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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 52: The Prototypical QB

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I published an analysis of “the perfect” quarterback in RotoWorld’s Draft Guide. You need to be a subscriber to view it, but here’s a preview:

A Hefty Workload

Workload is such an important factor in every player’s fantasy projection that I considered not even mentioning it; without significant opportunities, no player, especially a quarterback, will be able to produce elite fantasy stats.

To show why this is the case, consider the distributions of quarterback efficiency (YPA) and workload (attempts) in 2013.

PQB1

I charted YPA and passing attempts for the top 30 quarterbacks as a function of the No. 1 overall quarterback in each measure—Nick Foles with 9.1 YPA and Peyton Manning with 659 attempts. You can see that there isn’t nearly as much of a drop in YPA, which really levels out after the first few elite quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the drop in workload is much more linear. Quarterbacks who don’t surpass 80 percent of the top workload in the league just don’t have much of a shot at being an elite fantasy passer.
It’s worth mentioning that rushing attempts are certainly a major factor in quarterback workload, so they shouldn’t be ignored when discussing opportunities.

Age Is Just a Number

I’ve done a lot of work on how age affects fantasy production. Here’s a look at how the typical quarterback progresses throughout his career in terms of fantasy points per attempt.

PQB2

Most passers peak in their late-20s in terms of efficiency, but they also generally see more opportunities later in their careers, which means that overall fantasy production basically evens out. Quarterbacks are the anti-running-back, capable of producing at an elite level at age 37 as much as age 27.

Note that quarterback efficiency has typically fallen off a cliff, though; it isn’t a steady decline. That suggests that instead of projecting a player like Peyton Manning for a gradual drop in production, it’s probably better to view him in terms of probabilities; as he ages, the probability that he just sort of “loses it” will increase each year. My guess is that when Manning is finished, we’re going to know it pretty quickly.

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