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The Forgotten Fantasy Football Five—Part 3: Andy Dalton

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I simply don’t understand why the fantasy football community is ignoring Andy Dalton. And when I say ignore, I mean he’s being drafted in the 11th round as the 17th quarterback off the board.

For crying out loud, the guy finished with the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks last season.

I’ve heard the argument that Dalton will have only a few good weeks and the rest will be duds. Not true.

Well, not true enough for him to be discounted like he’s poppin’ tags at the Goodwill.

Dalton threw for at least two touchdowns in 11 of 16 games last season. He had double-digit fantasy points in 12 of 16 games. That’s not a boom-or-bust guy. That’s a guy who puts up the fifth-most fantasy points at his position.

But you’re still sitting there saying the man is inconsistent and deserves to be drafted six rounds after Andrew Luck. Okay. Let’s move on.

Dalton face

Another way to check a player’s consistency is to see how many serviceable weeks he provided fantasy owners. With quarterbacks, a top-12 performance constitutes a serviceable week.

Dalton was a top-12 quarterback for fantasy purposes in eight out of sixteen weeks. Eight weeks isn’t mind-blowing, but consider this: Andrew Luck had the same amount (8) of usable weeks as Dalton.

Matthew Stafford had 10 usable weeks and he’s being drafted in the fourth round. The fourth round, I said. Are two more usable weeks really worth pulling the trigger on Stafford seven rounds earlier than Dalton? No.

Oh, wait. Dalton only did well because of the offensive coordinator. Right?  But now Hue “Smash Mouth” Jackson replaced Jay “Go Deep” Gruden so the Bengals will throw less and finish as one of the most run-heavy teams in the league.

Well under Gruden, the Bengals ran the ball an average of 29.8 times per game. That earned them the status of having ran the ball the eighth-most times in the league law season. They ran the ball only 28 total fewer times than Seattle, who ran the ball like Forrest Gump. (2nd-most in NFL).

The Bengals may, in fact, be one of the most run-heavy teams in the league this year. And I wouldn’t put it past them to get back into the top-10 in total rushing attempts. But Dalton will still throw the rock just as much as he did last year.

Pegging Dalton with about 37 pass attempts per game (592 total) is no stretch. That’s where Jacksonville finished last season.

What’s really bothering me with Dalton being on the “pay-no-mind” list is how he’s been improving each year since he’s been in the league but people aren’t seeing it.

Well, I’m providing you with a nice, neat table so you can take a look at Dalton’s progression.

Screen Shot_2014-08-06_at_11.25.20_AM

Please tell me you see how his passing yards have gone from 3,398, to 3,669, to 4,293. And his touchdowns: 20, to 27, to 33. And what about his quarterback rating going from 80.4 as a rookie up to 88.8 last season. Dalton is getting better each year in the league, a true sign of a dominant NFL quaterback.

Despite the improvement and solid stats, Dalton is being disregarded. At most, he’s seen as a quality QB2 or a guy to take a flier on in late rounds.

People are passing on Dalton and taking a guy like Andrew Luck six rounds earlier—a guy who hasn’t proved himself and outlook looks quite suspect. His offensive line is a wreck and his pass catchers are either aging, injured vets or ignored by the coaching staff (Hilton). 

Over his first two seasons, Dalton put up better numbers than Luck did in Luck’s first two seasons. Yet the masses are drafting Luck like he threw more than 23 touchdowns in a season. He hasn’t. Dalton has. Twice: 27 touchdowns in his sophomore season and 33 last season.

The fantasy football masses are engaging in groupthink. That’s a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome, i.e., drafting Luck in the fifth round and Dalton in the eleventh round.

Maybe people think Luck runs the ball more than Dalton so that gives Luck more value. Wrong again.

Dalton Run

Luck ran the ball 63 times last year—Dalton ran it 61 (9th-most among quarterbacks).

The more interesting stat is that 43 of Luck’s 63 runs were supposed to be pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. In other words, 43 of Luck’s runs were from broken down pass plays. Of Dalton’s 61 rushes, only 25 of those were broken-down pass plays. That would suggest Dalton is more of a running quarterback than Luck.

Luck is simply being accepted as a top-5 quarterback this season—and he may end up in that group—but his price, as compared to Dalton's price, doesn't make sense. The true sign a quarterback is being overvalued is when his ADP is higher than any of his pass catchers. That's Luck, no one else. 

For those of you who are waiting on a quarterback, Dalton is a solid pick—even if the rest of the group says otherwise.

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).