FFPC Win Rates: Quarterbacks

Apr 26, 2022
FFPC Win Rates: Quarterbacks

Drafting quarterbacks has become an arms race over the last couple of seasons. Top options come with significant opportunity costs. Meanwhile, the pool of late-round selections has nearly dried up. Securing just one legitimate passer is a roster balancing act, and three are typically optimal. Using win rate data from last year from FantasyMojo, I’ll walk through how much has changed in the quarterback landscape and how we can adjust our strategy for 2022.

More Best Ball Content: 10 Rookies to Target in Best Ball Before the NFL Draft | FFPC Win Rates: RB | FFPC Win Rates: WR | FFPC Win Rates TE | FFPC Roster Construction |

Highest QB Win Rates

FFPC Top 12 QB Win Rates, 2021
Rank Player Roster Rate on Winning Teams ADP
1 Tom Brady 13.53% 8.01
2 Justin Herbert 13.13% 7.04
3 Aaron Rodgers 12.63% 6.12
4 Joe Burrow 12.42% 9.12
5 Josh Allen 11.82% 4.08
6 Kirk Cousins 11.42% 12.03
7 Matthew Stafford 10.82% 8.07
8 Derek Carr 9.62% 13.12
9 Patrick Mahomes 9.02% 3.07
10 Zach Wilson 8.92% 14.04
11 Jared Goff 8.52% 16.07
12 Mac Jones 8.43% 19.09
(*) – ADP data is from August 2021

If you looked at the list and it made sense at first glance, look at it again. I can explain.

Using roster win rate can help paint the big picture but in broad strokes. We’d expect players like Justin Herbert and Tom Brady to be the driving forces for many drafted teams, but a single passer’s total score isn’t the only factor to consider since we roster multiple. Timing, when the spike weeks come, is also at play.

FFPC leagues last until Week 17. Even though there isn’t an official playoff window, those final few weeks are the most important. Think about your team by Week 14. Injuries, changes in situation, and complete whiffs on projections riddle every roster. Any production to hold an early-season lead is welcome. A late-season spike can seal a victory.

We look for passers that will carry us the entire season, but each week matters. Jared Goff hit QB8 in Week 15, and Zach Wilson was QB4 the following week. Josh Allen is the only quarterback the duo didn’t outscore on the list over those two weeks. Mac Jones averaged fewer points per game than Taylor Heinicke throughout the season and still made the list. Why? Jones’s best week came in Week 17 (QB6 against Jacksonville).

So, the late-round darts still have value. But, you’ll still need the early and mid-round options to do the heavy lifting. Let’s break down each phase, see how drafters fared last year, and apply our knowledge to this season.

Early Rounds

Highest QB Roster Win Rates, Rounds 1-6
Rank Player Roster Rate on Winning Teams
3 Aaron Rodgers 12.63%
5 Josh Allen 11.82%
9 Patrick Mahomes 9.02%

Drafting quarterbacks early is an annual debate. The perception of 'set it and forget it' brings people back every year. And the results emphasize why it’s a popular approach.

Anatomy of an early-round quarterback from 2018 to 2021
Total Drafted QB1 Top 3 Top 6 Top 12
2021 6 11 26 37 63
2020 4 6 12 23 34
2019 2 3 8 13 19
2018 1 2 3 5 8

Early-round passers dominated the weekly rankings with 11 finishes at first overall. Their peaks were the best in the league, and their valleys were Top 1 throughout 30.9% of the season. Six players accounted for nearly a third of the QB1 discussion. It’s a statement that sounds impactful on its own. However, they didn’t impact our rosters in the same way.

Early-Round quarterback Hit Rate, 2018-2021
Total Drafted Top-12 Win Rate
2021 6 2
2020 4 2
2019 2 1
2018 1 0

The market shift for quarterbacks has pushed more into the early rounds without a similar bump in win rate. Since 2019, We’ve tripled the number of passers taken before the seventh round but only double the amount have made it into the Top 12. It’s a more significant hit when you consider the players at other positions given up to draft the quarterback. You’ll need more than just one pick to make quarterback a strength on your team.

Frequency and Average Roster for Teams Taking a QB before Round 6, 2021
Round Teams Average Roster Points
6 1048 1541
7 1362 1562
8 1387 1568
9 2492 1556
10 3026 1537
11 2917 1525

I used our roster construction tool to see if waiting on a second quarterback was valuable. The data is from Underdog, but I used the sixth round as an early cutoff. As shown, teams were more likely to wait until the rounds 10 or 11 to take another passer. However, squads that double-dipped in Rounds 7 through 9 averaged more points. In other words, make your strength stronger. Look to the start of the middle rounds for another passer, as you’ll need more than just one option to buoy your team throughout the year.

