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A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

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Fantasy Football: Are wide receivers with poor quarterbacks overvalued?

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At RotoWire, I took a look at the relationship between quarterbacks and wide receivers in fantasy football.

Thinking of fantasy football as a stock market, I’ve long questioned whether players with well-known weaknesses, such as receivers without competent quarterbacks, actually drop too much in preseason rankings. In the same way it’s often smart to bet the under in Saints-Patriots games despite the fact that they’re going to put a ton of points on the board, perhaps the wisdom of the fantasy football crowds unnecessarily deflates the value of players with question marks; that is, maybe we’re all overvaluing the importance of an elite quarterback, at least in regard to wide receiver fantasy value.

To figure this out, I researched every quarterback with a passer rating of at least 92.0 (elite) and every one with a passer rating below 85.0 (poor) from 2007 to 2010. Then, I looked up the ADP of his top receiver in the following season. Tom Brady turned in a league-best 111.0 passer rating in 2010, for example. His top receiver, Wes Welker, was drafted 15th among wide receivers in 2011 but finished third in standard scoring leagues. I chose to compare the passer rating of a quarterback in Year X to the ADP and final fantasy rank of his top receiver in Year X+1 so the rating wouldn’t be influenced by the performance of the receiver (and vice versa).

At first glance, it appeared as though receivers with poor quarterbacks (those who had a passer rating of 85.0 or lower in the previous season) finished higher than those with elite quarterbacks, at least relative to their ADP. The bad-quarterback receivers dropped an average of eight spots in the rankings as compared to their preseason ADPs, while the elite-quarterback receivers actually drop an average of 10 spots in comparison to their ADP. (Note: The majority of receivers didn’t live up to their ADPs because, as No. 1 options on their respective teams, their ADPs didn’t allow much room for improvement. The No. 1 overall receiver can’t possibly improve upon his ranking, for example).

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