There are exceptions but in general you
don't want your fantasy QB always playing from behind.
Many a fantasy owners will exclaim to me that they “like
when their quarterback is always playing from behind.” I’m
sure you hear it all the time, too, maybe even parrot those words
to others. Too bad the facts gets in the way of this theory.
Sure, sometimes you can get a great comeback and put up crazy
numbers, particularly in the fourth quarter. I’m sure we
all remember Peyton Manning on a Monday night in 2003 running
up 28 fourth quarter points and 194 passing yards against Tampa
Bay. But the truth is, it’s not good when your quarterback
is consistently way behind on the scoreboard.
Let’s look at the facts.
I analyzed the past 10 seasons, looking at every situation in
which a team posted a minus -80 points-differential for the season.
There were 75 such teams and 171 quarterbacks who started for
As a reference, to be a viable fantasy quarterback, you have to
at least be top-12 in the league. Over the 10-year period from
2007-16, that means averaging 20.4 FPts/G. And that number has
been climbing of late, what with the changes in rules and the
proliferation of three- and four-receiver strategies. Over the
past five seasons, the average fantasy starter has averaged 21.5
FPts/G. But we will use the 10-year average.
So how many of the 171 starters on bad teams averaged 20.4 FPts/G
or more for the season?
The number is just 13 (see chart below). Thirteen quarterbacks
or 7.6 % posted enough points to be a fantasy starter. None are
an elite starter, they are of the low-end starter variety.
13 QBs on "Bad"
Teams Were Low-End QB1s
R. Griffin III
Ok, now let’s look at those teams, who over the past decade,
played with a big lead, having posted a +80 points differential
or more. From that group there were 74 teams over the 10 seasons
and 92 quarterbacks (good teams obviously don’t use as many
signal callers as bad teams) and 48 of them (52.2 %) averaged
at least 20.4 FPts/G.
48 QBs on "Good"
Teams Were Low-End QB1s
If we look at just the past five seasons, the percentage takes
a huge jump to 65.1% (28-of-43).
So, do you still want your quarterback to play from behind and
have less than a 10% chance of being “starter-worthy”? Or play
with a lead and have at least a 52% chance of giving you starter
If your answer is no, then the next step is analyzing which teams
will qualify for the 80+ point differential tier.
It’s hard not to notice that New England and Tom
Brady made the list in six of the 10 seasons including the
last three. That’s an easy choice. But where do you go from there?
They were +134 last season and while I don’t think the offense
can get much better, the Falcons’ defense will improve. Their
top two draft choices were a defensive end (Takkarist
McKinley) and a linebacker (Duke
Riley). They added a CB in the fifth round (Damontae
Kazee). Ryan has five quality targets in Julio
Freeman and Tevin
Coleman. The 32-year-old QB has passed for at least 4,500
yards in five consecutive seasons and the last time he threw for
less than 200 yards in a regular season game was November 2013
(55 games ago).
Carr was having a great season before the injury, going 12-3
with 3,937 passing yards, 28 TDs and just six INTs. The Raiders
averaged 27.3 ppg with Carr under center. The defense will set
the offense up to be even better in 2017. Led by All-World Kalil
Mack, management added five of its first six draft choices on
the defensive side of the ball headed by CB Gareon
Conley and S Obi
Melifonwu. Add the threat of Marshawn
Lynch and this team should be dominant. If Carr can just learn
how to play against the Chiefs and Broncos … he could be an elite
In case you haven’t noticed, the Seahawks have become a passing
team. Wilson put up a career-high 546 passing attempts and with
running back Lynch retired last season the receiving corps became
the focal point of the offense. Doug
Kearse and Jimmy
Graham led the way. Wilson’s 2016 season was injury-filled
and a return to health will allow him to be a fantasy stud once
again (read add value by using his legs). The team filled a hole
at center (when they traded Max Unger for Graham), by spending
a second-rounder on Ethan
Pocic and that move should be a huge lift to the offensive
line. Defenses will have to deal with a variety of running options
with newly-acquired Eddie
Lacy to go along with Thomas
Rawls and C.J.
Prosise. Given the Seahawks’ still elite defense, this team
should easily post a triple-digit differential.
The Chargers were actually a minus 13 last season, but had
a tremendous off-season (well … other than moving to Los Angeles).
They finally decided to protect Rivers by adding free agent Russell
Okung, then drafting Forrest
Lamp and Dan
Feeney in the second- and third-rounds, respectively. They
also added Clemson wideout Mike
Williams. Assuming Keenan
Allen is healthy it makes for a talented wideout group with
Williams and Travis
Gates is still around and just as important the Chargers have
Henry at tight end. Meanwhile, running back Melvin
Gordon came into his own last year. Defensively, they will
Bosa for a full season. Beware of a tough early schedule if
you choose Rivers, but the offense should be very hard to stop.
Looking to get off to a quick start in your league, strongly
consider Big Ben as your quarterback. The Steelers will open with
Cleveland, then play Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore and Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, the return of Martavis
Bryant should take some of the pressure off superstars Antonio
Brown and Le’Veon Bell. And don’t be surprised if TE Jesse
James becomes a viable fantasy option after the release of
Green. Roethlisberger has been a stud at home, but weak on
the road in previous seasons, however, this year’s road schedule
looks favorable (Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit,
Kansas City, Indianapolis, Houston).
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.