2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Fantasy Football Quarterback Draft Strategy: Wait and See

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What is the proper Fantasy Football Quarterback Draft Strategy? Most people who have played Fantasy Football for a while, know the basic strategies for drafting a quarterback. But, for those who are new and probably need to read an article like this most, let’s discuss the strategy with a simple and frivolous analogy. Drafting a Quarterback in Fantasy Football is a lot like going to the movies. A weird comparison, I know, but hear me out. We all know that going to the movies can be a very expensive event.

Movie tickets cost a fortune, and what makes it worse is the concessions. Buying popcorn and a drink can cost just as much, if not more, than the ticket itself. And the candy…don’t even let me start in about the candy. But, a movie theater is in the business of making money. It knows that the demand for concessions is relatively inelastic. Smart people, or terrible people, depending on how you look at it, are always looking to get something at a discounted price. These people go to the grocery store before the movie and buy a whole bunch of snacks and candy, for a fraction of the cost. They then stuff as many of the goods in their pockets and purses and take the treats into the theater.

Don’t act like you’ve never done it.

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The Candy and Snacks of Fantasy Football

This experience is like a Fantasy Football draft, and the quarterbacks are the candy and snacks. The movie ticket is a necessity to get in the theater and watch a movie. This is the price you must pay to play in a league, whether it is in the form of a time commitment or an entry fee. The popcorn and drinks are your position players like running backs and wide receivers. These are items in which you are willing to pay a steep price, for the enjoyment of the movie. Also, these items are much harder to find at a discounted price.

Imagine someone trying to sneak in their big bag of popcorn and their 20-oz. drink. First of all, this is much more unrealistic. Second of all, who wants to eat cold store-bought popcorn and drink warm or watered-down beverages, as opposed to what the theater has to offer. This is just like the running backs and wide receivers. To get good ones requires paying a steep price, and you need to load up early and often because finding ones at a discounted rate is much harder to do and could get messy.

A Pricey Investment

Quarterbacks, though, can be obtained at a discounted price, like the candy you bring into the movie theater. Some people prefer to pay the premium to lock up an elite quarterback, early in the draft. But, this is a pricey investment. And, you can’t do both. You can’t spend the high price on a quarterback early in the draft and load up on expensive high-quality running backs and wide receivers. No, you can’t buy your popcorn and soda, and afford to buy movie theater candy too. Maybe you can, but for purposes of this analogy, we only have enough money for one or the other. Sorry rich people!

Another option is to bring your own candy and not pay the high price, allowing you to have more money to spend on popcorn and beverages. There are a lot more quarterbacks that can put up relatively similar and respective numbers, that you can find in the later rounds, than running backs and wide receivers. Therefore, it might be smart to load up on those positions before the massive drop off in talent and wait to draft a quarterback. Either way, don’t get so caught up in the value of things that you forget to enjoy your movie. Remember it is supposed to be a fun experience, no matter how you choose to go about it.

Fantasy Football Quarterback Draft Strategy

One of the most commonly asked Fantasy Football questions is “When should I draft a Quarterback?” The answer to that question is and should always be “it depends.” In fact, it depends on several factors.

League Scoring System

How many points does a quarterback get for throwing a touchdown, for a certain amount of passing yards or rushing yards? How many points does the position lose, if any, for an interception? These things affect the value of the quarterback position. Is the league a standard or PPR league? PPR leagues tend to increase the value of other position players, therefore, lowering the importance of grabbing a quarterback early, as opposed to a running back or wide receiver.

League Size

The size of your league also affects the value of the quarterback position. As you will read later in this article, there are approximately 20 or more quarterbacks that can be viable starters for your fantasy team. This means that in 10 to 12 team leagues, or less, the ability to find a decent starter at quarterback is easier to do in the later rounds. This decreases the value of quarterbacks in smaller sized leagues.

In 14 team leagues or higher, the quarterback position becomes much scarcer, especially when people start to draft backup quarterbacks. This increases the value of quarterbacks in larger sized leagues.

Roster Size and Starters

Another thing to know is how many quarterbacks you can start in your league. In two-quarterback leagues where you can start a quarterback at flex, the value for quarterbacks increases exponentially, and the need to draft quarterbacks early rises. It is also important to know how many position players you can start. Typically, a starting lineup consists of about two running backs, two wide receivers, and a flex. This means that you need to draft multiple entities at these positions to fill your lineup as opposed to drafting just one quarterback.

