Quarterback Safety Rankings for 2-QB Fantasy Football Leagues

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Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another week of 2-QB draft season, where a lot of you 2-QBers are putting the finishing touches on your upcoming 2-QB fantasy football draft preparation. Between now and next Wednesday, the night before the 2013 NFL season kicks off, (for real!) you will be doing your best to put together an unbeatable 2-QB fantasy football team.

To get you ready for your 2-QB draft this off-season, there has been a lot of content produced on XN Sports dedicated to the niche world of 2-QB fantasy football, and hopefully it’s helped you in some capacity. The tiered QB rankings for 2-QB leagues are freshly updated, and the 2-QB ADP is as updated as we can get it.

Those are just a couple of resources that will get you ready to draft this week. One thing I’ve avoided doing is coming out with a ‘Top 200′ overall rankings for 2-QB leagues, because you can’t make just one. You would have to compile at least four separate sets of rankings dedicated to 2-QB leagues for different scoring settings and league sizes. Not to mention, that we all have different values when it comes to certain players, that focusing on 2-QB draft strategy and preparation felt to be the better course of action to take this off-season.

Having said that, if you are looking for an overall rankings cheat sheet dedicated to 2-QB fantasy football leagues, you could do worse than printing off this ‘Top 200′ 2-QB rankings list from my friends @BergerTwoQBs and @LakeTwoQBs over at TwoQBs.com. Just keep in mind that the rankings are geared for people that play in 10-team 2-QB leagues.

If you’ve been reading the 2-QB articles posted on XN Sports, you’ll notice a lot of references to the website rotoViz.com. If you don’t have a rotoViz subscription yet, stop reading, and go buy one. Now that you’re back, and a member of the rotoViz fraternity, I thought it would be interesting to see how the top 32 quarterbacks from the August 2-QB ADP fare when put through the rotoViz QB Custom Similarity Scores app.

A brief primer on the app: it takes a quarterback’s stat line from last year, puts it through their machine, and spits out projections for next season, as well as historical comparable seasons of quarterbacks, based on the quarterback’s 2012 stats. The great thing about the app is that you can pick and choose which games you want included/excluded, to create customized projections.

When it comes to the Season N+1 projections, three sets of projected fantasy points per game (PPG) numbers are spit out: low, median, and high. Low is the player’s floor (worst case scenario), median (average), and high is the player’s ceiling (best possible case). There are projected PPGs for four points/passing touchdown leagues and six points/passing touchdown leagues.

What I wanted to do with the app was to create a ‘safety’ quarterback ranking cheat sheet for 2-QB fantasy football leagues, that would rank the quarterbacks in terms of how safe of a fantasy option they would be. To do that, I ran the top 32 2-QB ADP quarterbacks, minus Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel, because they’re rookies and have no 2012 stats the machine could eat. I also switched Matt Flynn with Terrelle Pryor, because it seems Pryor is now in the lead to be the starting quarterback in Oakland. Although, keep in mind that Pryor’s projection is based only on his Week 17 performance from last season.

Before we go, I want to note that I was beat to the punch by rotoViz and Pro Football Focus Fantasy’s Shawn Siegele, as he already used the app to provide a comprehensive quarterback safety rankings list. The great thing about Shawn’s list is that it’s 31 quarterbacks deep, which is a great tool for 2-QB leagues. Read his safety rankings, and follow him on twitter @FF_Contrarian.

One thing to be aware of with the app, is that each of the quarterbacks have had games they were injured/pulled from removed from the app, such as Robert Griffin III in Weeks 5 and 10, and Joe Flacco in Week 17. Also, only regular season games were used to create the projections.

One other thing to keep in mind with the app is that the projections aren’t based on anything else other than numbers. The app doesn’t know that Jake Locker might be utilizing the read option this year, making him a more dangerous passer, and it doesn’t factor in injury history of certain players, like Ben Roethlisberger, nor does it know that Sam Bradford has the potential to throw 50 touchdowns this year. That part is all stripped out of the app, and we’re presented with nothing more than cold hard numbers.

Below you’ll see two sets of rankings of which quarterbacks the app deems to be the ‘safest’ fantasy quarterbacks in 2013, one for standard scoring leagues, and the other for six points/passing touchdown leagues. The PPG projections are based on the rotoViz low or ‘Floor’ PPG projections, meaning the worst possible PPG projections for each quarterbacks are presented below:

rotoViz Safety 2-QB Rankings

rotoViz Safety 2-QB Rankings

The usual suspects make up the top of the list, as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady make appearances in the top-four of both standard scoring and 6 points/passing touchdown leagues. You can feel safe drafting those four quarterbacks as you already are in 2-QB fantasy football drafts.

The most interesting name at the top of the list is Ben Roethlisberger, who comes in at number three, in both sets of safety rankings. Say what you will about Roethlisberger; that he doesn’t have a good passing offensive line to block for him, that’s he’s injury prone, or that he has nobody to throw to, although I’m sure Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton may disagree with you on that last point, but Roethlisberger is effective when he plays.

Yes, the ‘when he plays part’ is the biggest knock on Roethlisberger, and he did miss games last year, but when he plays, he can put up top fantasy football numbers. Last year, on a points per game basis, he was QB12 in standard scoring leagues and QB8 in 6 points/passing TD leagues, on a PPG basis.

