Comparing the fantasy value of one player to another seems simple: which player will be more helpful on the way to a fantasy championship? Maybe the most important position when it comes to winning in fantasy is the quarterback position. Quarterbacks tend to put up the most points out of all the positions- ten of the top twelve scorers in fantasy last year were quarterbacks. This fact alone does not make quarterbacks more valuable than the other positions though; it actually has the opposite effect. Wait until late before drafting your quarterback because the amount of quality quarterbacks available late in drafts is higher than the number of quality running backs and wide receivers available late in drafts.
When choosing the quarterback you want to be your starter you should divide all of your options into two categories. First, there are the elite. These quarterbacks scored over 278 points in fantasy last year. They are Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers (elite because he was on pace for over 280 points before his injury), Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck. These quarterbacks put up big points last year and will cost you a high draft pick.
In current mock drafts last year’s highest scoring QB Peyton Manning will probably cost you a first round pick. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will likely cost you second round picks. Cam Newton and Andrew Luck will likely require a fourth rounder although they could each be available in fifth.
Is using one of these high picks on a quarterback really worth it? In order to determine this we must look at the alternative strategy: waiting until later in the draft to select one of the players from the second group: the non-elite but still starting caliber pool.
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The non-elite but deserving of a starting fantasy role guys are the twelve QBs who scored between 230 and 278 fantasy points last year. They aren’t the best quarterbacks in fantasy, but they will win you games. These twelve quarterbacks are, in decreasing order of points scored, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Nick Foles, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, and Robert Griffin III (on pace to be in this category before his benching week 14).
This starting caliber category contains some guys who are yearly fantasy starters like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Colin Kaepernick. More surprisingly this list also includes Alex Smith, Tony Romo, and Ben Roethlisberger. The common theme among these latter three? They didn’t even make ESPN’s top 100 players for fantasy this year. In theory that means you can pick up a quarterback in the not elite but starting category in the tenth round or later! Matt Ryan is ranked 100th overall and he scored 239 points last year with both of his biggest weapons, Julio Jones and Roddy White, hampered by injuries. Why spend a second round pick on Drew Brees when you can use that pick to solidify your running back or wide receiver corps knowing that a guy like Tony Romo will be available in the ninth or tenth round!
Now that I’ve discussed all of the depth at the quarterback position it’s important to mention the lack of depth at wide receiver and running back since drafting players from these positions would likely be the alternative to taking one of these “elite” quarterbacks early in your draft.
An argument for drafting quarterbacks early I hear way too often is that there are “at least twenty good starting caliber running backs but only eight or nine good quarterbacks.” The second part of this argument is wrong. I showed you there are sixteen quarterbacks worthy of starting in fantasy football. I agree that there are at least twenty good running backs out there but they have to fill more roster slots. You only have one starting quarterback.
Unless you play in a six or eight team league these twenty to twenty-five “good” running backs are going to get spread extremely thin throughout the league you are playing in. These running backs are going to have to fill two running back slots per team and then a few flex spots as well. Before you know it there is little talent left in the draft and you are choosing backup running backs and rookies to round out your bench.
Many people will tell you that in stark contrast to the shallowness of the running back position is the depth at wide receiver. I’ve been told about this spectacular depth at wide receiver time and again but when one examines the wide receiver rankings this depth at wide receiver people assume is there really is not there at all.
Looking at the rankings my biggest takeaway is the seemingly massive drop off in value once about twenty receivers go off of the board. Once you enter TY Hilton, Reggie Wayne, and Kendall Wright territory there is no going back. There are no more wide receivers left that are anything close to a guarantee. Once you reach this area of your draft, usually around the seventh round, every receiver you will draft has something “wrong” with them. Be it that they are too old, coming off of an injury, didn’t play as well as people wanted them to last year or whatever it is its something. So instead of waiting until this time to sure yourself up at the wide receiver position do it earlier! That pick you wanted to use on Drew Brees can probably be turned into Dez Bryant or AJ Green.
Instead of picking an elite QB and forcing yourself to take on a receiver with a problem take an elite receiver earlier and take a good quarterback in the ninth round. There will be a good quarterback there. That’s a guarantee.
One last piece of advice: come draft day don’t panic if there is a run on quarterbacks in the sixth or seventh round. Let your buddies reach for quarterbacks while you add depth at wide receiver and running back. As I said, there will be plenty of starting caliber quarterbacks to go around. There is nothing wrong with being the last person in your league to select a quarterback since there are so many good ones out there. If someone in your league picks up his or her backup before you pick your starter you shouldn’t worry about that either. Wait until late and then pounce on that quarterback you want. He will in all odds perform equally with the quarterbacks your friends reached for in the mid rounds and this will allow you to use the depth at wide receiver and running back you acquired in these same rounds to steamroll your way to fantasy glory.