It’s obvious to say football is a team sport. However, sometimes we as fantasy gamers get so caught up in the star players that we forget the impact the supporting cast has on each individual. This exists in both real and fantasy football. A stud WR can be undone by poor QB play, see DeAndre Hopkins in 2016, while a mediocre QB can be elevated by a great supporting cast, see Jared Goff in 2018. The latter example is a case that often goes overlooked in seasonal fantasy drafts.
On a team with several fantasy-relevant pass catchers, the QB should naturally be well positioned to score fantasy points as well. Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. According to FantasyData’s historic ADP, Mike Evans was being drafted as the WR8, Chris Godwin the WR16, and O.J. Howard the TE4, but Jameis Winston was only a high QB2 being taken outside the top 100 picks at QB13. If those pass catchers were going to score enough points to justify their draft positions, the QB would surely score plenty of points throwing them the ball (presciently noted in the clip below by Graham Barfield).
Naturally, Godwin and Evans smashed, as did Winston who finished as the QB5.
With that as inspiration, I created a model that would use teammate ADP to predict QB scoring. Specifically, I considered each QB’s RB1, WR1, WR2, and TE1 ADP in seasonal drafts (again according to FantasyData’s ADP) to predict end of year Fantasy Points per Game rank from 2014 through 2019. The results were a mixed bag. I realized something was missing. QBs score fantasy points in two ways: passing and rushing. By looking at the teammate ADPs, I consider how much the industry likes a QB’s passing game, but a QB’s rushing production is purely owned by himself. When I added the rushing attempts from the previous season, the performance of the model shot up.
Applying the model to 2020, we predict where a QB will rank in Fantasy Points per Game using current ADP. That can then be used to mine QB values in drafts when compared to current ADP. To start with, here is the top ten in predicted Fantasy Points per Game.
Next we’ll highlight a few noteworthy players who the advanced stats suggest are being drafted well below value.
After previously warning everyone to watch out for the 49ers taking a step back this year, I was surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo so high in the model’s projections. The model seems to value QBs with rushing attempts and highly rated TEs. George Kittle is arguably the best tight end in the league. Additionally, Garoppolo displayed an unheralded tendency to tuck and run with 46 (No. 13 among qualified quarterbacks) rush attempts last year.
There is reason for optimism regarding Jimmy G this year. San Francisco’s gameplan last year was to grind the rock and let their elite defense win games. With defensive efficiency being extremely difficult to carry over from year to year, this team will be forced to throw more after ranking No. 4 in Game Script per PlayerProfiler.
Kirk Cousins & Derek Carr
Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr both look like high-end QB2s being drafted as QB3s in twelve team leagues. They have similar teammate profiles with first-round RB1s in Dalvin Cook and Josh Jacobs, one early-round pass catcher in Adam Thielen (ADP: 30.4) and Darren Waller (ADP: 60.4), and one other mid-round receiver in Justin Jefferson (ADP: 123) and Henry Ruggs (ADP: 102.6).
Check out Derek Carr’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:
Clearly fantasy gamers like pieces of these offenses. The QBs, on the other hand, are total afterthoughts. While these players don’t have league-winning upside, they make for solid floor plays, especially in superflex and 2QB leagues.
Baker Mayfield is on a team loaded with weapons. Through six rounds of twelve-team leagues, three Browns players will be off the board: Nick Chubb in the early second, Odell Beckham in the late third, and Jarvis Landry in the late sixth. This is clearly an offense expected to score points, yet Maryfield goes as a mid QB2 in the 12th round? If these WRs will score enough fantasy points to be picked as starters on fantasy teams, we should expect the QB to benefit as well.
Mayfield has not had the strongest start to his career, but do not lose sight of the fact that this was one of the best QB prospects of all time. He put up a 92.6 (97th-percentile) College QBR with an 11.5 (98th-percentile) Yards per Attempt mark and an 18.4 (100th-percentile) Breakout Age. The pieces haven’t come together yet in Cleveland, but this may be the year they do given the weapons at Mayfield’s disposal. This looks like a situation for a top 10 QB.
Let’s not let our dynasty evaluations of Josh Allen get in the way of appreciating the fantasy points he will score this year.
Allen finished No. 2 among QBs last year with 109 rush attempts. He led the league with nine rushing touchdowns. He has Stefon Diggs being drafted in the sixth round (ADP: 64.6) and Devin Singletary in the fourth round (ADP: 42.7). This is an offense expected to put up points, and for at least this season, Allen will lead the way.
Carson Wentz looks similar to Jimmy Garoppolo in the eyes of the model. They both have early-round TEs paired with two mid-round WRs and solid rushing production. Wentz also has a first-round RB, further bolstering the notion that this is an offense projected to be productive. These are profiles of top 5 QBs in fantasy football.
The Wentz-Zach Ertz connection is well-established. The TE finished second in the league last year in targets and fourth in receiving yards. It will be interesting to watch the development of the budding Wentz-Miles Sanders relationship. Sanders was a solid receiving back in college, evidenced by his 8.4-percent (63rd-percentile) College Target Share. Last year, he finished with 509 (No. 7) receiving yards. In a full time bellcow role, he can finish top three this year, benefiting both he and Wentz from a fantasy perspective.
QBs absolutely have intrinsic value. They are not purely the sum of their teammates, but they are all interdependent. A QB with no weapons will struggle to score fantasy points. The model grades Daniel Jones and Deshaun Watson poorly, for example. While it’s possible to overcome and transcend the pieces around you, it’s easier as a QB when you have playmakers to lift up the entire offense, creating more chances for high-leverage fantasy point-scoring opportunities. This article highlighted several QBs who seem to be better situated to score fantasy points than drafters may realize. Here is the full list of top ten QB Values.
Full code can be found here.