100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 8: Favor BCS Quarterbacks
Today’s tip comes via my new book “Fantasy Football for Smart People: 25 Mysteries Solved to Help You Draft a Better Team.”
THE NUMBERS ON SMALL-SCHOOL PROSPECTS
I decided to break up the data into two primary categories, sorting it by position and round. Since small-school players typically get drafted later, it wouldn’t make sense to compare all small-school quarterbacks to all BCS quarterbacks, for example, because the latter group should be expected to produce at a higher level from their draft slot alone.
I’m more concerned with looking at, say, a third-round prospect and trying to figure out if his college can give us some insights into his potential NFL production. To grade that production, I used approximate value from Pro Football Reference, which is a pretty good catch-all metric that combines all relevant fantasy numbers.
Right off the bat, I found that BCS quarterbacks (those from the big conferences) have outperformed non-BCS quarterbacks, even after adjusting for draft round.
Outside of the fourth round, BCS quarterbacks have recorded better fantasy stats than non-BCS passers. The deviation from that trend is likely just due to variance.
First and second-round small-school quarterbacks have been particularly poor. Outside of a handful of names (Ben Roethlisberger Daunte Culpepper, and perhaps Joe Flacco and Alex Smith), most have been busts or mediocre at best: J.P Losman, David Carr, Patrick Ramsey, Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Shaun King, and Charlie Batch among them.
Note that Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois) wasn’t included in this analysis because he went undrafted. His presence wouldn’t significantly alter the results. The sample (which contains 156 quarterbacks over a 15-year period) is large enough to conclude that you probably want to favor BCS quarterbacks.
I think that big-school quarterbacks have found more NFL success for a few reasons. First, great quarterbacks are typically heavily recruited out of high school, so the best rarely sign with non-BCS schools.
Further, playing quarterback in the NFL seems to take a level of confidence that surpasses that required for every other position, and quarterbacks from schools like Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, and so on seem like they’re probably better equipped to deal with pressure and adversity. It’s not that small-school quarterbacks can’t be confident in their abilities—Joe Flacco has perhaps the most undeserved sense of arrogance I’ve ever witnessed, for example—but they aren’t necessarily forced to deal with adversity on a consistent basis, so it can be difficult to determine if they have what I call “Goldilocks arrogance” (just enough to not care about what people say, but not so much that they fail to work hard).
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