100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 16: Pay attention to rookie draft slots.
Today’s tip is to really pay attention to rookie draft slots when analyzing first and even second/third-year players. From my new book Fantasy Football for Smart People: Lessons from RotoAcademy (Volume 2.0):
You might think that small-school quarterbacks get selected much later than big-school quarterbacks, but that’s not actually the case.
No conference has had quarterbacks selected higher, on average, than Conference USA. Part of that is due to a small sample, but in Byron Leftwich, Kevin Kolb, and J.P. Losman, the conference at least had three highly drafted (and largely unsuccessful) quarterbacks.
Overall, the average round for a BCS quarterback is 3.40, compared to 3.74 for non-BCS passers. That’s 0.34 “rounds,” or just under 11 picks in the draft. Eleven selections separate the typical BCS rookie quarterback from the small-school guys.
There have been more big-school quarterbacks in the first round, however.
Over one-third of all BCS quarterbacks drafted since 2003 have been in the first round, compared to just over one-in-five for small-school passers. Note that the non-BCS quarterbacks have been far more prevalent in the second round, however.
Plus, the non-BCS quarterbacks to get selected in the first round—Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Byron Leftwich, and J.P. Losman—have seen mixed results. As mentioned, only Roethlisberger produced as a rookie (although Leftwich was moderately effective with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions), and Roethlisberger has really been the only one to sustain long-term success.