The Case for Jared Goff

I think that a lot of football fans out there (except for Rams fans) tend to have a negative perception of Jared Goff. It appears that fantasy fans feel the same way, with him going undrafted in 74% of ESPN leagues. While there are definitely safer and better picks at quarterback (Mahomes, Wilson, etc), Goff is a considerably cheap starting quarterback with very high top-10 upside.

Goff has relatively good stats as a quarterback, but is rarely referred to as an above-average quarterback. In 2017 he passed for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns. In 2018 he passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, and finished as QB 7. Last season, he threw for 4,638 yards but only 22 touchdowns, finishing as QB 13. His interception increased slightly from 12 (2018) to 16 (2019) as well.

If we remove his four outlier games with less than 7 ppg, Goff averaged 17.93 ppg, putting him at QB 7 for last season. In 2018, Goff only had one game less than 7 points. Consistency is obviously a very important quality in fantasy football, so what gives me the confidence that Goff won’t blow your fantasy matchup four more times next season?

What causes the outliers? Through film and statistics, one thing is clear. Goff struggles under pressure. Three of his worst games last year (PIT, SF, CAR) came from the best defensive pass rushes in football (according to Football Outsiders). Next season, he faces only two of the top eight pass rushers (WAS, SF). While those two teams may have the best defensive lines in football, Goff was able to put up over 20 points against SF the second time he faced them late last season. Goff has also spent the offseason working with Coach Adam Dedeaux on being able to throw under pressure and out of the pocket, which was one of his largest issues. The offensive line is also fully healthy unlike last season and should be able to perform like they did in 2018. If Goff is able to improve his maneuverability under pressure and the offensive line can return to at least average form, Goff should see stats closer to his 2018 season if not better.

Goff’s fantasy value was also hurt by the bizarre fact that 7 of his completions were downed at the 1 yard line. He only garnered 1 rushing touchdown (0 passing touchdowns) on all of those drives, with the rest being handed to Gurley or Brown. Those points are the difference between finishing as QB 10 or QB 13. After throwing 32 touchdowns in 2018, Goff was expected to regress a bit, but not down to 22. In fact, his 22 passing touchdowns was the 2nd lowest in NFL history in a season with over 4,500 pass yards. Goff surpassed 4,500 yards his past two seasons, and should be in-line to regress back to the mean with passing touchdowns and hopefully reach 26+, stabilizing his fantasy value and reducing the severity of his outliers.

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley takes a handoff from QB Jared Goff against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dec. 16, 2018.

The Ram’s Offseason Losses: Another common concern I’ve seen is the Ram’s offensive regression without Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. As crazy as it may sound, I don’t think the loss of either player will affect the Rams at all. This is where the Rams benefit from having offensive mastermind Sean McVay. There is no doubt 2019 Gurley was missing a step from his previous years. To replace Gurley, the Rams drafted Cam Akers and still have Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. The Ram’s runningback core should easily be able to replace Gurley’s production with McVay running the helm.

McVay’s offense, which utilized 11 personnel, prevented the defense from stacking the box. The Rams only faced a stacked box 8.1% of the time (23% league average), which gives puts the run game in more favorable situations. Akers and Henderson should be able to to take advantage of this and at the bare minimum match 2019 Gurley’s 3.8 ypc, putting the offense in more scoring situations. 

With the injury of Brandin Cooks later in the season, the Rams switched to a 12 personnel more often, giving TE Tyler Higbee the chance to shine after Gerald Everett’s injury. The offensive line also found their groove as they started to recover from injuries and develop chemistry between each other, and Goff averaged 20.78 PPG (which would land him as QB 4). While the Rams may lose the speed threat of Cooks, McVay proved he can continue to manufacture favorable plays for his franchise quarterback. 

Goff may not be a lock for a top 10 QB spot, but he’s going undrafted in 74% of leagues and has shown he is more than capable of being a consistent fantasy option. His history has shown he has the potential to be a superior fantasy quarterback when given the right weapons. With an improved offensive line, easier fantasy schedule, and McVay at the helm, Goff should be rostered in every league, and will more than likely be worthwhile in DFS.

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