11 Jun Fantasy Contrarian First Edition of “I Cant Quit You Babe” – QB Edition
By: Michael Roban – @FFContrarian
Welcome to the first edition of the Fantasy Contrarian’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby”. You know that old blues song right? Made famous mostly by Led Zeppelin. It about a guy who is shall we say, charged up physically about his woman but he knows she is bad for what ails him. The woman is no good but he continues to lust for her. He lets her know that despite loving her “he has got to put her down for awhile”. I am like that with many players on my dynasty rosters. I fell in love watching the college tape, the combine numbers were awesome. But…things just haven’t come together. Which of these players should we continue to court and which ones are headed to a painful split?
I am not going to analyze guys like Johnny Manziel, RG3 and the like. If you are still holding on to these guys on a 30 man roster (or less) dynasty league, clinging to hope that these guys will have a phoenix like rise from the ashes I think we need a different kind of therapy here. If you are still in a relationship with these guys it is time for a serious intervention. I am going to focus instead on under achieving QBs that currently hold starting NFL gigs.
Kiss and Make Up
Jameis Winston: Age – 24. Drafted 1.01 in 2015. The current hate for Winston is just mystifying to me. Last season by all accounts was not a good one. Expectations were high for the young gunslinger. His ADP entering last season at this time was QB4 but now his dynasty startup ADP has slid all the way to QB12 ranking him right behind Garoppolo, Mahomes, Goff, Mariota and Cousins. Goff had a breakout year last year and finished QB12, is in the same offense (dominated by Todd Gurley) and somehow has an ADP of QB9. If you are a fan of contrarian thinking this should be your trigger to aggressively buy Winston not sell. Sure, the “eat the W” clip was disturbing and he finished the season as QB18. But a deeper dive shows that he played 3 games injured (he was injured in Week 6, gutted it out with a good stat line in Week 7 but was clearly a shell of himself for weeks 8 and 9). If we remove his Week 6, 8 and 9 games his weekly average was 19.374 which was good enough for QB6 last season – QB7 if we adjust Aaron Rodgers for the game he injured his shoulder (on the first series). That placed Winston ahead of guys like Tom Brady, Cousins and Big Ben. In 2016 Winston finished as QB14 but with a set of weapons far lesser than the ones he is currently playing with and was only 11 points less than Mariota who finished QB8. If I have him I am keeping him. If an owner is willing to sell at his current valuation I am buying all day long.
Give it One More Shot – for the Kids?
Eli Manning: Age – 37 drafted 1.01 in 2004. Eli Manning is easily the most maddening fantasy QB I can recall. Last season was dismal losing OBJ early in the campaign and operating behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and a team that seemed to lose confidence in Ben McAdoo. Overall, despite his worst numbers in years, he still managed to finish with low end QB2 numbers. Still, Manning is beyond frustrating on a week to week basis as you really never sure if you are getting “Good Eli” or “Frustrated and Reckless/Awful Eli” that turns up every other week or so. He probably makes more sense in Best Ball leagues than in a typical redraft. If you own him in a SuperFlex he probably is good for at least one more season of QB2 numbers even though he will have games that make you want to throw up in your mouth a little. Inserting him into your lineup is as confidence inspiring as pulling a pin on a grenade and hoping nobody gets hurt. He had games of 28.6 points against the Eagles, 31.7 against the Bucs followed up by 17 v. the Chargers (not a good pass defense that year), 11.12 against the Broncos and 9 against the Seahawks. You get the idea. He also managed 8.7 against the Chiefs and 2.42 against the Redskins. Quite the variance. He is relatively worthless in single QB leagues so if you have him you may as well ride it to the bitter end and hope he can provide some good weeks against the weaker defenses. A healthy OBJ and Barkley should make things a bit easier too. With Pat Shurmur coming in, an upgraded offensive line and some fancy new weapons the stars are aligned for at least one more solid season of cheap and solid (albeit sometimes unpredictable) QB2 production. In SuperFlex leagues hope he has one more solid year left in him and try to sell him to a QB needy team during the season if or when the opportunity presents itself (if you have some QB depth). You may never get a better chance. If he is super cheap I would much rather take a flier for one year over guys like Flacco and Tyrod Taylor but would still rather ride with a Case Keenum or (dare I say) Blake Bortles who are likely to be less volatile in their weekly floors.
