Quarterback Tricks and Treats
FEATURED IMAGE ARTWORK BY DAVE CHOW
Halloween is the rookie-year Jared Goff of holidays. Which is to say: it sucks.
Halloween stops being fun during college, after Sexy Nurse #5 pukes all over the outside of your bedroom door, on her way to some other party, and then cries inconsolably for the rest of the night in your hallway. Later in life, as a homeowner, you’re coerced into handing out candy to high schoolers wearing only clown masks with the jeans and hoodies they wore to school that day. If you don’t, your property will assuredly be vandalized.
No, I’m not bitter about the situation at all.
Despite my hate for Halloween, I’ve taken three of my favorite things (candy, football, and player comps) and Frankensteined them together for some holiday-themed fantasy reading. I hope you enjoy.
Offseason ADP: 64.2 (QB9)
Candy Comparison: Whoppers
With all my heart and soul, I hate Whoppers. They have never been satisfying (a trait Stafford’s 2018 campaign currently shares) but still appear as a Halloween staple. Also, what the hell is a malted milk ball?
To be clear, I don’t hate Stafford. I’m just not in love with his production this season relative to where his peers are. Stafford currently ranks as QB21 (on five starts), which is a strange place to see him, considering he’s been a top-10 finisher each of the last three seasons.
Stafford may simply be the victim of his peers overachieving. He is currently outpacing his career averages in touchdown rate, completion percentage, and has an aDOT of 8.1 yards (his highest mark since 2012). As second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay becomes more of a fixture in the Lions passing attack, we can expect to see Stafford’s production rise. Golladay is currently WR12 in air yards this season (517) but is battling teammate Golden Tate for targets. Tate has seen 26 percent of Stafford’s target so far, compared to Golladay’s 21 percent. Interestingly, Golladay is out-snapping Tate at a rate of 90 percent to 79 percent. Factor in Marvin Jones and there are a lot of subtleties for Lions and their quarterback to iron out before we see Stafford reach the level of production we’re accustomed to.
Offseason ADP: 34.2 (QB3)
Candy Comparison: Necco Wafers
A roll of Necco Wafers contains eight flavors, which is how many different players we expect Brady to throw touchdowns to every time he plays the Colts.
In the interest of transparency, I’d like to announce my membership in the church of Bradyology. But as a man of science and intellect, I will not let my personal beliefs interfere with what can only be explained as a disappointing season for Brady thus far. Sure, he may have been without wideout Julian Edelman for the first four games of the season. And sure, maybe Chris Hogan for once looks how we’d expect him to look if he played with any other quarterback, but if we’re gonna pump the narrative the Brady can win with anybody then QB12 (get it?) isn’t an acceptable ranking right now.
Brady is currently top-five among quarterbacks with thirteen touchdown passes, with a 6.1 percent touchdown rate (5.6 percent career average), but only ranks 17th in passing yardage. Touchdowns rule the day for quarterbacks, and it’s because of them that Brady still ranks as a a high-end QB2.
Looking ahead, Brady managers can rest easy knowing that, since Edelman’s return in Week 5 and Josh Gordon’s integration into the offense, Brady has thrown for 340 yards his past two starts. Three of Brady’s next four games are on the road, including games against the Bills and Titans, who have only allowed nine and seven passing touchdowns, respectively, on the season.
Offseason ADP: 4.3 (QB2)
Candy Comparison: Sour Skittles
You thought they were safe. You saw the familiar packaging and jumped in without a second thought. And now you look like a baby taking a bite out of a lemon.
On the surface, nothing really jumps out within Wilson’s passing statistics to help pinpoint why he currently ranks as our QB16. He’s roughly 13 yards per game short of his career average but currently holds a solid touchdown rate of 7.0 percent. Narrative-ly speaking, Wilson’s weapons aren’t much to write home about. His best asset has been Tyler Lockett, who has managed five touchdowns on 23 receptions so far as the Seahawks’ defacto WR1 (truthers unite).
The most glaring difference in Wilson’s output this year has been his lack of production on the ground. He is averaging only 2.8 rush attempts per game, compared to 5.9 a year ago. This seemingly minor drop in rushing exposure has him missing out on nearly three fantasy points per game in rushing yardage alone.
