Contributed By: David Grey
In most fantasy leagues, QBs score the most points and are a key component to your team. However, many fantasy rookies make the mistake of assuming that since QBs usually put up more yards and higher TD numbers than other skill position players, that they should be the first players drafted. This assumption has led to the downfall of many fantasy teams. You are probably thinking to yourself, “How can drafting the highest scoring players in the league lead to my team’s downfall?” There are quite a few reasons, but the main reason is supply and demand.
In the majority of fantasy leagues, teams only need to start one QB, while usually starting multiple RBs and WRs. Considering there are 32 teams in the NFL, that allows for most fantasy teams to draft 2-3 starting QBs for their fantasy teams. This allows for plenty of options and makes it easy to build depth at the position to overcome injuries and handle bye weeks. Compare that to the RB position, where fantasy teams often are forced to start 2-3 RBs each week, which doesn’t leave much room for depth. On the WR front, there were only eleven WRs who found the end zone ten times or more last season. So there aren’t many stud WRs available and you can expect most of them to go early. If you play your cards right, you could wind up with two potential top 10 RBs and two potential top 10 WRs for your fantasy team.
After Peyton Manning’s sensational 2004 season (Due to the strict enforcement of the pass interference call), he is the exception to this rule (Though there were still plenty of fantasy teams with Manning who stayed home for the playoffs). You could argue for Daunte Culpepper and possibly Donovan McNabb as well, though to a lesser degree. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manning become the top overall pick in some leagues this season, though it would still be tough to pass up one of the elite fantasy RBs for Manning, but it will be hard to argue against taking Manning.
After the big three QBs, the difference between the next 10-15 isn’t near as substantial and you could argue that many of those QBs could wind up in the top 8-10 fantasy QBs by the end of the season. Why reach for a QB in the first or second round, when a similar QB would be available in rounds 5-7, or even later? You won’t likely find many top RBs or WRs available that late in the draft. By dealing with your RB and WRs early, you can put together a strong starting lineup and fill it out with a solid QB. It seems that every year some proven QB slips for some reason or another, so you may wind up with the QB you wanted to take in the 3rd round in the 5th round. Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was routinely available in the 6th and 7th rounds last season in many leagues. All he did was throw for over 4,000 yards and 30 TDs. Talk about a steal in the middle rounds. Often you can find a capable beyond the 10th round in your draft.
Another popular strategy for fantasy QBs is the platoon. With this strategy you draft 2-3 middle tiered QBs (Preferably with some upside) and then play the match-ups. Often you can even wind up with a top 10 QB that has fallen and surround him with a couple other capable QBs. Then each week you evaluate your QBs match-up and start the QB with the best chance to survive. If you have Trent Green facing a tough Patriots pass defense and Kerry Collins facing a likely shoot-out against a pass prone Colts defense, Collins would likely be an excellent start and could easily be one of the highest scoring QBs in the league for the week. The next week you may have Green facing a struggling Cardinals secondary, while Collins has his work cut out for him against the Steelers. The QB platoon also ensures you have some good depth at the position, which can help overcome injuries.
Lets look at some scenarios that could likely occur. In a ten-team league, here is a team you could likely end up with by taking a QB in the 1st round: Donovan McNabb, Rudi Johnson, Thomas Jones, Reggie Wayne and Drew Bennett. Looks like a very solid team I will admit, but you are taking chances on some youngsters who really only have one good season under their belts. Now we will take a QB in the 5th round, and end up with: Edgerrin James, Rudi Johnson, Javon Walker, Reggie Wayne and Trent Green. Looks like we improve our RB situation and add some at WR. The drop-off at QB shouldn’t be much as Green is proven performer who should toss over 25 TDs. And you can probably add a guy like David Carr or Carson Palmer in a couple rounds as a capable backup.
As with most guidelines, there are leagues where you could be forced to take a QB early. In leagues where you start more than one QB or may start an additional QB in a flex position, having a couple top QBs could really help your cause. Also in TD only leagues, a QB could be the key to victory. Plus there are some scoring systems out there that so favor the QB, that a good week by your QB could single handily beat your opponents. These types of leagues are few and far between, but it usually helps to know your league and the drafting strategies of your fellow owners. If QBs always go quickly and you can get starting caliper RBs in the 3rd and 4th rounds, then taking a QB in the first or second round can pay off. If you are unsure how the other owners draft, a RB is usually your best bet, unless you can get Manning (And possibly Culpepper, though he has some extra risk this season with Moss gone).
The QB position is an important piece of a successful fantasy season and should be counted on to rack up plenty of points. But the QB position has plenty of good options for your team, while RB and WR aren’t nearly as deep, not to mention you have to start multiple players at each position. Many leagues even have a starting QB available on the waiver wire you could start in a pinch. So you don’t need to feel yourself in a bind a reach for a QB in the early rounds of your draft to find yourself in contention for a championship.