The QB vs. RB Debate

July 16, 2013 in Fantasy Football Strategy

By Guest Writer EJ McKinley:

The quarterback and running back are the two most important positions in fantasy football. But there is an extreme disagreement over which is more valuable. The debate is one that has been molded and changed over time. Historically running backs are the better choice. But every year since 2000 that has slowly changed. Let’s explore the growing debate; quarterback vs. running back.

I was in shock one month ago. I was participating in my first fantasy draft. The draft was hosted in a standard format league on NFL.com. I was fortunate to be picking first overall and confidently picked Drew Brees. He was the top point scorer In Fantasy football last year and plays consistently every week. I felt very good about picking Brees.             drewbrees

Then something odd happened. In the chat bar a message popped up, “wow I sure do love drafting when you take a QB first.” What was this crazy injustice? I was merely drafting just as I always had. Apparently everyone else in my draft agreed with this fellow because the next NINE picks were running backs. My jaw honestly dropped. I felt as though an infant being exposed to the new world; the new and always moving world of fantasy football strategy.

I don’t know how long fantasy football has been played for but I can imagine if it was played between 1920 (when the league was founded) and 2000 running backs were a hot commodity. Running backs have long been favored in fantasy football drafts. They rack up yards and touchdowns. Hell in the first 15 years of the league they often ran for more yards than their QB threw for.

That soon changed when we entered the new millennium and the passing game really started to heat up. By the time we reached 2010 quarterbacks were the ones being fought over. If you landed Peyton Manning it was like landing Barry Sanders in 1995. It was simple math. Quarterbacks are now throwing for far more yards than running backs are running for and scoring more touchdowns. That math hasn't changed. The points quarterbacks are scoring has only increased. That’s why I’m so surprised by how many running backs were chased in the first round of my fantasy draft.

Top 5 Point Scorers compared:

Quarterback:                          Runningback:

  1. Drew Brees: 345.58                         1. Adrian Peterson: 307.40
  2. Aaron Rodgers: 343.60                   2. Doug Martin: 262.60
  3. Tom Brady: 340.28                           3. Arian Foster: 262.10
  4. Cam Newton: 323.46                      4. Marshawn Lynch: 246.60
  5. Robert Griffin lll: 317.50                  5. Alfred Morris: 241.00

 

APThe stats above are from the 2012 NFL season. Now I’m not a statistician but I can read numbers and to me it looks like the quarterbacks are scoring way more points than the running backs. So that begs the question, why are so many picking running backs? It isn’t just in my one fantasy draft. I’ve seen the rising stock and love for the running back everywhere this season. I don’t have answers. The stats fully support the quarterback in any argument provided against.

So where does this leave us? Well since so many players are picking running backs I advise going with the flow. Pick up running backs while they’re going hot and then maneuver yourself well enough to draft the quarterback you want instead of drafting them early like I did. This way you can have your cake and eat it too.

 

 


  • David Crawford

    The argument to draft a RB first is right there in front of you. The QB field is deeper. Pick the #5 QB (from last year) and your only down 28 points from the #1 scoring QB. Pick the #5 RB and you're down 66 points from the tops at the position. That's roughly a 2pt or 5pt per game difference (based on 13 games) respectively.

  • JW Carroll

    The running back pool is scarce. You can wait till round 3 to find a good-productive QB but you can't for RB espically if you start two per week.