The Perfect QB Storm

The Perfect Storm was a 2000 film which was based on 1991 true events in the north Atlantic. One source describes that a nor’easter absorbed Hurricane Grace which evolved into a small unnamed hurricane late in its cycle. Damage from the storm totaled over $200 million and was blamed for 13 deaths.

The term became a part of our vocabulary for a collision of bad circumstances. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a critical or disastrous situation created by powerful concurrence of factors.”

If this is too serious, a more light-hearted version of the perfect storm occurred in season 2 of The Office. In the episode “The Fight” three separate sets of paperwork are due on the same day – a day when the boss, Michael Scott decides to procrastinate more than usual.

From a fantasy perspective, we could be on the cusp of the perfect storm at the QB position. One group of quarterbacks is getting seriously older. Another set look promising but have a small sample size and/or have trouble staying healthy. Then there are “the scrambling” QB who seem to have one good season followed by a mediocre one. The last set of QB are unproven rookies.

Imagine if all these QB groups imploded simultaneously in the same season? This season! The perfect storm if you will.

Tom Brady – He’ll be 41 years old when the season kicks off. The running joke is that he’s been on the Patriots’ injury report just about every week for a wide range of ailments (shoulder, hand, thigh, Achilles, etc.) and yet still plays. And let’s not forget that Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen added some fuel to his ambiguous injury history when she mentioned that he’s had concussions – plural.

Aaron Rodgers – He followed up a broken collarbone in 2013 by breaking the other collarbone in 2017. In 2016 (his last full season) he was sacked 35 times and got hit 76 more times. Keep in mind this doesn’t include the possible tackles from his 67 rushing attempts. That’s a lot of hits for QB known for his “quick release.”

Russell Wilson – No QB has been sacked more than Wilson has the last 5 seasons – 215 times. This doesn’t include the league-leading 300+ times he’s been hit or knocked down the last 3 seasons. He scrambles for his life because his offensive line is not doing him any favors. He’s only surpassed 30+ passing TD in 2 of his 6 seasons.

Cam Newton – His passing yards have dropped each of the last 3 seasons. Always a threat to run, he’s been Superman one season, then Clark Kent the next. If the benchmark for fantasy QB is a 30-TD season, he’s only done that twice in his 7 seasons.

Drew Brees – He’s 39 years old with 17 seasons under his belt. Last season he attempted and completed the least amount of passes since 2009 (9 years ago). He threw for the fewest passing yards since 2005 (13 years ago). And threw for the fewest passing TD since 2003 (15 years). Fluke or future?

Andrew Luck – The irony is his name is Luck and his team’s logo is a horseshoe, yet the last 3 seasons, his luck has been more like the Albert King 1967 blues song Born Under a Bad Sign (redone by Cream in 1968) “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” Even if fully healthy, missing the entire 2017 campaign has to sow seeds of doubt regarding his football readiness.

Kirk Cousins – A few colleagues have him on their “bust” list for 2018. I personally don’t see it that way but he is on his third offensive coordinator in as many years, and his latest coordinator John DeFilippo has only 1 year of experience calling plays (with Cleveland in 2015).

Matthew Stafford – I like him. He hasn’t missed a game since 2010. His 2017 passing YPG has been its highest in the last 5 seasons. Have things been going too smoothly for him?

Ben Roethlisberger – Hasn’t played a full season since 2014. Granted, he’s only missed 7 games over those 3 seasons, but for a big guy (6 ft 5, 240 lbs), as the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. At age 36, he falls hard.

Philip Rivers – Another 36-year-old who is closer to 37 actually. I like Rivers too. Very underrated. He hasn’t missed a game since 2005. 2017 was one of his better seasons statistically. Like Stafford, is he due for an unexpected let-down?

Matt Ryan – He’s either up or down. Ten seasons and he’s been a top-10 QB in half of them. Has been a 11-20 ranked QB the other half. 2017 was a down year for him. Which QB will show up for 2018?

Carson Wentz, Jared Goff & Marcus Mariota – High draft picks that have had their share of injuries in their short career. That’s generally a red flag. Unfortunately injuries can derail high expectations.

Deshaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo & Patrick Mahomes – All 3 were thrust on the fantasy radar in 2017. All 3 collectively started just 12 games last season – not even a full season. Sure, they did well in those starts, but fantasy owners have been burned by a spectacular yet small sample size in the past. Just look at Dak Prescott last season as the most recent proof. Brock Osweiler of 2016. And Nick Foles of 2014.

Perhaps this seems all negative and pessimistic with a little bit of conjecture thrown in. But there’s more.

Back in February I looked at the revolving door of the offensive coordinator changes for 2018. This season there is an unprecedented 18 new offensive coordinators! That’s more than half the league that is bringing new schemes for their teams to execute! In addition, it can’t be that reassuring that 11 of these coordinators have 4 years or less of NFL experience.

We’re not done yet. If you take a snapshot of passing yardage in the NFL from just the top passers, it has steadily trended down each of the last 5 seasons. Of any QB who has had over 4,000 passing yards going back to 2013, note the average of the top passers:

  • 2013 – 4605 (9 QB)
  • 2014 – 4506 (11 QB)
  • 2015 – 4438 (12 QB)
  • 2016 – 4426 (13 QB)
  • 2017 – 4294 (8 QB)​

Perhaps the odds that these top 17 QB all have a down year simultaneously are slim. However, they are either old, declining, injury-prone, unlucky, inexperienced, and/or inconsistent. Add in the learning curve and possible conservative tendencies of the 18 new offensive coordinators. Then consider the disappointing decline of even the top QB passing statistics over the last 5 years.

It seems like too many of these circumstances are colliding at the same exact time in history – the potential perfect storm.

If you’re expecting an amusing synopsis, I have none. However, in preparation for this perfect storm forecast, you may want to get to higher ground. In other words, draft other skill players early and wait on drafting a QB. That’s good advice for whatever fantasy storm may be on the horizon.

 

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Joe Mica

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Joe has been passionate about fantasy football since 2001. He has experience as an owner as well as a commissioner in H2H, auction, redraft and IDP leagues. He has written fantasy football columns since 2010. Submit any fantasy football questions you may have to me on twitter @JoeFMica

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