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Dynasty Rookie Draft '12: Going on a Blind Date with Andrew Luck or RG3...

Air Date:
May 7, 2012

In preparation for this article, I did a research of the various opinion articles and chat room threads to see what the consensus was on Andrew Luck versus Robert Griffin in the early Dynasty Rookie Drafts taking place. I did not need help with my Luck vs. RG3 decision making process. I was just curious where the consensus winds were currently blowing.

After checking out the current landscape, I can save you a lot of time and research because almost every article/comment on this topic is identical -- “Luck is the safer choice, but RG3 has the greater upside.”

There it is…research complete.  

What is surprising to me is that the early results are running about a 50/50 split for which QB is taken first over the other. I thought there might be a move against RG3 when push came to shove. I thought perhaps, there might be some “cold feet” on the “running-QB" in the face of the premium passer.  Actually, the allure of the running-QB appears to be drawing folks like “a moth to a flame.”

The Luck versus RG3 decision likely has more to do with the psychology of the person making the choice, then actual football study at this point.  You can look at rosters, college highlights, the history of the NFL, etc. Likely this choice comes down to -- the people who are more daring, looking for a bigger Fantasy Football splash/payday, and/or are anti-establishment will gravitate toward Griffin. Folks who are anti-mobile QB and/or have an investor/business background are very comfortable with the “sure thing” choice of Luck.

Our computer has made a definitive move in one direction, and that move is heavily toward Luck over Griffin in the 2012 Dynasty Rookie Draft. I’d try to get both if I could pull it off, but if I could only have one – it would be Luck.

I keep seeing the words Griffin and "upside" going hand-in-hand, but how did Luck get painted with no upside? The fact that Andrew Luck could be the greatest NFL QB of the next generation seems like a pretty "high ceiling" to me.

I have a couple of reasons why our computer analysis points clearly toward Luck ahead of Griffin (and I will explain), but it really comes down to how you would evaluate an actual investment decision. Actually, let’s not get too technical – it’s as easy a decision as your reaction to the following “blind date” hypothetical scenario:

Seriously, put yourself in this following “pretend” scenario…and long-time married folks (like me) don’t get too excited by this exercise of pretending you have these dating options. Furthermore, be careful running the risk of making your spouse any madder at your Fantasy Football obsession by discussing this at the dinner-table…

If you had to make a choice between a blind date with one of the following two people, that I’m about to describe, which one would you choose? Once, you have made a selection, your choice of the one person would mean you would not "have a shot" at the other now or later…so no double-dipping. It’s all or nothing.

 

The Dating Game…

Several friends are trying to set you up on a blind date, and they are all in agreement that both choices are perfect personalities for you. The background descriptions are almost identical…it’s like they are mental twins. There is no “clue” for you to delineate between the two choices based on personality, career, hobbies, etc. info you are given. Both choices sound great/perfect.

Both options have seen your picture and heard all about you from your friends, and both options are highly interested in a date with you.

Person #1 = Ten of your friends agree that Person-1 is beautiful. On a scale of 1-10 for "looks," all of your friends proclaim that Person-1 was an “8” or a “9.” There was no variance from the 8 or 9 ratings. In your mind, you’re pretty sure you are anticipating a date with an 8.5 of 10 with Person-1.

Person #2 = There is a wider variety of opinion on looks here with your ten friends. On the same 1-10 scale, you are getting some “4” feedback as well as some “10” ratings from your friends…and everything in-between. Some say Person-2 is very exotic and unique, while others thought the person looked quite strange/unusual.

If that was all that you knew about your two choices, and you had to decide fast, what would you ultimately choose? Would you be content with the 8-9 rated person? Or, would you go all “Tin Cup” and “go for it” with the possible "10," but might wind up with a "4"? *No George Carlin jokes allowed about having never been with a "10," but was with five twos once.

It’s obvious, which is Luck and which is Griffin in this blind date scenario. As crazy as it sounds, your answer to this blind date question is probably what you should (or will) do in the Dynasty Rookie Draft. For most all of us, our curiosity would be peaked at the wide-range of scores for Person-2, but we’d be very content with the highly rated “smart money” option. We would take the 8-9 option and not think twice, why take the risk the other way?  

