When drafting a quarterback in fantasy football, there’s always this idea that “drafting a quarterback early is a mistake because there is value down the board.” Is this in fact true? How long should one wait to even draft a quarterback in fantasy?
I don’t think it’s as simple an answer as you might expect. Deciding on who your quarterback will be in fantasy football is often overlooked and considered unimportant because everyone is supposedly “replaceable” at QB.
Last year, there were two main drop offs with regard to fantasy points for QBs. The top six QBs all had over 372 points. The next tier started with Ryan Tannehill at just 350 points. The third tier and second drop off is after the QB10 (Lamar Jackson). Every QB above this range had over 342 points.
The next tier started with Kirk Cousins at just 319 points. There is definitely a clear advantage to having a great, high-quality quarterback.
Given how fantasy games can be decided by less than five points many times, having a quarterback who can reliably score over 22 points a game is really quite valuable. Yes, there can be decent plug and plays such as Baker Mayfield who averaged 16 a game but you truly do lose out on a lot of points by not having a strong quarterback.
However, it is not usually as easy as just drafting a high ADP quarterback. Based on data in 2015, top ten ADP quarterbacks do not always do well.
Just 2/10 of the top ten highest scoring quarterbacks last year were drafted outside of the top ten ADP of quarterbacks in 2020. In 2019, 5/10 of the top ten highest scoring quarterbacks were drafted outside of the top ten ADP. Similarly, the 5/10 statistic holds true for 2018.
Once again in 2017, 5/10 of the top ten QBs were drafted outside of the top ten QBs. In 2016, the number was even higher with 6/10 of quarterbacks who were outside the top ten in ADP. Finally in 2015, the number of top ten scoring quarterbacks drafted outside the top ten in ADP is 6/10 as well.
It is crazy to think that about half the time, a top ten quarterback comes from outside the top ten in ADP. Last season seems to have been a bit fluky as a mere 2/10 QBs came from outside the top ten.
I think this shows that reaching on a quarterback is unnecessary and oftentimes proves to be harmful as other positions have far less depth and quarterback seems to be a position where a ton of value exists.
I highly recommend looking for three main factors when trying to draft a quarterback:
1). Look for a young player who had a decent year the year before but is primed to make a large jump.
2). Look for a player who has a ton of weapons around them who are going to put up statistics regardless of the quarterback.
3). Look for a player who has a terrible defense which will lead to the offense being on the field quite a bit.
For this year guys I am looking at for QB include:
Jalen Hurts with an ADP of QB11 in the 8th round.
Joe Burrow with an ADP of QB13 in the 9th round.
Trevor Lawrence with an ADP of QB15 in the 11th round.
Last but not least, this guy has the worst reputation of any QB in the NFL, but Kirk Cousins finished as the QB11 and has thrown 25+ touchdowns every year since 2015. He is being drafted as the QB19!
Overall, usually the guys that ‘bust’ are given unwarranted hype due to a lack of understanding of exactly what the team’s situation will be. It’s important to understand the difference between a run heavy team with a great defense and a pass heavy team with a terrible defense.
It isn’t wrong either to draft a quarterback early. It is common for the earlier drafted QBs to have a super high floor but lack a ceiling of being top five.
Based on the drafts I’ve done and the five drafts I’ve analyzed in this article, I would say the best spot to draft a quarterback is the eighth to ninth round. In this range there tend to be a lot of the higher upside guys who have a good shot at sneaking into the top ten but allow you to not waste a higher pick.