It’s Not Rocket Science: Stash Josh Dobbs in Your Superflex Dynasty Leagues

Steelers Joshua Dobbs

August. An ominous specter looms above NFL Training Camps,  carefully surveying the practice fields as the athletes below don pads and begin their first contact practices of the offseason. With no regard for experience, position or draft pedigree, it selects it victims at random, striking without mercy. In its wake lies a mountain of torn ACLs, labrums and rotator cuffs.

Just like clockwork.

The NFL sees an enormous amount of injuries to its players (who are probably best described as true, modern-day gladiators) year-in and year-out. While the long-term implications of this are troubling from a real-life perspective, these injuries are a key driver of the narrative of fantasy football: equal parts tragic and fortuitous. One player steps out of the spotlight, another steps in.

Deeper benches and longer windows of ownership make for an increase in trade marketplace opportunities after injuries occur in dynasty leagues. So how do you take advantage of that before injuries happen? Focus on stashing the positions that stand to gain the most value in a short period of time due to an injury . The positions where volume is predictable, and the depth chart easily analyzed: Quarterback and Running Back.

Tom Brady and Andrew Luck

(Nancy Lane)

Since we’re talking Superflex and 2QB formats, let’s talk quarterbacks. It’s a weird time for the QB position in the NFL. As the league increasingly skews pass-heavy, the franchise Quarterback accordingly becomes more and more critical to the success of NFL teams – the keystone.

Meanwhile, a not insignificant number of highly productive franchise quarterbacks inch closer to retirement. This incredibly talented hall-of-fame caliber grouping includes Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger; all of whom will require successors waiting in the wings to step up and steer the ship once they sail off into the sunset. The Dak Prescott to their Tony Romo.

If this wasn’t enough, the injury specter has focused its latest wrath upon the younger generation of QBs. Two of the league’s most talented and celebrated names at the position, Indianapolis Colt Andrew Luck and Carolina Panther Cam Newton, enter the 2017 season with serious question marks about their health and availability to begin the season. This past week, Miami Dolphin Ryan Tannehill re-injured his ACL, likely ending his season.

As a result, offseason waiver wire bids are being made in superflex dynasty leagues for the obvious benefactors (be it short or long-term starters): Scott Tolzien, Derek Anderson, Matt Moore and even Jay Cutler. With the exception of perhaps Cutler, none of these players figure to do more than fill in for a handful of games, so their ultimate upside is limited.

Rather than throw FAAB $ at journeyman fill-ins or stop-gap starters, let’s aim a little higher and target a player who, if things break right, could emerge as a future starting QB on a team with excellent weapons and a top 5 offensive line. Let’s talk about the rookie QB drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the 4th round in 2017: Joshua Dobbs.

 Gridironnow.com

Gridironnow.com

Superflex Dynasty Stash: Josh Dobbs, Pittsburgh Steelers

Collegiate Career

Year School Conf Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
2013 Tennessee SEC FR QB 5 72 121 59.5 695 5.7 3.8 2 6 103.3
*2014 Tennessee SEC SO QB 6 112 177 63.3 1206 6.8 6.3 9 6 130.5
*2015 Tennessee SEC JR QB 13 205 344 59.6 2291 6.7 6.9 15 5 127
2016 Tennessee SEC SR QB 13 225 357 63 2946 8.3 8.3 27 12 150.6
Career Tennessee 614 999 61.5 7138 7.1 6.9 53 29 133.2

Source: Josh Dobbs Pro Sports Reference 

Before being drafted into the NFL, Josh Dobbs played for four years at the University of Tennessee, spot starting several games in his Freshman and Sophomore years before taking over as the full time starting QB for his Junior and Senior seasons.

Dobbs struggled with accuracy at times, and also displayed issues with his throwing motion and uneven footwork. Despite these mechanical issues, he showed growth and improvement in several key areas each year, finishing his senior year with a 63% completion percentage, a solid average yards per attempt (AYA) of 8.3 and an overall passing efficiency rating of 150.6. Accuracy issues aside, his overall college QBR rating, 79.8, was well above average (71st percentile).

Importantly, Dobbs’ flashed his talent relatively early in his college career, and his breakout age – 19.6 – ranked in 82nd percentile of all quarterbacks. But his ability as a dual-threat QB was where he really shined.

Athleticism

In a PlayerProfiler.com article analyzing the early career success of rookie QBs in the NFL, PFF’s George Kritikos outlined key factors that have historically contributed to making rookie QBs successful in fantasy football. Only 6 rookies have charted a top 12 fantasy performance in their rookie campaign: Vince Young, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Dak Prescott. One common thread here is rushing ability – the fabled Konami Code (shoutout to Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar) – providing a strong floor as well as a high ceiling that elevates them over their non-rushing peers, especially in 4 point passing TD scoring formats.

Dobbs definitely fits the bill here, having netted a total of 2,160 rush yards and 32 TDs on the ground in his collegiate career. His athleticism jumps off of the page, posting a 74th percentile SPARQ-x score with impressive burst and agility scores. While his throw velocity is below average, according to Move the Sticks’ Bucky Brooks.: “… he might be one of the better deep-ball passers in football based on his 47.7 percent completion rate and 14 touchdowns on passes of 21 yards or more.” Hello Martavis Bryant.

