2015 NFL Daily Fantasy: Undervalued QB #1 – Colin Kaepernick
The Hall of Fame Game is in the books, which means there will be football for the next 25 weekends! Since the Week 1 salaries are out on both FanDuel and DraftKings, let’s start previewing the 2015 NFL DFS season by looking at the undervalued players at each position. This first series of articles will focus on QBs with this one specifically on Colin Kaepernick.
But before that, let’s cover some ground work and focus on the fact that the salaries are already out. For you DFS golf players, remember the first Millionaire Maker at the Masters? They opened the contest at least a month in advance, which certainly makes sense, but they also had released the salaries as well. Considering that DraftKings’ algorithm is partially based on recent results and the sportsbooks’ odds are also partially based on recent results, which even brought more influence, there were several players who were incredibly mispriced by the time the players headed to Augusta National. Because of this, DraftKings changed their approach for the other three Millionaire Makers by allowing DFS players to essentially enter and book a reservation to make a lineup, but wait until closer to the event to release the salaries.
Granted the NFL is a completely different story, especially for certain positions, but both sites released the salaries over a month in advance for their Week 1 NFL contests. Because of preseason injuries and depth chart movement, there are going to be several salaries that are off. FanDuel’s $5M NFL Sunday Million and DraftKings’ NFL $10M Millionaire Maker will have plenty of amateur players who make their lineups too early and miss these details.
So, a lot can happen in the next month and we’ll have more updated information before Week 1, but QB should have the least fluctuation, at least from a depth chart perspective. Teams are also very careful when it comes to their No. 1 QBs with playing time and risk of injury.
If you’re new to DFS, don’t worry. We’ll have plenty of articles in the next month on NFL DFS strategy and the differences between FanDuel and DraftKings. QB has the same scoring system on both sites of 25 passing yards = 1 PT and 1 passing TD = 4 PTS. They both also have the same rushing scoring of 10 yards = 1 PT and 1 rushing TD = 6 PT.
Last order of business before we dive in – the #1 by Kaepernick does not indicate that he’s my biggest QB sleeper this year. I am going in order from most expensive to least expensive. So, the #1 simply indicates this is the first QB article.
Colin Kaepernick $7,900 FanDuel, $7,000 DraftKings
Everywhere you look, whether it’s analysts, journalists or your football buddies, people are picking a down year for the 49ers. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangino are all gone. They will be replaced by head coach Jim Tomsula, offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. With the exception of Mangini, the average football fan is thinking, “who???”
Well, even though Tomsula has been the DL coach of the 49ers since 2007 and Chryst has been the QB coach of San Francisco since 2011 (meaning schematic changes will be minimal), it probably will be a down year for San Francisco. Their defensive losses are significant. They lose six starters, highlighted by Chris Borland, Patrick Willis and now Aldon Smith. Plus, they lose both their starting cornerbacks in Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver.
But that doesn’t mean it’ll be a down year for Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers lost running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and left guard Mike Iupati. Moving Carlos Hyde to the feature back and having Reggie Bush as a change of pace RB or H back can certainly be a positive thing (I’m very high on Hyde in general as a running back, we’ll see how the touches work out). Losing Crabtree isn’t ideal (698 yards in 16 games with 4 TDs), but not end of the world by any means. Torrey Smith should add the deep element and is now paired with his former Baltimore Ravens teammate Anquan Boldin. The departures of Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd will go for the most part unnoticed. Iupati is a little bit of a loss, but certainly replaceable .
Furthermore, this isn’t another moment of the 49ers during the Alex Smith era of bringing in another outside person to be his offensive coordinator. Kaepernick’s QB coach simply is the OC now, which could end up being a good result.
When Kaepernick comes up in conversation, most people think he had a down year or bad season last year. In 2014, he posted 250.66 PTS (16th) while he racked up 264.28 in 2013 (9th). But let’s look at the numbers more closely.