It’s like Deal or No Deal. Two cases left, and it’s the $1 million and the $200,000 cases remaining…and the “banker” just offered you $800,000 to walk away from the choice between the two cases left.  How could you not take the $800K? How could you not take Andrew Luck ahead of Robert Griffin?

The blind date and Deal or No Deal scenarios make sense for the way that the options are being portrayed. However, what if Andrew Luck is a really a "10" in waiting? It's possible that both QBs are great, but that Luck is just "greater" with the bigger upside.

 

The Running-QB "rope-a-dope"... 

I think the biggest reason that Dynasty GMs are taking RG3 ahead of Luck is based on a bit of a 2010 and 2011 fallacy, and this is fresh in our minds. The problem is the often misguided allure of the rushing QB for Fantasy Football – more specifically its Michael Vick 2010 and Cam Newton 2011 at fault.

RG3 is not Cam Newton as a running-QB. Newton is 3 inches taller and nearly 30-pounds heavier/more solid-frame. Nine of Newton’s ridiculous 14 rushing TDs in 2011 came from within 6-yards of the end-zone. All but one rushing TD (out of 14) were inside the red-zone. Cam Newton is like a Fullback running in short distances, Griffin is nowhere near as big. Newton is more apt to push a pile forward and/or can take a hit and still go forward, whereas Griffin is likely more apt to get rocked by bigger defenders when running in “tight” spaces. There is no way RG3 is going to run for 14 TDs in a season…or even close to it.

RG3 is probably not Michael Vick as a running-QB either. Vick measured much faster, and much more agile than RG3. There will probably never be another Michael Vick as a running-QB, and to some degree due to his weaker passing skills…Vick was "forced" to run. If you think, RG3 is going to be capable (or good-great) as an NFL passer…do you think he’s going to take off running all the time? Griffin would be crazy to have a high amount of plays heading up field with his feet when his arm can move the team. Certainly, his coaches/owner won’t want their expensive investment to take off all the time (Andy Reid doesn't want the best escape artist ever doing it either...).  

Vick also tallied huge rushing TDs when it was “convenient.” If RG3 is coming off a jail stint and multiple-creditor bankruptcy, he too may rush for nine TDs in a season like Vick did in his recent contract year of 2010. Once the fat contract/signing bonus was secured, then Vick had just one rushing TD last year. Vick had 8 rushing TDs in first season as an NFL starter with Atlanta (trying to prove himself in the NFL?), then tailed off to between 2-6 TDs (with an average of 3.6 per season) in all the seasons where he played most of the games in that given season (until 2010).  

Pre-jail, Vick averaged 0.28 rushing TDs per game…or 4.5 rushing TDs for a 16-game clip. Aaron Rodgers has averaged 4.0 rushing TDs per game in his four years as a starter. Tom Brady had three-times the rushing TDs that Vick did last season. Vick's high rushing-TD count in 2010 was a statistical aberration (that Philly is paying dearly for now), his 2010 was not "the norm" for him.

Do you know which QBs pile up huge rushing stats? QBs who aren’t as good passing the ball – i.e. Vick, Tebow, Newton (yes, Newton…it’s true, look at the stats from Week-5 on = 222.1 passing yards per game, and 10 TD/15 INT vs. teams with a winning record in 2011).  Just a crazy opinion -- QBs who are weaker passers have a flight (run) versus fight (throw) the ball mental mechanism. Their subconscious trusts the feet over arm (and probably, rightfully so).

If you summarize that RG3 is a better passer than all the three elite running-QBs mentioned (and we do), then RG3 is not as likely to “take off” running…and if RG3 isn't running, then he becomes just another good Fantasy Football passing-QB.

If RG3 is a better passer with great mobility, then perhaps he is Steve YoungSteve Young averaged 0.25 rushing TDs per game in 13 seasons with the 49ers…a 4.0 per 16-game season pace. Again, I say – Aaron Rodgers has averaged 4.0 TDs per season the last four years as a starter.

Steve Young also averaged 23.9 rushing yards per game as the 49ers QB, with a career high season of 537 yards rushing (16 games played)...and most of his rushing totals in a season were between 150-250 yards rushing with a couple of 400+ rushing yards seasons sprinkled in. Aaron Rodgers has averaged 18.3 rushing yards per game in his four seasons as a starter with 200-360 yards rushing per season.

