8 Quarterback SOS Beneficiaries & Ideal Late-Round Pairings
We’ve been spoiled the last couple of seasons when it comes to drafting quarterbacks.
I’ve said it a few times throughout the offseason already and it’s hard to dispute. Patrick Mahomes had a QB15 ADP this time in 2018. Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott had similar values in 2019. Historically, we thought we understood the quarterback market.
- Avoid risk by not drafting a quarterback early.
- Fill out your roster.
- Draft Tyrod Taylor or Kirk Cousins late.
Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray have ruined one of the worst-kept secrets in fantasy football. Draft rushing quarterbacks. Better yet, draft rushing quarterbacks late. Their fantasy output has lifted them above their non-rushing counterparts in years past, but our pool of options may be limited in 2020.
I culled the latest ADP reports for an idea of what the late-round quarterback scene looked like in 2020. Not just who would be available, but the process that happens next. Cobbling together enough QB1 weeks from QB2’s and waiver wire fodder to match a mid-round draft pick. It feels different with the market shifting this season, but I was able to find a few scenarios to justify the strategy.
Mining the late-rounds and waiver wire (during the season) is like playing the classic arcade game Frogger. You can see the obstacles. You see the path to the other side. But a mistimed move or acceleration of game speed will leave you flat on the road. Same idea in fantasy football. We’ve had the NFL schedule for months. We can qualitatively judge matchups given opposing personnel groupings to find contests to target. But again, one injury or a change of game script will leave us with single digits at our quarterback spot quickly. Let’s dive into the process.
We’re looking for a few things when considering our starting quarterback on a weekly basis. The basic criteria consist of the following:
- Late-round ADP – The descriptor for this group is “past the popular guys”. Technically, Jared Goff carries a later ADP in 2020 but still carries name value. For our purposes, we’ll begin the pool of available quarterbacks at Round 13.
- Rushing Production – We may not get designed runs, but we’ll take scrambles. Instead of rushing QBs, we’ll take athletic QBs. Any means to extend a drive or steal a short-yardage touchdown will raise a ceiling boosting their weekly potential.
- Weak Defensive Matchup – Metrics like aFPA gauge a defensive unit’s susceptibility to a position given past performance. Combined with an understanding of the QBs tendencies, expectations can be set on the potential to hit their ceiling.
- Strong Opposing Offense – We need the other team to score points pulling our QB into a shootout. Twelve teams were below the 60.1% average passing rate in neutral game scripts. League-wide, that average jumped to 70.7% in negative game scripts. We need points.
- Home Field Advantage – It’s more of a preference than a requirement. Data surrounding home/road splits reveal a minor edge at the league level, but volatility team by team. Looking at 2019 alone as a proxy, the majority of QBs increased their TD rate and yards per game while at home. However, COVID impacts (e.g. limited seating, team travel) may remove this from consideration once the season starts.
The primary takeaway from the listed criteria is that the quarterbacks drafted late aren’t to be held the full season. It’s about isolating pockets of peak production. You might take flack from your league-mates about not securing a QB with name value, but we need points. For example, using early schedules from 2019, an Allen-Brissett pairing had early-season viability.
Josh Allen meets three of the five criteria and his early-season schedule was positive. Admittedly, our initial aFPA metrics were based on 2018’s results and our thoughts around New England quickly changed. However, Allen averaged 18.8 PPG over the span (QB10) and just needed the replacement in Week 4. Brissett was coming off a strong QB10 performance at home against Atlanta the prior week and was going to be home again against Oakland. Process pointed to Jacoby leading the streaming candidates again, and he finished as the QB5 in Week 4. Process plus results. The same approach can be applied to the fantasy playoffs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick makes fantasy football fun. But it wasn’t just his hair on fire, on-field ability that fueled his appeal. It was his availability. Despite his QB6 and QB3 performances during the fantasy playoffs, there will always be a contingent of fantasy managers that need the security of a known commodity. The safety of a quarterback that’s ‘done it before’. Even though in Week 16, the fantasy championship, the top-four scoring quarterbacks had ADPs later than the 11th round. The mental block continues to give us an edge even with the market getting sharper. Now, let’s apply the process to the 2020 late-round class.
2020’s Late-Round Quarterbacks
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