Why You Need To Have Matt Schaub

He may be aging, but Matt Schaub could still have more left in the tank.

Nobody wants to talk about Matt Schaub. With Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III making news, why would we want to talk about a 32-year old signal-caller playing in a run-first offense?

Because analytics tell us we should.

Schaub’s body of work is nothing to get overly excited about. He’s a classic pocket passer with an aging arm, and does a pretty good job at limiting turnovers in a fairly conservative offense. Seems pretty unfavorable for fantasy football, right? Well, not so fast.

Houston’s Passing Efficiency is Underrated

Hold tight. You ready? Houston was more efficient through the air than on the ground last season. They ranked 11th in adjusted passing efficiency, and finished 21st in adjusted rushing. To put that second number into perspective, Houston’s effectiveness on the ground was about as good as the Shonn Greene-led Jets last year.

Now, those rankings don’t necessarily translate directly to fantasy success, but they do give us an idea of what the team does well. Perhaps the Texans decide to throw a few more red zone passes instead of pounding the rock with Arian Foster this year because they recognize the opportunity. Or, of course, maybe they’re aware of the fact that they simply didn’t run all that efficiently in 2012.

Could that be the reason they went for DeAndre Hopkins in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft?

Hopkins looks like he'll be the first real number two target Schaub has had in Houston. No, I’m not saying Kevin Walter is a fake person, but he certainly was invisible at times while playing for the Texans. There’s a reason his yearly stat line usually consisted of just a few scores.

With Hopkins in town, we should ultimately see a better passing attack. Judging by the efficiency ratings, that’s good news for Houston and Matt Schaub.

Matt Schaub’s Passing Efficiency is Also Underrated

You’d expect a team with favorable pass efficiency to have a quarterback who can toss the pigskin well, and that’s the case with the Texans and Matt Schaub. In 2012, Schaub ranked in the top 10 in terms of Passing NEP, a measure that shows how well a passer contributed to his team’s scoring. The Texans quarterback finished behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo within the metric. I’d say that’s pretty good company.

I’m sure many will see this number as unreasonable, but the stats don’t lie. It’s not as though Schaub was a massive game manager last season either; he still ranked 12th in the NFL in pass attempts, finishing with more than Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers.

Perception isn’t necessarily reality in Schaub’s case.

Matt Schaub’s Comparables

The attempts are there and the efficiency is there, but what does this all mean for 2013?

Well, according to the numbers, Schaub has a much more hopeful output than his current average draft position – the 14th round in a 12-team league – indicates. When some of your comparables end up being Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees and Brett Favre, you know you’re in for an encouraging season.

Comparable PlayerYearFantasy Output
Peyton Manning2003327
Kurt Warner2001371
Peyton Manning2008345
Drew Brees2006314
Brett Favre2009353

Is it time to project Schaub as a top-5 quarterback option? No, not necessarily. We currently have Schaub ranked as our 14th best passer, and wouldn’t be surprised if he posted over 4,400 yards and nearly 28 touchdowns in 2013. He does, however, have a lot more upside than his current draft position implies.

How Should We Value Matt Schaub in 2013?

The best part about Matt Schaub this season is that he’s basically free. He’s being drafted as a low-end backup on plenty of fantasy teams, and he’ll probably go undrafted in many leagues this season.

But really, you should feel great about getting Schaub as your team’s backup at draft time. I’d advocate going for someone like Ben Roethlisberger late, and then snagging Schaub for a strong quarterback streaming duo. That way, you can use the early and middle rounds of your draft stacking your lineup with a whole lot of running back and receiver talent.