Underdrafted MFL10 QBs: Free Money

Carson Palmer

This offseason, MFL10s are a growing fascination among the fantasy football community. If you aren’t familiar with these bestball leagues, check out a beginner’s guide to MFL10s by Ryan Kania. In short, you draft a team and forget it. The site automatically starts your best players every week. You put in a $10 entry fee, and the first-place finisher wins $100 at the end of the season. If you are interested, sign up for an MFL10 here.

Following the trend across the fantasy football landscape, quarterbacks are drafted very late in MFL10s. But even going late, certain MFL10 QBs are looking like league-winners at this point in the offseason. Over the last week, there is an incredibly strong correlation between quarterback average draft position (ADP) and their 2014 points per game. In nerd terms, the R-squared value is 0.769.

That close relationship makes sense: we have very little information this early in the offseason, so our best data for 2015 predictions is 2014’s history. Savvy drafters, however, will look for two inefficiencies: first, any place that 2014’s stats don’t fit 2015 expectations, and second, any place that 2015 ADP isn’t tracking closely enough with 2014’s stats without a good reason. In this article, we’ll study the latter — we’ll see three quarterbacks who are being drafted in a way that doesn’t fit their 2014 performances, and we’ll ask why.

Underdrated MFL10 QBs

Let’s take a look at three quarterbacks who are going far later than their 2014 numbers suggest they should.

Underdrafted MFL10 QBs

That graph shows the strong relationship between 2014 points per game and 2015 ADP. Three quarterbacks, however, stand out late in drafts as undervalued compared to last year’s performances.

Jay Cutler is being drafted 15-17 spots later than other quarterbacks with similar 2014 points per game. Much of that devaluation likely results from the loss of Brandon Marshall, who is now a New York Jet. Thanks to the RotoViz Game Splits App, we can see that Cutler was dramatically worse last season in the two games Marshall didn’t play. Dramatically worse to the tune of cutting his fantasy points per game in half.

Cutler Without Marshall

The Bears spent a first-round draft pick on young wide receiver Kevin White, but drafters are right to discount Jay Cutler. No matter how physically gifted White may be, he is unlikely to step into the Chicago offense and immediately produce at the level of Brandon Marshall, a longtime Jay Cutler favorite. The loss of coach Marc Trestman will certainly hurt as well, because he brought Cutler to accuracy and touchdown levels he hadn’t seen ever before in his career. The combined losses of Marshall and Trestman are significant reasons to explain why we should discount Cutler off his 2014 numbers.

Similarly, Nick Foles is appropriately discounted from his 2014 scoring, given that he now plays for a weak St. Louis offense. Last year the Rams called pass plays on 58.7% of their snaps, but they still couldn’t manage to finish better than 21st in the league in pass attempts, yards, touchdowns, or net yards-per-attempt, per Pro Football Reference. Foles regressed significantly last year, and there is reason to believe he’ll perform even worse outside Chip Kelly’s offense and without the benefit of Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews at wide receiver. I, too, wouldn’t draft Foles much higher than where he is currently going: QB27, with an overall ADP of 181.6.

There is also a non-zero chance that Foles loses the starting role to Austin Davis or Case Keenum at some point in 2015. For all those reasons, Foles is not the value the chart suggests. I’d stay away.

Carson Palmer, however, presents the best value of the three. In six games last year, Palmer averaged 19.9 points per game, exactly the same as Cam Newton, who is currently drafted as QB6. Palmer is currently drafted as QB22. All of Palmer’s offensive weapons are coming back this year, and the latest reports have his knee getting an “official all-clear” before training camp starts.

Perhaps Palmer deserves some discount after two ACL tears and serious nerve issues in his shoulder last year, but there is no reason he should be falling behind 21 other quarterbacks. With a current ADP of 161, Palmer presents an outstanding value. He’ll be my number one target when the 13th round of my MFL10s rolls around.

Draft Palmer Earlier, but Discounting Cutler and Foles is Reasonable

In short, early ADP data suggests a great opportunity to draft Carson Palmer as late as the 13th or 14th rounds. At that price, he presents a fantastic value, as long as he stays healthy this season, and all signs point to him being healthy at this point. Jay Cutler and Nick Foles, however, are appropriately discounted given the changes in their supporting casts.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at four quarterbacks who are being overdrafted compared to their 2014 stats.

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