2015 Fantasy Retrospective: Quarterbacks

2015 Fantasy Retrospective: Quarterbacks

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Jan 13, 2016

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Below is a table that provides a snapshot of the quarterback position in 2015.

Key columns to note…

FP: Fantasy Points
PPG: Points Per Game
Playoffs: Total FP in Weeks 14-16
RV: Relative Value (difference between that player’s points and the positional baseline, or QB12)
ADP: Round in which the player was drafted, on average
Positional ADP Rank: Rank at his position on draft day (e.g. Cam Newton was the #12 QB off the board)

 

2015 Actual Relative Value: Quarterbacks
# Player Team G FP PPG Playoffs RV ADP Pos ADP Rank ADP Diff
1 Cam Newton CAR 16 389 24.3 78.9 107 8.8 12 11
2 Tom Brady NE 16 344 21.5 47.8 61 6.7 8 6
3 Russell Wilson SEA 16 336 21 78.4 54 4.4 4 1
4 Blake Bortles JAX 16 314 19.6 77.2 32 15 25 21
5 Carson Palmer ARI 16 309 19.3 52.3 27 12.9 19 14
6 Drew Brees NO 15 304 20.3 75.4 22 4.8 5 -1
7 Aaron Rodgers GB 16 293 18.3 35.4 11 2.1 2 -5
8 Matthew Stafford DET 16 290 18.1 59.5 7 7.4 10 2
9 Eli Manning NYG 16 290 18.1 58.9 7 9.2 14 5
10 Kirk Cousins WAS 16 289 18.1 87.4 7 17.3 30 20
11 Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 16 285 17.8 63.2 3 17.3 29 18
12 Philip Rivers SD 16 283 17.7 44.4 0 9.7 15 3
13 Jameis Winston TB 16 273 17.1 51.5 -9 13.7 20 7
14 Derek Carr OAK 16 271 17 45.4 -11 14.2 24 10
15 Tyrod Taylor BUF 14 269 19.2 55.2 -14 16.2 28 13
16 Alex Smith KC 16 267 16.7 42.5 -15 15.2 27 11
17 Ryan Tannehill MIA 16 257 16.1 44.8 -25 8.2 11 -6
18 Andy Dalton CIN 13 244 18.8 0.4 -38 14.2 23 5
19 Matt Ryan ATL 16 232 14.5 31 -51 6.3 7 -12
20 Jay Cutler CHI 15 225 15 44.7 -58 14 22 2
21 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 12 212 17.7 37.4 -70 5 6 -15
22 Marcus Mariota TEN 12 206 17.2 20.7 -77 13.8 21 -1
23 Teddy Bridgewater MIN 16 198 12.4 60.5 -84 11 16 -7
24 Sam Bradford PHI 14 195 13.9 46.6 -88 9.1 13 -11
25 Brian Hoyer HOU 11 167 15.1 4.1 -116 18.1 32 7
26 Joe Flacco BAL 10 160 16 0 -123 12.4 17 -9
27 Blaine Gabbert SF 8 130 16.2 40.4 -153 - - -
28 Andrew Luck IND 7 129 18.4 0 -154 1.8 1 -27
29 Josh McCown CLE 8 128 16 0 -154 - - -
30 Brock Osweiler DEN 8 119 14.8 59.5 -164 - - -
31 Colin Kaepernick SF 9 108 12 0 -174 12.8 18 -13
32 Johnny Manziel CLE 9 95 10.6 38.6 -188 19.6 33 1
33 Nick Foles STL 11 94 8.6 0 -188 15.1 26 -7
34 Peyton Manning DEN 10 91 9.1 0 -191 4.1 3 -31
35 Matt Hasselbeck IND 8 91 11.4 21.1 -191 - - -
36 Ryan Mallett HOU 8 69 8.6 15 -214 - - -
37 Brandon Weeden DAL 6 67 11.1 29.9 -216 - - -
38 Matt Cassel BUF 10 65 6.5 2.7 -218 - - -
39 AJ McCarron CIN 7 55 7.9 40 -227 - - -
40 Zach Mettenberger TEN 7 44 6.3 25.6 -238 - - -

 

Heading into the season, I was advocating a wait on QB strategy since the position continues to be as deep as it’s ever been. It worked in 2014 when I targeted (and landed) Russell Wilson in every league that mattered.

This year, my primary tactic was the Angry Tom Strategy (i.e. drafting Tom Brady and Carson Palmer to back him up during his suspension) or, if I missed out on Brady (which happened often), simply to draft Palmer in the 12th round as my QB1. I also ended up with Eli Manning in a few leagues since I felt that he was undervalued as the #14 QB off the board.

Needless to say, these strategies worked from a value standpoint. Brady finished as the #2 QB, while Palmer finished #5 and Manning at #9. None of these players were particularly good in the fantasy playoffs, however, but they all outscored Aaron Rodgers over that span, so that’s something.

Speaking of Olivia Munn's boyfriend, he had his worst year in quite a while and still finished as the #7 QB. He fared better than Andrew Luck (injured, #28) and Peyton Manning (injured, #34), who were the other two passers drafted in the Top 3. The only early-round quarterbacks to return value were Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, drafted #4 and #5 and finishing #3 and #6, respectively, though their performance still doesn’t justify drafting a QB early when there are so many values to be had later on.

Clearly, the best value play was to draft Cam Newton in the 8th or 9th round, but few of us saw this MVP-caliber season coming. Think about it – his PPG had decreased in each of his first four seasons, he finished #7 in 2014 and lost his best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, before Week 1. Not only did he begin to throw touchdowns at an elite level (his TD% of 7.1% blew away his career high), he also ran the ball more than he ever has (132 rushes for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns).

Another standout value was Blake Bortles, who was available in the 14th/15th round yet finished as the QB4 on the season. He took major steps forward in his second year, at least from a fantasy perspective. He averaged 2.19 TD per game, which nearly tripled his 0.79 TD per game average in his rookie season. His passing yardage also increased from 208 to 277 yards per game, while his rushing numbers decreased from 30 yards per game in 2014 to 19 yards per game this season. He also ran for two scores, which allowed him to finish #4 instead of #6 at his position.

Even if owners didn’t land one of the aforementioned values at quarterback, there was ample opportunity to “end up with” a Top 18 quarterback. Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith and Andy Dalton were all drafted in the 13th round or later and finished in the #10-#18 range. Dalton had the lowest finish (#18), but he was on pace to finish #5 before suffering a hand injury.

 

The Bottom Line

Nothing that happened in 2015 is going to convince me to alter my quarterback strategy heading into next season. I will continue to look for passers being drafted in the 8th round or later who seem to be good values relative to the quarterbacks being drafted ahead of them. It worked in 2014 with Wilson and again last year with Palmer. Even if I hitch my wagon to the wrong horse there is ample opportunity to shift gears as other players emerge.

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