Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I just watched Jon Gruden's quarterback prospect camp with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Is anybody else as confused as I am?
What the heck is a Spider 3 Y Banana?
I guess that's why I've never coached in the NFL.
But as I was watching Gruden grill the two QBs on everything from Luck's architectural engineering classes to Griffin's SpongeBob socks, I couldn't help wondering what kind of fantasy impact these two players will have next season.
Earlier today, I found myself absentmindedly typing "Andrew Colts" into the search bar on my computer. Maybe they won't go as far as to rename the city after Luck, but it's a safe bet that he'll be in an Indianapolis Colts uniform next season. Which means that in all likelihood, Griffin will be sporting Washington Redskins burgundy and gold next fall.
Now that that's settled, who is the better fantasy QB?
First let's look at their FBS stats this past season. Luck finished his campaign at Stanford with 37 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions and a 169.7 QB rating.
Griffin was just as impressive, tallying 37 TD passes, a 72.4 completion percentage (Luck's was 71.3) and just six interceptions en route to Baylor's first bowl victory since 1992. Griffin also carried the ball 179 times for 699 yards and collected 10 rushing touchdowns.
Only Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (191.8) had a higher QB rating than Griffin (189.5) in 2011. Griffin also won the yardage battle, outgaining Luck 4,293 to 3,517.
All in all, Griffin was the more prolific quarterback in 2011, at least statistically. Griffin's accuracy was a bit better (higher completion percentage, fewer interceptions), he threw for almost 60 yards per game more than Luck (330.2 to 270.5) and he ran the ball more effectively (Luck gained just 150 rushing yards in 2011).
That doesn't necessarily mean that Griffin is the better quarterback. After all, experts are projecting Luck to be drafted ahead of Griffin.
Luck is bigger (6-foot-4 and 235 pounds compared to Griffin's 6-2, 220-pound frame), was sacked with far less frequency than Griffin (11 sacks to Griffin's 27) and he's an architectural engineering major at Stanford, so the dude's smart (Griffin's no dummy, either. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner graduated a year early with a 3.7 GPA).
It's tough to decipher which quarterback was facing the superior level of competition. It's no secret that 2011 was a down year defensively for the Big 12, with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all scoring close to 40 points a game. That doesn't mean Luck's conference was any stingier: the Pac 12's top teams, Southern California (23.6 points allowed per game) and Oregon (24.6 ppg), were both pretty suspect on the defensive end.
Joe Montana had Jerry Rice. Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. Even Tom Brady had Randy Moss and Wes Welker. There's no way around it. To be an elite quarterback, you need players who can catch the ball.
Because it's basically a forgone conclusion that Luck is headed to Indy and Griffin to Washington, let's see what they'll have to work with.
Reggie Wayne's (70 catches, 960 yards, four TDs last year) return to the Colts will give Luck a go-to receiver to turn to upon his arrival in Indianapolis. That can't hurt the rookie's fantasy value.
What will hurt is that Wayne is probably the only productive wide receiver Indianapolis will have next year. Austin Collie's ceiling for receiving yards isn't high (his career high is just 676 yards) and he's fragile (missed seven games due to injury in 2010). Pierre Garcon (signed with Redskins) and Anthony Gonzalez (New England Patriots) are gone and Dallas Clark's return looks like a long shot.
Meanwhile, Griffin will actually have a pretty talented receiving corps to work with down in the nation's capital.
Jabar Gaffney is coming off a career year (68 catches, 947 yards, 5 TDs) and that was with Mr. Mediocre, Rex Grossman, at quarterback. Garcon had a similar season with the Colts, reeling in 947 yards and six TDs. Fred Davis is one of the more sure-handed tight ends in the NFL (59 catches, 796 yards a year ago) and Santana Moss, though inconsistent in 2011, has four career 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Washington's lack of a star running back (Roy Helu led the team with only 640 yards last season) means that Washington's offensive attack should be pretty pass-heavy next season. More throws equals more opportunities for RG3 to rack up the fantasy points. Luck should benefit from this weakness as well: Donald Brown (645 yards) was Indy's leading rusher in 2011.
Good fantasy QBs always benefit from a strong offensive line. Stats show that the Colts' O line did a better job of protecting the quarterback (35 sacks allowed) than the Redskins did last season (41 sacks allowed). That stat is skewed by the fact that Grossman is one of the most immobile quarterbacks in the sport (just 106 career rushing yards in eight NFL seasons), so Luck doesn't gain a huge edge here.
One more thing to consider: the Redskins defense (13th in the NFL in yards allowed) was head and shoulders above the Colts' D last season (allowed the eighth-most yards in the league). That may seem irrelevant, but if the Colts just let teams march down the field all season, that means Luck will be playing from behind most of the time, forcing him to put the ball in the air. This could result in Luck throwing more interceptions, but it also will help him collect huge yardage at the end of games.
In year one, I'd go with RG3 because of his running ability and abundance of downfield weapons, but the Luck-to-Wayne combo should be interesting and Luck could get a ton of yards in garbage time. Both should be productive in 2012.
And remember, never throw a Venus on a Spider 3 Y Banana ... whatever the heck that means.
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