Why Colin Kaepernick's Current Cost is Too High in Fantasy Football
Ladies and gentlemen, please keep all extremities within the car at all times. As you begin your ride on the hype machine, we ask that you don't jump off or use any rationalism at any time at risk of certain success.
This year's theme on the hype machine is "Guys that we think are going to show some ridiculous improvement because we feel like it." Your captain is the one and only Colin Kaepernick.
Let me make something blatantly clear right away: I don't dislike Kaepernick as a real-boy quarterback. He's stupidly fun to watch, and he can make a lot of special things happen with both his arms and his legs. I just won't be owning him on any of my fantasy teams once this fall rolls around.
Right now, Kaepernick has an average draft position (ADP) of the 10th-ranked quarterback in the league, according to MyFantasyLeague.com. That certainly doesn't seem too outrageous by any means. But the wizardry of numberFire seems to disagree.
Just this week, numberFire released its Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet. If you've never used it before, it's pretty gosh durn sweet. You can enter in the rules for your specific fantasy league, look at each position, and see how risky each player is. It is giving NASCAR a solid challenge for the title of greatest thing ever.
If you look at the cheat sheet, you'll see that Kaep is not one of the top-10 quarterbacks. He is not in the top 12. He is not in the top 14. He's the 15th-ranked quarterback for standard-scoring leagues. That's not even starting-quality when it comes to fantasy.
There are two main reasons Kaep won't find himself on any of my teams this fall, other than numberFire's algorithms being a silly amount smarter than me: his usage is low in San Francisco's offense, and he's frustratingly inconsistent.
Ground and Pound Then Pound Some More
Back in June, numberFire's Leo Howell wrote about why you should think twice before drafting any 49ers offensive players. Basically, Leo nailed all of the awesome points, so I don't want to dwell on this too long. But here's a brief synopsis of his points about Kaepernick specifically.
In 2013, only one team dropped back to pass fewer than 460 times. I'll give you three guesses which team that was, and the first two don't count.
In fantasy football, usage can be the difference between a top-five quarterback and a guy that can't sniff the top 10. Kaepernick is on the latter end of that spectrum. San Francisco had the lowest pass-to-run ratio in the entire league last year at 0.90, and they also ran the second-fewest number of plays overall. Basically, our buddy Kaepernick just doesn't get a lot of chances to flash his dirtiness, and that really handcuffs his value in fake football.
Which Kaepernick is Which?
In the season-opener last year, Kaepernick looked like a flat-out stud against Green Bay. He torched the defense for 412 yards through the air, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was good for 30 fantasy points, a total anybody can bump with. The breakout was complete!
Then Seattle happened. In a 29-3 loss to the Seahawks, Kaepernick was 13-28 for 127 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. The week after he posted 30 points, he finished with five, a 25-point swing. Ain't nobody bumpin' with that. If I'm spending a moderately high draft pick on a starting quarterback, that had better not happen, or I'll end up crying in the corner of some small room.
I suppose I could maybe tolerate this once from a starting quarterback. Kaep, though, had two performances that were actually worse than this one and an additional one in which he scored just nine. Basically, in 25 percent of his games, Kaepernick scored fewer than 10 fantasy points. That's not going to get the job done.
Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers are quarterbacks 13, 14, and 15 respectively in the current ADP data. In 2013, those three quarterbacks combined for 41 games in which they attempted at least 10 passes. In those 41 games, they recorded fewer than 10 fantasy points a total of three times. There's a reason each of those three guys are all rated ahead of Kaepernick in numberFire's quarterback rankings. They're just safer bets on a week-by-week basis.
Part of the thing about Kaepernick is that we shouldn't really be surprised that people are drafting him before where he's actually valued. Last year, according again to MyFantasyLeague.com, Kaepernick had an ADP of the number seven quarterback. He ended up finishing 11th, behind guys like Romo and Nick Foles, neither of whom played a full 16 games. If he can be a benefactor of the whirl-winding hype machine once, he can do it again.
The thing about Kaep is that he's really not a terrible fantasy quarterback; he's just a terrible fantasy quarterback at the value people are currently getting from him. If he's on the board and the Romo's, Cutler's and Rivers' of the world aren't, then by all means, snatch this puppy up. The odds of that happening, unlike Kaepernick's week-to-week variability however, are very low.