the final quarterback off the board in a 12-team league is Round 9. Do you overpay for the rock-solid consistency of the elite quarterbacks? Roll the dice and hope your favorite sleeper falls into your lap? Or stream the position week to week, attempting to capitalize on the aforementioned surplus of passing stats? To help you answer these burning questions, here’s a breakdown of not only the position’s productivity over the past few years but also each team’s recent passing-game production—and what’s in store for the upcoming campaign.

Position Totals by Year

Year Passes Comps Pass Yards YPC Pass TD Int Runs Rush Yards Rush TD
2005 16,433 9,776 111,478 11.4 639 507 1,384 4,564 44
2006 16,350 9,786 112,038 11.4 643 516 1,425 5,221 44
2007 17,023 10,414 116,615 11.2 715 534 1,305 4,001 40
2008 16,486 10,060 114,456 11.4 638 463 1,316 4,435 48
2009 16,992 10,356 118,600 11.5 703 517 1,336 4,292 45
2010 17,236 10,476 120,755 11.5 746 510 1,420 5,659 46
2011 17,357 10,437 124,886 12.0 741 503 1,571 6,075 66
2012 17,766 10,823 125,687 11.6 753 466 1,587 6,577 66
2013 18,110 11,088 128,953 11.6 799 501 1,707 7,737 57
2014 17,849 11,183 128,581 11.5 803 449 1,647 6,646 47

Has the “running quarterback” trend peaked? Attempts and yardage were down, and touchdowns dropped off to pre-RG3/Russell Wilson levels. Meanwhile completions were up, passing yardage held firm and passing touchdowns were at an all-time high. Those inflated passing numbers also explain why waiting on your fantasy quarterback is the hot trend of the day; why spend a second-round pick on a 40-touchdown guy when three or four 30-TD options will still be on the board six rounds later?

Top Ten Quarterback Totals

Year Passes Comps Pass Yards Pass TD Runs Rush Yards Rush TD FF Pts
2005 4,999 3,098 36,432 233 370 1,223 13 2,721
2006 5,161 3,118 36,985 222 451 2,123 18 2,474
2007 5,319 3,434 40,090 315 287 674 14 3,416
2008 5,490 3,505 40,904 263 417 1,289 13 3,305
2009 5,356 3,554 43,778 294 303 746 12 3,219
2010 5,487 3,547 40,917 290 392 1,399 14 3,431
2011 5,750 3,669 45,839 334 430 1,519 32 3,972
2012 5,937 3,753 44,990 295 522 2,427 33 3,741
2013 5,939 3,812 43,950 313 451 1,699 20 3,738
2014 5,841 3,830 44,683 318 443 2,051 14 3,795

While overall quarterback rushing yardage was down the top 10 QBs saw their yardage tick back up–mimicking the league’s preference for mobile quarterbacks who can also throw (see Rodgers, Aaron). Those same quarterbacks–multi-million dollar investments all–are choosing to score by air rather than by land, with rush TDs down more than 50 percent from two seasons ago while passing touchdowns continuing to climb. It’s the model most NFL teams are seeking–and having success with. So if Jameis Winston can move or Marcus Mariota can throw…

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Arizona Cardinals

Year Pass Rank Comp Rank Passing Yards Rank TDs Rank Int Rank
2012 608 9 337 14 3,383 27 11 31 21 32
2013 572 17 362 15 4,274 12 24 15 22 28
2014 566 15 319 24 3,980 17 21 19 12 8

Arizona went 6-0 with Carson Palmer healthy last season, and 5-3 with backup Drew Stanton handling snaps. But when knee injuries prematurely ended the seasons of both Palmer and Stanton, the Cardinals were in deep trouble. Logan Thomas didn’t stand out with extra reps during OTAs and his job may be in jeopardy, but Bruce Arians has to hope he won’t be mining the bottom of his QB depth chart again this season. Project Palmer’s numbers last year over a full 16 games and he was approximately Philip Rivers—in other words, a top-10 fantasy contributor. With an ADP in the 15th round (QB27) you won’t have to overpay for Palmer, and with the Cardinals again devoting their offseason to beefing up their offensive line there’s definitely upside to his game.

Atlanta Falcons

Year Pass Rank Comp Rank Passing Yards Rank TDs Rank Int Rank
2012 615 8 422 4 4,719 5 32 5 14 13
2013 658 3 444 3 4,549 4 26 11 17 19
2014 632 3 418 2 4,758 5 28 11 15 16

The arrival of Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta suggests the Falcons’ offensive emphasis will switch to the running game. However, with the passing game weapons Atlanta possesses there will still be plenty of opportunity for Matt Ryan to record a fifth straight 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown campaign. Where the Falcons’ new offense could help Ryan this year is with a play-action passing game, moving pocket and quicker offensive linemen who can keep Ryan’s sack numbers trending in the right direction. Ryan’s QB5 ADP means you won’t be getting any bargains, but there’s nothing wrong with a sixth-round investment in a solid blue-chip stock.

Baltimore Ravens

Year Pass Rank Comp Rank Passing Yards Rank TDs Rank Int Rank
2012 560 15 334 15 3,996 14 22 20 11 6
2013 619 8 363 13 3,914 19 19 26 23 31
2014 555 16 344 17 3,986 16 27 12 12 8

Fantasy owners continue to be underwhelmed by Joe Flacco consistently clocking in on the fringe of fantasy assistance, as his QB20 ADP attests. But he’s been a whisker under 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons, with a career-high 27 touchdown tosses last year—and noted quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman is his new play-caller. Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels are gone, replaced by rookies Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams, so there may be growing pains. But there should also be an uptick in high-percentage throws to Justin Forsett, much like Trestman used Matt Forte last year. Ultimately, Flacco will once again be undervalued by fantasy owners—and once again provide a solid return on a low-end investment.

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Buffalo Bills

Year Pass Rank Comp Rank Passing Yards Rank TDs Rank Int Rank
2012 510 23 309 23 3,430 25 24 15 16 18
2013 522 24 299 26 3,373 28 16 30 15 16
2014 578 13 363 15 3,856 18 23 15 13 13

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