Dynasty Football Factory

The Cases FOR and AGAINST Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo

Have you ever been out for dinner at your regular haunt, and the whole drive there you’re thinking about that meal you always get because it’s so damn good? Then, when you arrive, they have a special menu with some amazing sounding new item that you desperately want to try but are worried it will suck or that you’ll end up running to the bathroom repeatedly after eating it, and that you’ll wish you stuck with your favorite?

Yeah? Well, that’s Jimmy Garoppolo for me.

I’m a pretty straightforward thinker when it comes to Quarterbacks. I go for reliable, decent, mid-round guys who I know are going to provide me a high floor with the potential for a high ceiling. Last year it worked great for me with Russell Wilson, the year before that, Drew Brees was my guy.

With Jimmy Garoppolo’s small sample-size, success as a starter, new weapons, and a full offseason, what can we make of him?

Here is a breakdown of the reasons FOR and AGAINST drafting Jimmy G at his ADP of 80.7, or about the QB9 overall.

The Case FOR Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo

In a nutshell, here are my reasons for taking Jimmy Garoppolo at his current ADP

  • – Success as a starter so far (5-0 last season for the 49ers)
  • – Brand new weapons joining SF
  • – A surprisingly good strength of schedule
  • – 67.4% completion percentage last year, 260 YPG
  • – #2 in TOTAL QBR in 2017
  • – Faced difficult schedule in 2017 and still succeeded 

Garoppolo’s Path to Hype 

Jimmy Garoppolo did not have an easy path laid out for him in 2017. In his five starts for the 49ers, he had to face the Bears (7th in passing yards allowed per game), Texans (24th), Titans (25th), Jaguars (1st) and the Rams (13th).

The Jaguars allowed only 4 Quarterbacks to amass more yards against their defense than Garoppolo in 2017.

The Texans? Three.

The Bears? Three as well.

The Rams? Just one other QB put up more than Garoppolo did (It was Brian Hoyer – WTF?!)

The Titans? Nobody amassed more yards than Garoppolo against them.

Garoppolo represented a big challenge for opposing defenses, and it’s no coincidence. Let’s not forget. He was drafted in the second round and landed in the best development spot he could have possibly landed; Being coached by Bill Belichick and learning from Tom Brady.

In his final year at Eastern Illinois, he threw for a ridiculous 5,050 yards, 53 TDs, and only 9 INTs. He broke Tony Romo’s school records for Passing Yards and Passing TDs on his way to becoming one of the best QBs in FCS. He played in a no-huddle offense over his final two seasons, which is perhaps why Bill Belichick liked him as a future replacement for Tom Brady.

Now, as the uncontested starter for the San Francisco 49ers, Garoppolo has a chance to breakout as he leads the new-look Niners into 2018.

2018 Season Outlook

Being the starting QB for the 49ers wouldn’t have been such a sexy prospect in previous seasons. Hell, it wasn’t a sexy prospect when Garoppolo was traded there. When he arrived, the 49ers were 1-10, they had lost their #1 WR Pierre Garconto injury and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Despite all of that, Garoppolo took over in Week 12 and never looked back.

A big reason for the hype around Garoppolo is the improvement of the 49ers this offseason. They are going to get Garcon back, but they also drafted explosive rookie Dante Pettis in the draft, and George Kittle seems to be rising to the occasion just in time. Let’s also not forget Trent Taylor, who quietly put together a couple of good games down the stretch when Garcon was injured.

The Niners also made some moves on their Offensive Line this offseason. The biggest of which was drafting Mike McGlinchey with the 9th overall pick. They also get some depth with Josh Garnett looking healthy once again. Trent Brown leaves for the Patriots, but with McGlinchey filling that hole, it’s looking like a slight uptick for this Offensive Line unit.

