Stability and consistency at the quarterback position in fantasy football are two reasons most often given by drafters as to why they selected a quarterback early in fantasy football drafts, whether the league requires one starting quarterback or two starting quarterbacks. Drafters want somebody they can plug into their line-up, never having to worry about benching, other than during bye weeks. The term quarterback streaming isn’t in their vernacular.
Last year, as an example, three quarterbacks were drafted in the first round of fantasy football drafts based on 2012 ADP: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. That’s in standard 1-QB leagues. Based on 2-QB ADP that we have now, that number jumps up to five, with Peyton Manning and Cam Newton joining the party.
The thing about the quarterback position in fantasy football though, is that just because you draft a quarterback early, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be getting a consistent performance that you can bank on week-to-week.
Every NFL quarterback is going to have a bad day, even guys like Rodgers and Brees, which is something you have to keep in mind when you’re drafting this week.
I took a look at 2012’s top 24 scoring fantasy quarterbacks, both in standard scoring leagues, and leagues that award 6 points/passing touchdown, to see how they ranked in terms of quarterback fantasy scoring each week, with Week 17 excluded from the study.
Here is how each of the top 24 fantasy standard league scoring quarterbacks in 2012 ranked in terms top scoring finishes:
Here is how each of the top 24 fantasy scoring quarterbacks in 2012 ranked in terms of top finishes in leagues that award 6 points/passing touchdowns:
What to take away from the above numbers is that not a single quarterback could say they were a QB1 or QB2 fantasy performer every week during the 2012 NFL season’s first 16 weeks. A few of them were close, such as Brady and Newton, two quarterbacks that were drafted fairly high in 2012 drafts.
The expectation is that the top fantasy drafted quarterbacks in 2-QB leagues should be able to at least put up at a QB2, or Top-24 performance (12-team fantasy leagues) each week. However, when you have a QB1 on your team that was drafted within the first couple of rounds, you want them to put up Top-5 or Top-12 performances, or, if you’re greedy, Top-3 performances. You’re paying for consistency and stability in the early parts of fantasy football drafts, and you want your high draft pick to yield high returns.
As you can see from both charts, the most Top-5 finishes came from Aaron Rodgers with 8. For half the 2012 season, Rodgers wasn’t a top-5 fantasy quarterback, even though he was being drafted as one of the first two fantasy quarterbacks off the board. When looking at Top-10 finishes, only Drew Brees, in 6 point passing touchdown leagues had double digit top-10 finishes, with 11, and in standard scoring leagues, RG3 had the most, with ten.
Looking at the Top-12 finishes column, basically a QB1 performance in 2-QB leagues with 12 teams, we have Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Newton, RG3, Peyton, and Matt Ryan finishing in the Top-12 of fantasy quarterbacks at least 9 times, in standard and 6-point passing touchdown leagues.
Those are QB1 guys in 2-QB leagues, yet, they went multiple weeks outside of the QB1 tier. If you want a couple of examples of their bad weeks, here you go: Drew Brees was the 31st highest scoring fantasy quarterback in Week 13 last season, and Aaron Rodgers was the 26th highest scoring fantasy quarterback in Week 2.
While you can’t predict fantasy performances, because of the high draft pick you used on Rodgers and Brees, you weren’t going to bench either of those two quarterbacks during those two particular weeks.
What you do with the data presented is entirely up to you. Maybe it makes you think that you don’t have to have Rodgers or Brees as your QB1, and you can wait until later to grab one, if that’s a possibility. Maybe it’ll make you give second thought to streaming your QB2. Or maybe it’ll make you do nothing at all, and keep drafting the way you do.
But, just remember, even quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Christian Ponder were Top-5 fantasy quarterbacks during a given week last year, and even if it’s for a match-up here and there, you could get away without having a top fantasy quarterback in your line-up each week. Even if it us just for one week.