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When bad QBs happen to good receivers

Posted by Doug on June 8, 2006

So I've got Chad Johnson in a keeper league and I'm wondering how much this Carson Palmer situation ought to concern me. On one hand, Johnson's best year was when Jon Kitna was quarterbacking the Bengals. On the other, I don't think Anthony Wright, Doug Johnson, and Dave Ragone are even as good as Kitna. How big a dropoff --- if any --- should we expect from Johnson in the first four games of the season? (It's pure speculation on my part, obviously, but I'd bet money that Palmer doesn't return until after the week five bye.)

My first instinct in this situation is look for comparable situations and see if there are any obvious answers. So that's what I did. I looked for all teams since 1996 that had a quarterback who ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points per game while playing between 8 and 14 games. I then identified the team's top wide receiver, in terms of fantasy points per game, and examined how that receiver did with and without his main quarterback.

I threw out a number of teams because it just didn't feel right to include them. I threw out the 2000 Rams, who split the year between Warner and Green. I threw out all the Viking seasons that were split between some pair of Brad Johnson, Jeff George, and Randall Cunningham. I threw out a few others, trying to keep only the teams that had a typical Backup Quarterback [TM] step in.

Since there are obviously a lot of factors to consider, I won't try to summarize the data. I'll just present it and let you sift through it. Some fine print is at the bottom. Enjoy.


2005 Arizona Cardinals
Main QB: Kurt Warner
Top WR: Anquan Boldin

WK QB R Y T
================================
3 Josh McCown 6 88 0
4 Josh McCown 8 116 1
5 Josh McCown 10 162 1
7 Josh McCown 0 0 0
8 Josh McCown 3 69 1
15 John Navarre 8 134 1
16 Josh McCown 9 81 1
17 Josh McCown 8 81 0
Points per game in 8 games with Warner: 9.9
Points per game in 8 games with other QBs: 12.9

2005 St. Louis Rams
Main QB: Marc Bulger
Top WR: Torry Holt

WK QB R Y T
================================
6 Jamie Martin 6 70 0
12 Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 130 1
13 Ryan Fitzpatrick 6 75 0
14 Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 95 0
15 Ryan Fitzpatrick 3 16 1
16 Jamie Martin 10 163 1
17 Jamie Martin 4 40 0
Points per game in 7 games with Bulger: 15.7
Points per game in 7 games with other QBs: 11.0

2004 St. Louis Rams
Main QB: Marc Bulger
Top WR: Torry Holt

WK QB R Y T
================================
13 Chris Chandler 10 160 1
14 Chris Chandler 6 151 1
15 Jamie Martin 6 95 0
Points per game in 13 games with Bulger: 11.1
Points per game in 3 games with other QBs: 17.5

2003 Denver Broncos
Main QB: Jake Plummer
Top WR: Rod Smith

WK QB R Y T
================================
2 Steve Beuerlein 5 71 0
6 Steve Beuerlein 4 70 1
7 Steve Beuerlein 3 24 0
8 Danny Kanell 4 23 0
9 Danny Kanell 4 58 0
Points per game in 10 games with Plummer: 7.2
Points per game in 5 games with other QBs: 6.1

2003 Minnesota Vikings
Main QB: Daunte Culpepper
Top WR: Randy Moss

WK QB R Y T
================================
3 Gus Frerotte 3 85 0
4 Gus Frerotte 8 172 3
5 Gus Frerotte 5 81 2
Points per game in 13 games with Culpepper: 15.5
Points per game in 3 games with other QBs: 21.3

2003 San Francisco 49ers
Main QB: Jeff Garcia
Top WR: Terrell Owens

WK QB R Y T
================================
9 Tim Rattay 2 17 1
11 Tim Rattay 8 155 1
12 Tim Rattay 5 49 1
Points per game in 13 games with Garcia: 9.5
Points per game in 3 games with other QBs: 13.4

2003 Tennessee Titans
Main QB: Steve McNair
Top WR: Derrick Mason

WK QB R Y T
================================
12 Billy Volek 4 47 0
15 Billy Volek 9 137 0
17 6 90 2
Points per game in 13 games with McNair: 10.7
Points per game in 3 games with other QBs: 13.1

2002 Philadelphia Eagles
Main QB: Donovan McNabb
Top WR: James Thrash

WK QB R Y T
================================
12 Koy Detmer 2 45 0
13 A.J. Feeley 2 16 0
14 A.J. Feeley 5 23 1
16 A.J. Feeley 1 34 0
17 A.J. Feeley 1 8 1
Points per game in 10 games with McNabb: 8.7
Points per game in 5 games with other QBs: 4.9

2001 Minnesota Vikings
Main QB: Daunte Culpepper
Top WR: Randy Moss

WK QB R Y T
================================
13 Todd Bouman 7 158 1
14 Todd Bouman 7 144 2
15 Spergon Wynn 3 34 0
16 Spergon Wynn 2 10 0
17 Spergon Wynn 2 9 0
Points per game in 11 games with Culpepper: 11.8
Points per game in 5 games with other QBs: 10.7

2000 Denver Broncos
Main QB: Brian Griese
Top WR: Rod Smith

WK QB R Y T
================================
4 Gus Frerotte 8 134 0
12 Gus Frerotte 11 187 1
13 Gus Frerotte 4 82 1
14 Gus Frerotte 2 25 0
15 Gus Frerotte 5 82 0
16 Gus Frerotte 6 101 0
17 Gus Frerotte 8 80 0
Points per game in 9 games with Griese: 14.8
Points per game in 7 games with other QBs: 11.6

1997 Arizona Cardinals
Main QB: Jake Plummer
Top WR: Rob Moore

WK QB R Y T
================================
1 Kent Graham 7 96 0
2 Kent Graham 6 108 0
3 Kent Graham 3 27 0
5 Kent Graham 8 147 1
6 Kent Graham 8 108 0
7 Stoney Case 4 87 0
8 Stoney Case 6 101 0
Points per game in 9 games with Plummer: 14.8
Points per game in 7 games with other QBs: 10.5

1997 Jacksonville Jaguars
Main QB: Mark Brunell
Top WR: Jimmy Smith

WK QB R Y T
================================
1 Rob Johnson 6 106 2
2 Steve Matthews 8 117 0
Points per game in 14 games with Brunell: 8.7
Points per game in 2 games with other QBs: 17.1

1996 Oakland Raiders
Main QB: Jeff Hostetler
Top WR: Tim Brown

WK QB R Y T
================================
1 Billy Joe Hobert 4 31 2
2 Billy Joe Hobert 8 96 0
17 David Klingler 5 65 0
Points per game in 13 games with Hostetler: 10.2
Points per game in 3 games with other QBs: 10.4

1996 San Francisco 49ers
Main QB: Steve Young
Top WR: Jerry Rice

WK QB R Y T
================================
5 Elvis Grbac 7 72 1
6 Elvis Grbac 7 108 1
7 Elvis Grbac 7 84 2
9 Jeff Brohm 5 36 0
11 Elvis Grbac 5 49 0
12 Elvis Grbac 6 58 1
Points per game in 10 games with Young: 10.9
Points per game in 6 games with other QBs: 11.8

Fine print: this was done only by looking at game logs, so every game was defined as either a "starter" game or a "backup" game. For example, even though Marc Bulger started the Rams' week 6 game in 2005 and played part of it, the game counts as a Jamie Martin game because Martin threw more passes than Bulger in the game. This pollutes the data a bit, but it's the best I can do with just game logs.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2006 at 4:13 am and is filed under Fantasy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.