Fantasy Football: Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, And Quarterback Equity Scores

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
Kyle Terada USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson, on another team with a worse defense, a pass-happy play caller, and a more putrid running game, would be an elite fantasy signal caller.

That’s quite the conditional statement, I know, but I think — on an anecdotal level — Wilson’s statistical production is often overlooked because his situation in Seattle is so inhospitable for fake football goodness.

As evidence: Twenty-two quarterbacks recorded more drop backs than Wilson in 2013. He still finished the year as fantasy’s eighth highest scoring quarterback.

My initial look at quarterback fantasy equity scores — measuring the gap between current average draft position and how they might perform in 2014 — pointed to Wilson as a prime target for those who don’t take the late-round quarterback approach.

More on fantasy equity scores…
A comprehensive look at wide receiver equity scores
Equity score analysis: Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, and Dez Bryant
Equity score analysis: Golden Tate, Brian Hartline, and Cecil Shorts
Equity score analysis: Greg Olsen and Zach Ertz

Making equity scores for quarterbacks, using median and high projections with the rotoViz similarity score app as a baseline tool, feels a little silly. We’re not going to find screaming value plays among the top-12 quarterbacks off the draft board, even if many in the top tier are the definition of safe picks.

I thought it was a worthwhile exercise if only to pinpoint the top-end guys we should target if we’re keen on investing in an every-week starter. Not everyone has the time or the stomach for evaluating waiver wire quarterback matchups, week after week, so there’s certainly something to be said for jumping on a top-12 value and rolling with him through thick and thin.

It’s not an approach I would advocate, but if you’re a well-adjusted human being who plays fantasy football in a decidedly casual way, this equity search could be helpful. Even if you’re an avowed late-round quarterback disciple, a glance at the below scores is worth your time.

Player Average Draft Position (ADP) Median equity score High equity score
Aaron Rodgers QB1 -3 -1
Peyton Manning QB2 -1 1
Drew Brees QB3 -1 1
Andrew Luck QB4 1 2
Cam Newton QB5 2 2
Matthew Stafford QB6 -4 2
Nick Foles QB7 -1 2
Matt Ryan QB8 -1 3
Robert Griffin III QB9 -4 4
Russell Wilson QB10 3 5
Colin Kaepernick QB11 1 5
Tom Brady QB12 -4 5


  • Back to Wilson for a moment: The Super Bowl quarterback has averaged .6 fantasy points per drop back over this first two seasons in the NFL — a number that has made him among the three most efficient signal callers of the past two seasons. Like an mobile quarterback, his per-drop back efficiency is going to be head and shoulders above pocket passing statues like Stafford, Brady, Brees, and Ryan. Wilson’s high equity score would put him in the top-5, and his median projection wouldn’t be a whole lot worse (QB7). I believe Wilson, in a less conservative offense, would be a perennial top-3 fantasy quarterback.
  • Luck and Newton seem to be the targets for those fantasy owners insistent on snagging an elite option. Luck, who averaged 22.2 fantasy points over his final six contests, would benefit tremendously from the late-season Pep Ball departure that saw the Colts deploy an up-tempo pass-friendly approach. The common refrain that Newton will suffer without old man Steve Smith, one of the NFL’s least efficient wideouts, could push down his ADP even further, offering more equity for savvy investors.
  • Griffin, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the most volatile option among these top-12 quarterbacks. His median projection would put him outside QB1 status, which reduce him to nothing more than a matchup play. RGIII‘s high projection, however, would see a return to elite fantasy territory, right where he resided before his horrific knee injury. Griffin’s performance as a pocket passer — something we’re likely to see more in 2014 — leaves a lot to be desired. Probably I’ll fade RGIII unless his re-draft stock falls a bit. Here’s the thing though: It won’t.
  • Using Ryan’s 2013 numbers from the first month of the season — when both Roddy White and Julio Jones were healthy — would give him a high equity score of five, making him QB3. I think he’s among the most intriguing — and surprisingly stable — options for any owner who spends a draft pick on one of these quarterbacks.
  • Brady’s median and high equity scores are worse than I expected, and trust me when I say I didn’t expect much. Savvy owners are very much aware that Brady’s status as an NFL legend has for years artificially inflated his preseason ADP. This season is no different. Probably in the right scheme with an unerring focus on an aerial assault, Brady could be a very safe top-10 option, but that’s not the case (even though his ceiling here is QB7). I’m going to fade the guy who scored fewer fantasy points than Alex Smith in 2013. I would suggest you do the same.


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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.