Following the Seahawks’ Week 7 bye, three of Wilson’s next four games are against the Lions, Rams, and Packers—all teams in the top half of the league in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Never to be underestimated, we’re not crazy to expect things to turn around for Wilson, but be careful expecting much of his supporting cast in some tough upcoming matchups.
Offseason ADP: 74.0 (QB13)
Candy Comparison: Milky Way
There’s something to be said for the subtle consistency that Milky Way bars and Matt Ryan provide their holders. When you investigated the results of your trick-or-treating adventures, Milky Way felt like a silver medal of sorts. Not quite a big dog like Snickers, but definitely the high-end QB2 of candy.
Ryan’s 2018 fantasy campaign is off to a great start. Through six games, he’s posted numbers somewhat comparable to his elite 2016 season, a wonderful start for all the pro-Ryan drafters who called for positive regression in the offseason.
Ryan’s 12 red zone touchdowns show he’s been efficient in scoring range, in part because he ranks outside the top-ten in pass attempts. He’s making the most of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Calvin Ridley catching touchdowns on over 27 percent of his receptions and the ability of Julio Jones to conquer yardage faster than a blitzkrieg of France.
Jones’ touchdown rate is officially meme-worthy, but ironically bodes well for Ryan, who is fantasy’s QB2 without scoring help for Julio. Ryan’s aDOT of 9.5 yards is the highest it’s been in his career, and his 6.3 percent touchdown rate is second only to his 2016 mark. In short, things aren’t bad for Ryan, and it’s likely to get better once Jones starts (finally) finding the end zone.
Offseason ADP: 86.6 (QB16)
Candy Comparison: M&M’s
Variety. It’s that simple. For every iteration of M&M’s that exist, so too does a weapon on the Goff-led Rams offense. There’s hardly been an offensive snap this season that didn’t double as a scoring opportunity for the Rams. Whether it’s through Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, or Cooper Kupp, Goff and his offense are the cure for your fantasy sweet tooth.
In addition to a touchdown rate of 6.2 percent, Goff has supported three top-24 wide receivers, despite Cooks missing most of their Week 5 contest against the Seahawks with a concussion. Goff has also got the most of his 30 targets to Gurley this season, converting them into 21 receptions, 247 yards, and two touchdowns.
Goff may be surrounded by plus talent but it doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of his QB9 ranking. It’s likely we won’t see much of a drop in points per game out of Goff, even though Kupp may miss some time with an MCL sprain. There’s still enough talent on the offensive side of the ball that Goff and head coach Sean McVay will find a way to redistribute that workload, rather than make significant changes to a scheme that’s been great for the signal caller. If you drafted Goff to be your upside QB2, then congratulations on all your bite-sized, candy-coated success this season.
Offseason ADP: 83.4 (QB15)
Candy Comparison: King Size Reese’s Cup wrapped in a $20 bill
Just like that sweet old couple slinging full-size chocolate bars, Mahomes has given us more than our greedy little hearts could have ever desired, and then some.
Mahomes opened the season throwing a modest 10 passing scores in Weeks 1 and 2. After that, he passed some guy named Peyton Manning for the most passing touchdowns through the first three weeks of an NFL season (13).
Through Week 6 this season Mahomes, has an absurd 8.5 percent touchdown rate and 18:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, easily making him fantasy’s QB1. He’s accomplished this despite ranking only fourteenth in quarterback rushing (75 yards) and fourteenth in pass attempts (176).
Looking ahead, Mahomes will face off against the Bengals, Raiders and Charger, all of whom are in the bottom-half of the league in quarterback fantasy points allowed per game.
CANDY COMP LIGHTNING ROUND
Candy Comparison: Candy Corn
Why: Orange and controversial
Candy Comparison: Butterfingers
Why: Amazing, but breaks at the slightest touch
Candy Comparison: Now and Later
Why: Flacco now, Lamar Jackson later
Candy Comparison: Hershey’s
Why: Old school, dependable, lacks flash
Candy Comparison: Jolly Rancher
Why: In it for the long haul, waiting for it to get better but it doesn’t
Candy Comparison: Raisinets
Why: If you weren’t paying attention, you were completely duped