2018 Q1 Report: 10 Quarterbacks Evaluated

With week 4 on the books, it is  time to apply this site’s methods and assign Fantasy Value Points (FVP) to ten leading quarterbacks through the first quarter (Q1) of the fantasy season.

We apply our familiar methods to four quarterbacks with high fantasy point totals through week 4, and six quarterbacks who were highly rated before the season started.

The results illustrate some key features of the FVP formula: in order to have high FVP totals, it is not enough for a QB to just score a lot of fantasy points; it can important to do it in weeks when projections have the QB highly-ranked, and it helps to have been highly ranked before the season started. The lower your weekly projection, the more likely you are to be on the bench where your fantasy production doesn’t matter, and the lower your pre-season ranking, the more likely your fantasy team is to have a higher-projected QB on its roster.

The top four QBs

For our four highly productive quarterbacks, we use the top four fantasy producers through Week 4, none of whom were projected in the top 12 before the season started (all data from fantasydata.com): Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jared Goff. Because these quarterbacks were not projected in the top 12, our method assumes that on average, the fantasy team that has these players on its roster also has one top-12 QB.

In Week 1, only one of these players was projected to be a top twelve QB: Goff, who was projected as the QB10. As a result, Mahomes, Fitzpatrick and Ryan got zero FVP. Goff, being the projected QB10, was compared by our formula to the QB11 and QB12, namely Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton. He scored a total of 2.5 points fewer when compared against each (Goff’s 17.22 was 3.2 points less than Wilson’s 20.42, and 0.7 points higher than Dalton’s 16.52). Dividing the 2.5 differential by 12 gives his average production compared to the top-12 QBs in the comparison class (this accounts for the 0 differential he got vs. the top 10 QBs: 9 QBs he is presumably benched against, plus his 0 differential against himself). The result is -0.21.

That 0.21 score is Goff’s current total on the year, since he was not projected as a top-12 QB in the next 3 games, and therefore is a presumed bench-sitter who scored 0 points.

Mahomes’ hot start meant that after his 0 FVP in Week 1, he started racking up FVP points as the projected QB5, QB2 and QB1 in the following three weeks. His strong Week 2 game gave him 11.21 FVP, and his slightly above-average performances in Weeks 3 and 4 added 2.56 more, for a Q1 total of 13.77.

Ryan’s ascension on the weekly projection charts was slower: QB10, QB9 and QB7 in Weeks 2-4. As a result, he was presumptively benched against more players in the comparison set, and his solid production yielded fewer FVP than Mahomes. His FVP totals for weeks 2, 3 and 4 were 2.5, 5.26 and 3.44, respectively, for a total of 11.2 in Q1. This is an impressive bounceback from his -23.31 season total in 2017.

Fitzpatrick owners were less fortunate. He was not projected as a fantasy starter in Week 2 or Week 4, and in Week 3, when he was projected as the QB5, his 25.14 fantasy points barely beat out the QBs 6 through 12, which included 40+ point performances from both Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. As a result, his Week 3 total, which is also his Q1 total, was 0.32. If Jameis Winston plays well, this could well be Fitzpatrick’s total FVP score for a season in which he had several outstanding games – a reminder that the FVP formula can be unforgiving towards players with low projections.

Here, in summary, are the FVP totals for the top 4 fantasy QBs through Q1:

Patrick Mahomes: 13.77
Matt Ryan: 11.2
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 0.32
Jared Goff: -0.21

As a reminder, a player’s FVP is supposed to measure the total game-by-game difference between his fantasy points scored and the points that would have been scored by his team’s next best starting option, in games in which the player is a projected starter. All of these four quarterbacks were penalized for not being projected starters in one or more games through Week 4, and for being projected to sit compared to one or more top-12 QBs in other weeks.

The top six projected QBs

The top projected QBs before the season were Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton.

Despite two below-average performances, Drew Brees has the most fantasy points of this group at 98.3, and also the most FVP at 27.5. His 40+ points in Week 3 gained him just over 26 FVP in a week where the QB13 through QB24 averaged only 14.5 points, and his 31-point game in Week 1 slightly more than offset his negative totals from Weeks 2 and 4.

Cam Newton is second among the group in FVP, having scored 24.62 through Week 3. He was helped by having a Week 4 bye, which meant not having to be compared to the QB13 through QB24 group, who averaged almost 20 points thanks to Trubisky and Goff. His 8.2 FVP points per game is the highest of the players evaluated, and puts him on pace for over 123 points, which would improve on his 2015, when he was the most valuable quarterback with 102.83 FVP. It would also make him the most valuable QB in the 4 seasons which the Fantasy Value Project has analyzed, beating Aaron Rodgers’ 119.58 FVP in 2016.

The third highest FVP total in the group is Deshaun Watson. His strong Weeks 3-4 helped him overcome a below-comparison performance in Week 1, and a QB14 projection in Week 2. His FVP total through Q1 is 18.69, which has him almost at his 2017 season total of 20.55. As I wrote when I evaluated last year’s performance:

Watson’s 2018 value can be expected to be much higher, even on a per-game basis, even if his point production substantially regresses.

Far below Watson is the last of the quarterback group with a positive value: Aaron Rodgers. His mixed performances led to weekly FVPs of 8.9, -4.34, 5.4, and -4.86, totaling 5.1 FVP.

At the bottom of the pack are Brady with -5.2 points thanks to below-comparison performances in every week since Week 1, and Wilson with -10.98,  thanks to scoring 10.9 points below the comparison set in Week 4.

The totals for this quarterback group are summarized as follows:

Brees: 27.5
Newton: 24.62
Watson: 18.69
Rodgers: 5.1
Brady: -5.2
Wilson: -10.98

The overall FVP ranks for all ten quarterbacks are as follows:

Brees: 27.5
Newton: 24.62
Watson: 18.69
Patrick Mahomes: 13.77
Matt Ryan: 11.2
Rodgers: 5.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 0.32
Jared Goff: -0.21
Brady: -5.2
Wilson: -10.98

As this list shows, being low-drafted and low-projected week to week limits both upside and downside. The four QBs in this category fall well below three high-drafted, high-projected QBs, despite outperforming them, in some cases significantly. But they also beat out the two lowest-performing QBs in the high-drafted, high-projected group.

What Can We Expect for the Rest of the Season?

If top-performing players like Mahomes and Ryan continue to perform well, they will be highly projected,  resulting in higher FVP totals, and they may end up more valuable than some of the QBs currently beating them out.

Of course, QB performances will change over the season. Through Week 4 last year, Cam Newton has -12.83 FVP, and he finished the season as the QB2 behind Russell Wilson (who himself had only 15.82 FVP through Week 4).

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