As far as schedules go, the 49ers have ended up pretty lucky considering the division they are in. The Seahawks have been crippled when it comes to their Pass defense, losing Richard Sherman, and very possibly both Earl Thomas AND Kam Chancellor. They face the Rams in weeks 7 and 17, meaning Garoppolo only has one fantasy matchup against their formidable defense. In fact, the 49ers only have three games against teams with projected Top 10 Defenses

Outlining Garoppolo’s 2018 season

So, Garoppolo has the tools to succeed this season. He was able to do so last year when the Niners were a markedly less-talented team. So, it is fair to assume he will be a fantasy asset in 2018.

Statistics Tell a Good Story

Let’s take a look at some of Jimmy G’s best statistics.

First of all, let’s compare him to another QB who is coming off a shortened campaign with great results, and whose hype is even higher than Jimmy G: DeShaun Watson[profiler].

Jimmy G measures up against Watson like this:

  • Passing Yards Per StartJimmy G: 308.4 – Watson 294.4
  • Total QBRJimmy G: 80.8Watson: 81.6 (#2 and #1 in the NFL respectively)
  • Red Zone Attempts – Jimmy G: 7.5 per game – Watson 3.7 per game
  • Pass Attempts Per INTJimmy G: 35.6 – Watson: 25.5
  • Pass Attempts per TD Jimmy G: 25.4 – Watson: 10.7

So naturally, I’ve handpicked some convenient statistics. But overall it’s easy to see how their trajectories should be closer than they are. Watson was putting up TDs at 2.5x the rate that Jimmy G did. Both of those figures should trend towards the mean. Garoppolo should easily put up a better TD number than he did last year. His 1.4 TD/G is not sustainable for the number of yards the guy puts up. He also will benefit from a starting RB who has a role in the passing game, as well as a better game script than the Niners had in previous years.

If you’ve read some of my articles before, you may know that I’m a big believer in the Football Outsiders’ DVOA stat. This stat differs from QBR in that it simply measures the success of each play. So, a 12-yard completion when your team is 3rd and 15? Not a successful play. A measly 2-yard completion, but one that results in a first down or TD? Succesful. It also factors in the strength of the opposing defense.

[profiler]Case Keenum had the best DVOA in the league with 28.1%, followed by Brady with 27.8% and Brees at 27.4%. But those rankings only include QBs who threw over 200 passes.  So, with 185 passes, where did Garoppolo measure up?

39.1%

A stunning number. Garoppolo does seem to be a quality QB and one who is well worth picking at his ADP

The Case AGAINST Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo

Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a fantasy football reality check. While Jimmy G is exciting for San Francisco 49ers fans, he is far less so for fantasy football purposes.

As a brief outline, here’s exactly why Garoppolo is NOT worth drafting:

  • Small Sample Size
  • – Fantasy production has been < Real-World Production
  • – Zero rushing upside
  • – Terrible deep Ball, Possession QB
  • – Eerily similar to some recent busts
  • – Bad Fantasy QB Strategy

I’ll cover all these topics and more, but let’s start out with a little bit of fact-checking on some statistics.

Shady Statistics

Now, while my rosier side might see Jimmy as a statistics darling, a different story can also be told.

Not entirely dissimilar to DVOA, playerprofiler.com has their efficiency statistic which they call “Production Premium.” Based on their description, it’s a similar tool to DVOA, except it takes into account “non-standard” situations such as garbage time and 2-minute drill. Now, according to their statistic, Garoppolo scores -12.6, which ranks 32nd in the league.

Let’s take a look at Garoppolo’s Next Gen Stats:

What stands out in a big way for me is Garoppolo’s struggles when passing the ball further than 10 yards downfield. His struggles are uniform across the board, often falling well below league average at each area of the deep field.

This, in my opinion, is what holds Jimmy G back from being a true fantasy asset. He may throw for more yards than some QBs, but he can’t seem to make the big plays happen. He will be hard-pressed to improve that pitiful 1.4 TD/G number if he can’t find ways to succeed in a vertical offense. With McKinnon and Breida there to eat into his TD numbers from within 5 yards of the goal line, he’ll need to do more than to dink and dunk his way down the field to be a QB1.

Bad Company

Do you remember what it was like to own Alex Smith before last season? Well, in 2016, Alex Smith averaged 3.1 deep ball attempts per game. In that season, Smith scored a measly 15.2 fantasy points per game while scoring around 1 TD per game.

