Fantasy Points Under Pressure: Changing QBs
Two weeks ago I examined quarterback fantasy performance on plays when they were under pressure and plays where they were not.
When determining how good a quarterback will be this year compared to last year, it’s important to look at changes to the offensive line. There were a few quarterbacks who changed teams as well as potential rookie starters, and each will have five new offensive linemen in front of them for the 2014 season.
Here we will examine how each team’s offensive line will affect their fantasy performance.
Last year McCown played in front of one of the worst pass blocking lines in the league in Chicago as right tackle Jordan Mills led the league in pressures allowed at 78 while left tackle Jermon Bushrod was average.
The 2013 Buccaneers offensive line wasn’t much, but Tampa Bay has taken steps to improve the line in 2014. Their worst pass blocker Davin Joseph was released. Left tackle Anthony Collins was a starter for only half of the season with the Bengals, but he led all offensive tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency at 97.2. They also added Evan Dietrich-Smith at center who was a top 10 center in pass blocking. A healthy Carl Nicks could make this one of the best pass blocking lines in the league.
Last year the Bears offensive line allowed 31 pressures for every 100 snaps. If the Buccaneers linemen play exactly as they did last year, they will allow 21 pressures for every 100 snaps. Playing behind the poor offensive line in Chicago didn’t seem to bother him as he had six touchdowns and no interceptions under pressure, but his completion percentage decreased from 71.5% to 56.2%. McCown’s strong offensive line in front of him can only help. With how much Tampa Bay has improved their offense through free agency and the draft, McCown should be a solid QB2 option.
One of the big reasons for Scaub’s decline in 2013 is that he was under pressure more often and he was worse under pressure. In 2012 he was under pressure on 29% of his dropbacks, and in 2013 he was under pressure on 42% of them. He also had an NFL QB Rating of 74.3 under pressure in 2012, and that decreased to 48.2 in 2013. While the Texans have a strong left tackle in Duane Brown, the rest of the line is more built to run the ball than protect the passer.
Even though Oakland lost Jared Veldheer, the line should be able to protect Schaub at least slightly better. The Raiders added Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard in free agency. They are all average players who can do a respectable job protecting Schaub. His receiving options will hurt his fantasy value still, and make him among the worst starting quarterbacks in the league from a fantasy perspective. However it shouldn’t be much worse than it was in Houston with a better overall pass blocking line.
Fitzpatrick is going from one team that was built to run the ball to another team built to run the ball. Both Houston and Tennessee had a solid left tackle in pass protection, but not much else. At least last year Tennessee had David Stewart at right tackle, but they released him this offseason. The offensive line should be very similar, so it won’t really affect Fitpatrick’s value.
Over the last six seasons, pressure has affected the 14 first round rookie quarterbacks the same way they have affected veteran quarterbacks. On average first round rookies perform worse than the average veteran both with and without pressure. The gap between how they perform under pressure to not under pressure is roughly identical. In each case, completion percentage decreases by 20%, yards per attempt decreases by 1.3 and interception rate increases by 1.5%.
The rookies most likely to start this season are Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. Lucky for them, they are going to teams that have above average pass protection.
The Browns continue to have the best left tackle of this era in Joe Thomas as well as a very good center in Alex Mack. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz had a poor start to the season and then ended it very strong. Their worst pass blocker last year was Oniel Cousins who is now off the roster, so all five starters should be average at worst in pass protection.
The Vikings offensive line was ninth best in terms of Pass Blocking Efficiency as a unit in 2013, and the starting lineup should remain unchanged going into 2014. For both players their offensive line is a reason to believe they might not have as many growing pains as the typical first round rookie would.
Next in the Fantasy Points per Pressure series will be teams who had major changes to the offensive line and how that will impact their returning quarterback.