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Can You Get Brees Performance at a Hasselbeck Price?

We all like value and as Rotowire quarterback guru Mike Salfino advises "be the last to draft a starter (quarterback) and the first to draft a backup." The problem I encounter is trying to figure the best way to pair these two players to get maximum value and performance, therein trying to get a Brees out of a Hasselbeck. This is also important for me because I am in a keeper league where I can never draft a Brees or Brady and always get stuck between quarterbacks eight and 14 and am tired of getting killed in the quarterback category week after week.

This year I have looked at probably 50 mock drafts and am currently competing in an expert draft. To expand a little on Salfino's thoughts, there appear to be six elite quarterback options in fantasy: Brees, Brady, P. Manning, Rodgers, Rivers and Warner from the drafts I have viewed, and then a group of ten or twelve quarterbacks that all might fall into the bottom tier starter/top backup category.

Using the FPPA (fantasy passing points allowed), which I used for the team defense article, I wanted to compare all these second-tier quarterbacks to see which ones when paired together gave fantasy owners the most amount of weeks to get optimal performance.

The FPPA is comprised of the following statistics:
1 point for every 25 yards allowed
3 points for a passing touchdown allowed
-1 for every interception

In ranking the team defenses we took the defenses' standard deviations when compared to the league average of FPPA and placed the numbers into categories to make it easier for fantasy owners to understand. The categories are:

Good FPPA .4 and above (These numbers indicate your quarterback should have an above average to outstanding day)
Average FPPA -.39-.39 (These numbers indicate your quarterback should be near his average performance
Bad FPPA -.4 and above (This indicates your QB to have a less than average performance)

We took 11 quarterbacks (McNabb, Schaub, Romo, Ryan, Palmer, Cutler, Roethlisberger, Edwards, E. Manning, Hasselbeck and Cassell) and looked at their 2009 schedules to see which weeks should be bad, average and good based on the pass defenses they faced and compared them to each other. What we were looking for is to find the best combinations of two quarterbacks to pair with each other, so the fantasy player has the most weeks with at least one of their quarterbacks with a good matchup that week so that you can get the best performance each week from the quarterback position. In comparing between quarterbacks we always took the highest score, as this is what the fantasy owner would choose. For example, if you have McNabb and Schaub and McNabb's matchup is good and Schaub's is bad, we gave that a good score because you would start McNabb that week. What we looked to avoid is for pairs of quarterbacks to both have bad matchups on the same week. We also did not pair quarterbacks with the same by weeks as most fantasy players try to avoid this fantasy no-no.

Here are the results we found:

Player Combination                      Good           Avg              Bad
McNabb and Schaub                       11                3                  3
McNabb and Romo                         10                4                   3
McNabb and Palmer                       10                2                   5
McNabb and Cutler                           8                 7                  2
McNabb and Roethlisberger           9                4                   4
McNabb and Edwards                    10                3                  4
McNabb and E. Manning                  9                5                   3
McNabb and Hasselbeck              11                4                   2
McNabb and Cassell                      10                2                   5

So for the combination of Donovan McNabb the combinations that appear least likely for success are with Carson Palmer and Matt Cassell with five bad weeks each while the best chances for the best weeks appear to be with McNabb/Schaub or a more likely drafting duo of McNabb and Hasselbeck. Now that this has been explained and hopefully you are following, here is the remainder of the results:

Player Combination                     Good          Avg                 Bad
Schaub and Romo                           9                5                     3
Schaub and Ryan                             9                3                     5
Schaub and Palmer                       10                3                     4
Schaub and Cutler                          10               4                     3
Schaub and Roethlisberger          11               4                     2
Schaub and Edwards                     11               3                     3
Schaub and Hasselbeck               11                5                     1
Schaub and Cassell                         9                6                     2

The Schaub/Hasselbeck combination appears to be one of the stronger ones we found in our research while the Schaub/Ryan pairing appears the least effective.

Player Combination                    Good             Avg                  Bad
Romo and Ryan                               8                  3                      6
Romo and Palmer                         11                  4                      2
Romo and Cutler                              9                  6                      2
Romo and Roethlisberger              8                  6                      3
Romo and Edwards                       10                  4                      3
Romo and E. Manning                     7                  5                      5
Romo and Hasselbeck                 11                   5                     1

The Romo and Ryan and Romo/Eli Manning combos appear to offer the least value to fantasy owners with a high number of potential bad weeks while a Romo/Edwards or Hasselbeck, which should be doable, offer potential for many fine outings from the quarterback position.

Player Combination                   Good              Avg                     Bad
Ryan and Palmer                            9                   4                          4
Ryan and Cutler                              8                   7                          2
Ryan and Roethlisberger              8                   7                          2
Ryan and Edwards                         9                   3                          5
Ryan and E. Manning                     8                   5                          3
Ryan and Hasselbeck                   9                    5                          3
Ryan and Cassell                           9                    6                          2

Matt Ryan generally has a tough schedule, but if you like him, Cassel and Hasselbeck offer the most good matchups with the least bad matchups. Trent Edwards does offer nine good matchups but comes with a heavy five bad matchup price.

Player Combination                    Good               Avg                      Bad
Palmer and Cutler                         11                    4                          2
Palmer and Edwards                    10                    4                          3
Palmer and E. Manning                10                    3                          4
Palmer and Hasselbeck               13                   2                           2

If you're willing to roll the dice with their health, the combination of Palmer and Hasselbeck offer the most good matchups in our study with 13 with just two bad matchups all season. In general, Palmer and Hasselbeck tend to pair with all quarterback combinations the best.

Player Combination                       Good              Avg                      Bad
Roethliberger and Edwards            11                   6                          0
Roethlisberger and E. Manning        7                   6                          4
Roethlisberger and Hasselbeck     10                  6                          1

Late in the quarterback selections Roethlisberger offers a potential gem when paired with Edwards as they have no double bad weeks all season (the only pairing in the study) while Roethlisberger and Manning offer just seven potentially good matchups.

Player Combination                         Good             Avg                        Bad
Edwards and E. Manning                  11                  4                            3
Edwards and Hasselbeck                 12                 3                            2
Edwards and Cassell                         11                 5                            1

Since we only had three combinations left we just paired them. If you draft Eli Manning don't pair him with Matt Cassell! The schedule is a headache with only six good matchup weeks. Manning is paired much better with Hasselbeck and a Hasselbeck/Cassell combination also is not a terrible option.

In summary, what we have attempted to do is to give the fantasy player a different way of drafting quarterbacks in order to get the most from their draft position, so you can have the most weeks to try and get a Drew Brees like performance while paying a Matt Hasselbeck price. It was interesting to see how well players like Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Edwards paired with most of the other quarterbacks. We would suggest that you should definitely target these guys as your strong backup with the knowledge they should have some very good weeks and put up starter like numbers. We're not sure if we have found Drew Brees, but we definitely have found ways for your fantasy team to earn the most points each week. And if all else fails, #4 is coming back to Minnesota.