Spotlight - QB Trent Green, Kansas City Chiefs
Posted on 7/10,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Marc Levin's Thoughts
For the last several years, Trent Green has been one of, if not the, best values among the top-12 fantasy QBs. Despite an annual average draft position (ADP) as the QB10 or so, Green has finished as the 8th, 3rd, 4th, and 8th best fantasy QB the last four years. In short, he has outperformed his draft position in each of the last four seasons. For 2006, however, there are two approaches to Green's fantasy worth: a conservative approach and a skeptical approach.
Under a conservative estimation of Green's 2006 numbers, the fantasy owner observes that new HC Herm Edwards inherits a productive offense with veteran players who are comfortable with the existent system. It does not appear advantageous to teach them an entirely new offensive approach. The team underwent no changes along the offensive line or at the offensive skill positions. The only real change from opening day 2005 is that Larry Johnson will start at RB over Priest Holmes. Johnson was able to duplicate Holmes' contribution to the offensive game in all phases except, possibly, pass blocking (Holmes was a complete player and was an excellent blocker). Given the continuity in personnel, Green's durability, and his average productivity (he averaged 4214 passing yards and 22.6 TDs from 2003 through 2005), an owner could project similar numbers in 2006. Even a slight drop in Green's historical productivity would place him in the top-12 for fantasy QBs.
The skeptical owner, however, will see some disturbing trends following the 2005 season. Green had his lowest passing TD output since his first year as KC's starter. His red zone pass attempts and TDs plummeted in 2005. Green turns 36 before the 2006 season. Pass-happy HC Dick Vermeil is gone and conservative HC Edwards, whose NY Jets never rose above 24th in pass attempts, is running the team. Even though Edwards appears comfortable with the incumbent offensive system and will not institute a new offense this year, an owner must be wary of an emphasis on the productive KC running game over the equally productive KC passing game. Vermeil continued throwing the ball, even if the game was well in hand. With a decent lead in the fourth, Edwards is more likely to pound the ball and control the clock rather than allow Green to go for the throat. Edwards' influence on the team is highly likely to warrant a significant downward projection in Green's pass attempts.
Both approaches to Green have merit - and both should be considered in determining Green's fantasy worth and in projecting his numbers. On one hand, Green started every game since he joined the Chiefs, is an efficient passer, is comfortable in the existing offensive system, and rarely makes mistakes. Historical averages for pass efficiency, projected starts, yards per attempt, and INTs are likely to be duplicated in 2006. On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect Edwards to exploit the running game instead of relying on Green's arm, especially during game changing situations. It is also reasonable to expect that Green's red zone opportunities will not return to historical averages; Edwards is a conservative head coach who inherited a top-notch running game with demonstrable efficiency in the red zone. That said, it is hard to imagine TE Tony Gonzales remaining content with only 12 passes in the red zone (that was his total number of red zone targets in 2005). Teams will also begin keying on Johnson in the red zone, so it is likely that the play action pass to the RB (a play that Priest Holmes ran remarkably efficiently) will return to the Chiefs red zone attack.
Consequently, Green's current average draft position (ADP) as the 12th QB and the 80th to 90th player off the board appears just right for his value. A fantasy owner who holds off drafting a quarterback does not want to risk falling too far behind other teams at the position. Green is an ideal selection for that owner because he will put up consistent numbers and is unlikely to miss time. Green is highly likely to top 3500 yards and is reasonably likely to throw 20 TDs. If he gets even closer to his historical levels, he will, once again, be one of the best quarterback values in the draft.
- Consistent history of top-10 fantasy QB numbers
- Favorable ADP
- Continuity in scheme and personnel despite head coach change
- Started every game for the last five seasons
- Even if new HC Edwards keeps Vermeil's scheme, he is still more likely to emphasize the scheme's success in the run game over the pass, especially, unlike Vermeil, late in games
- Disturbing downward spike in red zone pass attempts and TDs in 2005 after Larry Johnson took over as the starting RB
- Green is an aging QB
Though there are several reasons to lean heavily towards the skeptical approach to projecting Green's 2006 numbers, there are just as many reasons to project certain numbers close to historical averages. Though red zone TDs are important for high TD totals, and though Green is unlikely to have as many red zone opportunities as in prior years, it is hard to imagine he will have as few opportunities as 2005. Johnson was a sensation last year - this year, opposing defenses will be better prepared for the Chiefs' run game in the red zone. That will naturally open up more chances for play action passes to Gonzales, and to Johnson as a red zone outlet. 20 pass TDs is easily in reach for Green, and hitting that number will make Green a top-10 fantasy QB for the 5th year in a row.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
Just thought everyone would find it curious that even the most conservative projection made so far on this thread would be good enough to rank as the 4th best season all-time for a 36+ year old (behind Rich Gannon, Steve Young and Warren Moon).
Quarterbacks are historically in steep decline by age 36, and despite the yards, it seems to me that Green's decreased touchdown total from last year should be a major warning sign. Add Herm Edwards, who has basically announced that this team will run more, and well, draft with caution.
From a reality perspective, Green will be what he has been for most of his career: a solid, if not always spectacular, quarterback. How that parlays to fantasy is the question. I see him putting in another good year for yardage, although I find it hard to believe he'll hit or surpass 4000 again. The problem is with the touchdowns, or lack thereof. There are two problems standing in his way: (1) he has Larry Johnson in the backfield and the Chiefs' bread and butter is to run the football; it's like the anti-Colts system. Both the RB and QB accumulate yards, but in Kansas City, the RB gets all the touchdowns. In Indianapolis, it's the QB. And, (2) the receivers he'll have to work with, while often underrated among media and fans, are not going to help him out a whole lot.
[He] LED the NFL in passing yards the final 8 games of 2005, coinciding with the rise of [Larry Johnson]. [He's got] HUGE sleeper potential in 2006..Last year was an off year..
Trent Green Projections
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