(bold means positive change from 2013 to 2014, italics means negative change from 2013 to 2014, normal text means neutral change)
While Kaepernick’s record, yards per attempt, yards per completion, rating, QBR and all sack stats went the wrong way in 2014, he threw the ball more frequently, which resulted in more passing yards per game. So, while someone might say Kaepernick took a step back last season, there is some truth to it, but that’s false from a fantasy standpoint.
But as we all know, Kaepernick gets a lot of his production running the ball too. Let’s take a look at that.
Everything about Kaepernick’s rushing stats went up with the exception of touchdowns, which is largely due to variance. In short, Kaepernick in the TD category has been unlucky, especially in the rushing department.
From all this, we can tell that despite Kaepernick’s record dropped from 12-4 to 8-8, his rating numbers dipped and ran bad in the TD department, his passing and rushing numbers went up. Therefore, even though the 49ers might be worse than 8-8 this season, Kaepernick’s stats could easily improve.
Yards Per Point
The last factor we can look at is yards per point. This is one of my favorite metrics to look at. Offensive Yards Per Point (OYPP) is simply how many yards a team needed to move the ball to score per point. Defensive Yards Per Point (DYPP) is simply how many yards a team needed to move the ball against them to score per point. This is a stat that has been around a while, and while this stat has been used by several people in the football world of bettors and media, I’m surprised so few people really use it.
So, how does it work? The lower your OYPP is, the better your ranking is, because that means your starting field position has been good on offense, you’re not turning the ball over and/or you’ve been scoring touchdowns. The higher your DYPP is, the better your ranking is, because that means you gave the opposition poor field position, you’ve forced a lot of turnovers and/or holding teams to field goals.
But here’s the catch and how to interpret this – if you have a great ranking in either of these categories, you’re likely to have a worse ranking the following season. Conversely, if you have a poor ranking in either category, you’re likely to improve the following season. If you’re strong or weak in both areas, the likelihood of a change increases.
While there is obviously some skill and not all teams are equal each year, there is a lot more parity in football, particularly in the NFL, than the average person realizes. It should regress back to the mean to a certain degree.
Here are the OYPP rankings from 2014:
|New England||12.5 (1)|
|Green Bay||12.7 (2)|
|Kansas City||14.4 (9)|
|NY Giants||15.5 (15)|
|St Louis||15.5 (16)|
|San Diego||15.7 (18)|
|New Orleans||16.4 (21)|
|Tampa Bay||16.9 (24)|
|San Francisco||17.1 (26)|
|NY Jets||18.5 (29)|
Here are the DYPP rankings from 2014:
|Kansas City||18.8 (2)|
|New England||17.6 (5)|
|Green Bay||15.9 (13)|
|St. Louis||15.9 (14)|
|San Diego||15.6 (15)|
|San Francisco||15.1 (18)|
|NY Giants||15.0 (19)|
|New Orleans||14.5 (24)|
|Tampa Bay||14.4 (26)|
|NY Jets||13.1 (30)|
Generally speaking, you’ll notice that the better teams are usually toward the top of these lists while the worse teams are toward the bottom, but it’s certainly not black and white. Again, we very likely aren’t going to see New England as the worst OYPP or DYPP team in 2015, nor will we see Tennessee as the best OYPP or DYPP team, but teams who are very high or low on the list tend to regress to the middle.
San Francisco was 26th in OYPP and 18th in DYPP in 2014. These rankings do feed off each other to a certain extent of course. Having said that, an 18th DYPP ranking would be seen as neutral, especially since San Francisco isn’t thought to be a great team this year, but the 26th OYPP would be a factor pointing up for San Francisco and Kaepernick.
While there will be better examples of this metric in the future, it decently explains how Kaepernick ran bad in the TD department, despite improving in the yards category. Plus, if San Francisco’s defense does struggle, Kaepernick will have the ball in his hands more frequently needing to throw to come back to win.
So, even though San Francisco may take a step back record wise, I see plenty of reasons why Kaepernick’s fantasy numbers will at worst stay the same and more likely improve.
View all posts by Nick Juskewycz