With the NFL Draft and free agency having come and gone, we’ll break down all sorts of fantasy-relevant questions entering the 2018 season. Up next is a look at how Oakland’s $125 million quarterback will perform with a new coach and new receivers.
Carr Is Yet to Live Up to His Cost
The term “franchise quarterback” is typically used to describe any signal caller that’s competent enough to earn a long-term contract. Twenty-two quarterbacks will make at least $15 million in average salary in 2018. Derek Carr is the NFL’s fifth-highest paid quarterback, and he’s set to make $25 million, which seems a bit extreme considering how he measures up:
22 QBs are making at least $15M in 2018
Derek Carr's career ranks among this group:
Yards per attempt – 22nd
Completion rate – 18th
Win % – 20th
Yards per start – 15th
TD % – T10th
Fewest sacks taken per start – 1st
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 11, 2018
Since Carr entered the league in 2014, no starting quarterback has stayed off the ground better than him. However, he’s failed to efficiently lead the Raiders, both on the stat sheet and the scoreboard.
In fairness to Carr, he hasn’t received much help. He’s thrown to a group of pass catchers that has combined to drop a league-high 156 balls since he entered the league. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree rank first and third, respectively, among all wide receivers in drops since 2015.
Plenty of below-average quarterbacks can remain valuable fantasy assets thanks to a variety of factors — Carr just hasn’t been one of those quarterbacks for the better part of his career.
Carr Hasn’t Been Fantasy-Friendly
Per our NFL Trends Tool, 23 quarterbacks have played at least 40 regular season games since 2014, and Carr’s ranking come in at the low end compared to his peers:
- Fantasy points per game: 20th (DraftKings), 21st (FanDuel)
- Plus/Minus average: 19th (DraftKings), 17th (FanDuel)
- Consistency Rating: 21st (DraftKings), 18th (FanDuel)
- Ownership Percentage: ninth (DraftKings), 13th (FanDuel)
Overall, Carr has finished last four seasons as fantasy’s QB19, QB11, QB15, and QB20. His average draft position on Fantasy Football Calculator at the time of this writing pits him as the QB13/18 in standard/PPR.
While Carr may have functioned as an above-average fantasy quarterback in 2015 and 2016, he doesn’t possess many of the traits of a fantasy-friendly quarterback; deep-throwing, mobile, and high-volume red-zone quarterbacks have historically been better DFS options than their counterparts.
Carr, on the other hand:
- Has never scored a rushing touchdown in the NFL and hasn’t surpassed 150 rushing yards in a season since high school.
- Has never ranked in the top 20 in average depth of target.
- Has finished better than 18th in red-zone pass attempts just once in four seasons.
Carr is a risk-averse and immobile quarterback who has seldom offered fantasy upside in his career.
Gruden Isn’t A Quarterback Whisperer
Not much should change with a new play caller. After doing so in four of six seasons with the Eagles and Raiders, new head coach Jon Gruden didn’t coach a single top-10 scoring offense from 2002 to 2008 with the Buccaneers. In fact, the Bucs never finished higher than 18th in scoring during the Gruden era.
Naturally, this didn’t help produce any high-end fantasy quarterbacks. The last quarterback to finish a season as a top-10 fantasy option under Gruden was Rich Gannon (QB4) in 2001. It’s fair to say the Gruden’s crop of quarterbacks with the Bucs — Brad Johnson, Brian Griese, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, and Jeff Garcia — didn’t possess Carr’s talent, but it’s also tough to assume Gruden will raise the fantasy ceiling of Carr to a Gannon-esque level.
2018 Will Be Telling
There are some reasons for optimism. Gruden is expected to feature Cooper as the No. 1 receiver after the team chose to not resign Crabtree. Cooper is expected to be flanked by Martavis Bryant, with Jordy Nelson likely working out of the slot. Toss in the return of Jared Cook, plus the league’s third-most expensive offensive line, and it’s possible the 2018 edition of the Raiders will be the most talented supporting cast of Carr’s career.
Still, it’s now or never for Carr’s fantasy stock, and based on the history of both him and his new coach, “never” might be the more likely outcome.
You can use our tools to research more player- or team-specific questions for yourself, and be sure to check out The Action Network for more in-depth NFL analysis.
Pictured above: Derek Carr
Photo credit: Timothy T. Ludwig – USA TODAY Sports