2016 Fantasy Football Drafting Quarterbacks: Crossroads

by Richard Savill
Credit: Asim Bharwani

Credit: Asim Bharwani

In my column about fantasy mavericks, I briefly cover a disrupting strategy they employ by drafting quarterbacks first. To me it's one of the riskiest choices to make in 12 to 14 team leagues. In 10 team leagues, there is less pressure covering the weaknesses that drafting a premium quarterback presents. As for everything else, you are just asking for it.

I would say that drafting a quarterback in the second round is not as bad, as I will describe later, especially if you are rounding the turn in the snake. Just the same, if you are rounding the turn anyway, why not wait until at least round three for an elite quarterback?

The quarterback is valuable position in fantasy. There is no way to argue that. However, the way to draft them is always a subject of some argument in fantasy circles. Most agree that early drafting leads to complicated issues for other positions later in the draft. You are without strength at running back and wide receiver right off the bat. You won't have the same power that your opponents do and you are likely to get slaughtered week upon week.

Drafting Quarterbacks

I'll look at positions to draft quarterbacks through mock experiments I have made. I've not delved into this through mock testing before, but I guess it's well worthwhile to see what comes of it.

Opening round

There is really no need to do this. So don't. You can easily wait on a quarterback until later. If you are among the first six drafters in the snake - it's even more insane. I always say to draft the players you want, but your opponents are likely to wait, so why don't you? It always looks very, very odd if someone does this in a league. Almost a child-like decision. Granted, I have seen teams rise up and win by drafting a quarterback off the top, but this is rare and the winner has succeeded not because of the draft, but because he made smart waiver pickups in the season.

Second round

drafting quarterbacks

Credit: Keith Allison

This is a little more reasonable, yet still a bit daring it has to be said, and is in the realm of the maverick. You can draft a quarterback in the second round if you are approaching the turn in the snake, but if you are in the middle or ends with a long wait for your next selection, taking a premium quarterback is almost as tough to do as taking one in the first round.

If you have planned for it through a series of mock draft tests and you know your draft order beforehand, then taking a quarterback in the second round is viable. Generally, this is still a very, very early time for drafting a quarterback and is not for the regular fantasy player to attempt. If you want a tremor and seek to create a market panic in the draft, then taking a taking a quarterback in the second round declares that intention.

Again, like in the first round, it's still best to wait and continue to fill the other skill positions. Taking a quarterback here puts pressure on your team to have solid strength in various areas. Don't forget also that using a high pick in the first or second rounds practically compels you to get a good backup to protect that investment.

Third round

drafting quarterbacks

Credit: Keith Allison

Taking a quarterback in the third round is early, but not too radical. If your mind is set on getting an elite quarterback at this point then you can do so. Don't just grab right away, there could be a strong alternative in skill positions. For example, if you've gone WR-WR to this point, I would suggest getting your running back would be a better priority.

That goes double for traditional RB-RB drafters, especially in this era of wide receiver dominance. The same applies if you drafted Rob Gronkowski. Perhaps more so, as quarterbacks usually come off the board before tight ends.

The only way to draft a quarterback in the third round with some comfort is if you have a RB-WR split to this point. Remember that quarterbacks will start coming off the board after this round and you have beaten the rush by getting yours already. Yes, it's still early, but there is value in getting an elite quarterback. Just make sure you aren't undermining your draft by overlooking better choices.

Fourth, fifth and sixth rounds

This is where the quarterbacks start coming off the board. Most people will be drafting them in these rounds. If your heart is not set on getting an elite, then just continue to feast on other positions and bide your time. Eventually you'll end up with someone good enough and have a finely rounded team.

Many prefer the fourth in most cases when they want a good quarterback. Absolutely fine, unless you drafted Gronkowski. Gronkowski in the first round practically relegates your decision to getting a quarterback after the fourth round, because the needs of the other skill positions preoccupy your drafting balance.

In keeping with the idea of balance, if your combination to this point is WR-WR-WR, then you better get on with running backs fast and let the quarterback idea rest until at least the sixth round. This is obvious you'll say, but you'd be surprised at how many people forget to refer to their draft list even by the fourth round. Always take your time drafting.

Whatever quarterback you decide upon will be your workhorse in these rounds.

Seventh round and beyond

I wouldn't leave getting a quarterback too late. Even if you are streaming, it cannot be understated the heavy fantasy points a quarterback gives your team. So don't fall back too much. No one ever wants Geno Smith as part of the decision making process.

Streaming quarterbacks based on matchup is a taxing exercise every week. If you want to bulk up on other skill positions, you have to prepare for all that.

This is one of the reasons why the QB1 is sought by those who just want to "set it and forget it" when it comes to drafting a quarterback. You don't have those weekly hassles of figuring out who to start and who to sit.

Your bench backup

drafting quarterbacks

Credit: Keith Allison

Getting a good backup for bye weeks and injury replacement is something I feel is important. Especially if you have a QB1. It's one of the drawbacks of owning a top five quarterback. Such a high investment requires good insurance I feel, because if you lose your elite for a few games, or God forbid a season ending injury, you've lost your major producer for someone inconsistent.

Conversely, I wouldn't back him up with another elite because that's just too expensive to your draft account - snake or otherwise. A mid-range QB2 will suffice to recoup enough loss without compromising the level of strength in the other skill positions on your team. Again, be prudent about this and carefully watch your options.

Always ensure your backup does not share the same bye week. It's easy to overlook. Also, if you have an elite quarterback, always be ready to trade him for another skill position. Injuries happen to quarterbacks on other fantasy teams too and if they can afford to trade you a solid running back or wide receiver, then hand over your elite and rely on your backup - if he's good enough to throw in weekly.

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