Some Statistics

I looked back over the past two years to see who the most commonly owned players on ESPN Fantasy Football Championship teams were and the numbers, for the most part, tend to support waiting on drafting a quarterback.

In 2016, only two of the top ten most commonly owned fantasy players were quarterbacks. They were Matt Ryan, as the third most commonly owned player at 22%, and Aaron Rodgers as the ninth most commonly owned player at 18.1%. Not only does this show the importance of other positions, it shows how a quarterback drafted in the later rounds can have a much more significant impact on your team’s success. Matt Ryan had an ADP of 114 while Rodgers was a third-round draft pick.

In 2015, only one of the top ten most commonly owned players on Championship teams was a quarterback. It was Cam Newton at ten with a 19.6% ownership rate. Cam Newton had a seventh-round ADP in 2015. The next two most commonly owned quarterbacks were Blake Bortles and Carson Palmer, who both were frequently undrafted in 2015.

Another interesting nugget to look at is the average points per game by quarterbacks over the last two years. In 2016, five quarterbacks averaged over 20 points per game (PPG) (A. Rodgers, M Ryan, T. Brady, D. Brees, A. Luck). Brees, Rodgers, and Luck were all drafted relatively high, while Ryan and Brady were draft steals at their ADPs. 11 quarterbacks (the next best group) averaged between 16.7 and 18.8 PPG (This includes Russell Wilson and Cam Newton who were drafted highly as elite quarterbacks). Finally, there were five more quarterbacks who averaged over 15 PPG.

In 2015, four quarterbacks averaged over 20 PPG. 12 averaged between 17.5 and 19.6 PPG, including Aaron Rodgers who was the top selected quarterback in 2015. And ten more averaged over 15 PPG. This data shows that there are about 20 or more quarterbacks each year worth starting. Drafting a quarterback early can come back to hurt you and doesn’t significantly help your team in relation to other position players. Finding quarterbacks that can break out in the later rounds by waiting on drafting the quarterback position is a viable option in which you can build up your position players and still find a quality quarterback.

Two Strategies

In my opinion, you should consider only two strategies when drafting a quarterback.

Draft an Elite Quarterback Early

This strategy involves paying a high price for a quarterback at the expense of other positions. Here you look to draft one of the hopeful four or five elite quarterbacks at their high ADPs, normally in the first four rounds.

If you do this, this should be the only quarterback you draft. You can now spend the rest of your picks on improving other roster spots and taking fliers on high upside players to make up for the deficiencies at your running back and wide receiver positions.

There is no need to draft multiple quarterbacks because if you have one of the four or five elite quarterbacks, who average over 20 points per game, you are starting him no matter what, regardless of matchup, and you can play the waiver wire for that player’s bye week.

Wait and See Approach

As you can probably tell, this is the approach I prefer. Putting all biases aside, the numbers tend to support this strategy.

This approach involves loading up on position players by getting quality and quantity at the running back and wide receiver positions. This allows you to ensure quality starters and depth in case of injury or other unforeseeable occurrences. Loading up on these positions ensures you will not likely be at a disadvantage in these position battles when playing your opponents.

Then in the later rounds, you have the option to draft an elite quarterback, if he falls significantly below his ADP, unlikely. Or, you can draft one of the 15 plus quarterbacks that are averaging between 15 and 19 points per game.

This strategy shows that you can still put up great numbers at the quarterback position and have a significant advantage when it comes to your starting positions and roster depth.

There are two more options when deploying this strategy. You can draft one quarterback and continue to load up on other positions. You can do this knowing that there will likely be a viable fill in on the waiver wire each week. Or, you can draft a second “backup” quarterback to play matchups with. This allows you to exploit certain matchups against bad pass defenses. Therefore you can optimize your late-round quarterback production.

Trade

Either strategy leaves you open for trade discussions. If you have an elite quarterback and another team has a deep bench, a trade might be made. A trade might allow you to get a quality starter, or two, in return for your quarterback, and vice versa.

About Alex Hamrick

Alex is an avid fantasy football enthusiast and writer for Fantasy Six Pack. With a background in quantitative methods and analysis, Alex enjoys using statistics and data analytics to develop detailed fantasy football analysis. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @AlexBHamrick

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