I keep comparing Aaron Rodgers in this mix, because Andrew Luck has deceptive speed/athleticism like Rodgers. Luck has speed measurements like an above-average TE or “big-WR.” Luck averaged 25.2 yards per game rushing in college over three seasons, and rushed for 34.9 yards per game in the 2010 season. Andrew Luck has "upside" with his mobility, and size.

If RG3 is not Cam Newton or Michael Vick as a runner, and he is more like Steve Young…and Luck like Aaron Rodgers â€“ it may mean that RG3 picks up 1-3 Fantasy Football PPG at best over Luck in the rushing department? That’s nice, but if Luck throws for one more TD per game and/or RG3 has one more INT per game, then the potential RG3 rushing advantage is neutralized for Fantasy Football purposes.

 

Injury Risk…

Obviously, injuries can strike any player at any time. However, if we were an insurance company looking to quote a policy on these QBs, which one do you think we would charge a higher premium on?  

Who’s more of an injury-risk -- the 15+ pounds more solid, less apt to run, Andrew Luck…or the 1-2 inches smaller, more apt to take off running, Robert Griffin? The more that RG3 “takes off,” the more your Fantasy Football investment is “at risk.”  

The risk wouldn’t matter if this was a Michael Vick versus Jay Cutler Fantasy Football debate. You take Vick, and you can always find a Cutler equivalent. In a Vick versus Aaron Rodgers Fantasy Football debate…there is no debate, there is limited opportunities at a QB like Rodgers. Luck versus Griffin has a lot of 2011 preseason Rodgers versus Vick Fantasy Football debate element to it. 

 

The Better Passer...

Everyone is on-board with RG3 as a solid NFL passer, and we are too. We just think Luck is far superior.

If all the passing skills/instincts were judged equal, then Luck has the slight NFL advantage by being nearly two-inches taller with a much larger hand-size measurement. That’s not to say that RG3 is a bust in-waiting, but when trying to assess between two great options…every (seemingly) minor piece of data matters. It also matters that Luck blew away the Wonderlic test, and Griffin's score is sitting on the cusp of historical trouble. Luck measures bigger and smarter, and you want that in a franchise/Dynasty QB.  

 

Ben Franklin says…

There is the old decision making tool from Ben Franklin where you take a piece of paper and draw line down the middle and make two columns to list all of the pros and cons of the decision and then assign an importance value to each item listed -- which ever side scores the highest, that’s the decision to make (according to Ben). If you ran this Ben Franklin litmus test with Luck versus Griffin…it would line up heavily toward pro-Luck.

  • Luck is taller, physically bigger-framed, tested smarter, has larger hands, plays in a dome, and has an easier division of opponents to face (traditionally).
  • Griffin is straight-line foot speed faster (debatably quicker with agility times), plays in colder weather in a traditionally tough/rough division, and he may or may not have a meddlesome coach who might “over-coach” him.

 

If I were to press our computer for a typical Fantasy Football stat line in a game for Luck and Griffin (after their rookie season), it would look as follows (per game):

315 yards passing, 15 yards rushing, 0.15 rushing TDs, 2.5 TD/0.8 INT = Andrew Luck

250 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, 0.30 rushing TDs, 2.0 TD/1.0 INT = Robert Griffin

  • 23.4 to 20.8 = advantage to Luck in traditional FF scoring (4-points per pass TD)
  • 28.4 to 24.8 = advantage to Luck in 6-points per pass TD scoring system for FF
  •  Further advantage to Luck if 300+ yard bonuses are in effect.

 

Both QBs project to be high scorers in Fantasy Football, that's why if you can swing it...you should try to acquire both in a Dynasty League. You may never see an opportunity like this again for years. Matt Barkley and Landry Jones"ain't" Luck and/or Griffin.

 

With the first pick in the Dynasty Rookie Draft, you should select...

In theory, you can't go wrong with either, but any signs of red-flags are all with Griffin. Robert Griffin is the sexy, “hip” pick, if you are trying to “outthink the room.” Andrew Luck is the “smart money” in the long run for the 2012 Dynasty Rookie Draft. 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>