True Fantasy Points: 2019 Quarterback Projections

A stats-based guide for separating skill from luck in quarterback projections.

It's time once again for our preseason series on True Fantasy Points (TFP), which enters its fifth season on Footballguys. Readers can consult previous years for a more thorough explanation of the methodology (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), but the basic idea underlying my TFP system (for quarterbacks) is that we can adjust Yards per Attempt (YPA), Touchdowns per Attempt (TDPA), and Interceptions per Attempt (INTPA) via regression to the mean once we know how many attempts it takes for these stats to "stabilize" (i.e., they represent 50 percent skill and 50 percent luck). And based on my updated research, here are the answers to that:

  • YPA takes 447 attempts to stabilize.
  • TDPA takes 834 attempts to stabilize.
  • INTPA takes 1,054 attempts to stabilize.

With these milestones in hand, calculating TFP simply requires multiplying a quarterback's "true" rate stats by David Dodds' volume projections in order to obtain their stat totals, and then applying Footballguys' standard scoring system to said stat totals. As an example, Philip Rivers has a 7.79 True YPA, a 5.26% True TDPA, and a 2.55% True INTPA. Meanwhile, Dodds projects Rivers for 518 pass attempts, which implies 4,036 "true" passing yards, 27 "true" touchdown passes, and 13 "true" interceptions. In turn, these stats translate to 300.6 "true" fantasy points (TFP) per Footballguys' standard scoring system. Comparing 300.6 to Dodds' actual fantasy points projection of 300.0 points yields a difference of only 0.6 points, meaning Rivers' projection is in line with mean-regressed expectation.

One other detail worth mentioning before proceeding is that, for the first time ever, the TFP table now includes quarterbacks playing for new teams, whether that be via trade (e.g., Joe Flacco), free agency (e.g., Nick Foles), or the NFL draft (e.g., Daniel Jones). Such quarterbacks, by virtue of starting from scratch this season, have "true" rate stats equal to the following projected league averages:

  • 7.28 YPA
  • 4.80% TDPA
  • 2.39% INTPA

This distinction will become apparent later during the discussion of a certain hyped-up rookie that you probably identified immediately upon reading the words "hyped-up rookie."

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