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2-QB Fantasy Football: ‘And Introducing Brian Hoyer’

Salvatore Stefanile considers the value Brian Hoyer could have in 2-QB fantasy football leagues in 2014.

Brian Hoyer
Brian Hoyer

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

When Rob Lowe joined the cast of Parks and Recreation, the opening credits rolled him out as ‘And Introducing Rob Lowe.’ Kind of weird, right? By the time Lowe made his Parks and Rec debut he was a pretty well known commodity, but show EP Mike Schur was unsure of how to properly credit a star of Lowe’s magnitude. The ‘And Introducing’ moniker was a joke, but one that fit in quite well with the humor of the show.

I feel like that’s where we’re at with Brian Hoyer. We know who he is, but it might be time to ‘re-introduce’ him. He’s kind of a forgotten man and once the 2014 NFL Draft comes and goes, and the Browns most likely select a rookie signal caller, perhaps even Hoyer’s replacement, we might completely forget about him. Until Mike Lombardi convinces Bill Belichick to trade a third-round pick for him, completing the Brian Hoyer NFL Circle of Life.

It’s been a while since I’ve put virtual pen to virtual paper here on the virtual pages of the 2-QB fantasy football section of XN Sports, but if you remember from last season, it never hurts to get to know the ‘No-Name’ quarterbacks, like Case Keenum, Matt McGloin, and Scott Tolzien for example. Even fellow XN fantasy scribe C.D. Carter made note of that in his Shaun Hill article. You can’t always fill up the cart with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Sometimes just the “orange and yellow stuff” will do.

On occasions it works out and we learn more about a newly named starting quarterback (McGloin, Keenum) and in other instances we spend time getting to know a quarterback destined to ride the bench (Austin Davis, Alex Tanney). But, like we tend to preach in the fantasy community, we need to focus on the process rather than the results.

Right now, Hoyer is part of the “process” and the “results” are currently unknown. What we do know is that Hoyer and Tanney are currently the only signal callers on the Browns’ depth chart, with only Hoyer having any NFL regular season starting experience.

Two of Hoyer’s starts came last year, and before his 2013 season was wiped away due to an ACL tear suffered Week 5 versus the Buffalo Bills, Hoyer made an impression on the fantasy community.

After coming in for an injured Brandon Weeden, Hoyer completed a combined 59.78 percent of his passes for 590 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in two full starts. In each of his two starts he finished as a Top-12 fantasy quarterback in standard scoring leagues.

All of sudden, 2-QB (and 1-QB) owners who picked up Hoyer from the waiver wires found themselves with a potential fantasy QB1. That’s hitting the jackpot in 2-QB leagues. Optimism was high because Hoyer was putting up fantasy points in an offense that featured Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, and had no real running threat.

In his two full starts he averaged 46 pass attempts/game (keep this number in mind for later). Also, noteworthy: his YPA went up from 5.9 his first start to 7.1 his second. Although, XN Sports’ own Rich Hribar delves more into ‘Aimed Adjusted Y/PA’ and doesn’t paint the prettiest of pictures for Hoyer, in terms of efficiency. So, keep that in mind, too. It can’t always be good news.

The Brian Hoyer express was picking up steam heading into his third start, but, unfortunately, tragedy struck, in the aforementioned torn ACL. Hoyer was looking competent in his turn as the starting quarterback for the Browns and fantasy football owners were willing to ride it out the rest of season. Sadly that didn’t come to be.

Remembering about Hoyer’s magical two-game run will either bring tears of joy or sadness to his owners, usually both, and if you’re already teary-eyed you might want to get a tissue handy, as the sadness factory isn’t shutting down just quite yet.

With Hoyer out of the picture, Weeden returned to his quarterbacking throne, but eventually was replaced by Jason Campbell. However, the three did combine for seven Top-12 weekly fantasy quarterback finishes. For 12-team 2-QB leagues, they combined for nine Top-24 finishes.

When you add up their combined standard fantasy points, leaving out the Nick Foles/Mike Vick duo and the Jay Cutler/Josh McCown tandem, a quarterback trio emerges that scored 245.14 standard fantasy points. That would have placed them right behind Matt Ryan, as QB16 on the season. Or a mid-to-high-end QB2.

Adding Hoyer’s fantasy points (40.2) to the fantasy points Weeden and Campbell combined for after Hoyer’s injury (185.36) equals 225.56, which would have put Hoyer at QB17 on the year. Even if Hoyer didn’t keep up his torrid pace and was just as good as the Weeden/Campbell combo, he could have been an every week QB2, at worst.

I know fantasy points extrapolation is frowned upon, but let’s play the game for just a moment. Hoyer’s small sample size of two full starts saw him score 19.05 standard fantasy points/game. Over a 16-game season that would equate to 304.8 fantasy points. Only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning scored more total fantasy points. That’s not to say Hoyer would have scored those points though.

Now, 2014 is a different scenario than 2013 for Hoyer. Lombardi is gone, his offensive coordinator Norv Turner is in Minnesota, and the team might draft a rookie quarterback. We have no idea who the Browns might draft, if they do draft a quarterback at all, but we do know that Kyle Shanahan will be their new offensive coordinator.

Here’s what we know about Shanahan coordinated offenses: they like to pass. Minus RG3‘s rookie year, but that was the team adapting to it’s player, rather than the player being square-pegged into an offense.

From 2008 to 2013, Shanahan’s offenses were top-ten in pass attempts every year, excluding the RG3 rookie season. If you ignore that season for a moment, Shanahan’s passing offenses come in at an average of 5.8.

Volume can play a big part in producing fantasy points and we saw that was quite evident in Hoyer last year and it could be the norm again in Cleveland.

The Browns quarterback trio of Hoyer, Weeden, and Campbell combined for 680 attempts last season, which would have led the league. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of a run game and the Browns might have addressed that by bringing in Ben Tate. So we can’t pencil in 680 pass attempts again.

Hoyer is an intriguing candidate in 2-QB leagues because of the offense he’s attached to and the potential for it to yet again be high-throwing, under the leadership of Shanahan.

He’s flying under the radar right now because he’s coming off an ACL injury, he has a small body of work, and he might not even be starting Week 1 because the Browns are quite possibly headed down the road of drafting a quarterback early.

Those are all factors playing against Hoyer. But that’s never stopped me before from spending an ungodly amount of time writing about a potentially lost fantasy football cause. *Cough, cough, Drew Stanton*

Prepared 2-QB fantasy football owners are always going to make sure they stay up-to-date on all NFL quarterback depth charts, doing their best to not miss a potential “diamond in the rough,” even if that diamond comes covered in dirt.

If the Browns do draft a quarterback it’s no guarantee he’ll start right away, giving Hoyer a chance to bridge the gap for one year. Even if a rookie quarterback does get the nod, it’s far from a guarantee he’ll start every game. Injuries happen. Sub-par quarterbacking happens. Look how Hoyer got his shot last season.

In 2-QB leagues, where the quarterback position is usually pretty costly, guys like Hoyer can make a big difference between staying ahead of your 2-QB league mates or falling behind the pack. Let them worry about whether they should draft Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees first. You stay focused on the scrap heap for spare parts that can have a significant impact on your 2-QB fantasy football team.

*Stats used in this article from Pro-Football-Reference.com, PFF, and FantasyData.com

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