The NFL is back and that brings the welcome return of fantasy football. Over the past two seasons we’ve begun using oddsmakers projections to shed a new light on fantasy rankings, and the results have been categorically successful.
Last season we recommended taking Drew Brees ahead of the higher ranked Aaron Rodgers, and Brees outscored the Packers young gunslinger by 180 points in a standard Yahoo public league. We also projected a bounce back season for Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who finished last year as the 12th overall ranked fantasy player.
This season we decided to break down our fantasy preview into three parts, where we will separately examine quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers/tight ends. In our first installment, we will be telling you which QB’s to target and which to avoid.
The table below shows the odds for each player to lead the league in passing at Sportsbook.com and compares that to their 2013 passing yards and 2014 Consensus Position Ranking from Yahoo! Sports.
Update: On Wednesday, August 27th, Bovada posted an incredible number of player specific props including an over/under on passing yards for nearly every single starting quarterback in the NFL. While most of the yardage totals matched up with the odds to lead the league in passing, there were a few notable discrepancies including Aaron Rodgers, Nick Foles and Carson Palmer.
Yardage O/U (8/27)
2013 Passing Yards
|Robert Griffin III||3700||+7500||6||3,203|
One player that immediately jumps off the page is Giants QB Eli Manning. The 2-time Super Bowl champion is tied for the 8th best odds to lead the league in passing yards (+2,000), has played in all 16 games in every season dating back to his rookie year, and has thrown for at least 3,800 yards in each of his past five seasons. Although he did throw a career-high 27 interceptions last season, a healthy Victor Cruz and the addition of first-round pick Odell Beckham should allow Manning to outperform his #20 ranking.
Another big name being undervalued by the fantasy community is Patriots QB Tom Brady. Although there has been much discussion of whether Brady is still an elite quarterback this off-season, it would seem that his decline is being vastly overstated. Despite playing with a hodgepodge of rookie receivers while star tight end Rob Gronkowski sat with an injury, Brady finished sixth in the league with 4,343 passing yards.
Brady currently has the fifth best odds of leading the league in passing yards (+1,000) but is ranked as just the tenth best fantasy quarterback. That means you can be one of the last teams to select a quarterback and still bring in an elite player.
Now some of the quarterbacks that would immediately appear to be overvalued are Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, however, because of their rushing ability they have additional value that is not considered by these odds. In fact, all four of those players finished last season ranked among the top five rushing QB’s in the NFL.
With that in mind, it would appear that Nick Foles is being vastly overvalued by the fantasy community. Foles has just the 11th best odds of leading the league in passing yards but is currently ranked as the 9th best fantasy QB. Considering that Foles is quite limited as a rusher, we could safely rank the following signal callers ahead of the Eagles young quarterback (In no particular order):
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III. It would be a toss-up between Eli Manning and Nick Foles, which means Foles should rank as either the 14th or 15th best fantasy quarterback.
Which quarterbacks will you be targeting? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Make your voice heard in the comment section below.