Roethlisberger’s 2-QB ADP is QB14, putting him in the QB2 discussion, making him an underrated quarterback in 2-QB leagues, according to the rotoViz safety rankings, and something that I touched upon back in the early part of the off-season for XN Sports. The reason why Roethlisberger is drafted so low in 2-QB fantasy football leagues is because of the concerns people have with him and the Steelers. As you can see from the safety rankings, there are no safer fantasy quarterbacks this season above Roethlisberger, other than Rodgers and Peyton Manning. However, the difference between those two is that their “safety” will cost you a first or second round pick in your 2-QB draft, whereas Roethlisberger can be had much later.

One thing any astute fantasy footballer looks for is value, and if you could potentially get a Top-3 or Top-10 fantasy quarterback, but only have to pay a QB2 price for it, there’s not much to say to that other than arbitrage (patent pending rotoViz)!

Other names to highlight in the ‘safety’ rankings include RG3, Schaub, Flacco, Brees, Palmer, Vick, Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick and Stafford.

For all the ink that’s been spilled about RG3 losing value, because he won’t be rushing as much as he was last year, the app still has him as one of the top six safety fantasy quarterbacks. If you are worried about him rushing less, I played around with the app, and took out the games where he had double digit rushing attempts, and also excluded his Week 17 performance, where he was used in a limited capacity. His floor projections came out to 13 PPG in standard scoring leagues, and 14.6 PPG in 6 points/passing touchdown leagues. Those are worrisome numbers, and play into the ‘avoid RG3 in 2013′ story lines. With RG3, it’ a risk/reward situation.

The same thing can be said with Michael Vick. Ever since being named the starting quarterback in Philadelphia, Vick has been shooting up the fantasy draft boards, and he could be the first of the QB2 tiered quarterbacks drafted in most 2-QB fantasy football drafts. If you’re looking for safety, Vick isn’t your guy though, and he falls into the middle of the QB2 tier, in regards to these safety rankings. Vick did score well in the high or ‘Ceiling’ rotoViz PPG projections, which you can view in full at the end of the article.

Flacco is an interesting name on the rankings, and one to keep circled on your draft list, if you’re looking to steal a QB1 in your draft. The numbers the app shot out are promising enough, but if you want to focus only on the regular season games, minus Week 17, where Jim Caldwell was the offensive coordinator in Baltimore, Flacco’s projected ‘floor’ PPGs rises to 14.9 in standard scoring leagues, and 17.9 in 6 points/passing touchdown leagues. Those are Top-5 PPG projections. Of course those numbers are based only on two games.

Matt Schaub and Carson Palmer are also two names higher on the safety rankings list than their 2-QB ADP, and have the potential to be sneaky low-end QB1/high-end QB2 options this year. All signs point to Houston being more pass oriented this year, with the addition of rookie wideout DeAndre Hopkins, but Palmer’s offensive line woes are real, just like Roethlisberger’s. But we’ve seen Palmer in worse situations before, just last year in Oakland, for example, and he wound up with a fantasy relevant season.

The names to be scared off by in the safety rankings, in addition to Vick, are Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Matthew Stafford. Wilson and Kaepernick can have their projections altered by which games you choose, and if you take out games early in the season for Wilson, his projections make him a bit safer, especially in leagues where passing touchdowns are only worth 4 points. Kaepernick didn’t really come on until late in the season either, and we’re not entirely sure if the Kaepernick we saw torch the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs will be the one we see in 2013. If that is the true Kaepernick, there might not be a way to contain him in the safety rankings.

Luck, Stafford, and Brees are the true pocket passers to worry about. Luck wasn’t the most efficient quarterback last year, and the potential is there for him to be in a more conservative passing system this year. Stafford’s fantasy value comes through in his volume throwing, and there are no indications that will change, but you never know. Reggie Bush is the new Lions’ running back, but that’s one more option Stafford has to check down to, when Megatron is being triple teamed.

Brees is an interesting case, because with Sean Payton back in town, Brees could be more dangerous than ever before. However, there have been rumblings that the Saints want to try running the ball more than passing, which would lower Brees’ attempts. That’s something to be scared of, and if you’re thinking between Rodgers or Brees as the first overall fantasy quarterback, the safety rankings clearly tell you to draft Rodgers.

If you’re wondering what the other end of the spectrum looks like, I also created ‘Shoot for the Moon’ rankings, based on the high (ceiling) PPG projections from the app. You can see those below as well:

rotoViz 'Shoot for the Moon' 2-QB Rankings

rotoViz ‘Shoot for the Moon’ 2-QB Rankings

Take the safety rankings, and use them to help you decide between two certain quarterbacks, or to confirm your opinion about a specific quarterback, and whether to avoid him at his draft day cost, or reach for him to ensure he is on your team. You should also make sure to play around with the app yourself, and create your own projected rankings.

*Stats used in this article courtesy of TheFakeFootball.com and rotoViz.com

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and believes that 2-QB fantasy football leagues will be the future of fantasy football. You can read about his 2-QB fantasy football opinions and analysis at XNSports.com.
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