Source: https://www.playerprofiler.com/nfl/joshua-dobbs/

Source: https://www.playerprofiler.com/nfl/joshua-dobbs/

Smarts

Let’s take a bit of a detour down narrative street. Josh Dobbs is a smart guy. In college, he majored in aerospace engineering (literal rocket science), and won the University of Tennessee’s 2017 Torchbearer award – a high academic accolade for an undergraduate to receive. He scored well on the Wonderlic test with a 29, good for 4th best of all QBs in the class. This is the kind of guy you expect to quickly master the playbook and exhibit the leadership qualities needed to become his team’s field general.

Situation

Outside of Jimmy Garropollo’s role on the New England Patriots, I’m not sure there’s a better situation to be in right now for a backup or developmental QB than on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • The Steelers have an aging quarterback who has struggled more and more with injuries over the last few years, and has more than once publicly spoken about considering early retirement. Roethlisberger missed 2 games in 2016 due to injury, and 4 in 2015.
  • The Steelers Offensive line was ranked #3 overall heading into 2017 by PFF, with the potential to improve.
  • The Steelers have arguably the best set of weapons in the league in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and LeVeon Bell.
  • The Steelers have one of the top running games in the league, which should open up opportunities for Dobbs to make plays with his legs. Teams will be hard-pressed to put a spy on Dobbs while having to account for Bell, Brown and Bryant.
  • The Steelers have coaching stability: head coach Mike Tomlin was just extended, and should have plenty of leeway in a post Big Ben world. Small risk of a new regime coming in and starting over at QB in the next few seasons.
  • The Steelers only other relevant QB in competition for the backup role is Landry Jones, who has’t exactly been an inspiring player.

Price

Dobbs is basically free to acquire, even in dynasty 2QB formats, making an investment in him an extremely affordable gamble. According to 2QB.com’s rookie ADP, Dobbs is being drafted on average at Pick 43, a mid 4th round pick. Am I missing something here?

I own him in all 3 of my dynasty Superflex leagues for precisely this reason. Anecdotally, here’s what I paid:

  • FAAB waiver bid of 1%
  • Post 20th round startup pick
  • 4.09 rookie/devy draft (a full round after Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly)

There’s downside here, certainly – Big Ben could just be creating drama around his retirement, and could play another 3-4 seasons. The Steelers could draft another QB in next year’s class (which looks strong). Dobbs could fail to improve upon his accuracy issues. But the upside absolutely outweighs the downside.

Should Roethlisberger miss time this year(which seems like a solid bet), the Steelers may want to see what they have in Dobbs should the talks of retirement come true after the 2017 season. Short-term, this could translate to some productive fantasy weeks and increased dynasty trade value for his owners. And from a real football perspective, if Dobbs should the ability to manage the offense effectively and keeps the Steelers in the playoff hunt, the sky is the limit.

His situation feels a bit similar to Dak Prescott this time last year. Oddly enough, their statistical profiles share several commonalities as well. Just saying.

Your Action Plan:

If you’re not in a league with me, check your waiver wire immediately to see if Dobbs is available. I’d be willing to put a 5-10% FAAB bid on him if he is unowned.

If he is owned, I’d suggest offering a 2018 3rd to his owner, or ask for him as a throw-in to a larger deal. You might be able to get it done for a 4th as roster cut season approaches, but based on his ADP, that’s essentially asking his owner to kick the can another year down the road.

I’d try and get this done sooner rather than later, as about this time last year, a healthy Tony Romo was preparing for his first preseason game…

2 Comments

  1. Rodolfo

    August 8, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Love the advice, especially since my first rounds of waivers run tomorrow in my 30 team PPR superflex.

    I am more intrigued by Nathan Peterman though; Buffalo strikes me as a team that wants stable, boring, predictable production at QB instead of Taylor’s ups and downs. Thoughts and recommeneded bids there? Thinking 10-12% FAAB as well and 5% FAAB on Davis Webb based on draft capital.

  2. Dan McDonnell

    August 9, 2017 at 4:46 am

    Thanks Rodolfo, appreciate the comment!

    Of Nathan Peterman and Davis Webb, I see Peterman as more likely to see the field this season, if Tyrod Taylor struggles or gets injured. As you mention, Buffalo’s recent moves indicate that they are not sold on Taylor long-term, so they may want to see what they have in Peterman later in the season if they are out of contention.

    Webb is an interesting stash as well, but the Giants should be competitive this year, and Eli has been an iron man throughout his career, so unless something drastic happens, I don’t see him getting much – if any – run in NY this season. More of a long term hold IMO.

    Not knowing all of your league rules, I’d suggest if you really like either of these guys potential long-term, you may have to place a slightly larger bid (20-30%?). In a 30 team superflex leagues, I have to believe QBs are going at a HUGE premium, and other owners have the same idea as you. Matt Moore just went for 33% of FAAB in one of my 12-team superflex leagues, so the thirst for QBs is always real.

    You know your league better than I do, though, so if the 10/5% bids match winning bids for similar players in the past, go for it. I tend to err on the side of overbidding to make sure I get my guys when it comes to FAAB waivers, for what it’s worth.

    Cheers!

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