Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Jul 2012

Why Matt Stafford so low?

I wonder why KUBIAK is so down on Matthew Stafford. 12 fewer touchdowns than last year? Why? Does KUBIAK assume he won't play 16 games? It doesn't assume such a huge drop in pass attempts...

And consider that KUBIAK really gives Cam Newton the benefit of the doubt. (Actually, now that look more closely, I see Newton's risk is yellow while Stafford is green. WHAT HAPPENING. ME NO LIKEY.)

Posted by: MatMan on 15 Jul 2012

8 replies , Last at 12 Aug 2012, 3:18am by Zac

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by JasonK :: Sun, 07/15/2012 - 7:15pm

KUBIAK produces numbers based on the assumption that all players will play 16 games. Stafford is projected to decline because the numbers suggest that huge one-season improvements in completion percentage and INT rate are likely to regress in subsequent seasons. (FOA 2012 also notes that Stafford tied for the league lead in would-be INTs that were dropped by defenders.) That means more drives ending in punts, FG attempts, and turnovers, and fewer ending in touchdowns.

By comparison, Newton's high rating is based on the fact that the largest improvements that QBs make in comp% and INT% are generally in the season following their rookie year. Also, his rushing ability is unlikely to change significantly (although his rushing TDs in 2011 were unsustainably high and will likely decline).

The risk categories are a catch-all "risk that the player won't meet this projection," which includes, but is not limited to, the risk of missing games due to injury. As such, a lower overall projection makes it easier for a player to get a "green" rating.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by nkowal :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 8:59am

I don't know if you bought KUBIAK last year, but Stafford's projections were also very low for the time. In fact, you can even see a thread I started from last year asking if people were adjusting them if you go to the Kubiak 2011 board.

Generally speaking, I agree with what JasonK said. There's also some things in flux with the Lions - last year they were forced to pass a lot being down in a few games and having to come back. They also were without Best or Leshoure and had no running game until Kevin Smith came back (then got injured). All of this meant the Lions were throwing it a lot.

Of course, looking at the projected pass attempts it doesn't really seem to show they will go down, so that can't explain everything. However, there's a real possibility the Lions run more near the goal line.

I was never a big Stafford fan when they drafted him - he had all the physical tools but I thought his decision-making was lacking. Last season I definitely saw a change in his decision-making process and I've turned the corner on him.

That being said, I still think you could see an uptick in INTs from last year and a decrease in TDs. I do not think it will be as significant as KUBIAK projects (and in my opinion, I will adjust accordingly), but it's entirely possible.

One thing worth noting on Stafford was that this was his first full season healthy. KUBIAK does not have a lot of data to play with after he played 13 games combined the two seasons before, so a huge increase in some of the stats, as Jason points out, are getting regressed rather than being treated as what Stafford is able to do.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by MatMan :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 1:30pm

Excellent comments guy, thanks.

I ask because I'm particularly interested in Stafford as a potential 3rd-round selection. Our league is slightly more QB-friendly than most (5/25), and it's very rare for our champ to have an average-or-worse option at that position. I expect the big 3 QBs to go in the first round. Picks 1,2 & 3 will likely be the big 3 RBs. So I'm probably only going to get my stud QB if I'm picking 4 through 8. Long story short, If I don't get a QB in the first round, I still need to find a damn good one later.

Some idiot will take Newton in the second round.

Stafford may slip to early third round. I'll take him there if I think he can come close to last year's numbers (5,000/41). But something like 4,000/31 won't cut it...early 3rd round would be too soon.

The Eli/Vick/Romo/Rivers tier will go in the late 4th/mid 5th, and then we're done with the quality fantasy QBs. And frankly, all those without a top-4 (top-5?) QB will have an uphill climb in our league.

tl,dr: Essentially, I'm trying to figure out the chances of Stafford performing at roughly 90% of the big-3. If he does, he's worth my early 3rd round pick.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by jabrch :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:44pm

6th Ranked QB using Kubiak in my league settings... Not that bad. Behind Brady, Brees, Rogers, Newton and Ryan.

Are you saying he's underrated compared to them? I think you can interchange him with Newton and Ryan (as well as Eli, Vick and Ben behind him) Or are you saying he is underrated relative to the guys ahead of him at other positions? There is a lot of scarcity of startable RBs in a 10 or 12 team league that requires 2 + a flex. There is not a scarcity of potential starting QBs...so it is just a question of how elite you think Stafford's performance will be...

You won't be wrong to think of him in round 3...but at the same time, you may get Steven Jackson, Jamal Charles or Matt Forte at RB or Wallace/Colston/Bowe at WR and then get a QB like Roethlis, Fitz, Payton, etc. a few rounds later... Kubiak has Romo going in the 8th round and Schaub/Rivers in the 9th round using my league settings. I'd personally rather Romo/Rivers at 8 and a legit #2 WR/RB than Stafford and a later RB/WR.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by MatMan :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 11:20am

I'm mostly comparing him to other available QBs, but I'm also looking at his overall ADP. My brain sees Rivers as being statistically equidistant between the Rodgers/Brady/Brees round-1 tier and the Romo/Vick/Eli round-5 tier. I think if some non-elite QB is going to crack the top-3, it's him.

At least, that's what my brain has been telling me. And his ADP is in the very low 20s. Then KUBIAK takes a crap on him, ranking him 8th among QBs and 52nd overall by my league scoring. (ESPN delta -38, KFFL delta -17, ADP delta -30) I've noticed that KUBIAK is a whole lot better at predicting declines rather than improvements. So I'm definitely spooked by Rivers.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by bird jam :: Thu, 07/26/2012 - 9:18am

KUBIAK ranks him 9th in my league's scoring. I've got him as a low-priced keeper, so it doesn't really affect any of my decision-making but I'm counting on him being a stud.

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by Enzo :: Sat, 08/11/2012 - 3:24pm

Yeah... In my standard nfl.com league last year, he scored only 23 points less than Tom Brady, but the next best QB (Eli) scored a full 63 points less than Stafford.

So Aaron, if you're out there kind sir, I'd love to hear what you have to say about this. I'm sure you've got your reasons. Thanks!

Re: Why Matt Stafford so low?
by Zac :: Sun, 08/12/2012 - 3:18am

It looks like the biggest drop in projection for Stafford is his TDs. He had 41 passing TDs last season and is projected for quite a few less. If he were to somehow have 41 again, the default scoring system moves him into a tie for #4 QB with Cam Newton. Let's look at the underlying projections overall. They're not expecting more rushing TDs. They aren't projected for a difficult schedule. So it just seems to be an overall offensive decline. That seems to jibe with the projected wins (20.3% chance of reaching the playoffs). What are the underlying signs pointing to that? Again, I have no idea.

They do mention in FOA that Stafford has a bit of a problem with accuracy. Apparently he had the 4th highest percentage of incomplete passes marked as inaccurate throws of any starting QBs.

They also show something of a bounce back down in his overall stats. They note that QBs who show a big jump in Passing Yards / Attempt (which Stafford had in 2011) usually decline in that stat a little bit the following year. Worst case scenario is apparently Brian Griese, who went from 6.7 PY/A to 8.0 to 6.3 in his first three seasons as a starter. Best case scenario is Dan Marino or Peyton Manning. Manning showed no drop in his 3rd season as a starter, and Marino's drop was only because his 2nd season (5,084 PYd, 48 TDs, he won the MVP) was totally ridiculous. I think it's safe to assume that Stafford might end up somewhere in between these two extremes, with probably a small decline.

But the drop in TDs? We don't really have the information necessary to gauge whether there's a good reason for that or not.

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