Favorite Early-Round Targets: Justin Herbert (ADP 4.12), Lamar Jackson (5.05)

Middle Rounds

Highest QB Roster Win Rates, Rounds 7-15
Rank Player Roster Rate on Winning Teams ADP
1 Tom Brady 13.53% 8.01
2 Justin Herbert 13.13% 7.04
4 Joe Burrow 12.42% 9.12
6 Kirk Cousins 11.42% 12.03
7 Matthew Stafford 10.82% 8.07
8 Derek Carr 9.62% 13.12
10 Zach Wilson 8.92% 14.04

My favorite strategy has been to wait until the middle rounds to draft my first quarterback. I’d have high-end options at each skill position by this point and would then have a shot at a top-6 quarterback. It was a solid approach, but not a unique one.

The influx of young, preeminent signal-callers and the continued presence of elite veterans give us a talent collision in the middle rounds. Plus, with a greater emphasis on quarterback rushing, archetype becomes an important consideration. As a result, we’re cycling through quarterbacks faster than ever before.

ADP of the 12th QB Drafted, 2017 - 2022
Season Pick to get to 12 QBs
2017 9.12
2018 10.12
2019 10.02
2020 10.02
2021 9.04
2022 8.02

Our thirst for quarterbacks has gone up each year. However, we’ve gone overboard in trying to secure fantasy production at the position.

On average, we’ve drafted 23.5 quarterbacks in the middle rounds over the last four seasons. Typically, about 10 make it into the roster win rate Top 12. But not last year, with just seven making it onto the list. What changed? To find out, I dissected how the middle round quarterbacks ranked weekly.

2021 QB Weekly Ranks, 2021
QBs with at least one Rate
QB1 Overall Finish 21.1%
Top 3 Finish 47.4%
Top 6 Finish 73.7%
Top 12 Finish 100.0%

Nearly three-quarters of the passers drafted in the middle rounds ranked at or higher than sixth. And it wasn’t a fluke for most. The average appearance was 2.6 times across the sample. So scores for top-6 quarterbacks must have been down, lessening the advantage of outscoring their peers.

Nope. Between empty stadiums and a drop in offensive penalties, 2020 is considered an outlier. As a result, scoring for top-6 passers has been relatively stable for three of the last four years. It’s not that we’re drafting too many quarterbacks in the middle rounds. We’re not taking enough.

The talent pool with top-6 upside trails off as we get further into the middle rounds. Kirk Cousins (ADP: 12.03) and Sam Darnold (14.10) were favorites from last year, with Darnold being an early-season surprise. If your first quarterback comes in the middle rounds, be prepared to re-up on the position within your next one to two picks to capture the most stability throughout the regular season.

Favorite Mid-Round Targets: Jalen Hurts (7.06), Tua Tagovailoa (9.09), and Daniel Jones (12.07)

Late Rounds

Highest QB Roster Win Rates, Rounds 16-28
Rank Player Roster Rate on Winning Teams ADP
11 Jared Goff 8.52% 16.07
12 Mac Jones 8.43% 19.09

I’ve viewed late-round quarterbacks as dart throws. They’re just guys that could cover a bye week with 10-15 points. Afterward, I revert to my early or mid-round selections. But my thoughts on spike week timing and how our third (or fourth) signal-caller can play a role worth exploring. My conclusions fit this season, but let’s go farther back.

Spike Weeks from Late-Round QBs, 2021
Season Player Spike Week(s) Rank
2021 Jared Goff 15 8
2021 Mac Jones 17 6
2020 Justin Herbert 15 6
2019 Ryan Fitzpatrick 15, 16 7, 3
2018 Lamar Jackson 15 9
2018 Baker Mayfield 16 8

Every late-round quarterback on the roster win rate Top 12 list outscored half of their peers during the final three weeks of the best-ball season. There were no exceptions. It makes drafting before the NFL schedule release more nebulous, but we have an archetype to target.

Four of the six passers were rookies. This year’s class doesn’t have the same appeal, but we should expect to see at least one freshman make it on the field towards the end of the season. Regardless, our focus should be on quarterbacks with not just top-12 potential but the path to do so in the final weeks of the season.

Favorite Late-Round Targets: Mitchell Trubisky (15.02), Marcus Mariota (15.12), Malik Willis (16.11)

Bottom Line

  • Looking at full-season results gives us the big picture, but weekly scoring matters. The primary contribution for three of the Top 12 was one top-8 finish in the season's final three weeks.
  • We’re drafting more quarterbacks in the first six rounds without a hit rate increase. Only a third of early-round quarterbacks made the Top 12, the lowest rate since 2018.
  • Drafters are taking at least 12 quarterbacks by the start of the middle rounds. However, mid-round passers aren’t scoring more points than in years past. Take two from this group as soon as possible to secure a top-12 weekly option.
  • End-of-season spike weeks are a critical consideration for late-round quarterbacks. Every late-round passer in the Top 12 for roster win rate had a top-9 finish or higher in the season's final three weeks.
  • Since 2018, four of the six late-round quarterbacks in the Top 12 were rookies.
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