MFL Tending: QB Crunch
It’s not a stretch to say that a majority of MFL10 participants, particularly early-offseason degenerates players, fancy themselves NFL experts. While this is great—and in rare cases might even be true—it also can breed aggressive projections based on offseason activity that should transpire.
I don’t know what the hit rate is on things that should happen, but it’s probably a lot lower than on things we know will happen. Just a couple days ago we shouldn’t have expected a swap of high-level talents, but with contrarians like Chip Kelly running around with their fingers on the button, we know how quickly assumptions can go sideways.
Because what we know to be true in March is just a fraction of what it will be in August, players in more secure situations are obviously more valuable. We’ve been seeing this play out in MFL10s at the quarterback position, of all places. Despite these “Late Round Quarterback”-times we live in, it’s not just a single-draft illusion that passers are getting picked earlier.
As the RotoViz Best Ball ADP App demonstrates, not only are most folks drafting starting quarterbacks earlier, but backups are also coming off the board more quickly. While most of the date ranges below include relatively small samples, they’re at least more illustrative of what’s going on than your buddy saying, “I got stuck with Stafford and Bortles after some wicked-bad QB runs.”
I compared MFL10s from the first half of February (2/3 through 2/15) to ones drafted since then. From the sixth quarterback chosen until the 17th, each slot had a lower ADP (picked earlier) in the more recent sample. The average was more than two and a half picks sooner (2.7) in the last couple of weeks.
I split the sample that began on Feb. 15, and the more recent drafts (2/24 through 3/3) saw 11 of the 12 quarterbacks in the QB3-through-QB14 range drafted higher. The average was 3.8 picks sooner than it was in the earlier range (2/15 through 2/23).
I also looked at the most recent sample (2/24 through 3/3) versus 2014 MFL10 ADP data gathered from MyFantasyLeague.com, and from the sixth quarterback chosen until the 19th, 10 of the 14 corresponding quarterback slots had a lower ADP in 2015 drafts. The average was 2.3 picks earlier than those passers were taken last season.
This is probably happening for two intertwined reasons. First, pop a Dramamine and take a look at the quarterback situations around the league. By my count, there are 22 that qualify as “settled”—which is not the same thing as “good.” The Bears, Bills, Browns, Bucs, Eagles, Jets, Rams, Texans, Titans, and the quagmire in Washington, are all still up in the air to some degree. Sure, Jay Cutler and Nick Foles are getting drafted as mid-QB2s, but if you really feel comfortable with them, I’ve got some cheap snow for sale.
For argument sake, we’re looking at 12 teams drafting two quarterbacks each (more on that in a minute), and when the music stops, there are fewer than 24 “settled” quarterback situations. And those include the Bortles and Carr Experiences. It won’t take more than a couple of MFL10s to realize that, if you don’t grab two of the top 18 (or so) quarterbacks, you’ll wind up chucking more prayers than Joe Flacco.
Why just two quarterbacks, and not a three-headed monster? Aside from the aforementioned early-offseason uncertainty, we don’t have the luxury of streaming favorable matchups in a Best-Ball league. Some weeks will have byes and/or rough matchups, which are compounded when using bottom-third quarterbacks—even though the best weekly point total is automatically counted. Also, RotoViz has shown that the optimal roster configuration includes two passers.
That’s the other reason we’re seeing a rise in quarterback ADP. RotoViz is the premier source for MFL10 analysis and undoubtedly a trend-setter. Results from their data analysis are immediately put into practice by the most well-read, hardcore MFL10 players who make up a significant chunk of early-season participants.
What does this mean for you? My recommendation would be to not rage against the machine. Grab your second quarterback before the unknown abyss that follows the No. 18 quarterback range. That doesn’t mean you should take Andrew Luck in the first round. In fact, the top passers like Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning are often getting picked later than they were last season.
That’s likely a function of, among other things, a push to grab as many sure-thing running backs as possible before they evaporate. The fluctuations in that market, and the resulting depth-chart implications, are much more complicated, especially since it’s already flooded and the water is still rising. But that’s a whole other nut to crack.
MFL Tendencies: Quarterback ADP
Let’s take a look at some mid-round options that can help to navigate the “new normal” of MFL10 quarterback approaches. Note the listed ADPs are from the last two weeks, courtesy of the RotoViz Best Ball App.
Cam Newton (No. 6 QB; late 7th round)
He’s rising, as his ADP over the last two weeks shows. I explained why I think he’s markedly undervalued here, and with the way quarterbacks are trending in MFL10s, I plan to continue drafting him. If you’re a “Late Round Quarterback” devotee, as I am, picking Newton might feel decadent—but don’t get caught with your pants down on a backup because you feel like you overspent for a starter. That recently happened to me, and I got Bortles’d.
Teddy Bridgewater (No. 14 QB; late 10th)
We addressed him last week when he was the No. 15 quarterback, and he’s now starting to settle into an appropriate range. If one of the top wideouts in the draft slides to Minnesota at pick 11, expect Bridgewater to climb some more.
Jay Cutler (No. 18 QB; late 12th round) and Nick Foles (No. 20 QB; mid 13th round)
If we knew that they were going to be their teams’ starters for most of the season, their ADPs would be fine. Foles’ would actually be a bargain. Since we can’t say for sure that they won’t be a backup or worse—like starting in Cleveland—there are better options down the list. If you are going to draft three passers, taking a shot that Foles keeps the job in Philadelphia is an interesting, if still-pricey, dart throw.
Andy Dalton (No. 22 QB; mid 14th round)
Dalton is about as exciting as a home appliance warranty, and that’s not where the parallels end. However, he does provide some measure of insurance at this stage of the offseason. He’s just a year removed from scoring the third-most points among fantasy quarterbacks. Although he did feast on bad defenses, this is a Best Ball format. If nothing else, he’s safer than the three passers getting picked before him (which includes Carr in the early-14th round).
Carson Palmer (No. 23 QB; late 14th round)
During the five weeks that Palmer took all of Arizona’s snaps last season, he was the sixth-best fantasy quarterback. Sure, he’s old, he’s coming off of his second ACL tear, and he’s burned his Truthers so many times we feel like Blidi Wreh-Wilson. But he’s still an intoxicating blend of low cost and high upside.
Alex Smith (No. 24 QB; mid 15th round)
Nothing that I can say will make anyone excited about Smith, unless maybe if I just type “Travis Kelce” 30 times. The Chiefs did cut Anthony Fasano, are getting rid of Dwayne Bowe, and Albert Wilson will get more snaps—all of which can only help. Smith finished 2013 as the 13th-best fantasy passer, although that was with 50 percent more rushing attempts than he had in 2014. Plus, he’ll probably throw a touchdown to a wideout this year, maybe even to Jeremy Maclin. And Travis Kelce, Travis Kelce, Travis Kelce…
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman