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When it comes to my fantasy football draft strategy the thoughts that usually run through my mind revolve around the quarterback position. All I keep repeating to myself is, “I want all the quarterbacks. Give me all the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks are all mine, mine, mine!” I just say that over and over again until my cheat sheet rankings are completed, which usually involves every single worthwhile fantasy quarterback, be it a starter, back-up or third stringer.
You might be wondering to yourself why would I put so much emphasis on the quarterback position in fantasy football, especially when you look at the numbers from last year and see that the highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2012, Drew Brees, who was drafted in the first round of most 12-team, non-PPR, standard scoring drafts with an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 6.6, was only able to score 28.08 points more than Robert Griffin III, 34.62 points more than Peyton Manning and 40.72 points more than Matt Ryan, who each finished fifth, sixth and seventh in fantasy football points scored by a quarterback last season, respectively. On top of that Griffin, Manning and Ryan were all drafted later than Brees; Griffin’s ADP was 82.28 Manning’s ADP was 47.26 and Ryan’s ADP was 37.82.
When you take the attention off of Brees and transfer it over to the fantasy quarterback who was taken first on average in fantasy football drafts last year, Aaron Rodgers, with an ADP of 2.63, you realize that Rodgers didn’t even score the most fantasy football points by a quarterback last year. Brees, the third highest drafted quarterback in fantasy football last season wound up with the most fantasy points, scoring more than Rodgers and Tom Brady, who was second in quarterback ADP last year.
After reading the last two paragraphs you wonder even more about why I’m so crazy about quarterbacks when it comes to fantasy football drafts. Another thing, when you take a look at the above data and you factor into the equation how much depth there is going to be this year in fantasy football at the quarterback position you’re probably thinking even more that I’m pretty nuts to care so much about quarterbacks in fantasy football.
Sure, in fantasy football leagues that only start one quarterback you could be the last guy to draft a starting quarterback and it’ll probably turn out okay for you. The data as of now is small considering the season just ended but the 2013 MyFantasyLeague.com ADP results in 12-team re-draft leagues of any scoring system show Tony Romo, who was the seventh highest scoring fantasy quarterback last year, is currently the twelfth drafted fantasy quarterback on average this off-season with an ADP of 87.19. And, you know what, I’d be just fine with him as my QB1 this season.
However, I don’t play primarily in 1-QB leagues. No, in the world of fantasy football I grew up playing in 2-QB leagues and when you have to start two quarterbacks every week in fantasy football you look at the game a little differently. In real life football quarterbacks are kings. They’re the ones with the biggest contracts. They’re the ones that get the super model girlfriends and wives. In fantasy football, running backs are kings and everybody wants to own the best running backs and as many of them that they can get their draft-day hands on. That’s not the way it works in 2-QB leagues though.
Things change strategy wise when you play in 2-QB fantasy football leagues and it makes you place more of an emphasis on the quarterback position, unlike 1-QB leagues where there’ll be a de-emphasis on the position this season more than ever before. If you were to take a look at any fantasy experts’ quarterback rankings heading into last season you would have probably been fine with having somebody like Ryan or Romo if you weren’t able to land one of the big three in Rodgers, Brees and Brady.
Just take a look at the ESPN composite quarterback rankings from the day before the 2012 NFL regular season took place.
After looking at those rankings and you’ve composed yourself from laughing so hard at how high Vick was ranked you tend so see the value of a quarterback like RG3. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 and if you would have been told that RG3 would have been the fifth highest scoring quarterback in fantasy, yet, you would have been able to draft him as the twelfth fantasy quarterback on average, you would have of course bypassed taking any fantasy quarterback early and just waited till later in the draft. That would have been the smart move to make. Yet, last year, many fantasy experts, except JJ over at lateroundqb.com, were declaring 2012 to be the year of the quarterback in fantasy football because of how prolific the scoring by some fantasy quarterbacks was the year prior. Guys like Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton were putting up crazy stats. Rodgers led the way in 2011 with 397.42 points; Brees, Newton and Brady, each scored more points in 2011 than Brees did as the highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2012 and Stafford wasn’t that far behind either.
