Player Profile: David Fales

Categories: NCAA FBS, NFL Draft, Statistics
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Published on: December 18, 2013

Player:  David Fales

School:  San Jose State

Year:  Senior

Career CAA:  29.2

Predicted 4-Year NFL Passer Rating:  74.7

Predicted 4-Year ANY/A:  4.76*

Finally, a player with some actual buzz.  David Fales is a very interesting prospect to me, mostly because he stretches the bounds of what my prediction model can say about a prospect.  Of all the quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, I think Fales is one the model will be the most wrong about.  The thing is, I don’t know in which direction the model will be wrong, which makes Fales even more interesting to watch.  You could tell me that, four years from now David Fales will have a career passer rating of 80 and take a team to the playoffs two years running and I’d believe you.  Or you could tell me that David Fales won’t start a game in the NFL and I’d believe that too.

So why so much uncertainty around David Fales?  A number of reasons come to mind.  First there are the standard problems of not playing a full career at the FBS level.  I’ve only got two years of data on Fales when I have three or four on many other quarterbacks.  But there is an extra problem with the situation that surrounds David Fales that makes his future outcomes even more difficult to predict.  Nothing breaks my prediction model faster than constant changes to the offensive system.  Changing receivers is good, changing quarterbacks in the same offensive system is good, but as soon as the offensive system starts changing rapidly, the numbers go haywire.  And San Jose State has seen its fair share of change in the offensive system during the tenure of David Fales.

During Fales’s first year (2012), a new offensive coordinator was brought in.  This means that most of what we knew about San Jose State’s offense can be thrown out the window.  Not everything of course, because the head coach was still the same.  We can imagine that Mike MacIntyre had a particular philosophy in mind when hiring Brian Lindgren that wouldn’t be much of a change from previous offensive systems.  But we don’t know much about whether this new guy has a system works the same way, features the same personnel, or uses the personnel they have in the same way as the previous system.  This problem gets compounded when the head coach lands a new job for 2013 and takes the offensive coordinator with him.  Now we not only have a new head coach but another new offensive coordinator, which really throws everything out the window.

You can see this in the large variability in Fales’s numbers from 2012 to 2013.  During the 2012 season, Fales is third in the country on my metric (35.6 CAA).  In 2013, he’s 126th (-6.4) and below average (0 is perfectly average).  Part of the reason for this massive change is that the model is trying to account for circumstances like offensive system.  In this particular case it’s having a really difficult time calculating a precise number to put on those circumstances.

At the end of the day, it would be really nice if Fales had another year of eligibility so we could get additional information about his on field performance.  However, NCAA rules being what they are, we just aren’t going to get that.  Without more data, the prediction model can only throw up its hands and say “Might be great, might never work out.  Can’t tell you which one based on what I’ve got.”  It’s possible the 2012 numbers are the true David Fales, or it’s possible the 2013 numbers are the true David Fales, or it’s possible that neither is the true David Fales.  Everywhere we look with this guy, the future is cloudy.

Take Home Point

If I was working for a team, this is one I’d turn the Fales tape over to the highest paid scout they have and say “You deal with this one.  My skills are pretty useless here.”

Do you draft him?

Ask a scout.

* I’ve added a prediction of Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A) for the advanced stats buffs out there.  Career CAA predicts ANY/A after 4 years in the league according to the following equation Y = 4.27 + 0.0167*Career CAA.  The equation was generated using Bayesian analysis assuming a t-distribution for the dependent variable.

2014 NCAA Quarterbacks: Who to Watch

(Editor’s Note:  This post refers to members of the 2014 NFL Draft class.  For information on NCAA quarterbacks participating in the 2014 season, click here)

Welcome back everyone.  After a hiatus from writing, I’m ready talk football and football analytics once again.  I’m going to start with the obligatory “NCAA Quarterbacks in 2014:  Who to Watch” article.  We’ll wander over the NFL at some point, but we’ll start in the NCAA.

If you’re new the site, you may find something a little weird about how I write about football. My wheelhouse is taking a statistical approach to the game.  I take an almost exclusively analytic approach to evaluating football players.  I don’t know the ins and outs of arm angles and footwork and all that.  What I can tell you which quarterbacks and receivers are getting the outcomes that will make them successful at the NFL level.

