Coffin Corner: Quarterbacks & One Runner
Usually I meander around, sometimes with a plan, sometimes not. This week my focus is like a laser targeting a cornea during Lasik surgery. I'm going to break down the efforts of a handful of quarterbacks that may or may not be worthy of trusting moving forward. I'll also touch on Mr. Brees of the Saints, and you know my thoughts with him will be glowing. I'll also toss in there one running back, you know I had to go somewhat off script, and talk about the guy to own with the Bucs – their fourth RB1 this season.
A WEEKLY FANTASY BATTLE
Take on Ray Flowers. Show me that you've got more football knowledge than the arrogant one.
Sign up for the Weekly Fanduel.com/BaseballGuys.com NFL Salary Cap Contest. Pick your one week squad based on salary cap levels for players. Finish in the top-15 in Week 11 and you will at least double your $10 investment (all top-15 finishers will receive at least $20). Win the battle and you're looking at a $250 windfall. Simple as that. You interested?
BYE: BUF, CIN, PHI, SEA
0: The number of times in his last four games that Colin Kaepernick has thrown for 200 yards. Not 300, not 250 but 200 yards. Over his last three games Colin has failed to throw for 165 yards and over his last two games he's been unable to crest 130 yards. In today's NFL that's simply as bad a run that you're going to find. For a player as talented as he is it's embarrassing. I'm not talking like 'aw shucks' I'm talking like 'I need to apologize to my parents, my family and my friends for being an utter failure.' Hey, I know the Niners aren't doing him any favors with the weapons they put together for him, but this is still epically awful (injured receivers have put him at a huge disadvantage). Through 10 games this season Kaepernick has averaged 180 yards passing a game and don't just think he's been awful the last month. If we removed his 412 yards from Week 1 what we have left is a QB averaging, and make sure you're sitting down when you read this (if you're out and about on your cell phone or tablet I seriously recommend you sit down), 154 passing yards a game. If we double that number to 308 there would still be three QBs averaging more than that a week (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford). On the year Colin K's mark of 180.2 yards a game passing is the second worst in football for any QB who had started three games – only Jake Locker at 179.4 was worse. Kaepernick is also on pace for 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2012, before he was replaced by Kaepernick, Alex Smith was on a 16 game pace of 174 passing yards, 21 scores and six interceptions. Be careful what you wish for Niners fans.
1: The TD to INT ratio for Joe Flacco, who has thrown 13 of each. Like others on this list it's hard to completely blame the quarterback when his team simply hasn't given him the weapons needed to excel (seriously Ravens, Dallas Clark, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss?). Flacco threw 11 scores in four playoff games last season while averaging 285 passing yards a game. He looked like a new man, the NFL star many long thought he might one day become. He's come crashing down to earth faster than the Wright Brothers did when they were “inventing” flight. Flacco has thrown 13 scores in 10 games this season. That rate of 1.30 a game is right in line with his “normal” rate for the previous five seasons of 1.28 per game. It puts him on pace for a 5th straight year between 20 and 25 scores. Consistently mediocre would be a good way to state it. Though he's averaging less passing yards a game than Ryan Tannehill (247.4 compared to 246.9), Flacco's current rate of nearly 247 passing yards a game would be a career best (last season the mark was 238.6). The last two seasons he completed 58.7 percent of his passes. This season that mark is 58.6 percent. I'll say it. There ain't a more consistent quarterback in the NFL. Too bad he would most accurately be described as consistently mediocre. Forget the '12 playoffs, that's not the guy we're looking at right now. I don't know why anyone would be starting Flacco unless they are in a two QB league.
1: The number of undrafted rookie quarterbacks in NFL history who threw for three scores and no interceptions in their first NFL start. Welcome the first – Matt McGloin. The young Raiders' QB showed poise an a strong arm, but he also completed just 56 percent of his passes for 197 yards. It was a difficult matchup though with the Titans who coming into the game had allowed only four passing scores on the year, so I give McGloin high marks. It's not certain who will be under center moving forward with the Raiders but whomever it is should be viewed as nothing more than a QB2.