With the 2012 fantasy football season being all about the quarterback position it led to an ADP inflation in regards to quarterbacks to the point where five quarterbacks (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton) were being drafted in the first two rounds. Fast forward one year and now only one quarterback (Rodgers) has an ADP (17.95) in the first two rounds when we look at the early MyFantasyLeague.com 2013 ADP results. What a different a year makes, right? Rodgers, on average, last season was being picked within the first three overall picks of fantasy football drafts. Now, this season, Rodgers can be had more than a full round later!
What does this all mean for the quarterback position in fantasy football as we go forward? Well, what it means is that there is so much depth at quarterback in fantasy that there really is not that much of a point in taking a quarterback in the first round when the guy being taken first (Rodgers) scored only 4.04 points per game more than the quarterback currently being taken twelfth (Romo).
It also means that if you play in 1-QB leagues you don’t really need to have much of a draft strategy in regards to quarterbacks. Gridiron Experts’ Jody Smith had the right attitude about drafting quarterbacks this season when he tweeted:
When you only have to worry about starting one quarterback, and there are so many quarterbacks worth taking in fantasy football, the quarterback position this year will be sort of an afterthought—and as Jody said, quite hard to screw up. What it also means is that more and more fantasy footballers out there will turn to 2-QB leagues; or at least they should.
With so much depth at the quarterback position in fantasy football why shouldn’t 2-QB leagues become more widespread in the world of fantasy football? When you play in 1-QB leagues and you can claim a quarterback off the waiver wire or free agency during the season that turns out to be a worthwhile starter it doesn’t really bring with it much of a competitive edge; anybody could have picked up the quarterback you did for one week. Finding a start worthy RB, WR or TE during the year is much tougher. But, when you look at 2-QB leagues it’s a whole new ballgame.
For example, in 12-team fantasy football leagues that start two quarterbacks that means a minimum of 24 quarterbacks will be drafted; probably more than that though because you have to factor in two bye weeks instead of the usual one. If every owner in a 12-team 2-QB league drafted a third quarterback for their bench that would be 36 quarterbacks. 36. Only 32 quarterbacks start in the NFL. You have to place more value at the quarterback position in fantasy football when two starting quarterbacks are involved and you have to put even more thought as to which quarterbacks to target and when. How is that not something fantasy football obsessives would be all over? More fantasy football draft prep work? Sign me up!
Now, it’s probably starting to make a little more sense to you as to why I look at each team’s quarterbacking depth chart so closely and why I’m all about quarterbacks when doing my fantasy football draft preparations. It might not make me any less crazy but at least you understand the insanity. You never want a player to get injured, miss time, or lose their job, but in a 2-QB league you have to be prepared for such an occurrence and you’re always trying to find an edge at the quarterback position or ask yourself questions that no other fantasy football owner would ask like, “Should I start Terrelle Pryor this week?” And, yes, that was a question I was asking myself in Week 17 of this past NFL regular season.
Taking a look at last year here are some quarterbacks that weren’t even drafted in most (probably all) 1-QB re-draft fantasy football leagues that had some sort of a fantasy football impact: Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, and depending on how early your draft was, Russell Wilson. You never know what’s going to happen during the course of the year and taking a flier on a high upside quarterback like Wilson paid off quite nicely for you last year. There were rumblings that Wilson and Matt Flynn would compete for the starting quarterback job in Seattle last year but if you played in a 1-QB league that didn’t really matter to you; neither one of them was declared the winner yet and by the time a starter was named you would have then been able to pick him up off the waiver wire or free agency list in your league. However, in 2-QB leagues you paid very close attention to the Seahawks’ quarterback battle because either Wilson or Flynn would be able to be placed into your starting line-up as a QB2, with the hope that they could put up QB1 numbers, which is exactly what Wilson did, as he finished the season as the 10th highest scoring fantasy quarterback.
The 2013 fantasy football season is going to see much less emphasis placed on the quarterback position and with that happening now is the time to start playing in 2-QB fantasy football leagues.
Not only are there going to be enough quarterbacks to draft in 2-QB leagues but 2-QB leagues also make fantasy football more fun and competitive. Having to do prep work on every quarterback situation in the league will make you take fantasy football more seriously and during the year you won’t be able to hit up the waiver wire in your league because the quarterback you drafted, say Michael Vick, has disappointed you to no end and pluck a quarterback off waivers like Carson Palmer to replace Vick because Palmer would already be on somebody else’s roster. That’s just the way we roll in 2-QB leagues, and not only is your draft strategy changed in 2-QB leagues but so too is your waiver wire strategy; two topics of high interest in 2-QB fantasy football leagues that I’ll be touching upon in separate future articles.
In the world of 2-QB fantasy football leagues you have to draft smart at the position because if you don’t you’re kind of screwed. I don’t want to pick on my fellow league-mates but here’s an example that will show you what makes 2-QB leagues so unique. In my most competitive 2-QB 12-team league one owner ended up with Vick, Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder as his quarterbacks. Scary, right? In 1-QB leagues last year (and probably this year) Ponder and Gabbert wouldn’t even have been drafted but when you need to start two quarterbacks they’re a part of the conversation. If you’re not prepared when drafting in 2-QB leagues you could make the exact same mistake as my fellow fantasy football owner and your fantasy season is over before it even begins, unless you make some great trades to save your team and season.
In 2-QB leagues you have to be willing to take risks and be bold with your drafting strategy. Of course, every league is different, and you have to read the room to see what it’s like but generally, in 2-QB leagues you want to get your QB1 early, which is a complete departure of what the strategy should be in 1-QB leagues. As an example, again from my most competitive 2-QB league, the first nine picks were all quarterbacks. Out of the twelve first round picks eleven were quarterbacks. In a situation like that the league looks to fill out the top half of their starting quarterback tandem early. As for the QB2 position, nine out of the twelve teams had their QB1 and QB2s drafted by the end of the third round.
Will such a 2-QB strategy happen again this year with the depth at the fantasy quarterback position? Maybe but maybe not…
Below is a spreadsheet I put together of early 2013 fantasy quarterback rankings from some top fantasy football experts:
You might not like all of the quarterbacks listed on there but you can’t deny that there aren’t a lot of them. In a 1-QB league you’d be able to live with any one of Eisenberg’s top 25 ranked quarterbacks. Not to mention that there’s also an incoming rookie quarterback class that could produce starters. Plus we still have to find out what’s going to happen to Nick Foles, Alex Smith and Matt Flynn. When it’s all said and done and Week one of the 2013 NFL regular season kicks off we could potentially have 30 or so quarterbacks that can start on a weekly basis in fantasy football.
It’s going to be an interesting year in fantasy football when it comes to the quarterback position and if you take a look at the quarterbacks drafted in this deep league 2-QB mock draft, where you start one quarterback and can start another quarterback at the flex position, run by Mike Clay from Pro Football Focus, where passing touchdowns are worth 4 points and .75 points are awarded for every 25 yards passing you’ll notice that quarterbacks weren’t flying off the board until the 3rd round, with Rodgers being drafted at 3.02 and Brees taken at 3.11. Rotoworld’s Evan Silva was the first person to take two quarterbacks, as he went with Brady and Kaepernick back-to-back with his fourth and fifth round picks. For a league where it’s really a 1.5-QB league and quarterback points aren’t worth a whole lot it’s still telling to see quarterbacks being drafted as early in the third round. If it was a true 2-QB league and touchdowns were worth six points and you got one point for every 25 passing yards you might have seen quarterbacks go even earlier.
With, at a minimum, 25 quarterbacks that can start on fantasy football teams this season you have enough starting fantasy quarterback tandems to fill out 12 2-QB league teams. Will you need to draft a quarterback in the first round in 2-QB leagues? Will you need to draft two quarterbacks within the first three rounds in 2-QB leagues? The answers will depend on your league and scoring system but when you look at the depth you see why 2-QB leagues is for players looking to utilize their drafting skill rather than luck and that’s what’s so appealing about playing in 2-QB leagues.
With so many worthwhile fantasy starting quarterbacks this year there’s no reason why you shouldn’t play in 2-QB leagues.