What’s going on everyone, and welcome to another first post in a series I will be doing over the next few weeks, where I’ll be taking a look at each position’s “busts” from the year before (comparing their finish in standard leagues to their pre-season ADP data), to help us figure out what went wrong last year, and to see if they can bounce-back in 2018.
Let’s get to it!
Matt Ryan (2017 ADP: 5.07; #15 QB)
After finishing as the 3rd-best QB in 2016, Ryan had a very poor 2017 fantasy campaign that saw him finish outside of the top 12. While some may contribute his poor season to several different factors, including the disappearance of Julio Jones in the redzone, it cannot be argued how much of an impact the departure of Kyle Shanahan had on the Falcons offense as a whole. In 2016, Ryan finished the season with 4,900 yards, 38 TD’s, 7 INT’s, and a 69.9% completion rate. However, without Kyle Shanahan, Ryan finished his 2017 campaign with 4,000 yards, 20 TD’s, 12 INT’s, and a 64.7% completion rate.
The confusing thing, however, is that while Ryan’s performance declined in the first year under Sarkisian, the Falcons offense as a whole didn’t do that poorly. According to success rates at Sharp Football Stats, the Falcons finished 3rd in season-long passing success rate, and 7th in season-long rushing success rate. When looking at PFF player grades, Ryan finished T-2nd among all QB’s with a grade of 88.6. Devonta Freeman finished 19th among RB’s, Julio Jones finished 3rd, and Mohamed Sanu finished 20th.
So then why did Matt Ryan struggle so greatly in fantasy last year while advanced stats show that he did quite well? I believe the answer lies in TD regression. While Ryan, and the rest of the Falcons offense showed well on individual efficiency statistics, it didn’t translate well to overall fantasy production due to the absence of 18 TD’s from the year before. It doesn’t happen too often that a dip in TD numbers means such a drastic change in fantasy production, but when you score 18 fewer scores than the year before, it doesn’t matter how well your completion percentage is.
So what does this mean for 2018? As of now, Matt Ryan’s ADP is hovering around the 9th round. I don’t mind that price one bit, but I’m not overly confident in Ryan as of now in late May. It’s a bit troublesome that Julio Jones hasn’t attended OTA’s yet, however the addition of rookie Calvin Ridley to help out Jones and Sanu should be a good thing, and many are pegging Devonta Freeman to have a good 2018 season as well. I’m hoping his fantasy production can align with his metrics and advanced stats, and that another year under Steve Sarkisian can mean that he regresses back to being a Top-12 fantasy option in 2018. And if he can do that, his 9th-round price tag is more than acceptable.
Derek Carr (2017 ADP: 6.09; #19 QB)
Aside from his leg injury late in the season, 2016 was a very good season for Derek Carr. While finishing 8th among all QB’s, he also threw the ball for 3,900 yards, with 28 TD’s, 6 INT’s, and a 64% completion rate, en route to a 12-4 record and a postseason birth. While those numbers aren’t world-beating, he still managed to finish inside of the top 10. However, last season didn’t go so well for the 4th-year QB. He ended 2017 with 3,400 yards, 22 TD’s, 13 INT’s, and a 62.7% completion rate, finishing as the 19th-best QB in fantasy. And while he didn’t have that high of a price tag at the beginning of the season, it was definitely a down year. Carr also finished 21st out of all QB’s in PFF player grades.
So what went wrong for Carr? Well, most of it has to do with turnovers. While the Oakland O-Line is one of the better units in football, Carr struggled greatly under any kind of pressure, posting a 40.8 passer rating and 9 picks under pressure, which is most in the NFL. Even when he wasn’t being blitzed, Carr also struggled with ball security, fumbling the ball regularly last year. Aside from turnovers, Carr also struggled greatly in the redzone, which is another reason for his poor play in 2017.
While the Raiders did fire Jack Del Rio, I don’t know if all of their offensive woes will be cured with that move, and the subsequent hiring of Jon Gruden. It’s hard to gauge how the 2018 Raiders will look on offense under Gruden, but I don’t think I have the confidence in the team as a whole to want to draft Derek Carr this year in fantasy. His ADP is currently in the late 10th round, which carries very little risk, but I don’t know how confident I am in Carr’s ability to rebound this year, especially without Michael Crabtree. Sure, they have Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, but that isn’t an ideal WR corps that I want Carr to have. We still have a full summer to figure out the Raiders’ offense, but until I see something that changes my mind, I’m not gonna risk it this year with Carr.
Marcus Mariota (2017 ADP: 7.04; #18 QB)
After a good 2016 NFL season that saw the 2nd-year QB throw for 3,400 yards, 26 TD’s and 9 INT’s (finishing as the 12th-best QB in fantasy that year), Marcus Mariota had a down year in 2017, throwing for 3,200 yards, 13 TD’s, and a horrendous 15 INT’s, finishing as the 18th-best QB in fantasy. So what exactly happened to the young gunslinger?
