Welcome to the how to fantasy football draft training series. In this video, I’m going to show you how to project quarterback passing yards, using Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as an example. If you recall from our last discussion, the goal when projecting stats is to factor luck out of the equation as much as possible. Quarterback rate stats like yards-per-attempt or touchdowns-per-attempt typically regress toward each individual player’s mean.
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To determine that mean, it’s advisable to examine stats from the previous three seasons, if possible. Using three seasons of data allows for a larger sample size of plays, minimizing the chance of an outlying season leading us in the wrong direction during the draft. To project passing yards, the only two numbers we need to accurately predict are attempts and yards-per-attempt.
Get Your Baseline
For some players, three years of data won’t be available, such as in the case of rookies or second-year players. Other times, we can’t use three years of data simply because it might not be representative of a player’s current situation. If you’re projecting yards for a quarterback who was recently traded, for example, his past YPA is not as valuable as the same stat for a quarterback who has been in a similar situation for a few years.
If we look back and see that Newton has averaged 501 passes and 7.9 YPA in the last two years, we can perform a simple calculation to make a baseline for Newton’s future yards: 501 multiplied by 7.9.
Refine Your Projections
However, only rarely will our baseline projection be our final prediction for a player. We need to refine our projections based on new information. In the case of Newton, he’s a young, rising player; one who is unquestionably talented and has displayed a strong work ethic and willingness to improve. The question marks for Newton are that his top wide receiver is aging and he’ll have a new offensive coordinator in Mike Shula, his previous quarterbacks coach.
Despite the issues, there’s probably good reason to expect Newton’s passing efficiency to increase a bit. There’s no reason to think Newton’s passing attempts will change too much, and while a lack of elite receivers hurts Newton, it isn’t detrimental to the same extent that the quarterback’s own development will help. He’s at tipping point in his career where many NFL quarterbacks start to produce bigger numbers.
SubjectivityBefore you can draft a winning team, you need to do the preparation.
Going through this process, you can see how creating projections starts with an objective framework and then implements subjectivity. We use a player’s past rate stats as baselines and then mold them based on any new information. If we noticed that Newton converted an unusually high number of red zone passes into touchdowns over this past two years, for example, we would then alter our baseline touchdown projection to compensate for that.
Diving deeper into our how to draft fantasy football series, I’m going to go over the same sort of methodology for different stats. I’ll use running backs to show how to project touchdowns, wide receivers to project catches, and tight ends to project yards-per-catch. Please note that you’ll use the same general process to project every stat for every position. If you want to predict wide receivers touchdowns, for example, you’ll use the same process as you will to predict running back touchdowns. Similarly, you can project WR yards-per-catch using the formulas shown in the video for predicting the same stat for tight ends.
In the next video, I’m going to show you exactly how to project touchdowns, using running backs as an example. This is part of our "How to Draft Fantasy Football, The Definitive Guide".