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Devil Stats

Every year we see rankings for fantasy football from half a million places across the internet, magazines and TV. “Fantasy football rankings” returns more than 10 million hits from a Google search. Every year we study them and then are surprised when they fail us. Well, I am here to show you why. I present to you “Devil Stats,” because I am DevilDog56 and these are the stats you should be looking at. Today we are going to look at quarterbacks. It is a very valuable position in fantasy football, and as another guest writer pointed out, you never want to reach for one too early.

It drives me crazy when people present their rankings and all you really get is a regurgitated list of the final rankings from last year. If you did that Google search the first result is a list from two CBS “award-winning” rankers. Nothing against them, but their Top 5 for 2012 are Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford (they differ on who is fourth between Stafford and Newton, though). As we all should know, those were the Top 5 quarterbacks from last year. How original. Take a look at these stats and see why that will not happen.

I’ve gone back from 2011 to 1990 for collecting these stats and a good feeling for how things work out.

Not one time have the Top 5 from one year repeated as the Top 5 the next year. In fact, the most that have returned to the Top 5 was three quarterbacks, and that only happened twice. So two times in the last 20-plus seasons have three quarterbacks repeated in the Top 5, never four and certainly not all five. Not only that, but he entire Top 5 from a year has never even returned to the Top 10 the following year. Four of the five have made the Top 10 the next year, but only three times in 20 years.

I have broken down the Top 10 quarterback lists since 1990 into four categories. Top 5 previous year, Top 6-10 previous year, Top 10 in a year not last year and completely new to the Top 10.

Top 5
– This group on average has 2.71 quarterbacks make it. The most was four and the least was one (back in 1091). Typically two or three quarterbacks from this group will make it into the Top 10 again the following year.

Top 6-10 or Bottom 5
– This group averages 1.95 quarterbacks returning. The most to make it was five and the least was one. Generally expect 1-3 quarterbacks from here to make it.

Top 10 in the Past
– This group averages 2.33 returning quarterbacks. The most was five and the least was one. Anywhere from 1-3 quarterbacks are typical for this group.

New to the top 10
– This group averages three quarterbacks making the jump to the elite status. This group has had as many as six (1999 and 2000) and as few as one. Between 2-4 is the most likely amount to come from this group.

Ok, so what does all of this mean, and why should you care? Let’s take a look at each category. Remember, don’t just look at how great a quarterback is, try to find a reason they won’t make it back:

The Top 5 fantasy quarterbacks from 2011 were Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Newton and Stafford. According to “Devil Stats,” only two or three of these guys should make it, with a slight chance at four. Now I know that the last time four made it was in 2004, which is the longest drought, so I say there is a decent chance four make it this year.

Aaron Rodgers:

He seems to be on another planet right now and is young and healthy with all of his weapons returning. He does not seem to be bothered by the weather, or having a lackluster running game. This guy is very healthy as well, so injuries are not a high alert. I honestly can’t see why he would not make it back.

Tom Brady:

With his tight ends coming back, Wes Welker signing the franchise tender and adding a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd, Brady looks poised for another great year. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels calling the plays will be great as well. He was injured in 2008 and missed in 2004. In the 2004 season, he had the least amount of attempts in his career other than his first year as a starter in 2001. I doubt we see that this year. If he stays injury free he should easily make it back.

Matthew Stafford:

He has the best wide receiver in football and a decent group of other receivers to throw the ball to. Like Brady and Rodgers he has a poor running game, so the Detroit Lions will need to use his arm if they want to win. His limiting factor is his health. Everyone knows of his injuries, but if he stays healthy he should return to the Top 10.

Drew Brees:

There has been so much turmoil surrounding this team there is no way to tell how any of it will affect them, or in this case, Brees. Bounty Gate, Sean Payton suspended and Drew Brees’ contract issues just to name the big ones will all take their toll. Combine that with the fact that Robert Meachem has left the bayou for sunny San Diego, and you have to question whether Brees can make it back again. Also, he is now 33 and the Saints have a decent stable of running backs that they could rely on. One last note – Brees is on an eight-year streak of making the Top 10 fantasy quarterbacks. Only two people have gone further than that over the last 20 years (Peyton Manning 13, Brett Favre 10). There is at least a chance that Brees does not make it back. Shocking, I know.

Cam Newton:

This is another one that is tough to call. He will have to rely on 33-year-old Steve Smith to do the brunt of his receiving work because there is not much else on this squad. He ran for 14 touchdowns and threw for 4,051 yards last year, and I can’t imagine that happening again. Those rushing numbers will come down with DeAngelo Williams re-signed, Jonathan Stewart looking for more work and super vulture Mike Tolbert joining the crew. Now that defenses have a full year of pro tape on him and plenty of time to prepare, I think he will have a tough time coming close to last year. I expect him to come back to earth this season. Although he should still have a solid year, I see him as the weak link in this group to return to the Top 5.

My Prediction:

Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Stafford make the Top 10 again (with Brady and Rodgers in the Top 5). Brees can make it four, which I think will happen this year, but only if losing Meachem and Payton does not affect him too much.

2012 Top 10 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks

1) Tom Brady

2) Aaron Rodgers

3) ???

4) ???

5) ???

6) Matthew Stafford

7) ???

8) ???

9) Drew Brees

10) ???

Join me next time when I fill in those question marks and discuss the remaining groups.

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