2: The number of games this season in which Drew Brees has failed to throw for 300 yards. Peyton Manning has been slightly better with nine of 10 games netting him 300 passing yards. On the year Brees is second in the NFL with an average of 337 passing yards a game which is second to Peyton again (357 passing yards a week). It's obvious why everyone is talking about Manning. I mean, the guy is on pace to have the best passing season in the history of football. At the same time that's almost caused a few folks to overlook Mr. Brees who has been amazing this season. Brees is on pace to become the first QB ever with 5,000 yards passing in three straight seasons, and after efforts of 46 and 43 scores he's on pace for 42 this season. The guy is an absolute statistical machine.
4: The number of rushing scores this season for Andrew Luck. He also ran for five scores last year and that total of nine rushing scores since the start of last season is the largest total in the AFC for a quarterback. It's also the only reason that Luck's fantasy value has remained stable. He's improved from a 54 percent completion percentage as a rookie to 59 percent in year two and that's significant. He also tossed 18 interceptions last season so his total of only six through 10 games is another substantial level of improvement. However, I've got some reservations. Losing Reggie Wayne really hurts, but you still have to move the football through the air to be a solid fantasy quarterback. Luck hasn't really done that. On the year he's averaging 243 passing yards a game, 30 fewer yards than he posted last season as a rookie, and that mark is 18th in football (17th if you remove Case Keenum). Luck has also failed to reach 240 passing yards in four of his last six games. He's hardly been a big yardage guy. Last season he averaged 1.44 TDs per game. This season that mark is slightly down at 1.40. How bad is that? Luck has thrown as many touchdowns as Ryan Tannehill. Yeah, you shouldn't be impressed. Luck is a solid option without question, but if you're blindly running him out there without a thought as your QB1 you should reassess that decision. Think of it like this. Everyone is bailing on Matt Ryan, right? At this point of the year Ryan is completing seven percent more of his passes, for an average of 43 more yards a game than Luck. He's also thrown for four more touchdowns meaning that he and Luck are tied with 18 total touchdowns. Just some food for thought.
18: That's the number of passes that Russell Wilson threw in the first game back for Percy Harvin. Let me be clear here. The Seahawks are a run first, ball control offense that counts heavily on the defense to hold opponents in check. They only pass to keep defenses honest, when the game situation dictates it, or the matchups imply that the risk of throwing it is worth taking. Wilson has failed to throw 30 passes in any of his last five outings and over the past four games he's averaged 22 passes a game. Peyton Manning averages 28.6 completions a game. Others that average more completions a game this season than average throws attempted by Wilson the past month follow: Drew Brees (27.7 completions), Philip Rivers (25.4), Matthew Stafford (24.8), Ben Roethlisberger (24.7), Tony Romo (23.9), Andy Dalton (22.9), Carson Palmer (22.4), Ryan Tannehill (22.4), Robert Griffin III (22.2) and Alex Smith (22.1). I mean really folks, how much will the offense change with Harvin in the mix? That's an open question. As for Wilson, he's thrown fewer passes (275) than Peyton (286) and Brees (277) have completed. I'm not saying Wilson is junk. I'm not saying that he isn't a QB1. What I am saying is that the hysteria about his performance this season season is a bit much. Think of it.
Wilson has completed 32 fewer passes than Eli Manning. Wilson has thrown eight fewer passes than Chad Henne. Somehow he's still be able to throw 19 touchdown passes, which is the same total as Philip Rivers. Even if we grant that Wilson might be the most effective QB in football per attempt, it's still worth noting that if his excellence slips even a little bit there's just not enough volume to support elite fantasy production. He is running well, his YPC mark is up a half year from last season and he's gaining more than six yards more per game that last season, but he's only run for one score this season and five in 27 NFL games. As I noted above Mr. Luck has nine rushing scores since the start of last season. Wilson is getting it done and is a borderline elite play in the fantasy game, but his margin for error is razor thin because of his lack of passing attempts.
AND THE RUNNER...
2: The number of players in NFL history who have run for 150 yards, scored twice on the ground and once through the air as a receiver, all in one game when that game was one of the first 10 for a player in his NFL career. The first to do it was Edgerrin James on November 21, 1990. The second was Bobby Rainey, who had nearly 170 yards of offense while scoring three times on 32 touches. A month ago the 5'8”, 210 pounder was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers. He couldn't keep a roster spot with the Ravens folks. He was only added when the Bucs determined that they needed RB depth with Doug Martin's shoulder being a long-term issue. Rainey entered the game with 21 carry carries for 79 yards. Be careful not to think he's going to be a lock-down RB2 the rest of the way. He's got a shot no doubt, but it's far from certain to occur.
>o?Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.