After looking at the trends for a quarterback’s interception rate in my last installment of regression trends, this edition focuses on the average depth-of-target (aDOT) for quarterbacks. For this study, I have lowered the threshold for season attempts down to 300 to boost the sample size. The trend analysis spans three seasons, 2008-2010, as the data is exclusively from ProFootballFocus.com’s collected statistics.
- 73 quarterbacks qualified for the study between 2008 and 2010.
- The overall range of aDOT was 6.1 to 9.4.
- The average aDOT for the quarterbacks in this study was 8.1.
Here are the quarterbacks with an aDOT of 9.0 or higher:
These 15 quarterbacks sport the highest aDOT over the three seasons in question. When looking at their following seasons, 13 of them moved towards the NFL mean by an average of 0.7 yards per target. That’s an 87% regression rate. The outliers to this trend are 2009 Jamarcus Russell, who completed just 49% of his passes and a horrid 3/11 TD-to-INT ratio his sophomore season, his last in the NFL, and Eli Manning’s huge 2011 campaign. Manning had weapons like Hakeem Nicks, who had his career-high aDOT in 2011, Victor Cruz turn into a fantasy star, and the underrated Jake Ballard with a WR-like 12.1 aDOT on 57 targets from the tight end position.
Now, here are the quarterbacks with an aDOT of 7.5 or less from 2008-2010:
|2009||Alex D. Smith||6.6||6.9||0.3|
|2010||Alex D. Smith||6.9||7.3||0.4|
These quarterbacks saw regression at an even higher clip. Of the 17 quarterbacks with an aDOT of 7.5 or less, 16 of them – a full 94% – rose in the following season. The only exception? Jason Campbell in 2009. Interestingly, Campbell followed his low seasons in 2008 and 2009 with an above-average aDOT in 2010 and 2011. As I noted in my wide receiver distribution article here, those Raiders’ teams had some of the worst receiver production in recent memory for fantasy.
Now, the important part. Taking the historical trends to find some quarterbacks of note for 2012.
|2011||Alex D. Smith||7.3|
Colt McCoy is likely to be the backup quarterback in Cleveland or elsewhere in 2012, so he is of little significance this year in terms of fantasy. Josh Freeman was also noted as a winner for his interception rate regression in this article, which bodes well for the Tampa Bay signal-caller also getting Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin added to his arsenal of weapons. Alex Smith had only Vernon Davis as anything resembling a vertical threat in 2011. Now with Mario Manninham, Randy Moss, and rookies A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James in the mix, at least the 49ers are taking their shots on personnel to open up the offense. Blaine Gabbert also received more weapons this offseason. Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon were added to bolster the receiving group.
Matt Moore is the name that sticks out on this list in terms his fantasy relevance, or expected lack of relevance for 2012. Carson Palmer’s aDOT is one of the highest since 2008. Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey were both well-above the NFL average in this metric. Eli Manning has been near the top of the NFL heap in terms of aDOT for two years running now. He was a regresssion buster in 2011 by repeating his 9.0+ aDOT for a second straight season. In fact, Manning has increased his aDOT each of the past four seasons. There is no historical record for Cam Newton to this point, but Steve Smith’s jump in aDOT to the mark of a receiver in his mid-20s was a big factor to Newton’s aDOT as a rookie. Smith is surely talented, but the tandem is likely to decline based of the history of this metric as well as Smith being a 33-year-old receiver that relies on speed and the big play. Ben Roethlisberger has been in the upper tier of aDOT since its inception in 2008, rising to his peak of 9.3 in 2011. His main deep threat, Mike Wallace, actually saw a predictable tumble in terms of aDOT in 2011 which makes Roethlisberger’s mark even more impressive for the season. Joe Flacco is another quarterback with a significant deep threat. Torrey Smith’s 19.1 aDOT and Anquan Boldin’s above-average 12.5 were Flacco’s biggest aids in 2011.
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