Quarterback By Waiver Wire (QBBWW): Week 17

Dec 24, 2013
Quarterback By Waiver Wire (QBBWW): Week 17

I feel it’s only right – polite, proper, gracious – to send the Minnesota Vikings’ secondary (above) a heartfelt thank you note upon the season’s conclusion.

It was the Vikings’ coverage unit, after all, that hemorrhaged fantasy production to quarterbacks all season long, making the Quarterback By Waiver Wire mission all the easier. Whether it was 383 yards and a touchdown to Ben Roethlisberger in Week 4 or 366 yards and four scores to Andy Dalton in Week 16, the Vikings were our primary target throughout 2013.

I’m more than pleased by the finished 2013 QBBWW product. I started out with a rough patch, to be sure, but the predictability of the league’s worst defenses and the usefulness of 4for4’s matchup tools were the fuel in the QBBWW engine.

My QBBWW picks, over 16 weeks, averaged 17.7 fantasy points per week, helped out tremendously by monster late-season stat lines from Josh McCown, Carson Palmer, and Dalton. That average comes out to QB5 numbers – better than I could’ve ever hoped for.

Optimal QBBWW plays scored 23.1 points per game, or QB2 numbers.

We started the 2013 campaign by identifying signal callers whose opportunity spike would not be baked into their average draft position, leaving them on your local waiver wires waiting to be picked up.

Jay Cutler and Alex Smith were our main targets, and the final numbers show why: Smith, unjustly ridiculed in fantasy circles through the summer, finished as fantasy’s 10th highest scoring quarterback. The combination of Cutler and McCown – the Trestman boys – finished with 290 fantasy points. Only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees scored more.

The point proven in this space -- and others, no doubt – is that quarterback is a replaceable position in fantasy football. A historic season like Manning’s is by no means replaceable, though I don’t think it’s wise to bank on never-before-seen numbers when burning an early-round pick on a signal caller.

Those who rolled with Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Colin Kaepernick know this terrible lesson all too well. Drafting any of those quarterbacks at their average draft positions was somewhere between inefficient and a total, unmitigated waste of a pick.

Trusting matchups is the linchpin of the QBBWW strategy, as we’ve seen time and again. 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points helped us better identify those tasty matchups, and the more information we gathered as the season wore on, the better our QBBWW plays became. It was predictable and incredibly pleasing all at once.

And lest we forget: Nick Foles, fantasy’s No. 3 signal caller since Week 10, was once a waiver wire option. I was sad to say goodbye to the guy who scores an astounding .74 fantasy points every time he drops back to pass. Philip Rivers, before finishing as a top-6 fantasy quarterback, was a QBBWW favorite. They are living proof of the replaceability of fake football signal callers.

Let’s take a look-see at Week 17’s premiere QBBWW plays.

Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. New York Jets

Watch Tannehill’s practice reports this week, as the second-year quarterback suffered a kneed injury during a debacle of a game in Buffalo last week.

Tannehill, if he’s a full go, will get his shot at a Jets’ secondary allowing 16.7 adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks. That’s not nearly as generous as I would’ve thought. It’s hardly discouraging though.

4for4’s Team Matchup Stats have the Dolphins gaining 250 yards and 1.6 touchdowns through the air, on average, against the exploitable Jets’ secondary. Tannehill, despite his Week 16 clunker, has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback since Week 11.

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Green Bay Packers

We’d be foolish to abandon Team Trestman in our end-of-season time of need. Cutler played about as poorly as he could have last week against Philadelphia – harassed by a swarming Eagles front seven the entire game – and still posted 222 yards and a touchdown. It was somehow encouraging and disappointing at the same time.

The Packers are middling against the pass. Green Bay’s secondary has allowed at least 18 points to enemy signal callers in three of their past four contests. It should be noted that Ben Roethlisberger saved his fantasy day last week against the Packers with a rushing score. The Packers otherwise shut down the Pittsburgh passing attack.

The Team Matchup Stats has the Bears averaging 265 yards and 1.9 passing touchdowns against the Packers. It’s tough to ask for much more.

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