Maybe We Can Try Therapy?
Marcus Mariota: Age- 24, Drafted 1.02 in 2015. Mariota, like his draft counterpart Winston, has failed to so far live up to the lofty expectations that come with the hype. His best season so far was his 2nd when he threw for 26 TDs against 9 INTs but last year seemed to go backwards. Last season Mariota finished as QB20 – 2 places behind Winston and Jameis missed 3 games with injury which is the same place he finished in 2016 (his best year). Heading into 2018 Marcus will hopefully have a more passer friendly offense with better weapons to throw to. It is hard though to justify paying QB10 prices for a guy that has yet to crack the top 13 as a fantasy QB. On the plus side, he still inexplicably maintains Top 10 QB value so if you can trade him at that valuation and you have depth at QB by all means, help yourself. But given the talent I believe he possesses it may be worth seeing if he can take the leap to QB1 with the new coaching regime and a more experienced Cory Davis. Still, the reports that he is tinkering with his mechanics at this point in his career isn’t particularly encouraging. Call me skeptical that he produces as a QB1 but the talent is there and he is only 24. Still, if there is another owner who is buying into the post-hype upside and is willing to pay QB10 prices for a QB that has not yet sniffed the top 12 I would seriously consider selling. Failing that hang on and hope for the best.
File For Divorce?
Derek Carr – Age 27, Drafted 2.04 in 2014. I am not suggesting Carr is a bad QB nor am I suggesting that you dump him for pennies on the dollar if you own him. So perhaps divorce is a bit harsh. But before you start flaming me, it sure is time to start better managing expectations for him. Disappointment is often the death of once promising marriages particularly if there were loftier expectations than reality delivered. If you are happy owning him as a middling QB2 then by all means there is no reason to trade him now after his worst season and current valuation. The Raiders were a mess last year and it would be easy (or perhaps lazy) to give him a pass but then again look what Jimmy G was able to do with a 49ers team that was a league doormat until he arrived. Right now Carr’s value is the lowest of his career with an ADP at QB16. While lower than in the past this seems the right ADP for him slotted in just ahead of Matt Ryan and behind the aging Tom Brady and the ascendant Patrick Mahomes. However, with the change to Gruden it is hard to predict a leap in his numbers (he likes to “pound the rock”) plus they let their most productive WR (Crabtree) walk. If you want further evidence, take a look at Rich Gannon’s numbers while under Gruden. The only year that Gannon threw for over 4k yards was 2002 – the first year that Bill Callahan was the head coach (right after Chuckie went back to Tampa Bay). In fact, no Gruden QB has ever thrown for more than 4k yards in a season. While I would expect a more efficient production this year if you are holding him you are hoping for low end QB1 numbers and with the influx of talented newcomers like Mayfield and Rosen it seems to me that Carr is a player that you will have to expect to be a mid QB2 for the near future. I would only be buying him 2 QB or SuperFlex leagues and only at a discount. It is likely you had greater expectations for Carr if you have drafted him in a startup or have been holding him. If you can get good value for him and have depth at QB I would be shopping him as soon as some good news about the Raiders offense starts to trickle out. I would take a 2nd rounder and an older QB like Rivers for him all day and I would much rather a QB like Matt Ryan who is currently ranked QB17 right behind him. The schedule isn’t great this year either with the Rams, Chargers (2x), Denver (2x) and Baltimore as elite defenses on the schedule. I am expecting another somewhat uneven campaign from Carr which could plummet his value into Blake Bortles territory. He is 27 years old and is likely to be playing until he is 30-31 for a guy who is hardly a pass happy coach. I think we see Carr valued around QB20 at this time next year.