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AP vs QB: The Importance of Draft Slot in 2-QB Fantasy Football Leagues

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

Jan 5, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) tries to get away from Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) during the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

“Got first pick in my 2-QB draft. Who do I draft? AP or Brees/Rodgers?”

A version of that question is one I’ve been asked many times this off-season from fellow 2-QBers, and is one that has no easy answer. In 12-team 2-QB leagues, the natural answer is quarterback, because a 2-QB league that is made up of at least 12 or more teams won’t leave much room for error, if you aren’t able to draft a QB1 to your team.

The answer gets tricky when the question relates to a 10-team 2-QB league. If you read my 2-QB draft strategy piece when it comes to 10-team 2-QB leagues you’ll remember I advocated a ‘Studs+Streaming’ approach where you would draft a stud QB1 option early, usually within the first three rounds, and then wait to draft and stream two quarterbacks from the QB2/3 tiers.

Streaming isn’t an option for all 2-QB fantasy football players, as some like the comfort and ease of managing the quarterback situation that comes with having two of the top fantasy quarterbacks manning their 2-QB team. That’s fair. It is your team after all, and you’re allowed to draft and manage it however you want.

After thinking more about the ‘Studs+Streaming’ approach, and the questions asked about how to draft in 10-team 2-QB leagues, one thing that might not have been fully dealt with is how much of a role draft slot plays in determining whether ‘Studs+Streaming’ is a viable option. This is also something that can help with 2-QB draft strategy and planning/deciding between Adrian Peterson vs. a top quarterback.

In a 10-team 2-QB league you have ten different spots to draft from, meaning you have ten different scenarios that can play out. It’s almost like Community’s Remedial Chaos Theory episode, in which one little step, one different movement, can change the direction/fortune/path of ten other drafters.

When trying to figure out if Peterson or Drew Brees/Aaron Rodgers is the smart play with the first overall pick in a 2-QB league, the darkest timeline could occur if you go Peterson with the the first overall pick, only to watch in horror as the next 18 picks are quarterbacks.

If you’re drafting from the first, second or third spot, there are going to be at least 14 picks made until you pick again in the second round. On the other side of the equation, if you’re drafting eighth, ninth, or tenth, you’ll get two good to great players relatively early, and then the waiting game starts.

How can you determine if you should wait to draft your QB1 in a 10-team 2-QB league? How do you know if a high-end quarterback will be available when your second or third round pick comes up?

When you’re drafting tenth, you’ll have a nine pick history in front of you, hopefully providing you with a pattern of how your league is leaning. Getting an idea of how your league views the quarterback position will shape how you approach your tenth/eleventh overall picks. If not that many quarterbacks have been drafted, you can keep the trend going, and hope that when your next pick is on the clock, 18 picks later, a top QB1 is still on the board. However, that’s not something you can guarantee will be the case.

Not grabbing a QB1 with your first two picks, and playing the waiting game at the end of the draft could be a gamble not worth taking. If you can walk away from your first two picks with a QB1, you will at least secure yourself the services of a QB1. If you do draft a quarterback near the end of the first round/early part of the second round, you won’t have to worry about losing out on one of the top 10-12 fantasy quarterbacks, and can start formulating a plan for your next two picks, based on how the next two rounds unfold.

Now, what about when you’re picking first overall? Yes, you have the first overall pick, and your option of any player in the entire draft. But what’s the board going to look like by the time you draft at the turn in rounds 2 and 3? Will the quarterback pool be depleted? Will there have been a run on running backs?

You don’t have the benefit of sitting back and watching the draft unfold, like you would if you were drafting tenth overall. You have to take a stand early, and go either Peterson or the top quarterback on your board, be it Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. If you go Peterson, you hope that by the time you’re ready to pick at the Round 2/3 turn there’ll be at least one QB1 option still left for you to draft. Drafting Peterson could start a trend in which other owners will follow suit and not take a quarterback early, pushing some of them down the draft board. If that happens, you would reap the reward of there being quality QB1s to draft from in rounds 2 and 3.

Then there’s the middle rounds of your 10-team 2-QB draft. As an example, take a look at the 10-team 2-QB mock draft that was featured in my ‘Studs+Streaming’ approach article, where I was picking out of the four hole. By the time I drafted my QB1 in the third round, a total of 11 quarterbacks had been selected, with three teams drafting both their starting quarterbacks, and each team, but one, having secured the services of at least their QB1.

When drafting in the middle of your 2-QB draft, anywhere from draft slot 4-7, the wait in between your next pick isn’t a long haul, as it would be at the beginning of the draft when waiting for your second round turn, or at the end of the draft when you’re trying to pass the time until your third round pick.

When reading the room of the mock draft I took part in, I knew that by the time my pick was on the clock in round three, I would have my choice between Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. I don’t know about you, but I would have no problem with any of those four as my QB1.

Each of the three teams drafting in front me decided to go quarterback, filling their QB2 slots, leaving Wilson as the last man standing. I knew that if I didn’t grab Wilson right then and there, another twelve players would be drafted between my third and fourth round picks, and no way would Wilson still be on the board. And he wasn’t. Also, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, were drafted after Wilson, meaning if I waited until Round 4 to select a quarterback, I’d be looking at the likes of Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler as my QB1.

I knew when to pounce on the QB1 tier in that particular draft, and if you do too when your 2-QB draft commences, it will go a long way towards figuring out when and how to attack the quarterback position in your 2-QB draft.

Knowing all of that, it’s also worth noting that draft slot isn’t the only aspect of your 2-QB draft you should worry about. You also have to be cognizant of the rest of your fellow drafters. If you can read your 2-QB draft room, and see which players have been selected by which owner, you’ll know the needs of certain teams, and be able to guess which way they may lean with their next pick. That’s going to heavily influence how you draft, minus the first overall pick, of course.

By breaking down 10-team 2-QB drafts into sections (early, middle, late), the hope is to give you one more way of preparing for your draft, which will give you a better idea of how to tackle your draft. Not everybody has the benefit of knowing their draft slot well in advance of draft day though. Some leagues like to wait until the draft starts until revealing the draft order. In extreme cases like that, it’s going to be quite difficult to formulate a plan for your 2-QB draft strategy. However, if you know where you’re picking in your 2-QB draft, you’ll be able to game plan different 2-QB strategies, and announce with confidence which player you are drafting to your team.

If you don’t know your 2-QB draft slot, Steve Gallo of USA Today’s The Huddle had some good advice on Twitter, when he said you should make sure, “to realize drafts are fluid…prepare a plan, a backup plan and a backup plan to the backup plan.” If you’re not prepared, and don’t have at least one back-up plan, you might wind up living out your darkest 2-QB draft timeline, regardless if you know where you’re picking from in your 2-QB draft.

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