Wouldn’t it be great if you knew which pre-draft college athletic and production metrics can predict future success for dynasty fantasy football?
In this four part series, ‘Dynasty Football: Successful College Metrics’, I’ll be looking at various metrics from Player Profiler, to understand which athletic and production metrics matter the most for future fantasy production. I’ll be correlating the data against the top dynasty players at each position, as per the dynasty rankings at Fantasy Pros (as at 12/26/2019). I’ll be highlighting which metrics are the most common / important – in terms of predicting future success in the dynasty fantasy football arena.
Through understanding which metrics are most common / important in the highest ranked dynasty players, this will provide you with a major advantage in two main areas of your dynasty league:
1) Improved & more accurate player evaluation ahead of dynasty rookie drafts
2) Identifying ideal buy-low / sell-high candidates for your dynasty team
In part one of this series I’ll be evaluating the QB position…
The QB Data
For the athletic & production metrics, I have considered 50% and above as a ‘successful’ score in each individual category. With regards to draft pick, I have used round 1 as the cut-off point as an extra variable for QB success.
To work out the overall ranking of importance & commonality, I have awarded one point for each metric at or above 50%, with a separate score for top 10 and top 20 to combine and split the data – giving deeper context. I have then combined these scores and ranked accordingly. To give a different perspective on the data, I have also worked out how many of the ‘key’ (green) metrics each player hits above 50% in the right hand column. The players highlighted in red have achieved less than 50% hit rate on the key metrics – in a sense could be considered an outlier from the data.
The Most Common/Successful Metrics
#1 – 40 Yard Dash (100% in Top 10, 77.78% in Top 20)
The most common metric for the QB position is one that doesn’t involve throwing the ball… The casual fan would be shocked that this is the most predictive QB metric for fantasy success – however, remember that QB rushing is far more valuable than QB passing in fantasy (look no further than the success of Lamar Jackson in 2019). In the majority of fantasy leagues (4 point passing TD), a 10 yard rushing TD is the equivalent scoring of 75 yard passing TD. Rushing ability also improves a player’s floor and reduces scoring volatility.
#2 – College QB Rating (88.89% in Top 10, 77.78% in Top 20)
Second on the list of successful college metrics is College QB Rating – it makes sense right, if the player can throw well in college then this should translate to the NFL at a better success rate than someone who is a project as a passer? The bread and butter of QB play is passing, so being able to achieve well at this metric bodes well for limiting mistakes, maximizing scoring, along with moving the ball down the field on a consistent basis. If you can’t pass the ball successfully in college then it will be a much tougher transition to the pro game.
#3 – Draft Pick (80% in Top 10, 80% in Top 20)
As a draft capital advocate, I felt it was important to include this within the evaluation of successful college metrics – as it is an output of college scouting and evaluation – with the NFL view on a prospect. Again, there is no guarantee that a 1st round pick will result in success, however my thought process aligns with the data – draft capital is important in the sense of job security, opportunity and perceived talent entering the NFL.
#4 – Breakout Age (80% in Top 10, 75% in Top 20)
The next metric is Breakout Age – for a QB this is determined by the age when they posted a College QBR of 50+ whilst averaging 20+ pass plays per team games to qualify. It shows the ability to break the starting lineup in college, showing an ability to learn & develop – aiding a smoother transition to the NFL. Be warned though, as factors like playing behind a stud QB (Murray behind Mayfield at Oklahoma) will result in a skewed / inaccurate metric.
#5 – Agility (87.5% in Top 10, 66.67% in Top 20)
The final metric is Agility, essentially short-area quickness, balance and for the QB specifically - the ability to avoid pass rushers (and to an extent the Offensive Line) in the pocket. This metric is useful as it translates to the QB being able to extend passing plays – creating further opportunity for fantasy points, as well as being able to manoeuvre in the pocket before breaking out and scrambling for a 30 yard gain up the left sideline.
