Player showdown: Derek Carr or Matt Ryan?

The two quarterbacks were among the league's best for much of 2016. Michael Moore wonders who the better bet will be for 2017.

| 3 months ago
(Harry How/Getty Images)

(Harry How/Getty Images)

Player showdown: Derek Carr or Matt Ryan?


This week’s player showdown looks at two clear QB1 candidates, Derek Carr and Matt Ryan. While both aren’t quite in the fantasy stratosphere like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, they are currently the fifth and sixth quarterbacks off the board, according to My Fantasy League’s ADP tool. There are a lot of things to like about Carr and Ryan, making this a tough battle. They are both in their prime, have top-tier talent around them, and should build off good seasons. So who’s the winner? Per the usual, we’ll look at the players, their situation, and their outlook.

The players

We’ll start with the veteran Ryan. For the past seven seasons, Ryan has been one of the more consistent quarterbacks in all of football. He’s thrown for 4,000 yards every year since 2011 and thrown at least 26 touchdowns in all of those but one. He’s been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in five of the last seven seasons, finishing outside the top seven of PFF’s grades just once in the same span. We have a lot of data that indicates Ryan is pretty good.

We don’t have as much to go off of with Carr. Sure, we have nearly three full seasons, and in the last two he averaged about 3,900 yards and 30 touchdowns. But these last two seasons, Carr finished 13th and 14th in fantasy points, making him a borderline QB1 in most leagues. Now, Carr did miss the finale last season, but even if you look at fantasy points per dropback, he finished 2016 in 13th, compared to Ryan, who led all quarterbacks.

The difference is also apparent when you look beyond the normal stats. For example, Ryan finished ahead of Carr in PFF’s quarterback grades in 2015 (seventh to 11th) and 2016 (second to sixth). Ryan also finished third in PFF’s adjusted completion percentage, which takes into account drops, throwaways, etc.) while Carr checked in at 17th. They are relatively close when it comes to deep-ball accuracy (balls targeted more than 20 yards) but those only account for a fraction of their pass attempts (63 for Ryan; 56 for Carr).

In nearly every metric, Carr is shown to be good. But Ryan is slightly better.

Advantage: Matt Ryan

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Michael Moore has written for PFF Fantasy since 2013, focusing primarily on dynasty content. He’s also hosted the PFF Fantasy Slant Podcast since 2014.

  • Mr McMurderer

    You also have to account for the fact that Oakland will probably take a step back on the ground with LM leaving and a new face @RB, so that will put more of an emphasis on the pass. The 12 TD’s Murray scored last yr in the RZ will most likely be replaced w/play action passes (assuming a big back isn’t drafted or Lynch brought on board, of course). I watched every game of Carr’s last yr and most of Ryan’s, and while they are very similar in many way’s, I noticed that Ryan’s receivers were much more reliable and consistent than Carr’s were. To the point that a tipped pass that should have been intercepted would actually fall to one of Matt’s receivers, either resulting in a big play or even a TD, which coincidentally happened in the Raiders game, twice (only 1 for a TD). Meanwhile DC’s WR’s are best known for bone headed drops, leading the NFL 2 yrs running. If Coop can step up and play to his draft slot (which should be easier now w/Cook and Patterson in the fold), then DC should break into the top 5 QB conversation, and should once again be a legit MVP candidate towards the end of the yr. I have a feeling that Matt and Derek will be dueling in the SB in the not so distant future.

    • Joe

      Ya, crabs had more drops than any other player in the league last year!

    • Justin Ryan

      Add Lynch to our backfield.

      • Mr McMurderer

        I hope so. How legendary would that be for an Oakland native to sign to the Oakland Raiders (who is lead by a Cali born and Raised QB) getting them over the hump and bringing a SB back to Oakland before the Raiders leave? It would make such a beautiful story that it almost had to happen. That being the case, that’s most likely why it won’t :/ …..we can dream though. Should Lynch sign however, I will do a fuqin backflip. Permanent paralysis and/or death be damned.

    • shaunhan murray

      LM wasn’t very good and honestly his backups consistently out played him