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Player showdown: Derek Carr or Matt Ryan?

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 18, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

This week’s player showdown looks at two clear QB1 candidates, Derek Carr and Matt Ryan. While both aren’t quite in the fantasy stratosphere like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, they are currently the fifth and sixth quarterbacks off the board, according to My Fantasy League’s ADP tool. There are a lot of things to like about Carr and Ryan, making this a tough battle. They are both in their prime, have top-tier talent around them, and should build off good seasons. So who’s the winner? Per the usual, we’ll look at the players, their situation, and their outlook.

The players

We’ll start with the veteran Ryan. For the past seven seasons, Ryan has been one of the more consistent quarterbacks in all of football. He’s thrown for 4,000 yards every year since 2011 and thrown at least 26 touchdowns in all of those but one. He’s been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in five of the last seven seasons, finishing outside the top seven of PFF’s grades just once in the same span. We have a lot of data that indicates Ryan is pretty good.

We don’t have as much to go off of with Carr. Sure, we have nearly three full seasons, and in the last two he averaged about 3,900 yards and 30 touchdowns. But these last two seasons, Carr finished 13th and 14th in fantasy points, making him a borderline QB1 in most leagues. Now, Carr did miss the finale last season, but even if you look at fantasy points per dropback, he finished 2016 in 13th, compared to Ryan, who led all quarterbacks.

The difference is also apparent when you look beyond the normal stats. For example, Ryan finished ahead of Carr in PFF’s quarterback grades in 2015 (seventh to 11th) and 2016 (second to sixth). Ryan also finished third in PFF’s adjusted completion percentage, which takes into account drops, throwaways, etc.) while Carr checked in at 17th. They are relatively close when it comes to deep-ball accuracy (balls targeted more than 20 yards) but those only account for a fraction of their pass attempts (63 for Ryan; 56 for Carr).

In nearly every metric, Carr is shown to be good. But Ryan is slightly better.

Advantage: Matt Ryan

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