To summarize, the five most successful college production and athletic metrics in predicting dynasty success for a QB in the NFL are: 40 Yard Time, College QBR, Draft Pick, Breakout Age and Agility. These are the key metrics that should be considered the most important metrics in player evaluation of the QB position. The SPARQ-x metric has some relevance in the future success of a college QB, we can predict that Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray would achieve at this threshold – hence making it a more important metric than currently showing from the data, however even if we assume these players would both achieve the metric threshold it still falls below the total Agility score in terms of relevance.
QB is a position that can have success in all shapes and sizes, we have seen different body types can have success so this dispels the myth that you can be too small to achieve in the NFL – although I would be cautious of drafting a 5’5 QB at the 1.01 in a SuperFlex league. Another myth from the past is that QB Hand Size matters, from the evaluation of the data, this has the second least relevance slightly above the Wonderlic Score. The remaining metrics that show little to no commonality in relation to QB success is Burst Score, Throw Velocity and College YPA (yards per attempt).
It should be noted that as per any study, there are outliers in the data and there always will be outliers in player evaluation.
For the QB position, the two players I consider the outliers are Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins. Ryan, who achieves 2 of the 5 key metrics, is a pure pocket passer who has been tied to one of the best WRs of our generation (Julio Jones), whilst being supported by great secondary WR options (Roddy White & Calvin Ridley) throughout his career and playing on teams with below average defensive play. Cousins, who achieves 0 of the 5 key metrics is the biggest outlier from the data. Personally I don’t think he’s a great talent and he’s always needed a strong overall offensive scheme to succeed in fantasy.
Whilst the data and results from the production and athletic metrics will point you in the right direction for improved player evaluation and dynasty success, it’s really important to understand there are other factors to be considered in the overall process. Personally I love looking at athletic testing and college production metrics as the data is factual and accurate, unlike the subjective nature of film study or your perception of a landing spot, opportunity or volume. In order to be optimal at player evaluation, I believe you need to be taking other factors into consideration within your own player evaluation – such as landing spot, offensive scheme, volume / opportunity and film study of the college prospects.
From the evaluation of the data, we’ve looked at the five most successful college player metrics for the QB position – but what do we do with this information?
If a player is hitting on 5/5 of these minimum thresholds above 50%, he will have a greater chance of dynasty fantasy success than someone hitting 0/5 of these thresholds. Outliers will always exist, and no model or process will ever be 100% accurate.
The information on the key metrics should form part of your dynasty rookie evaluation prior to rookie drafts. It’s up to you as to what weighting you want to put on these metrics, but be sure to use the information alongside the other factors mentioned above. The above data will allow you to highlight potential stars at the position, whilst also helping you formulate your dynasty rookie rankings – spotting the value picks at the different positions, setting up your draft tiers and helping you exploit the sweet spot of a draft (such as trading for the pick at the end of a tier).
Also, through identifying key metrics, it will highlight potential buy-low players in dynasty. You should be considering other factors as well, with playing opportunity key to the QB position as this is a ‘onesie’ position on the football field. Two players I like as potential trade targets based on successful college metrics are Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. Bridgewater hits on 5/5 key metrics, showed well in his six starts for the Saints this season (average of 14.95 points, albeit is relatively tough schedule including four road games) and will be an NFL in starter in the near future – whether it be for the Saints in 2020 or another team via free agency. Lock hits on 4/5 of the key metrics, with draft pick the only metric he is ‘unsuccessful’. He will begin next season as the starting QB for the Broncos and whilst he’s considered a low-end starter in real terms, he has some interesting young weapons (Sutton, Fant & Lindsay) and a college profile that gives him a great shot at dynasty success – with his blend of athleticism and college production.
Hope you enjoyed the article & use the analysis provided in your dynasty player evaluation process. You can find all 4 articles of the ‘Dynasty Football: Successful College Metrics’ series right here: