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Fantasy Football: Tony Romo, Alex Smith, And Late-Round Quarterback Equity Scores

C.D.Carter explains why it’s worthwhile to explore the guys that jump off the draft board as clear late-round targets like Tony Romo and Alex Smith.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hardly a fantasy football secret that late-round quarterback options are the crowning jewels of fantasy equity, or the gap between a player’s draft position and where he finishes among his positional peers.

The reliably massive value we can find in late-round quarterbacks is why my “Living The Stream” podcast partner, JJ Zachariason, penned his seminal books, and why untold thousands of fantasy owners have eschewed top-flight signal callers in recent seasons.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that this exercise — spotting screaming quarterback values and bucket loads of fantasy equity — is not quite groundbreaking. I know that. I still think it’s worthwhile in wrapping our feeble minds around the guys that jump off the draft board as clear late-round targets.

Read more about 2014 equity scores…
Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and quarterback equity scores
Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz, and tight end equity scores
A comprehensive list of wide receiver equity scores

A casual glance at last year’s top-12 quarterbacks is really all that’s required to understand the validity of scooping up dirt-cheap quarterbacks.

Alex Smith, the 25th quarterback off drafts boards in 2013, finished 13th in total scoring, just six points behind Tony Romo, whose ADP was QB12 last season. Only three quarterbacks outscored Andy Dalton, the 14th quarterback selected in 2013 drafts.

As a refresher, I made the below median and high quarterback projections with the rotoViz similarity score app as a baseline tool. I adjust each projection by fidgeting with the app and mixing in parts of my early projections to create two scores: the median score, reflecting what I’d call a realistic or slightly suppressed point total, and the high score, which paints a rosy picture of what would happen should each player hit his fantasy ceiling.

Dalton, for example, has a median equity score of six, meaning his median projection would outperform his average draft position (ADP) by six spots among quarterbacks. Dalton’s high score in nine because his top-end prospects would make him fantasy’s seventh highest scoring signal caller this year.

Player Current ADP Median equity score High equity score
Tony Romo QB13 6 (QB7) 10 (QB3)
Philip Rivers QB14 3 (QB11) 7 (QB7)
Jay Cutler QB15 -2 (QB17) 9 (QB6)
Andy Dalton QB16 6 (QB10) 9 (QB7)
Ryan Tannehill QB17 1 (QB16) 9 (QB8)
Ben Roethlisberger QB19 7 (QB12) 12 (QB7)
Alex Smith QB21 12 (QB9) 15 (QB6)
Joe Flacco QB22 4 (QB18) 9 (QB13)
Sam Bradford QB23 9 (QB14) 14 (QB9)
Eli Manning QB24 6 (QB18) 14 (QB10)
Michael Vick QB28 9 (QB19) 19 (QB9)
Josh McCown QB30 13 (QB17) 18 (QB12)

 

  • The similarity score app (and my projections) are madly, over-the-top in love with Alex Smith. Smith’s 2013 numbers were nice — he was a staple of the streaming quarterback strategy — even though the Chiefs did nothing but grind down hefty leads during most of the first 10 weeks. Hence, Smith only dropped back 593 times in 2013, 13th most among quarterbacks. He posted a decent .45 fantasy points per drop back thanks in large part to his 431 yards on the ground. I don’t think anyone should draft Smith as their unquestioned starter, but he’s clearly shaping up to be a magnificent matchup (streaming) play for those who don’t invest in high-end signal callers.
  • I hated McCown as anything but a desperate streaming option until the Buccaneers showed during the NFL Draft that they’re committed to scoring touchdowns in 2014, unlike the Giants. Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are a pair of pass catching goliaths who, along with Vincent Jackson, should boost McCown’s floor. It’s worth noting that McCown has posted nothing but heinous numbers when he’s not being coached by Marc Trestman, but if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll pepper his big guys with red zone targets like he did last season with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
  • New Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan digs the long ball. He also digs passing, passing a lot, and feeding his top pass catcher no matter what. This is all fine and dandy news for Romo is 2014, a year after he presided over something close to a conservative offense. Sixteen quarterbacks threw more deep passes (at least 20 yards in the air) than Romo last season. Under Linehan, Romo should be a shoe-in as a top-3 quarterback in that category. “It’s fair to say there’s going to be some deep threat incorporated into every read,” Linehan said in a 2005 interview, explaining his offensive philosophy. Barring an August ADP spike, I think Romo becomes the target for fantasy owners looking for an high-floor every-week starter at an affordable price.
  • Cutler saw a marked efficiency upgrade in his first year under quarterback whisperer Trestman, but the mistakes are still there, and I don’t think that’ll suddenly change. The dye has been cast — Cutler is going to make incredibly stupid throws and get picked off. That much is reflected in his ugly median score. The upside: Cutler will only cost a (very) late round pick and has top-6 potential if things go swimmingly in Trestman’s second year in Chicago. I think Cutler’s improvement in yards per attempt — from 6.9 in 2012 to 7.5 in 2013 — also gives us some hope that the Trestman Effect might truly take hold of this maddening quarterback sooner rather than later.
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