It really boils down to two reasons: inconsistency and injury, so let’s talk about the first. While a lot of the inconsistent play on Mariota’s end had simply to do with his many turnovers, the rest had to do with accuracy issues. While his deep-throw accuracy wasn’t the worst we’ve ever seen, his completion accuracy of 62% was good for 34th in the NFL. Mariota also posted some impressive PFF Player Grades during the middle-stretch of the NFL season, but struggled to open and close his 2017 campaign, which brings us to our second issue: injury. Mariota struggled greatly down the stretch of the NFL season due to his hamstring injury. While he was still able to play through the pain, it definitely forced the mobile QB to play strictly in the pocket, limiting his mobility.
So what does this mean for 2018? Well, as for now, Mariota’s ADP is currently sitting in late 11th round, and he might even slip into the 12th round. If by August, his ADP is still in the 12th round, I don’t see any legitimate downside to snagging Mariota as your QB2, hell, even QB1 if you’re punting the position completely/hoping Mariota is this year’s Carson Wentz. And while I don’t necessarily believe he’ll have a breakout year, I think he could be one of the better sleepers in 2018. He’ll be fully healthy, have his usual best buds in Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis (who is being hyped up as we speak in OTA’s), and Delanie Walker, and a talented backfield that’ll feature Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Even bigger, the Titans shook up their coaching staff over the offseason, bringing in the fresh faces of Mike Vrabel as the Head Coach and new Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur, who was the OC of the Rams last year. Maybe he can repeat his successes of the year before? If he could come close, an 11th-round price tag is next to nothing for the 4th-year QB.
Jameis Winston (2017 ADP: 7.03; #22 QB)
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will always be linked to each other after being the 1st and 2nd NFL draft picks a few years back, so it only makes sense that I talk about Winston next, right? Well after a mediocre 2016 season that saw Jameis finish as the 16th-best QB in fantasy, the preseason hype was pretty real over the young QB in the 2017 offseason which saw his ADP climb up into the 7th round, before being one of the biggest busts in 2017 as he threw for 3,500 yards, 19 TD’s and 11 INT’s, finishing outside of the Top-20 in fantasy. So what went wrong?
Well, aside from some injury troubles that cost him a few games, the simple reason for his struggles was that… he kinda stunk. While I think I am contractually obligated by one Matthew Bowe to mention that Hurricane Irma and a Week 1 bye may have doomed the Bucs from the start, Jameis just simply wasn’t consistently good enough to produce in fantasy, or win games for Tampa Bay either. While he did show us some flashes of brilliance, that was the best that we got in 2017. He had a very similar season last year to that of Mariota, as he struggled with his accuracy and frequently turned the ball over. However, unlike Mariota, I don’t think I’m going to draft Winston.
Right now, Jameis’ ADP is sitting very similar to Mariota’s (just a few picks later) in the 11th round. However, not much has changed over the offseason to make me want to believe in Jameis. The coaching staff is the same, and for the most part, his weapons are the same. Sure, we can hype up Chris Godwin all we want, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Unless this team seriously changes things up, I see a same fate for the 2018 Bucs, and Jameis Winston.
Andrew Luck (2017 ADP: 9.01; Unranked)
DISCLAIMER: If the upcoming statement applies to you, I’m sorry.
IF YOU WERE DUMB ENOUGH TO TAKE ANDREW LUCK IN 2017 THEN YOU RIGHTLY DESERVED THE PUNISHMENT OF ANDREW LUCK PLAYING 0 GAMES IN 2017! SUFFER!!!!
Okay back to “””legitimate”””” fantasy analysis.
Unfortunately, Andrew Luck went down as one of the biggest busts in 2017, mathematically speaking, as he was drafted last year, but didn’t play a single snap of football. So what went wrong? Well to start, Luck struggled with TD effi-
If you are dumb enough to come to me for fantasy football advice (hi dad!), then you must be wondering, “Zach, should I risk it and potentially draft Andrew Luck this August?” And to that I say, no. To me, it’s not even worth drafting him as a QB2. Right now, his ADP is currently sitting in the late 8th round in 12-team mock drafts. Personally, I don’t think he’ll even sniff the first 10 rounds in casual drafts, but there will still be that one guy in your league that will draft Andrew Luck. And I do not believe that should be you.
There is a legitimate chance that Andrew Luck won’t even see the field again in 2018. While that claim may seem crazy, it has currently been 516 days since Andrew Luck has last thrown an actual football (at least publicly). While the Colts can tell the media that they aren’t worried that he hasn’t, and won’t, throw the ball at OTA’s, I think that it’s a pretty dangerous sign that it has been 516 DAYS SINCE ANDREW LUCK HAS THROWN THE FOOTBALL IN A LIVE SETTING.
Sorry, I’m getting high pitched.
Friends don’t let friends draft Andrew Luck in fantasy. Don’t let it be you, guys. Please.
Alright guys, that is all the time I have for today. Thank you so much for reading! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below! I will be sure to answer it in a timely manner. Also, be sure to check out the newest episode of the Razzblitz Podcast, where MB sits down with Danny Kelly of the Ringer. And, be sure to keep an eye out for some great written content over the next few weeks as myself and the rest of the Razzball team will help you get a jump-start on the competition for drafts this August. And as always…
Go read a book.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @razzball_zach