Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fantasy Football Discussion: David Garrard

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.

8 comments:

  1. Bismuth8:29 AM

    In this case, I think it is reasonable to weight year N much more heavily than the previous years. Garrard spent 2005 and 2006 (at least parts) as the second-stringer, developing his NFL game and rapport with his teammates. The fact that his numbers keep going up from year to year tell me that the lower pre-2007 stats are a product of development, not of inconsistency.

    That said, I think he's more likely to match last year's numbers rather than improve upon them, and there are enough people who are high on Garrard that he'll likely be selected higher than I'd take him.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely agree with you! Garrard man have what it takes to help win ball games, but he certainly does not put up that stats that a starter should for fantasy. I would much rather draft someone like Jason Campbell with the weapons he has, or QB's who who can produce yards and scores week in and week out.

    I think that he will be drafted higher this year than in years past, but I would only look at him as a back-up or someone to trade.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "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?"

    That's why I think Ryan Grant is taken too early in nearly every fantasy draft I've seen.

    "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."

    I'd love a larger sample size too, but I think playoff games are different in strategy, scripting, and that few teams maintain the same level of conservatism in playcalling in most game situations. Also, FF is over by the playoffs, so it's presumptious to assume a player will play the same during FF's season.

    Pete Taylor: I like Jason Campbell, but with their switching offensive schemes (again!) I don't have too high of hopes.

    PV: how much math have you studied? Your analysis reads better than most others' I've seen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really like Garrard as the quarterback of the Jags, to be honest I think he would be the perfect fit for the vikes and I think the Vikings' goal is to model Tarvaris after Garrard.

    With that being said, I completely agree with your take on his fantasy value. Game log breakdown is really the only way to determine fantasy worth without being compeltely speculatory. Garrard has been a model of good decision making, but its unrealistic for any young quarterback to put together back to back seasons where they throw so few interceptions, not to mention he will have 4-5 40+ yard sure touchdowns dropped by a certain former South Carolina Gamecock this year. Oh and PS, Matthew Barry is a hack. I've been using ESPN as my Fantasy Football engine for four years now and I do everything in my power to completely ignore everything Barry says.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  5. Peter,
    I don't know terribly much about math myself, but I do read a lot of websites devoted to statistical analysis of sports. And I do like stats in sports (I grew up studying the stats on the backs of football cards). Teaching English probably helps me frame sports arguments better: I know I can't just make claims, but have to find evidence to support those claims. In sports, most of that evidence is statistical.

    ReplyDelete
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