Derek Carr: Dynasty Sleeper

Derek Carr
Derek Carr

(Photo Credit: Craig Kohlruss at The Fresno Bee, courtesy of HeavyInTheGames)

You may have already heard or read that I really like Derek Carr out of this year’s class of incoming quarterbacks.

I didn’t expect to give Carr more than a few minutes of analysis. I’d seen his brother play, or try to, in Houston. I’ve seen earlier rookies get overvalued after an elite wide receiver boosted their college numbers. So why bother with Carr?

But then I took a closer look. And I ran some numbers. Like I wrote in my article last month, Derek Carr grades out as the second-best quarterback in the 2014 class, a fact that caught me entirely off guard. Today I want to dive a bit deeper into what numbers set him apart from other mediocre options in this year’s rookie class.

Accuracy: Derek Carr threw for an impressive 74.1% accuracy rate when his team was down by seven points or less. That’s second-best in this year’s class, just behind the most famous 2014 rookie quarterback, Johnny Manziel. This stat is important to me in evaluating young quarterbacks, because it roughly substitutes for an indicator of their composure under pressure. And Carr shows it in spades.

Overall, across every game in 2013, Carr had a 66.7% completion rate, roughly equal to prior rates of guys like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Aaron Rodgers the year before they each declared for the draft. Not a bad group.

Interception Rate: In 2013, Derek Carr only threw interceptions on 1.37% of his passes, a better rate than anyone in this year’s class not named Bridgewater or McCarron.

Too many rookie quarterbacks come into the NFL and force throws into bad situations. They feel the pressure that comes along with the hype, and they push the ball into windows that were closed all along. A good interception rate in college suggests that Carr might be smart enough to avoid that sort of poor decision making.

Three-Year Starter: Bill Parcells is famous — among many other reasons — for his rules for drafting a quarterback. According to Parcells, a quarterback should meet four criteria: (1) Be a senior, (2) Be a graduate, (3) Be a three-year starter, and (4) have 23 wins or more in college.

Derek Carr meets all four criteria. In fact, he graduated early from college, just as he did in high school. The young man has shown a commitment to school as well as football, and his three years as a starter at Fresno State have taught him to lead teammates and overcome adversity.

Age: Derek Carr just turned 23 recently, which doesn’t make him the youngest quarterback in this year’s class (that’d be Johnny Manziel), but it is a far cry from a guy like Brandon Weeden, who came into the league at 29 years old.

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Even if Matt Schaub quarterbacks the Raiders for a year or two, Carr could still be 25 when he gets his chance to start. That’s plenty young to have years of excellence left.

My Main Concern: I’m worried that Carr was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. That team has been a cesspool of fantasy death for a decade, and dynasty owners should worry that Carr won’t get the training, confidence, and support that he needs to become a long-term NFL starter.

The Raiders have a middling group of offensive weapons around the quarterback, but they aren’t anything special. I also want to see more intelligence out of the play-calling and team construction in Oakland, before I’m ready to proclaim Derek Carr as the next top-ten quarterback.

Conclusions on Derek Carr

To finish, I’d recommend Derek Carr as the fourth quarterback in this year’s class, which isn’t saying a lot.

In traditional leagues that only start one quarterback, Johnny Manziel might be the only quarterback selected in your rookie drafts, unless you have very deep rosters. But in deeper leagues and ones that start two quarterbacks, Derek Carr most certainly should be rostered.

Carr has more upside than any other quarterback outside the top three in 2014. He has more natural talent than the rest, and the numbers back that up. Carr has a better shot at long-term fantasy relevance than guys like Jimmy Garoppolo or Zach Mettenberger, and he’s worth a spot on your roster.


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