Fantasy vs. Reality: Jimmy Garoppolo

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal The 2017 football season is over and for many fantasy owners their season has been over for quite some time now. That being said, this is now the time to start looking back at last season, analyze your draft, analyze your season, and start digging into the numbers. This is a great opportunity to begin building your foundation for next season and while there will still be plenty of moving parts throughout the offseason, keeping tabs on everything that is going now will save you a lot of preparation time later in the year. So much goes on once the offseason starts, players get traded to a new team, players get dropped/picked up by teams, tons of coaching changes (especially this season), and so much more occurs that makes a difference in how the upcoming season could play out. While this research so early in the year will not be enough to make you come to a conclusion, it certainly is helpful when making decisions down the line. After all, football never stops and over preparing for your drafts is never a bad idea.

One of the first things that I like to do is to take a look at some players that either ended the season on a strong note or ended it on a weak note and see if this is something we can expect to see carry over into the following season. There are numerous things that can cause a player to exceed expectations or disappoint towards the end of a season such as, injuries, coaching changes, lineup changes, and teams giving opportunities to younger players who they are giving a hard look at. It is never a bad idea to look a little beyond the surface at some of these situations, which is what I will be focusing on during this series.

Jimmy Garoppolo will likely be a hot commodity in fantasy drafts this upcoming season. In fact, an early look at a 2018 ADP has him going in the seventh round as the ninth overall quarterback off of the board as seen below. You may have seen me talk about recency bias in one of my DFS articles, but it can also apply to season-long leagues come draft day and this is a perfect example.

Garoppolo was traded last season from New England, where he was always behind Tom Brady, to San Francisco, who were in dire need of a quarterback. It did not take much time for him to step in a play some good football and is not all that surprising. Whenever he got the opportunity in New England, he showcased his ability to be a solid NFL quarterback and displayed potential. He got two starts in 2016 and threw for 496 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also made several other appearances and while he did not always light up the scoreboard, he kept from making mistakes as he did not throw an interception in any regular season games for the Patriots. Lastly, he was very efficient during preseason games and was a DFS fan favorite in recent years, and even though I typically do not always place a ton of emphasis during the preseason, his play did stand out.

Garoppolo finished as the No. 8 quarterback in fantasy points and No. 11 in fantasy points per game in the final five weeks of the regular season (ESPN Standard Scoring). In addition, he was ninth in completion percentage, 12th in aDot, and third in passing yards in that timeframe. During that stretch, he also averaged 308.4 passing yards and 16.5 fantasy points per game, while scoring seven total touchdowns. Not to mention, he won each and every one of his starts for the 49ers, finishing his first season in San Francisco with a 5-0 record as their starter.

He now enters his second year in San Francisco and will have all offseason to learn the playbook. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has done a decent job in coaching his quarterbacks over the years as an Offensive Coordinator and now as a Head Coach. Not including last season due to the 49ers having multiple quarterbacks starting last season, Shanahan has turned in three top five fantasy quarterbacks in nine seasons and during that span, four of his quarterbacks have finished in top 10 fantasy points per game for the season. While Shanahan is not a quarterback whisperer, he does have a solid track record and his offense has been efficient in past seasons. Looking at the list below, you will see quarterbacks under Shanahan and where they finished in fantasy points, as well as fantasy points per game. As you can see, he has not had a ton of talent to work with in many of his years in the league and has also dealt with injuries to his quarterbacks.

So the question at hand is whether or not this strong finish was fantasy or reality. If you ask me, this is reality, and this type of production can be duplicated. Based on his performance in the final five games, it seems that he is completely comfortable with the playbook and offensive scheme. The situation that he stepped into in San Francisco was not the greatest. The 49ers did not have a ton of talent to work with on this offense, but Garoppolo still managed to produce quality numbers. Some current news that could be cause for concern for some is that at this time it is uncertain if Carlos Hyde will return to San Francisco next season, and even though he is a talented running back, his role in the passing game once Garoppolo stepped in was not significant, so it should not impact Garoppolo as much one would think. With so much time left until the start of next season, there are still a lot of changes that can occur that may impact his value heading into draft day, so it is wise to keep tabs on the situation in San Francisco.

Things to look out for during the offseason heading into next season:
• Offensive line changes
• Running back situation
• Additions/Losses of wide receivers
• Tight end situation
• Strength of schedule

The sample size on Garoppolo’s resume is not that big, so the verdict is still out on whether he is going to be as good as he was at the end of last season. What we do know is that the potential and the upside are definitely there and he appears to be a good fit for this offense. We also know that he has been a productive quarterback in most instances when the opportunity became available. His current ADP is a tad too rich for me simply because I tend to wait on quarterbacks when I draft, but I would not blame anyone for taking a shot on him this upcoming season. If the 49ers can add some playmakers to this offense with good hands, there is a lot of potential here.