Some people are high on David Garrard as a fantasy quarterback this season. For example, Matthew Berry points out that
"David Garrard averaged 15.4 fantasy points a game last year. He played only 12 games. In a 16-game season, that equals 246 points, which would have been 10th-best in the NFL last year. If you take out the Colts game, in which he was injured early, Garrard averaged 16.6 points a game. Over a 16-game season, that's 265.6 points, which would have been as much as Matt Hasselbeck and more than Carson Palmer, tied for eighth-best among quarterbacks."
Berry then notes "I'm fairly high on David Garrard this year."
But I am not.
First, I'm always leery of taking a player's stats in fewer than 16 games, and extrapolating them out to 16 games. Did the player actually do it in 16 games? Has the player ever done it in 16 games? This is the same logic that is making Andre Johnson a top-5 fantasy WR in some people's estimation, even though Johnson has never been a top-5 fantasy WR over the course of 16 games.
But I'm also leery of David Garrard after looking at his game logs. Garrard threw for 250+ yards in just three of 12 regular season starts last season, and 4/14 starts including playoffs (I don't really see a reason to exclude playoff numbers from fantasy football analysis--they are further samples of the player's performance to use for assessment). In his career, Garrard has played in 40 regular season games, and started 30 regular season games. He has a total of just five regular season games with 250+ passing yards.
Last season, David Garrard threw for 250+ yards in 3/12 regular season games and 1/2 playoff games. In his career, he has thrown for 250+ yards in 5/30 starts. And Garrard has only modest rushing numbers to supplement that.
This points to a negative for me. If the Jaguars' running game and defense give Garrard a lot of scoring opportunities, he may throw for touchdowns. But there aren't numbers to suggest that as a fantasy quarterback, Garrard is going to consistently produce numbers in his own right.
Furthermore, Garrard is not exactly a touchdown machine. He was good in 2007, throwing 18 TD passes in 12 starts. But in 2006 he threw 10 TD passes in 10 starts. In 2005 he threw 4 TD passes in 5 starts. His total numbers, including regular season and playoff games: 39 touchdown passes in 32 starts and 43 games. This is not a fantasy football juggernaut. Too often, people project good numbers in year N+1 based on good numbers in year N, ignoring entirely bad or mediocre numbers in the years prior to N. Certainly year N is the most important year for projecting year N+1, but it's not the only year.
There are other reasons one might avoid Garrard. Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders is avoiding Garrard, noting that Garrard had a ridiculously low--and lucky--number of interceptions in 2007, which is not likely to be repeated:
"Garrard has a major correction coming. [...] The extra interceptions mean that drives that continued in 2007, with additional passing yards and eventual touchdowns, will instead end in 2008."
Garrard is getting fantasy hype for a very brief stretch of solid fantasy production (12 starts in 2007). But in his career he rarely throws for a lot of yards (six career 250 yard games, no career 300 yard games), and throws a modest number of touchdowns. So if you take Garrard as your fantasy starter, you are hoping that
a.) Garrard's 2007 fantasy production in 12 games is far more indicative of Garrard's likely production in 2008, enough to negate Garrard's low fantasy production pre-2007.
b.) The Jaguars will continue to play good defense and run the ball extremely well, giving Garrard opportunities to throw touchdown passes, because the numbers don't suggest he'll throw for a lot of yards.
And after all, according to Berry himself, his best manipulation of the numbers puts Garrard's 2007--Garrard's career year so far--as "tied for eighth-best among quarterbacks." That's not exactly reason to take 12 solid 2007 starts (which lack in yards) over everything else.
Which is why I see Garrard as a very good fantasy backup, and a very bad fantasy starter.