4 fantasy QBs overrated by traditional passer rating
Last week in this space, we used PFF’s version of passer rating to find players undervalued by the NFL’s traditional passer rating. Now we will attempt to uncover overvalued passers. It is a more difficult task, as the league has no shortage of fantasy-viable quarterbacks, and even the shakiest options can occasionally be worth starting. Fortunately, PFF’s metric can help guide us.
PFF’s version teases out dropped passes, throwaways, and spiked balls, while it factors in air yards. It gives the quarterback more credit for what he deserves, and us a better read on performance. Below are four passers who did not measure up well in PFF’s passer rating relative to the NFL’s, and what this means for their fantasy outlooks.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger ranked 12th in traditional passer rating last season, while PFF had him 18th-best. The gap represented the league’s second-widest negative differential. He earned his worst passing grade, by far, since 2006. He ranked 21st in adjusted completion percentage and 19th in passer rating when under pressure, despite facing the 36th-highest pressure rate (24 percent of dropbacks). Over the last 11 seasons, 11 still-active quarterbacks have a higher year-end average fantasy ranking than Roethlisberger, and five of them are being drafted after he is. Roethlisberger buoyed his stats in 2016 with an NFL-high deep attempt rate (17 percent) and the most touchdowns on those passes (13). The Steelers’ explosive offense is a reason why an increasingly inconsistent quarterback remains attractive in fantasy.
As Roethlisberger dealt with foot, shoulder, and brain injuries, plus a knee sprain and surgery for a meniscus tear — missing seven starts over the last two seasons – his weekly reliability deteriorated. He managed only two top-12 weeks (QB10 and QB7) after Week 10 last season. Through 10 weeks, he averaged 40 passes per game and was the ninth-highest-scoring fantasy quarterback. From Week 11 through Week 16 (he sat Week 17), Roethlisberger averaged just 32 attempts and was the fantasy QB22, while only Carson Wentz and Jared Goff scored fewer points among 23 quarterbacks who played six games. The increasingly run-heavy Steelers won every game after Week 10. Their forecasted 2017 win total is tied for the second-highest, and it shouldn’t surprise us if Roethlisberger is again more bust than boom.