The Case for Quarterback by Waiver Wire: Part 4
It’s not the tagline for a prequel to Neo’s journey into a post-apocalyptic techno-deathscape, but a mantra for those ready and willing to embrace the Quarterback By Waiver Wire (QBBWW) approach in 2013: let the Matrix be your guide.
4for4’s Quarterback By Committee (QBBC) Matrix, compiled by Senior Editor John Paulsen, is ideal for those who plan on stocking up on running backs and wide receivers and reserving a couple late-round picks for signal callers, but the innovative tool can also serve an important function for QBBWW proponents.
QBBWW, for the uninitiated, begins when a fantasy owner drafts a quarterback or two in the waning rounds of a draft and plays matchups instead of committing to their quarterback as an unquestioned every-week starter. This often requires said owner to explore quarterback options on the waiver wire, where there are useable signal-calling options every week. More about this in the previous installments of this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Remember: 38 quarterbacks posted top-12 fantasy numbers at least once in 2012, and 26 quarterbacks were top-12 options four times or more. Our options, in standard-sized leagues, are plentiful.
QBBWW should always be your fallback approach on draft day. You should, in the unlikely event that a consensus top-12 fantasy quarterback drops well below his draft day value, seize the opportunity and buy low. Otherwise, let your rivals burn first and third and fifth round picks on quarterbacks and wait on yours.
Building a QBBWW foundation, however, requires owners to spot players with favorable schedules that create matchup plays that can challenge owners who invested high draft picks in an elite quarterback.
QBBWW is not generally recommended for owners in leagues larger than 12 teams, or leagues with abnormally large rosters, as the position is far too thinned out to rely on waiver wire options more than a few times during the season.
Here are some quarterback combinations that jump off the QBBC Matrix:
This combo scores a healthy A-, and it makes perfect sense, as both are the centerpieces of pass-friendly offenses surrounded by weapons – some new, some old. Palmer faces off against five weak or very weak opponents this year – according to 4for4’s Hot Spots – and Cutler faces four.
Cutler’s faces a murderer’s row of pass defenses in September, while Palmer starts off with a series of opponents who struggled mightily against the pass in 2012. Palmer then faces a brutal stretch of defensive opponents in Weeks 6-10, while Cutler has moderate matchups in those weeks. That’s what you want: a combination of quarterbacks whose tough spots alternate.
This duo – trio, perhaps – scores a stellar A+ in 4for4’s QBBC Matrix. Tannehill gets seven matchups against weak or very weak pass defenses, while the Philadelphia signal callers get five. Like the Palmer/Cutler combo, this one alternates between easy and tough matchups, making decisions potentially easy for owners focused on the matchup at hand.
John Paulsen pointed out that new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly called runs on 63 percent of plays during his time at the University of Oregon, raising reasonable questions about the fantasy viability of any Eagles’ quarterback in 2013. Foles and Vick, even with tasty matchups, might not benefit from the throw volume of other late-round options.
Rivers’ current ADP baffles me, as there are five quarterbacks with lower ADPs I’d prefer over the Chargers’ quarterback. Still, if the Matrix is our guide, let’s see what it says: Smith and Rivers will have an absurd 13 weak or very weak opponents on tap in 2013 – among the highest of any duo on the Matrix. Rivers faces just two moderately strong pass defenses, and no very strong secondaries, according to Hot Spots.
The Smith-Rivers combo scores an A in 4for4’s QBBC Matrix.
Smith will twice take on the Chargers’ secondary, which allowed 16.5 adjusted fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2012, seventh worst in the NFL. He’ll also get to feast on the Raiders’ defense that was second worst against fantasy quarterbacks last year, giving up an astounding 18.3 adjusted fantasy points per contest. He also has the luxury of facing the Bills (19.4 aFPA, worst in the NFL) and the Jaguars (17.7 aFPA, fourth worst in the NFL).
Freeman, who was a top-10 fantasy quarterback headed into the second half of the 2012 season – before a mesmerizing tank-job late in the year – has an astounding six matchups against weak or very weak pass defenses. That’s a big part of what gives this duo an A grade on the QBBC Matrix.
Anyone owner who winds up with a Freeman-Tannehill combination will likely turn to their Tampa option early in the 2013 seasons, as two of Freeman’s first three games are favorable matchups against the Patriots (15.9 aFPA vs. QBs in 2012) and the Saints (16.8 aFPA vs. QBs). Tannehill faces strong pass defenses in three of his first five games.