Sound familiar? Yeah, Jimmy G averaged 3.2 deep balls per game, averaged 15.3 fantasy points per game and scored 1.4 TD/G. That is NOT a recipe for success!

If that’s not scary enough, consider how eerily similar his situation is to Brock Osweiler:

  • Both late second round picks
  • Both spent multiple seasons backing up one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time.
  • Both took over as starters midway through a season, going on to post 1.4 TD/G
  • Both had next to zero rushing prowess
  • Both signed huge contracts with rebuilding teams

We have to face the facts here. Jimmy Garoppolo’s hype is mostly a product of media buzz. From starting out as a humble meme to becoming the inspiration for a Rob Riggle Hamilton tribute song on NFL on FOX.

The kid has some talent, and his situation could be worse. But it’s clear that due to his game management style, and his lack of run game appeal, that he’s more of a real-world asset than he is a fantasy asset.

Fantasy Strategy

In my DeShaun Watson article, I explored the aspect of good Fantasy QB strategy. The same rules apply to Garoppolo, but I will run through the main points again.

Most likely, to draft Garoppolo, you’ll have to do so as the 9th QB off the board. After him, you can select Jared Goff, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford, or any number of proven QBs. So why would you want to spend a QB1 tier pick on a guy who MIGHT be a QB1, but who’s just as likely to end up being a middle-of-the-road QB?

“Sell High, Buy Low” has to be your motto. You would be buying Garoppolo at his highest possible price when you could try and scoop him once he struggles against the top-projected defense in the league (Vikings) in week one.

Even if Garoppolo does end up being a quality fantasy starter, he faces one of the tougher stretches of his schedule at fantasy playoff time. What good is a guy who gets you to the show, but then leaves you hanging? Anybody remember how owning Tom Brady in the fantasy playoffs last season felt?!

Bottom line: Garoppolo is a risky proposition at this ADP. One that could very well not pay off, and that’s why you should NOT draft him at his ADP.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you don’t accuse me of being a fence sitter. But I am still somewhat torn between the two options.

I can say definitively that I personally will NOT be drafting Jimmy Garoppolo at that position in the draft. It’s simply not a good draft strategy to go chasing a guy who’s being picked at least, in my opinion, three rounds higher than I would comfortably draft him. Especially with the plethora of options behind him.

Is Garoppolo exciting? Could he be worth that value? Absolutely. Since, in essence, fantasy sports is gambling, sometimes you have double down. Even if conventional wisdom says not to. So if you like the thrill of a gamble, and you’re willing to hedge your bets a little bit, I can’t in all good conscience say that you’re wrong.

If you love Jimmy G, and can’t pass him up, he’s not the worst possible choice. You’re at least going to be picking him at a point in the draft that allows you to back him up with a safer QB soon afterward, which is what I would recommend if you do decide to roll with him.

In Redraft, you can find bargains at QB and even stream QBs from week to week. So why spend two picks at that point in the draft when you could load up on skill positions and go after some better value guys later in the draft?

When it comes to RB or WR, I’m a little more inclined to pick a guy who is hyped up. At least that way you’re automatically picking them in addition to 4 or 5 other guys who can help pick up the pieces if they falter. But with the QB, you’re best off going with one guy you can trust, and maybe a second. So if Garoppolo does bust, he’ll hurt you for investing in him as early as you’ll have to.

Again, I see the upside. So if you want to roll with Garoppolo and are comfortable with rostering 2 QBs, consider pairing him with guys like Kirk Cousins or Andrew Luck. Both of whom have a pretty sweet schedule in the playoffs. That might help you ride out some of the rougher patches of Garoppolo’s season and give you the best chance for success in 2018.

Jimmy Garoppolo is likely going to be a guy I pass up on entirely.

mlawson

@DFF_MitchLawson / Writer, Editor & Analyst for @DFF_Redraft & @DFF_Dynasty. #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball. Canadian. Occasionally witty, stay tuned

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