This article is written by new Member Corner writer, Adam Bendzick. In the second part of this multi-part series, Adam dives into the quarterback position. We welcome Adam to our Member Corner and look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. We hope you’ll give him feedback!
“No one can stop a ticking clock, but the great ones can slow it down.” (Draft Day). Yes, I’m opening with another Draft Day quote. No, I can’t promise it will be the last time. It’s just a great movie, and a reminder of the negotiations and decisions we make as dynasty owners.
Aside from being hired as an NFL general manager, dynasty leagues are probably the closest we are going to get to assembling greatness in a professional football form. So slow down, think about the decisions you are going to make this off season. Assemble the greatest dynasty team that will wax the floor with the annoying, paper pushing jack wagon sitting in the next cubicle over from you that won the title last year. Just please excuse yourself for a minute, head to the restroom and take five minutes to read this article.
Alright, now that you are in your private space, let’s talk about our off season objective. During the season, I focus on building a great team top to bottom. In the off season, I don’t care as much about positional depth, I’ll trade for that when it matters. All I’m trying to do right now is find the individual pieces that I believe will jump in value. If they fit my teams positional needs, great! If not, I will still trade for those guys only to move future pieces around later when we start keeping score in 2016. Down the road I may write about other positions. But for now, the great folks at DLF asked me to write specifically about superflex leagues.
Let’s start by familiarizing each other with how I try to value a player in conversation, so we can have a bit of a common ground on value. Being that individual players have such a varying opinion on what their value is in comparison to another player, I try to just say player X is worth a certain amount of first round draft picks. In a standard 12 team league, I position that value of the first as between the 1.6 – 1.7 range, so essentially a mid-first round pick. The top tier talents such as Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, and company, are worth about four mid-first round draft picks. As we get deeper into the season and you can start to see where certain draft picks will land, that number can vary. But if we are talking future picks, that seems to be about the going rate for those type of players. Most times you won’t have that kind of draft pick “cash” to spend, so you will most likely position a proven player in combination with picks to propose a deal.
How can we utilize this information to make smart moves within a 2QB league? As I expand this series from week to week, we will discuss certain tiers of players at the quarterback position. What should you expect to “pay” for player X? What is his general “market” value? And hopefully the most important piece of information I can give you, what do I think certain players are worth? And who can we target as a future QB1, at less than elite prices?
Cam Newton, QB CAR
Projected market value: 3 First Round Picks
My Value: 4+ First Round Picks
That kid’s got nothing on Cam, he IS your mom’s favorite player. Full disclosure, he absolutely is my favorite player. Greg Olsen needs to show him his proper respect and get out of his lucky tank. Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers have owned the top tier for the last couple years at a minimum, but Cam deserves to be valued in the top tier. Based on rushing stats alone, Cam would garner flex appeal if he was running back eligible (for reference, he would rank 48th in rushing stats in a standard 1 PPR league). But where he’s grown the most is in the passing game. This year he should be close to matching his career high in passing yardage, but the best part is he is completing touchdowns on 7.5% of his passing attempts. For comparison sake, Peyton Manning’s career touchdown percentage is 5.8% per pass attempt. Cam’s numbers are escalating, and he’s still only 26 years old.
His critics will say because he runs he’s more prone to injury. Well, that might be so. However, he has only missed two games in his entire career. Cam’s rushing attempts are on par with prior seasons, but his times sacked this year are a new career low. He’s playing smarter, he’s still having fun, and he’s still really young. By season’s end he might get in that 4 first round pick territory, but even then he’s still worth trying to attain. I’m hoping some non-believers still own this guy, and you could get him in that 3 first round pick value range. Taking a look at recent adp’s (which I’m only using to value other players besides quarterbacks), if you could get him for a guy like Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, or Brandin Cooks, I would absolutely jump on it and not look back. For teams that had a tough 2015 and are staring the 1.1 right in the face, try to dangle that pick out there and see how close you would get to acquiring the 26 year old prodigy. Limit the risk, build the foundation.
