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Is Derek Carr Good Or Overpriced?

Last offseason I posed the following question: Is Derek Carr bad or a bargain? At the time, the evidence pointed towards bad but he turned out to be a bargain, and people who drafted him in redraft or dynasty had nothing to regret.

Carr turning out to be a bargain raised his dynasty price considerably this year though, which raises the question: Is Derek Carr good or overpriced?

According to the Best Ball ADP App, Carr is currently being drafted as the 18th QB off the board. That doesn’t seem unreasonable by any means. But things get strange when you compare that to his dynasty ADP, where Carr is being drafted as the seventh QB. Is this discrepancy justified? Or is this simply a case where one group of drafters is getting it right and the other is getting it wrong?

Let’s review Carr’s 2015 performance. Carr finished as the QB14 overall and the QB19 in terms of points per game.1 So his performance lines up neatly with his redraft price, which makes sense for a relatively stable and predictable position like QB.

One explanation for a higher dynasty price would be that he was actually very efficient, and was just held back by a lack of opportunity. Something like that could correct itself over time and then Carr could prove himself to be more valuable than his 2015 performance suggests. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. AY/A+ is a variation of yards per attempt that counts touchdowns as 20 yards, interceptions as -45 yards, and then indexes that stat to a league average of 100. Carr’s 2015 AY/A+? 100, meaning he was exactly average. His AY/A+ was only 77 as a rookie, so the early career returns don’t suggest efficiency as a reason for his high dynasty ADP. The Raiders also attempted the 13th most passes in the NFL last season, so if anything Carr was elevated by his opportunity, not held back by a lack of it.

Another explanation for a higher dynasty price would be that his situation is expected to improve over time. Certainly Amari Cooper is expected to progress as he gains more experience. You could say the same for tight end Clive Walford. The Raiders also gave a large contract to offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. They drafted Deandre Washington, a good receiving back. This could explain at least part of Carr’s elevated valuation.

An explanation that is often relevant in dynasty is age. Carr is fairly young at 25 years old. This explains why Carr may be valued more highly than players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger despite those players being more productive. But it does a fairly weak job of explaining Carr being valued so much more highly than the following QBs:

  • Carr is valued slightly higher than Marcus Mariota. Mariota is three years younger and, if you remove Mariota’s final game where he got hurt, Mariota actually outscored Carr on a per game basis in 2015.
  • Carr is being drafted 60 picks higher than Andy Dalton on average. Dalton is three years older than Carr, but still relatively young at 28. Dalton finished as the QB3 in 2013 and was a top eight QB on a per game basis last season before getting hurt. Carr has not come close to demonstrating that kind of scoring potential.
  • Matthew Stafford is similarly three years older and has demonstrated more upside, though of course Calvin Johnson has retired. But Stafford is being drafted about 70 picks later than Carr on average.

Even considering a few different angles, I have a hard time justifying or even explaining Carr’s dynasty valuation. I don’t see much reason to think Carr will bust, but I have trouble envisioning a scenario where Carr lives up to his valuation, especially since he adds little as a rusher. I think a more likely scenario is that Carr is a good enough real life QB who isn’t particularly fantasy relevant, like Joe Flacco. If Carr ends up being a perennial high-end QB2 then it seems that drafters will end up kicking themselves when they could have had a league-winner like Philip Rivers for far cheaper. His redraft ADP seems reasonable to me, but his dynasty ADP does not.

  1. Not counting Geno Smith, who only played one game.  (back)

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