Before you get too fired up, you should know that I like Andrew Luck. No really, I do. I just think that, for fantasy football purposes, you’re best served by having Russell Wilson on your team. Want to know why?
In 12 team Dynasty drafts, Luck is going 26th overall, Wilson 53rd. Want to know what players are going in between those two?
There’s a lot of RotoViz Love Children on that list. By taking Luck 2 full rounds ahead of Wilson, you’ll be forgoing a shot at drafting a lot of these players.
Here’s how the two compared last year. Both examples assume 1 point/10 yards rushing, 1 point/20 yards passing, 6 points/rushing TD, and -1 points/interception.
|Player||4 points/ passing TD||6 points/ passing TD|
Yes, Luck outscored Wilson by a whole point (and a half!) per game. Last year. Is that worth 2 rounds of ADP? I don’t think so. Going forward, I like Wilson better because…
Wilson was better in college.
OK, 2011 Russell Wilson was better than 2011 Andrew Luck. Over their collegiate careers, Luck’s numbers are better. But we ultimately want to give the most weight to a college QB’s final season, right? Wilson’s 2011 was truly epic; even better than Luck’s 2011 campaign. And Wilson’s overall collegiate growth is arguably more impressive than Luck’s.
Predicting pro success based on college production is tricky – and I do think both QBs will be good long-term – but Wilson has often come out ahead of Luck in future prognostications. Football Outsiders Lewin Career Forecast liked Wilson. Jon Moore rated Wilson’s NFL Readiness higher than Luck’s. And our own @FantasyDouche has found that college interception rate has some value in predicting NFL yards/attempt, which in turn is often used to gauge a QBs production. Wilson had a better collegiate interception rate than Luck, both in 2011, and for their careers.
Wilson got better last year, Luck didn’t.
This is usually where someone will argue about Luck having more responsibility within the offense than Wilson. The argument goes that Wilson was sheltered by a run-heavy team and didn’t run a full NFL offense. Luck, conversely, was given the entire playbook right away; he had a steeper learning curve, which accounts for his poorer stats, but he’ll get better over time as he masters the NFL game. This argument assumes two things: that Wilson won’t get better and Luck will, and that Luck somehow has a higher ceiling than Wilson.
I think both assumptions are false. Overall Luck has better college stats than Wilson, but Wilson’s best season is better than Luck’s best season. “But Luck played tougher opponents,” you say? Perhaps, but couldn’t you also say he had better teammates? Next, as we’ll see, besides just getting better every year in college, Wilson has also gotten better every month in the NFL. There’s no reason to think he can’t continue to get better. Luck, on the other hand, did not improve over the course of his rookie NFL season. Why assume that Luck will start getting better next year? I happen to think he will, but Wilson has already proven he can get better in the NFL; Luck hasn’t.
Here’s another thing: Luck had the 5th most pass attempts in the league last year (627). There’s not much room for him to improve from a volume perspective. His only chance to improve will be to get more efficient. Wilson, on the other hand, is already very efficient, but finished 26th in attempts (393), which means he can improve a lot from a volume perspective. Oh- and I’m pretty sure the Seahawks didn’t trade for Percy Harvin so they could run the ball more. I think they might want to pass.
Here’s a few charts to help make my point.
Completion Percentage by Month.
Wilson was never below 60% and despite a dip in the season’s final month, finished the year with a higher completion percentage than he started. Conversely, Luck never cracked the 60% barrier, and finished worse than he started.
Yards/Attempt by Month
Luck finished the year worse than he started, while Wilson made gains each month.
Luck makes no progress at all. Wilson however makes sizable gains throughout the season, twice cracking the 10 adjusted yards/attempt barrier.
If Luck is really the superior candidate, then shouldn’t we see him making more progress throughout the course of the year?
Did I mention that Wilson was better than Luck last year?
Here’s another way of parsing the data. I used the RotoViz QB Efficiency App to look up the following ranks for 2012. The number of attempts in parentheses is the minimum number of attempts in that situation. For each measure, I used a minimum that captured all of 2012’s starting QBs.
|Player||Overall (200)||3rd Down (70)||> 10 yd to go (100)||Trailing (100)||Vs. 50+ percentile def. (100)||Red Zone (75)||W/I 20 yds of own goal (50)|
Overall, Wilson finished 2012 4th in yards/attempt, 6th in adjusted yards/attempt, 7th in completion percentage, and 2nd in TD rate. Earlier this year, Chase Stuart did a study of rookie QBs and had this to say about Wilson:
“Russell Wilson – damn…Russell Wilson had a 6.6% touchdown rate, ranking him second in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers. Touchdown rate isn’t subject to the same inflation as completion percentage — in fact, touchdown rate is lower now than it was in the pre-merger NFL. That makes this stat pretty impressive: Since 1970, Dan Marino (6.8%) is the only true rookie with a higher touchdown percentage than Wilson.”
True, one season doesn’t make a career, but Wilson’s rookie season does seem to put him on a better career trajectory than Luck’s. Ben Alamar grouped all rookie QBs since 1990 (with at least 8 starts) by statistical similarity. Alamar’s analysis focused on completion percentage, interception percentage, touchdown percentage, and yards/attempt, which are the best of an admittedly weak group of predictive stats. Wilson fits in the best-performing group, Luck in the second-best performing group. Here are the groupings. (The whole article is worth a read, by the way.)
For good measure, I ran Luck and Wilson through, the RotoViz QB Similarity App. Turns out the app likes Wilson better too: see for yourself.
What does it all mean?
Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t draft Andrew Luck in a dynasty league. But I am saying Russell Wilson’s lower ADP, better collegiate and pro production, and apparent higher future ceiling make him a better pick. Even in redraft leagues, the RotoViz QB Sim App likes Wilson better; so should you.