By Dan Croop @dancroop
248 yards per game, 67.7 completion percentage, 14 TDs, and 7 INTs. Those were Ryan Fitzpatrick’s numbers coming into Week 8 last season. For comparison’s sake, Tony Romo’s numbers were 280 yards per game, 62.6 completion percentage, 11 TDs, and 7 INTs through seven weeks. Fitzpatrick was on his way to having a better year than Romo almost halfway through the season. So what happened?
Fitzpatrick came back to Earth, with a stat line of 233 yards per game, 58.2 completion percentage, 10 TDs, and 16 INTs. Fantasy owners who were thrilled with his early performance were let down, and Fitzpatrick’s 2012 preseason ranks reflect the notion that he’ll continue his poor performance from last year’s second half.
Should this be the logic behind Fitzpatrick? Head coach Chan Gailey revealed that Fitzpatrick suffered cracked ribs in his Week 8 game against the Jets last season. Ah, suddenly a numbers correlation appears. Gailey has said that Fitzpatrick played the rest of the season with the injury, and his numbers certainly appear to show that. It would seem that Fitzpatrick would put up better numbers this season at 100% health than he did in the second half of last season, but to match his numbers from early last season might be a stretch.
Let’s look back to 2010 for a second. Fitzpatrick put up 230 yards per game, a 57.8 completion percentage, 23 TDs, and 15 INTs in 13 games (finishing ranked 17th
at QB). While Fitzpatrick’s completion percentage was over four points better in 2011, his yards per attempt stayed consistent (6.8 in ’10, 6.74 in ’11). This means, with more attempts at a more efficient rate, that Fitzpatrick’s yardage totals can only increase under the assumption that he at least maintains his 2011 overall attempts and efficiency.
Also working in Fitzpatrick’s favor is the return of Fred Jackson to pair with the emergence of C.J. Spiller. Jackson was having a career year before sustaining a season-ending injury in Week 10, which couldn’t have helped Fitzpatrick whatsoever.
While I don’t expect Fitzpatrick to put up the numbers he was on pace for through Week 7 last year (3,968/67.7%/32 TDs/14 INTs), I do expect him to improve on his overall numbers from last year, in which he finished ranked 12th among quarterbacks. He should have more than 24 passing touchdowns and less than 23 interceptions, which would be a far greater value than the current rankings indicate (FFBLife: 21, ESPN: 23, Yahoo: 21).