Every fantasy season tells a completely different story than the narrative we spin in the offseason, and it’s always interesting to see the finished novel once the season is over.
At my personal 2QB blog this past fantasy season I wrote a weekly article summarizing fantasy takeaways that would get us ready for the next week. I learned a lot from each week’s action and hope my fellow 2QB readers did so as well.
Before completely saying goodbye to the fantasy football season that was, I wanted to take one last look at some overall lessons we learned in 2015 and then move onto the 2016 fantasy football season. It’s almost August, right?
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Wait on Quarterbacks
Raise your hand if you thought Blake Bortles was going to be a top-five fantasy quarterback in 2015.
Raise your other hand if you predicted Peyton Manning’s descent into fantasy QB3 territory. No, not the overall fantasy QB3 (that was Russell Wilson), but rather Peyton being no better than a replacement-level fantasy quarterback in 2QB leagues.
A total of 39 different quarterbacks in 2015 finished as a weekly top-12 (fantasy QB1) performer. Peyton did it once. Bortles accomplished the feat ten times (only one behind Tom Brady for the most).
No matter how much fantasy research we plough through during the offseason, no matter how many mock drafts we partake in, no matter how prepared we feel on draft day that we’re going to walk away from the festivities with a league-winning team we don’t know how the fantasy season will unfold.
Based on Joshua Lake’s 2QB ADP data from August, Peyton was being drafted as the QB6 with an overall ADP of 28.7. Bortles, on the other hand, was the QB30, and taken near the end of drafts, if at all.
Below is a list of the first twelve quarterbacks drafted, based on 2015 2QB ADP data:
- Andrew Luck
- Aaron Rodgers
- Russell Wilson
- Matt Ryan
- Peyton Manning
- Cam Newton
- Drew Brees
- Tony Romo
- Ryan Tannehill
- Eli Manning
- Matthew Stafford
Only six finished the year as a fantasy QB1 (Newton, Wilson, Rodgers, Brees, Eli, Stafford). The other six QB1s with their QB ADP in brackets were Tom Brady (QB13), Bortles (QB30), Carson Palmer (QB18), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Undrafted), Kirk Cousins (Undrafted), and Philip Rivers (QB14).
When it comes to 2QB draft strategy, particularly at the quarterback position, it looks like there’s safety in taking a quarterback high. Eight of the top-12 scoring quarterbacks this year were taken within the first 14 at the position. With Palmer a mid-tier QB2, Bortles in the QB3 range, and Fitzpatrick/Cousins going undrafted.
What it always boils down to is opportunity cost. What are you willing to lose to draft an early-round quarterback? Do you go Luck and miss out on the elite tier of running backs or wide receivers? Or do you wait to grab a Palmer and someone like Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown earlier?
The way you build your 2QB squad will go a long way in determining your draft philosophy, and while someone like Palmer won’t be available in the mid-to-late rounds of 2QB drafts this year after his fantastic 2015 fantasy campaign there will be plenty of quarterback targets available late. Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, and Jay Cutler are a few names that come to mind who will come at a cheap cost and provide fantasy value.
2. What to do With Blake Bortles?
In his rookie campaign, Blake Bortles was the fantasy QB24 right behind legend Kyle Orton, scoring 168.18 fantasy points. In his sophomore season, Bortles scorched the fantasy landscape. His 316.12 fantasy points were the fourth-most, behind only Cam Newton, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson.
Is Bortles suddenly an elite fantasy mainstay at the quarterback position?
Probably not, but with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas as his core pass catching targets, and his rushing ability, Bortles will be in the fantasy QB1 discussion next season. Whether he’s worthy of an early-round pick is a different question.
A big reason why Bortles was a fantasy success this year was game script and volume. Bortles attempted 606 pass attempts, which was the sixth-most in the league. The Jaguars’ running backs as a whole, ran the ball 281 times. Adrian Peterson (327) and Doug Martin (288) alone had more rushing attempts.
The passing touchdown to rushing touchdown ratio in Jacksonville was also skewed to Bortles’ favor, 35:5. Not to mention Bortles had two rushing touchdowns of his own (plus 310 yards on the ground).
It’s unlikely this game script will stay the same next year, and regression in the touchdown department is expected, but even if that total falls into the mid-to-high 20s it wouldn’t be all that bad. Only 11 quarterbacks threw 30+ touchdowns this year.
I’m willing to bet on Bortles next year, but I believe his draft day cost will be too high thanks to recency bias, as a high number of 2QBers will want to bank on his 2015 fantasy campaign.
3. Houston Texans Quarterback TBD Could Prove Valuable
On the surface, the Houston Texans 2015 quarterback carousel looked like a complete dumpsterfire.
There was the preseason quarterback battle between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer, who eventually both saw starters reps in the regular season. And there were a couple of cameo stints from T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden.
It was the seventh time in their 14 years as an NFL franchise the Texans were forced to start multiple quarterbacks in a year. David Carr and Matt Schaub remain the only two signal callers to start all 16 games in a season for the Texans.
That quarterback uncertainty doesn’t bode well in real life, but for fantasy purposes, it makes no difference. In 2QB leagues all it does is give us even more options at the quarterback position. You may or may not be shocked to know 53 different quarterbacks started at least one game in 2015.
You might not think the likes of Hoyer, Mallett, Yates, or Weeden would be valid starting options in 2QB leagues. You would be sorta right in that thinking.
Hoyer, thanks to seeing the most playing time, was the “best” Texans quarterback. He finished the year throwing for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 166.64 fantasy points. He was the fantasy QB26 in limited playing time.
If we were to combine the passing totals of all four passers during their 2015 Houston stints we would get a Frankenstein quarterback that attempted 615 passes, threw 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and scored 263.24 fantasy points.
Those numbers represent a usable fantasy asset. The 615 attempts would have been the fifth-most in the league, the 28 touchdowns would have been the 14th-most, and the 263.24 fantasy points would have yielded a fantasy QB17 finish.
Not to mention that Hoyer finished as a weekly QB1 (top-12) four times in 2015, with Weeden adding a fifth QB1 finish as a Texans starter. Those five combined QB1 performances were more than Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, and Ryan Tannehill accomplished in 2015, and was one less than Drew Brees.
Uncertainly and injuries at the running back position forced the Texans to throw more, but O’Brien and the Texans staff also knew their best shot at making plays was feeding DeAndre Hopkins, who saw the third-most targets last season (192).
If Hoyer is the unquestioned starter going into next season he could pull off a 2015 Ryan Fitzpatrick-esque fantasy season, going from undrafted in 2QB leagues to finishing the year as the fantasy QB8.
The quarterback situation in Houston will be one to monitor this upcoming fantasy season, and could lead to plenty of value in 2QB drafts. It will be interesting to see if O’Brien were to reunite with college protege in Christian Hackenberg. Anthony Amico argues O’Brien and Hackenberg would be an ideal pairing and one to watch for in 2QB circles.
*Stats used in this article courtesy of FantasyData.com