In The Trenches: QB Play
Ultimately fantasy football is about points. It doesn't matter if you run, catch or throw it, everything is recorded on the same continuum. Unlike the other three major sports that use categories – things like steals and homers in baseball, field percentage and rebounds in hoops, and penalty minutes and assists in hockey – everything in football is on the same point scale with no deference given to how the points are produced. I bring that up as a lead in to talk about the quarterback position. It doesn't matter if you use your legs or your arm as a quarterback, it's just about yards and scores. I'll explore what that actually means with quarterbacks and sprinkle in some little tidbits that might cause you some pause before you go and make a big deal to bring in that big named quarterback you've been eying.
I know there are about 79,438 scoring systems for football – that might actually be undershooting things to be honest – so I'm gonna use this fairly standard setup when breaking down points in all that follows.
Four points for a passing touchdown
Six points for a rushing touchdown
One point for every 25 passing yards
One point for every 10 rushing yards
Two points for every two point conversion
(-1) point for every interception
RUNNING QBs vs. TRADITIONAL PASSERS
*** This is the most important thing you can remember about “running” quarterbacks. They are always solid plays. Why? When the struggle throwing the ball they are QB2 options. When the run they are a RB3 option. That's from one guy. Remember that. When that QB is on passing he's a low end QB1. When he's also on as a runner, he's a low end RB2. That's from one guy. Remember that.
Let's talk three examples from Week 9.
Drew Brees threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns (he also tossed two interceptions). If he were to replicate that effort 16 times in a season he would throw more than 6,100 yards and 32 touchdowns. That would be the greatest passing season of all time. For that effort in Week 9 he recorded 21.2 points in Week 9.
Tony Romo recorded 21.3 points in Week 9, a tenth more than Romo. He also threw for two scores, had just one interception, but passed for “only” 337 yards. How did he record more fantasy points than Brees? One less interception and he ran for eight yards.
Russell Wilson threw for only 217 yards and two scores. He also tossed two interceptions in Week 9. So how did he record 24.3 points, more than the other two guys who threw for 120 and 165 more yards? His wheels. Wilson ran the ball for 36 yards and a rushing score. Remember, a QB2, who is also a RB3, will nearly always outproduce a traditional QB1.
To reiterate all of this in a very clear manner. A generic example.
Player A: Throws for 275 yards, two scores and one interception. That would equal 4,400 yards, 32 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. There were a total of four QBs in football last season who threw for 4,400 yards and 32 scores. Four – Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning. That's a damn good season then is it not? That effort would lead to 18 fantasy points.
two passing scores = eight points
one interception = (-1) point
275 passing yards = 11 points
Player B: Throws for 150 yards, one score and two interceptions. He also runs the ball five times for 31 yards and a touchdown.
one passing score = four points
one interception = (-1) point
150 passing yards = six point
If that was all there was Player B would have nine points literally half of what Player A recorded (nine to 18). Of course, we've yet to add in his wheel work.
One rushing score = six points
31 yards rushing = 3.1 points
That leaves Player B with 18.1 points... one tenth MORE than Player A.
Does that seem right to you? It certainly doesn't for me, but that's how points are recorded in fantasy football. I don't like it, don't think it's a great deal at all, but it's how things work. That's why guys like Cam Newton, Colin Kapernick, Russell Wilson and Terrelle Pryor are pretty much always worth starting no matter what the matchup is. Their wheels add such an extra dimension that their feet can easily make up for their negative work through the air.
DO YOU NEED TO TRADE FOR THAT ELITE QB?
Everyone wants Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, and people are willing to take guys like that very early in fantasy drafts. I've made the argument, for years actually, that there's no need to do that. Here's why.
(1) You just read what I wrote above, right? Running QBs are worth so much that a guy like Terrelle Pryor, who likely wasn't even drafted in your league, is in the weekly conversation as a QB1. What about guys like Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers? They've been QB1's and they were never drafted inside the top-10 at the position this season in any draft.
(2) Let's say you drafted Aaron Rodgers to be your QB1 in the second round. In round nine you took Philip Rivers to be your backup. Well, you've probably never played Rivers except when Green Bay was on a bye. So you've got a top-10 player at his position and you never play him. What's the point in that?
(3) You can rarely get full value for QB1's in a deal. Tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. Let's take the Rodgers/Rivers discussion to the next level. You know you're never sitting Rodgers to play Rivers, so you go to the trade market to deal Rivers. Mind you, Rivers is a top-10 QB right now. Can you get a RB1 for him? Highly doubtful. What about a WR1? Again doubtful. The reason is simple. First, no one believes that Rivers will be this good all year. Second, everyone has a QB who is solid so no one really needs to make a move to add a guy like Rivers. Let's explore this last point.
On a per game basis, the best QB in fantasy football is Peyton Manning at 28.3 points a game. However, if we remove his Week 1, seven score effort, that number drops to 25.7 points a game. That would still be the best mark in football, but it's only a point an a half better than Brees (24.1). The only other QB in this scoring system at 22 points is Rodgers (22.0). That's it, three guys. Even if you have one of these elite QBs, you just don't gain that much on the competition. Russell Wilson is 10th at the position and he averages 18.5 points a game. That means from #3 to #10 we're talking about losing 3.5 points at quarterback (at RB we go from 21.6 to 16.0, a difference of 5.6 points, from #3 to #10). That's barely a field goal difference. Is it really, therefore, worth making a big move to add an elite quarterback? It's not worth doing a Dalton/WR2 or Dalton/RB2 move to add Rodgers to just gain 3.5 points a week. It just isn't.
Remember that the next time you consider dealing for a strong QB. Look at the points, not the name on the back of their jerseys. You might be surprised how little you gain by making a deal at quarterback.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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