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As we embark on the process of gathering data and analyzing the trajectory of specific rosters, it is of utmost importance to recognize NFL football trends and proactively manage your dynasty rosters. This becomes especially critical when striving to maintain positive expected value outcomes in the future across a wide-ranging portfolio, where the current market evolves rapidly, akin to the speed of Aroldis Chapman’s fastball. This week, my attention is focused on the quarterback market, and I intend to devote my endeavors to divesting from Justin Fields down to zero exposure in the portfolio.
The Focus: Justin Fields – NFL Quarterback vs. Dynasty Asset
We begin our analysis by examining Justin Fields, the NFL quarterback, and employing this as a means to assess the trajectory of Fields, the dynasty asset. It is widely acknowledged that the prevailing sentiment in the market regarding Fields during the initial three weeks of the 2023 season is exceedingly unfavorable. His challenges as a thrower and a lack of rushing have resulted in underwhelming fantasy output. Consequently, his KTC value has experienced a significant decline, dropping from QB8 to QB15 since the opening kickoff. Regrettably, there appears to be no optimistic outcome on the horizon at this juncture.
The Goal: Selling Justin Fields Before the Bottom Hits
Fields’ performance in passing efficiency, as measured by the metric CPOE+EPA, has been subpar throughout his 30 NFL games. CPOE, which stands for Completion Percentage Over Expected, quantifies the disparity between a quarterback’s actual completion percentage and the expected completion percentage based on the types of passes attempted. This expectation is determined by a machine learning model that takes into account various factors, such as the distance and location of the throw. Generally, shorter and closer throws to the quarterback are expected to have higher completion percentages.
On the other hand, EPA, or Expected Points Added, gauges the average number of points a team is anticipated to score on a possession given a specific field position. While there is some debate regarding the direct application of EPA per play to evaluate a quarterback’s performance, it is generally accepted as a viable metric for the position due to the quarterback’s involvement in every snap and their greater influence over the play compared to other positions. It is important to note that EPA per play does not differentiate between factors such as play design, defensive positioning, external conditions, or any other variables. For a more comprehensive metric, EPA per dropback should be considered.
The combination of these two metrics is widely regarded as the most valuable indicator of passing efficiency available. The chart below highlights where Justin Fields sits in EPA+CPOE among NFL quarterbacks who have played roughly eight complete games (500 plays minimum) within the last decade. In accordance with this criterion, a total of 78 quarterbacks are included in the sample.
Credit to RBSDM
Fields ranks 68th out of 78 in EPA+CPOE. Furthermore, he individually ranks 68th out of 78 in EPA and 65th out of 78 in CPOE. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that among the quarterbacks listed, twenty-two are retired, ten are currently unemployed, and nineteen of the remaining forty-six serve as backups or third-string quarterbacks on a present NFL roster.
The Why: Justin Fields’ Days as an NFL Starting QB are Numbered
This data reveals that twenty-seven individuals remain among the current NFL quarterbacks starting for their respective teams. From an efficiency standpoint, Fields is only under-performed by Zach Wilson. The next tier of current starting quarterbacks consists of Kenny Pickett (57 of 78), Trevor Lawrence (52 of 78), and Daniel Jones (48 of 78). Between Pickett and the lower end of the spectrum (which includes Fields), there are seven other former first-round quarterbacks (excluding Zach Wilson). These quarterbacks include Mark Sanchez, Blake Bortles, Sam Darnold, Robert Griffin III, Blaine Gabbert, Dwayne Haskins, and Josh Rosen. Their tenures as NFL starters varied, but all were relieved of their starting roles by the sixth year of their careers. On average, they played in 54 games and started 45 games before calling it quits. If we exclude Haskins, who tragically passed away during his rookie contract, this figure increases to 60 games played and 52 games started.
Fields has already reached the halfway point of this sample size, and his performance and market trends continue to decline. It is reasonable to assume that passing efficiency can be indicative of future job security, and all indications suggest that Fields’ future as an NFL starting quarterback is in serious peril.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the current situation differs significantly from the decision made last week regarding Kyle Pitts, as it is not simply a strategic asset allocation maneuver or an opportunity to retain roster construction at a reduced investment cost. Instead, it can be characterized as a rescue mission aimed at salvaging any remaining value, safeguarding the overall composition of the roster, and avoiding the detrimental effects of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
Typically, I would provide specific examples from the league, but in this case, the specific league economy, the level of involvement in the dynasty market, and the risk aversion of the other managers in your league will determine the cut line on Fields. In your specific situation, the threshold may be low enough for you to decide that the remaining opportunity for short-term fantasy production will allow the boat to continue sinking to the ocean floor.
As for me, my ultimate goal is to exit the Fields market while preserving as much roster equity as possible. Look out for future content and updates on my mission to act on this data! You can follow @CharlesChillFFB for further analysis, and good luck with your endeavors; I will be back for more Techtonic Transactions after week three!