Value Town: QBs

Updated: March 15th 2016

Most people like a deal. Receiving good value for that new phone, TV, car, or any other item allows us to put our hard earned resources into other things we value.  Obtaining good values on players in Reality Sports Online (RSO) leagues is a must when putting together a winning team.  The “Value Town” series examines the good and bad buys from the 2015 season in RSO leagues plus the overall state of positional groups in an attempt to get owners ready for the upcoming 2016 season.

Quarterback Values

Our first question, when determining player values, concerns what exactly we value when we bid on a player. The most common approach, value over replacement player (VORP)*, examines player values by looking at the marginal points a player scores over a commonly available player at the same position deemed the baseline player.   This system takes into account a number of league settings such as scoring rules, number of teams, and positional starting requirements when determining player values.

I derive player values using a modified VORP methodology taking into account a number of additional items including number of games played, rosters, salary cap, and minimum salaries.  My standard RSO league for computing each player’s value consists of 12 teams, 1QB/2RBs/3WRs/1TE/1 Flex (RB/WR/TE) starting requirements, and PPR scoring.  Keep in mind that player values will vary between leagues based on league settings.  Leagues with a superflex position where two QBs may start have different player values than a start 1QB league and leagues using PPR scoring will have different player values than non-PPR leagues as examples.  Average salaries were derived from all 2015 RSO startup auctions.

Paying homage to one of the classic westerns of all time, I look at individual player values below.

* VORP is heavily related to the Value Based Drafting (VBD) methodology. An introduction to the topic can be found here.

The Good

Blake Bortles  –  Average Salary: $1.8M, Approximate Value: $11M

The best QB value in 2015 enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign where he finished the season among the NFL passing TD leaders with 35. He also bested his freshman season in almost every major statistical category.  Bortles is not among the better QBs in the league yet, as demonstrated by his 23rd ranked passer rating, but there is optimism for the future with his improved play in 2015.

Tyrod Taylor –  Average Salary: $1.2M, Approximate Value: $7M

Taylor emerged from a three way competition during the preseason for the starting QB job in Buffalo after spending his first few seasons in Baltimore. The first time starter did not disappoint ending the season as the 9th highest rated QB in 2015.  Taylor displayed his dual threat skills throughout the season adding an impressive 568 rushing yards to his resume.

Other Good Values: Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, and Andy Dalton

The Bad

Aaron Rodgers –  Average Salary: $22.4M, Approximate Value: $5M

Only in the world of Aaron Rodgers can we consider a QB7 finish to be a bad year. 2015 was the first healthy year since Rodgers was given the starting job in which he was not either the QB1 or QB2.  The lack of separation created by his outside receivers, combined with issues in the running game, diminished the Green Bay offense all year.  Look for a rebound in 2016 with the return of Jordy Nelson and a focused Eddie Lacy in his contract year.

Matt Ryan –  Average Salary: $7.3M, Approximate Value: Below replacement level

Matt Ryan had a very normal Ryan season in Atlanta under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan except for touchdowns. Ryan threw for his lowest TD total since his rookie season.  Expect Atlanta to add new receiving options at the WR and TE position in the offseason through free agency or the draft. This should help a lackluster set of offensive weapons outside of Julio Jones.  Ryan should challenge for low end QB1 status with some positive TD regression next season.

Other Bad Values: Andrew Luck, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater

The Ugly

Peyton Manning –  Average Salary: $12.1M, Approximate Value: Not worth a roster spot

Manning went out on top with a Super Bowl victory in the final season of a magnificent career which will inevitably lead to a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the road to that victory this season was not a beautiful thing to behold.  Combining deteriorating physical skills and poor play with injuries, Manning posted the worst passer rating and lowest TD total of his career.  His 9.2 fantasy PPG were among the worst of any starter this season.   Manning made the correct choice with retirement.  We do not know what the future holds for Manning but we wish him the best and know he will succeed on whatever path he chooses next.

State of the Quarterback Position

The quarterback position changed in many ways for the 2015 fantasy season. Four out of the five top scorers from 2014 were not a part of the top five in 2015 due to injuries and diminished performance.  We witnessed the end of the Peyton Manning era riding off in the glory of a Super Bowl victory while struggling throughout his final season and becoming a non-entity for fantasy players.  Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tony Romo each dropped out of QB1 status, succumbing to the effects of injury.  Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, and Kirk Cousins rose from the ranks of fantasy obscurity to become quality starting options throughout the year.  Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota enjoyed nice rookie seasons showing the promise of last year’s top two draft picks.

The one area in which the quarterback position remained relatively unchanged is that it continues to be a very replaceable position in fantasy football. One tool we can use to evaluate the importance of a position is Value Market Share (VMS).  VMS is defined as the ratio of the sum of Points Above Replacement (PAR) for all players in a position group relative to the sum of PAR for all players in the league.  QBs enjoyed a VMS of about 8% in 2015, remaining relatively unchanged from 2014.  This is the lowest number of any offensive position group and also the lowest on a per player basis.  Another way to evaluate the value of a position is looking at the spread in points per game.  The difference between the QB2 and the QB16 was only about 4 PPG in 2015. There continues to be a large supply of suitable replacement options at QB capable of providing acceptable point levels at cheap prices.

What can we expect in 2016 from the QB position for RSO leagues? The QB position continues to be very deep and that probably will not change with the current emphasis on the passing game in the NFL.  There should be an abundance of cheaper options available for those owners preferring to choose between multiple lower end QBs on a week to week basis which should continue as a popular strategy.  The QB market might overcorrect somewhat given the poor performance and injuries of the more expensive options from 2015, setting up potential value for savvy owners.

Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller