Fantasy Football Absurdity Check: Back End Backup Quarterbacks

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It’s August, which means that it’s time to look closely at fantasy football drafts. Evan Hoovler has your auction strategy covered, but it’s time to figure out the time-honored tradition of snake drafts: exploiting ADP to your advantage. Below you will find the first of a four-part series. These “back end backup” players who could make a huge difference for your fantasy football leagues.  

For the purpose of this series, I defined a “back end backup” as a player whose positional ADP is outside 1.5 times that of the number of starters in a 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE league. Assuming a 12-team league, that means that these players are outside the top-18 at quarterback. By ADP, these guys aren’t priority backups for most people. However, finding room for them on your roster could be the difference between winning and losing. Between hoisting the trophy at the end of the season or being the guy who has to accept a weird and disproportionate punishment in the hopes that Matthew Berry retweets your thirsty post about your fantasy football league.  

We start with the signal callers, the QBs. You know, the guys who put their hands in the other guy’s butt all game. They score the most points and are the position traditionally left in the dust on draft day. If you want to punt the position, here are four quarterbacks going as low-end backups who will produce large fantasy football numbers this season. 

Average Draft Position (ADP) is from FantasyPros aggregate data, so if you quibble with these, don’t @ me, @ them. And by them, I mean the fantasy football community writ large, because they did this to you. 

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, QB19, 130 overall 

Things went about as poorly as they could have for Lamar Jackson last season, from a real-life quarterbacking perspectiveHe topped 180 passing yards just once and threw just six touchdowns in seven games as a starter last year. In those seven games he started, he finished as a top-thirteen QB six times, and he was a top-ten QB in three of his last four games. Why? His legs. He attempted 119 runs in his starts, which, by itself, is the eleventh-most QB rush attempts of all time (he broke the record with his 147 attempts over the course of the year).

Now, the Ravens added Marquise Brown, Justice Hill, and Miles Boykin through the draft, and a pass-catching (and playmaking) back in Mark Ingram. With all those weapons in tow, Jackson should end up inside the top-twelve QBs more often than he doesn’t. And he’s going at QB19? His worst finish last season, in a single game, was QB17. That literally does not make sense. 

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings, QB20, 133 overall 

Only one quarterback has been top-eleven in each of the last four seasons. Only two quarterbacks have been top-twelve in each of the last for seasons. Kirk Cousins is the only one to do it for two different teams (since the other is Russell Wilson). Captain Kirk has been a quality (if unimpressive) fantasy football commodity for nearly half a decade now, and for his trouble, he’s currently owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo! leagues. That’s some flat-out disrespect for the man who has turned the NFL into his own personal Kobayashi Maru.

How does a guy who hasn’t finished as a QB1 since he became the starter, with three top-fifteen fantasy football options at his disposal (Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook… and no, I did not forget about Kyle Rudolph, he just didn’t make the cut) end up as QB20 overall? The world may never know. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers, QB21, 137 overall 

As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. This time last season, “Handsome” James “Jimmy “G”” Garoppolo was a fringe #1 fantasy football quarterback, going in the 10-14 range, depending on who gets a wild hair up their rear ends to snag the most handsome man in football. Last season went about as poorly as possible for Handsome James. He had three interceptions in his first game, and tore his ACL in his third game. Now, he’s back, fully healthy and with a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Yet, he’s going as a back end backup quarterback.

I know we all have the idea in our heads that Garoppolo struggled last season, but he had more passing yards per game than Marcus Mariota’s had in any season of his career. In actuality, he had a bad game against one of the league’s best defenses in Minnesota. Then, he threw multiple touchdowns in his next two games. And then, he died. Since then, George Kittle became the league’s breakout tight end, Dante Pettis flashed at the end of the year, and the Niners added Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, and Jalen Hurd. Everything is pointing up for Garoppolo, yet he goes outside backup QB territory in a ten-team league. Just tragic, for something so bad to happen to someone so beautiful. 

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills, QB22, 153 overall 

If Lamar Jackson’s ADP is a travesty, then Josh Allen’s is a war crime, especially since Josh Allen out-produced Lamar Jackson last season in the same time frame. When Josh Allen got the starting role back after recovering from his injury, he set a torrid pace for fantasy football production: 377 rushing yards and four touchdowns to go with 1,082 passing yards and 7 touchdowns (and 7 picks) in 5 games to conclude the 2018 season. In those five games, Josh Allen was the #1 quarterback in fantasy football. He was literally a league winner due to his propensity to either bomb it out or rush for a first down.

In the Buffalo Bills Sleeper, Breakout, and Bust article, I did a thought experiment: what if Josh Allen became more quarterbackly, and less running backish (both terms, trust me)? The result of regressing him came out to QB8. You can see the math there, I’m not going to copy and paste the article. There are precious clicks to be harvested, after all.

About Jeff Krisko

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