People who play fantasy football are subject to interesting biases. Many of us get fixated on one simple play (i.e., the Terrelle Pryor catch last summer that pushed his ADP into the 3rd round) or assumption (i.e. Andy Dalton is bad) and then refuse to budge on this belief or fixation. The chief among these biases is the irrational hate for Andy Dalton in the fantasy community.
People enjoy acting like Andy Dalton is a Brock Osweiler level QB, and that has just never been true for fantasy football. I firmly believe that Dalton has been unfairly treated and undervalued because he is a ginger and looks goofy:
I’m not even kidding. If he looked like this, his ADP would be at least five rounds higher. We all know this is true:
We love to be irrational, and because Jimmy GQ looks the part of an alpha QB and Andy Dalton looks, well, not like an alpha QB, we value them differently for fantasy purposes. How’s that for hard-hitting analysis? Let’s dive into the numbers.
Andy Dalton Scores Fantasy Points:
Scoring more fantasy points is better than scoring fewer fantasy points. Once again, hard-hitting analysis. Almost every year Dalton out produces his ADP, and he is a fantastic bet to do so again (ADP per myfantasyleague.com):
Death. Taxes. Andy Dalton outperforming his ADP as the fantasy community disrespects him because of his goofy hair and weird eyebrows. This year his best ball ADP is QB25 at an overall ADP of 15.05. You should almost feel bad drafting him at this price and then watching him outproduce his ADP for the 6th time in 8 years.
From 2015-2017, Dalton produced 14 weeks with 20+ fantasy points. This is the same number as Ben Roethlisberger, who is seen in the best ball community as the quintessential spike week QB. Dalton is a fantastic bet not only for spike week production but also surprisingly consistent production (all graphs courtesy of ffstatistics.com):
In 41.28% of Dalton’s career games, he has finished as a QB1. In 77.98% of his career games, he has finished as at least a QB2. For an extreme comparison, let’s compare that to 2017 QB1 and many people’s dynasty QB1, Russell Wilson:
Expectedly, Wilson has outperformed Dalton. But it is by much less than one would initially assume. Wilson has been a QB1 in 54.08% of his career games, and at least a QB2 in 84.69%.
This is better than Dalton, but is it enough to justify the massive difference in price? Dalton and Wilson are one year apart in age. Wilson’s dynasty ADP is QB3. Dalton’s dynasty ADP is QB29.
Andy Dalton’s Price Makes No Sense:
Now that we have established the fact that Andy Dalton has and will continue to smash his ADP year after year let’s look at some more interesting comparables. The dynasty community loves Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, but their production has not differed much from Dalton’s production:
Peak Dalton was better than peak Winston, while bad Dalton was worse than bad Winston. Dalton outperformed Winston in both 2015 and 2016 while finishing behind Winston last year in the worst fantasy seasons of both of their careers. Winston’s dynasty ADP is QB13. Dalton’s dynasty ADP is QB29.
Peak Dalton outperformed peak Mariota, while bad Mariota was better than bad Dalton in their career-worst 2017 seasons. Mariota’s dynasty ADP is QB11. Dalton’s dynasty ADP is QB29.
There are similar floors, similar ceilings, yet massive price differences between Mariota/Winston and Dalton in dynasty. I recognize that there are age differences (older QBs are MASSIVELY undervalued in fantasy, but that is a discussion for another day), and both Mariota and Winston may not have reached their ceilings yet. But Dalton has shown to have a QB5 ceiling in the past, and should not be written off simply due to recency bias following a “down” year where he simply met his ADP rather than destroyed it.
Expect a Bounceback:
The Bengals offense was a historic mess last year. Per Rich Hribar (@LordReebs):
The Bengals also ran an absurdly low number of offensive plays last year. Just 927 total plays (last in the league and 123 fewer than 2016). First time they were under 1K snaps since 2008. 4th fewest of any team over the past 5 seasons.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) June 7, 2018
Do not be expect this to repeat in 2018. This was a clear historical outlier that is unlikely ever to be repeated by the Bengals. Dalton posted a career low in rushing TDs last year with 0. Before last season, Dalton had averaged three rushing touchdowns a year over the course of his career.
Dalton also had a horrendous offensive line last season, which significantly limited his ability to push the ball downfield. Per Next Gen Stats, Dalton had the 3rd shortest “time to throw” in the NFL last year at 2.48 seconds. This lack of time to throw likely played a huge role in Dalton being #31st in the NFL in air yards per attempt (per playerprofiler.com).
Wisley, the Bengals identified their offensive line as their biggest issue this offseason, they drafted Ohio State center Billy Price in the 1st round of the NFL Draft after trading for former Buffalo Bills LT Cordy Glenn.
Last year Price won the Rimington Award, which is awarded to the best center in college football. He was PFF’s 5th highest rated center in college football. Cordy Glenn was injured much of last year, but he was borderline elite the season prior to that. In 2016 he graded as PFF’s 21st ranked tackle, with the 10th highest pass blocking efficiency and the 14th highest pass block grade.
Dalton should be the primary beneficiary of more offensive plays and a better offensive line in 2018. Considering everything that went wrong, it is impressive that he still finished as the QB17 (especially considering how he is treated as though he finished as the QB32). Expect Dalton to outperform his ADP like he does every year, but also push for QB1 status. With an ADP of QB25 in best ball and of QB29 in dynasty, this would make him the biggest value at QB.
Stop disrespecting Andy Dalton and go draft or trade for him today.
Have I convinced you of Dalton’s value? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @DFF_RyanB.