Matt Ryan, QB ATL
Projected market value: 1-2 First Round Picks
My Value: 2-3 First Round Picks
Matty Ice is getting no love this season. Can I blame the dynasty community for him falling out of favor? Absolutely not. But he isn’t dead, nor is he even that old. In the last three complete dynasty seasons, Ryan has finished as a QB1 in 2012 and 2014. The only season that he missed breaking that barrier was 2013, when he lost Julio Jones after only five games played. Up to that point in 2013 he was averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game, but went on to drop to an average of 15.4 fantasy points per game. This season he’s averaging a dismal 14.3 fantasy points per game, largely disappointing even the most loyal owners. It would take a miracle for him to finish as a QB1 this season.
So where is the upside? Why would I invest in a “declining” asset? Well, this is one of a minimal amount of QB1 level producers that you can get for a decent price. Julio Jones is a stud. I know that, you know that. I mentioned his name at the local barn the other day and even the mares started to blush. But most importantly, Matty Ice gets to throw to him for the rest of his career. But that’s not enough, and 2015 proves that in the touchdown department. Ryan is on pace for another 4,500 yard season, he’s above his career average in completion percentage, and his interception numbers certainly aren’t dreadful. It’s just that he is down on touchdowns. Well, as good as Julio is, Ryan needs more weapons. I expect Atlanta to invest in some quality receiving talent either through the draft or free agency. He utilizes the tight end heavily near the red zone, and the underwhelming collection of Levine Toilolo and Jacob Tamme over the last couple seasons isn’t going to cut it. Look for them to add a red zone threat either at tight end or wide receiver, preferably both.
Matt Ryan will reclaim his status in 2016 as a top point producer at the quarterback position. I like him as a QB1 on your squad. I absolutely love him if you already have a great option at QB1 and could add him as your QB2.
Jameis Winston, QB TB
Projected market value: 2 First Round Picks
My Value: 3 First Round Picks
It’s true, the love affair is real. Prior to writing this article I have been trying to acquire his services in the only dynasty league that I don’t own him in. You had an opportunity to draft him with the 1.1 rookie pick this season, and several owners passed on him. This coming off season might be the last time you could trade either the 1.1 rookie pick or a couple quality firsts for him. I know I mentioned dangling that same 1.1 rookie pick out there for Cam, but I would expect to have to add to it to actually get him. But with Jameis, you more than likely would get him for that pick. If I’m a contender, I go for Cam. If I’m young, I spend a little less and get Jameis.
Why do I love him so much? I ask you, what’s not to love? 21 years old, Heisman winner, eventual 2015 Rookie of the Year, has all the elite tools, and he’s flirting with QB1 numbers in his inaugural season. If Mike Evans didn’t have a case of the dropsies (leads the league in drops), he probably would already be in the QB1 range. Scouts, Inc. has been grading draft prospects since 2004. The highest possible score is 99, to which Jameis Winston scored a 95. Only three quarterbacks have graded out with a max score, they are Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andrew Luck. Jameis is near elite company, and of those quarterbacks I think he closely resembles Big Ben.
Winston is a big bodied quarterback, with a huge arm. He can make all of the throws, and he’s physical enough to run when the pocket breaks down. His instincts are pass first, but he does have a nose for the end zone as evidenced by his five rushing touchdowns thus far. I would expect his numbers to increase across the board as he gains a more consistent crop of receivers to throw to. That’s not a knock on the talent around him, he just needs them to be there on the field for him instead of standing in gym shorts on the sidelines. Also, Mike Evans needs to take the training wheels off and become the 90-100 catch guy that he’s capable of. He is hovering around a 50% catch rate, down from his 55% catch rate last season.
I would love to see the Bucs add a better slot receiver in 2016, which should help his completion percentage and force the defense up. That would also help Evans over the top and get back to making more big plays like he did in his rookie season. Jameis Winston is the real deal, and the best rookie QB option to build your team around. This off season will probably be the last time you can buy him outside of the top round of a superflex startup draft. I would expect him to be valued as a top 25 asset in a 2QB league very soon. If you are able to acquire him for less, now is the time to take advantage.
As I discussed in my previous article, the intentions of this series will be to highlight quarterbacks that I believe you can attain “cheaper” than what they probably should be, and build around those players through good trade strategy. When we start to close in on the combine and NFL draft, I plan to dig deeper into the crop of rookie signal callers entering the league.
My hope is that this will develop into a weekly article over the off season. The feedback I received from the last article was great! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section. Sometimes it’s difficult to do a longer analysis for every question, so if you would like to see a particular player or strategy addressed in future articles, I may choose to address the question in further detail in future articles.