While that headline probably doesn’t seem to make much
sense, or have any relevance in a fantasy football analysis piece,
hear me out.
As a veteran fantasy owner in many sports, including baseball,
I know to always start any healthy hitters when their team travels
to Colorado. The thin air in Denver and the Rockies’ traditionally
underperforming pitching staff makes it a great place for hitters
to post big numbers.
Although the field size is the same in every NFL city, quarterbacks
also play better in different stadiums.
This fantasy analysis is going to look at the most obvious split
– home/away to help you determine which quarterbacks you
should start each week. Certainly, some quarterbacks are “stadium
proof,” (think Tom Brady), but for most mere mortals that’s
not the case.
Evaluating all quarterbacks with at least 10 decisions in 2016,
home quarterbacks averaged 263 passing yards, 1.71 TD passes,
.74 interceptions and 1.97 sacks while away quarterbacks average
251 yards, 1.47 TDs, .77 interceptions and 2.13 sacks.
However, wouldn’t it be valuable to know which “big
name” quarterbacks didn’t play well on the road last
season and therefore you might need to select a better backup
on Draft Day?
Conversely, it would be a great advantage to know which quarterbacks
actually played better away from the pressure of the rabid hometown
Big Ben is famous for his performances
Better at home
Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh – He may
be a two-time Super Bowl winner and throw to the best receiver in
the game, but Big Ben has struggled away from Heinz Field. Look
at the splits last season. In Pittsburgh he was 5-1 with a 70.8
completion percentage, averaged 319.1 passing ypg and owned a 20-5
TD-INT ratio. On the road he completed just 59 percent of his passes
for 238 yards (a 25.4% reduction) and nine touchdowns against eight
interceptions. It’s the second consecutive season with a dramatic
dip in road performance. In 2015 the home numbers were 5-1, 348
ypg, 16-7 TD-INT and away 3-3, 308 ypg, 5-9 TD-INT ratio. If you
spend a pick on Ben, better plan on a second quarterback earlier
than expected. Even he knows the numbers. “Usually when we lose
a game it is because we turn the ball over ... We have to take care
of the ball. It starts with me and not turning it over,” said Roethlisberger. Carson
Palmer, Arizona – Palmer’s history hasn’t been as a
“homer,” but 2016 wasn’t good away from University of Phoenix Stadium.
His passing yardage dropped by 50 yards on the road (301.5 to 260.1)
and his home 13-3 TD-INT ratio fell to 13-11 when he left the state
of Arizona. Palmer completed 63 percent at home and just 57.9 percent
on the road. Now he’ll also be looking over his shoulder at the
new rookie quarterback in town. At 38-years-old it might just be
better to stay away completely, but if you still want him, keep
in mind that five of the Cardinals first eight games are on the
Wilson, Seattle – In 2014 Wilson was
a road warrior 64.9%, 241 ypg, 14-1 TD-INT ratio vs 61%, 193 ypg
and 6-6. In 2015 he was about even home and road (65.7%, 268.2 ypg,
17-2 TD-INT ratio at home and 70.6, 234.7, 17-6), but last season
the numbers went in the opposite direction (67%, 272.5 ypg, 13-3
TD-INT ratio at home and 62.3, 254.7, 8-8. In this business we call
that a trend.
Flacco, Baltimore – Flacco was 6-2
at home last season averaging 265.5 ypg with 14 TDs and 10 INTs
while going 2-6 on the road, passing for 241.1 and 6-9. That was
similar to 2015 when he threw for 301.2 ypg at home with 8-5 TD-INT
ratio in five games and 257 yards with a 6-7 TD-INT ratio on the
road. Unless the Ravens can find him a couple of more reliable targets
in 2017, Flacco might be struggling both home and away. Eli
Manning, New York Giants – Manning averaged 56 passing
yards less on the road than in the friendly confines of MetLife
Stadium. Like Roethlisberger, Manning has an elite receiver to target,
Beckham Jr., but that didn’t prevent a 20-percent drop in passing
yardage and six less touchdowns. This isn’t a one-year thing either.
In 2015 he threw 42 fewer yards per game and had a 16-3 TD-INT ratio
at home versus 19-11 on the road. Perhaps the addition of Brandon
Marshall, who plays equally well on the road vs. home (5.5 rec,
71.3 yards, .45 TDs vs. 5.7, 73.1 yards, .53 TDs) will help.
Better on the road
Cousins, Washington – Management refused
to offer Cousins a long-term deal after last season and maybe part
of the reason is he was a better QB away from Washington. He was
4-4 at home last season with a 65.7 completion rate, 297.2 ypg and
a 12-8 ratio versus 4-3-1 with a 68.2 completion rate, averaging
317.1 ypg with 13 TDs and four INTs.
Siemian, Denver – Siemian is the current
favorite to start the 2017 season as the Broncos starting quarterback.
But with four of the first five games at home that might not be
a good thing. Yes, he was 5-2 at home but for fantasy owners he
threw just seven touchdown passes in seven games (six INTs). On
the road he averaged just 10 ypg less than at home, but threw 11
touchdown passes versus four interceptions. With 2016 No. 1 draft
Lynch fighting Siemian for the starting role, you would definitely
need a solid second QB on your roster.
Winston, Tampa Bay – Winston threw
for more yards, more touchdowns, a higher completion percentage
and was sacked five fewer times while posting a 5-3 road record
last season. 2016 was similar to 2015 when the rookie posted 240.1
passing yards at home with a 9-10 TD-INT ratio and a 56.98 completion
percentage vs. 265.1, 13-5 and 59.6 on the road. I guess he doesn’t
like “home cookin.”
Newton, Carolina – Newton followed
up his stellar 2015 season with a clunker of a performance in 2016
and fantasy owners paid the steep price for his failure. But even
in his season-long struggles with injures and offensive line issues,
he managed to play a little bit better on the road than at home.
While he threw for the same yards (234 vs. 233.7) he managed just
eight touchdown passes in eight home games (eight INTs) while on
the road he posted a solid 11-6 ratio. The truth, however, is that
if he’s healthy (and the league allows him to stay that way by calling
flags on all the late hits he takes), he’s still an every week starter.
The bottom line for fantasy owners is that while there are a few
quarterbacks who are simply “set it and forget it” options,
it’s probably worth the roster spot and higher draft choice
to own two quality quarterbacks and be able to choose the correct
situation each Sunday.. Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.