When to Draft a Quarterback in Your Fantasy Football League

Aug 26, 2019
When to Draft a Quarterback in Your Fantasy Football League

The majority of draft analyses focus on the positions of need. Most leagues start a total of four to five wide receivers and running backs. Draft capital and opportunity cost force the conversation to those positions. That leaves the ‘onesie’ positions for us to figure out. Typically avoided at cost, quarterback and tight end are enigmatic positions. The approach to drafting them is simple. Don’t reach and look for value targets in the later rounds. Execution is what’s difficult. Identifying the right person to draft or offensive situation to invest in becomes a crapshoot.

2018 Top-12 PPR Finishers
Player 2018 Total Points
Patrick Mahomes 417
Saquon Barkley 385.8
Christian McCaffrey 385.5
Todd Gurley 372.1
Matt Ryan 355
Alvin Kamara 354.2
Ben Roethlisberger 342
DeAndre Hopkins 333.5
Deshaun Watson 331.9
Davante Adams 329.6
Ezekiel Elliott 329.2
Andrew Luck 328.1

It took a Hall of Fame performance from Patrick Mahomes to take the top spot in honor of QBs. But still, five of the Top-12 spots were taken by quarterbacks. That’s generally been the case for the past four seasons. So while the position has depth, there is some upside to drafting a quarterback early. Let’s look at a couple of ways to attack the position.

2018 Win Rates

Best-ball has quickly become a popular format over the last few seasons. The ‘set it and forget it’ mindset has an appeal to casual players, but the experienced drafters know there’s so much more. Mixing weekly upside with season-long outlook is what captures the highs and lows of the format. Two or more quarterbacks are required since there are no waiver runs, but the approach to drafting quarterbacks can be similar to redraft. Getting an elite option early or a late-round target only depends on the drafter’s preference. Taken from Fantrax their 2018 results give us an insight into an optimal approach to drafting quarterbacks.

2018 Best-ball Win Rates
Name Win Rate Final ADP Round
Patrick Mahomes II 20.66% 11
Drew Brees 14.05% 8
Jameis Winston 14.05% 13
Jared Goff 12.40% 11
Ben Roethlisberger 11.57% 10
Blake Bortles 10.74% 13
Cam Newton 10.74% 7
Deshaun Watson 10.74% 5
Matt Ryan 10.74% 11
Mitch Trubisky 9.92% 13
Philip Rivers 9.09% 10
Russell Wilson 9.09% 5

A few of the names are familiar from previous seasons. Cam Newton. Deshaun Watson. Russell Wilson. All early-round favorites with perceived weekly upside. Newton was coming off a season where he was ‘the’ QB1 three times during the 2017 season. Watson had one such finish himself and Wilson’s scramble drills for touchdowns were nearly commonplace by that time. But, even with their highlight reels, their production was replaceable.

Of the Top-12 win rates, only three quarterbacks came from the early rounds (prior to the 8th round). The rest were either mid or late-round picks. That’s why Patrick Mahomes was such a league winner in 2018. The 50 touchdowns surely helped, but his opportunity cost was the real benefit. Imagine getting 10 chances to draft viable options at every other position of need and then getting a Hall of Fame performance at quarterback. That’s expected of a fourth-round pick. That’s expected of Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady of old. Not an 11th rounder. That detracts from the shine of elite talent available in the early rounds and makes waiting on a quarterback viable. Just look at who may be available if that strategy is employed.

2019 Late-Round QB Options
2019 Rank Name 2018 Points Per Start
13 Philip Rivers 17.8
14 Dak Prescott 17.9
15 Cam Newton 20.2
16 Ben Roethlisberger 21.3
17 Lamar Jackson 19.7
18 Mitch Trubisky 18.8
19 Tom Brady 17.5
20 Josh Allen 18.9
21 Kirk Cousins 17.6
22 Jimmy Garoppolo 16
23 Sam Darnold 13
24 Andy Dalton 15.9

Nearly every quarterback listed has been a QB1, ‘the’ QB1, or has a simple narrative behind them reaching those heights. The depth at the position allows drafters to acquire players at more important positions. Hopefully, the quarterback drafted later hits those QB1 weeks a few times throughout the season. This is seemingly the best season to consider waiting at the position with so many available. However, if the desire is to dominate with quarterbacks that typically score more points, then there is some credence to that approach.

Weekly Upside

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