My primary evaluation tool is to use a statistic I call “Completions Away from Average” or CAA.  This statistic captures the number of completions a theoretically average quarterback would be expected to have given the receivers and offensive system of Team X.  It then compares this theoretical number to the number of completions the actual quarterback of Team X has.  Positive numbers are above average, 0 is perfectly average, and negative numbers are below average.

So let’s talk about who I’m looking at this season in the NCAA.

I’m Sold

Keith Price – Washington

Career CAA – 82.904

I’m waiting for the moment when someone on Twitter says, “I’m evaluating Austin Seferian-Jenkins and can’t help but notice the quarterback.”  But maybe that will never happen.  Maybe Price doesn’t quite look the part or something, I don’t really know.  The numbers sure like him though.  .

My numbers say that Price is scary good.  Terrifyingly good.  This guy is so good he is literally breaking my scale.  I have data going back to 2007, and only three players; Zac Dysert (91.74), Andew Luck (86.12), and Ryan Aplin (85.40) have more Career Completions Away From Average than Keith Price (82.90) does right now.  And Price has a whole season ahead of him to add to his numbers.

All Keith Price has to do is keep doing what he has done the last two years and he will be my #1 quarterback going into the 2014 draft.

Rakeem Cato – Marshall

Career CAA – 59.486

Another quarterback flying under the radar, Cato has been spectacular in his two seasons at Marshall.  I’ve seen a little more buzz about Cato than I have about Price, and we’ll see where this season goes.  With a current Career CAA of 59.49, he sits head and shoulders above the rest of the NCAA with the exception of Price.

Did it once, let’s see it again

These quarterbacks all have one very good season at the FBS level under their belts.  Before I’m sold on these guys, I need to see a little more evidence that they can sustain their current level of productivity.

Brett Hundley – UCLA

Career CAA – 37.180

Hundley had the second highest CAA during the 2013 season in FBS football.  Very nice for a freshman in the PAC-12.  The only question for his success at the next level is whether or not he can do it again this year.  I’m very interested to see if he can keep it going.

David Fales – San Jose State

Career CAA – 36.020

SJSU quarterback David Fales drops back for a pass during the Spartans' 20-14 victory over the BYU Cougars on Saturday. Fales went 25 for 34 with 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Lots of people like David Fales.  Add me to that list.  Just like Hundley, I’d like to see that he can string to successful seasons together in college.

Bo Wallace – Ole Miss

Career CAA – 22.739

Bo Wallace has bounced around a bit looking for an opportunity to play major college football.  Last year, all that bouncing around seems to have paid off as he was the only other first year starter to have more than 20 CAA for the 2013 season.  It will be good to see him in the field again this year, especially with the high expectations for Ole Miss going into this season.

Tricky Business

My final group of quarterbacks presents guys I like, but also question.  There are positives and negatives associated with the numbers each has put up during their careers.

Nathan Scheelhaase – University of Illinois

Career CAA – 35.54

Scheelhaase is an interesting case.  He’s had to share playing time throughout his career, which makes it difficult to rack up an excessive number of completions.  His numbers could be suppressed because he was never a fully featured member of the offense.  A second problem is that two thirds of his CAA come from the 2011 season when he had 24.183.  That’s a red flag for me because it makes me think that there might be some statistical fluke in the data driving up his numbers.  Much like Ryan Nassib, I want the real Nate Scheelhaase to please stand up.

Cody Fajardo – Nevada

Career CAA – 34.554

This is a case where we have a little bit of some depressed numbers compared to the other quarterbacks on my list, but still puts him in the category of intriguing.  I’m interested in seeing what this guy can do in a more featured leadership role now that he is becoming an upper-classman.

Aaron Murray – Georgia

Career CAA – 33.499

Murray’s numbers have always been positive, but they are even more depressed than Cody Fajardo.  He’s accumulated just one fewer CAA, but has had three full seasons whereas Fajardo has only had two.  However, he’s also improved each of his three years at Georgia.  I don’t know what to think of him other than I want to see more.  I currently have him as my #7 quarterback, but let’s see what he does this season before going out of our way to recommend him.

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