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Matt Schaub – Fantasy Sleeper

Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

The first two quarterback articles in the Stealth Star series dealt with Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, two reality behemoths who aren’t beloved in fantasy. Even though neither is particularly young, the RotoViz Similarity Score app sees a breakout in store for both players. In the premier running back article, I suggested DeMarco Murray could act as the fulcrum for your entire fantasy draft.

The third entrant in our series is another player widely believed to be better in reality than fantasy, but he offers even more potential value because his reality reputation is flagging as well.

I might be biased about Matt Schaub. The Texans signal-caller was my breakout pick in 2009, and he responded by lighting the world on fire to the tune of 4770 yards and 29 touchdowns. This was still two years before the big QB passing explosion. Schaub’s yardage total led the league. At the time, he held the sixth highest single-season total in NFL history.

Of course, things haven’t gone as well since.

  • Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Tennessee collapsed, allowing the Texans to move to a conservative offense.
  • The Texans’ zone-blocking scheme helped Arian Foster become one of the biggest forces in fantasy football. Schaub struggled to throw touchdowns as they were extremely run-heavy in the red zone.
  • Schaub was injured during a 2011 season where he was averaging a gaudy 8.5 yards per attempt and was posting a very solid 5.1% touchdown rate.

It may be strange then that the Similarity Scores offer an enthusiastic take on his 2013 prospects. Consider Schaub’s projection next to a couple of other intriguing QB possibilities.

Schaub Stafford Dalton
Low 13.7 12.3 15.2
Median 18.4 18 16.6
High 20.7 20.1 19.2

* One of the great things about the QB Similarity Score App is the ability to remove a game. This projection does not include Dalton’s cameo in Week 17, and removing it actually changes his forecast quite a bit.

I’ve written about Stafford before at length. Basically I’m trying to convince myself not to take him. As a Detroit fan, I love his gunslinging mentality, but he holds outsized risk at his ADP. Sure, Stafford has a lot of bounceback potential, but in the current NFL his supposed upside is mirrored by a large number of safer options.

One of the concerns about Schaub is that you’ll draft a guy who won’t kill you but doesn’t carry your team. Although many fantasy scoring formats are surprisingly antagonistic to QB’s burning up the scoreboard, it’s still helpful to have that big gun. But here we see the Texans’ QB has the highest ceiling. If you’re looking for a guy with a 4700-plus yard season on his resume, Schaub offers all the upside at a fraction of the cost.

Dalton is another interesting comparison because his ADP of QB15 suggests he’s being counted on as an important member of a QBBC or a key hedge against injury issues cropping up for players like RG3, Vick, or Peyton. The Bengals’ signal-caller earns the highest floor – perhaps the A.J. Green effect – but the app feels his median projection pales in comparison to Schaub’s.

Don’t Buy the Narrative

Matt Schaub doesn’t get much credit from the media. When he finished the 2012 season on a down note, pundits were coming out of the woodwork to say he was washed up and couldn’t compete with the elite quarterbacks in the playoffs. In case you were wondering, Schaub currently ranks 8th in NFL history in adjusted net yards per attempt, probably the most accurate single metric in assessing reality value. The five guys who immediately follow him on the list? Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana, Matt Ryan, and Dan Marino.

The biggest issue for Schaub last season was the gaping hole across from Andre Johnson. That problem has been remedied. DeAndre Hopkins was covered extensively by RotoViz in the pre-draft phase. While not a Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant level talent, Hopkins was easily the best receiver prospect in the 2013 draft. A monster on high leverage downs, Hopkins gives Schaub options when defenses swarm Andre1500 at the goal line.

And speaking of Johnson, he may be old, but he’s not going away any time soon.

Finally, while Jacksonville may not even be trying, the outlook for Indianapolis and Tennessee is better than it’s been for several seasons. Houston should find themselves in more aggressive, high-flying games this season. While he may not quite reprise his 2009 numbers, Schaub could be your key to big time QB numbers at a fraction of QB1 cost.

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