You might think you need to jump on a quarterback early in fantasy football this year, but here’s why you shouldn’t.
The NFL regular season is creeping up on us, and that means our favorite time of the year is back: Fantasy Football (FF) season! As more and more leagues start drafting their fantasy football teams for the upcoming season, I’ll be publishing pieces of advice and strategy to contribute to your FF conquests this year.
Today, we want to focus on quarterbacks, arguably the most important position on the field. In terms of drafting fantasy QBs for the 2017 season, what should our strategy be, which players should we be looking at, and why should we approach it this way, are the questions we’ll tackle today. So let’s get into it.
Every year my advice for fantasy footballers is the same when it comes to quarterbacks: be patient. At first glance this may seem counter-intuitive, considering the impact quarterbacks can have in FF. Last season, the point differential between the QB1 and QB10 was nearly 112 points! That amounts to almost seven fewer fantasy points a game from your QB position. When you only have one QB slot, as standard fantasy leagues do, you need to make use of that spot.
Now you’re asking yourself, “If the QB slot is so important, shouldn’t I draft a QB early?” Now, certainly, if you have the chance to grab a perennial top-3 FF scorer in the first four rounds (I’m talking Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees here), by all means, go for it! However, I’ll tell you that the likes of Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins were all being drafted past the 10th round last year. All of them finished in the top-7 fantasy QBs.
The point I’m making here is that there are always value options for quarterback later in drafts. This happens every year! A couple of years back it was Matt Ryan and Tony Romo. Before that Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger were the picks. Before that it was Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers. Meanwhile, in the third and fourth rounds you’re missing out on the diamonds like Isaiah Crowell and Jarvis Landry. Though I can give a pass for Rodgers and Brees most years, there’s really no excuse for pouncing on an early QB just because everyone around you is.
Okay, so it’s clearly not enough to simply know that the value for drafting quarterbacks early in FF is not great relative to other positions. Now we have to be able to apply this knowledge in our drafts. However, the hard part is identifying good candidates for our late-QB strategy. Let’s take at a few for the upcoming season.
Kirk Cousins: For reasons I cannot and will not understand, the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback is coming off boards at the QB12 according to FantasyPros. This is despite the former Spartan putting up nearly 5,000 yards and a top-5 fantasy quarterback performance last year. Perhaps this is because Washington lost both of their 1,000-yard receivers last year, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
However, they added a 1,000-yard wideout named Terrelle Pryor, who, by the way, played wide receiver for the first time last season. They also have a young break-out candidate in Jamison Crowder, and ball-winning Josh Doctson who did not play last season. I haven’t even mentioned yet that star tight end Jordan Reed returns healthy, and the offensive line still remains solid. Enough said.
Tyrod Taylor: Currently being drafted in leagues around 120th overall, the Buffalo Bills starter has been and still is being judged by his quarterbacking ability. This is somewhat understandable—it’s hard to get behind a subpar player in FF. It’s similar to Blake Bortles in 2015 when he finished as QB4, while still being a lackluster NFL quarterback. This is a trap everyone falls into, but the best fantasy players put all biases aside and pay attention to the facts.
Last season, former Super Bowl champion Tyrod Taylor finished last season as QB8, right behind Matthew Stafford. In his last five games, Taylor averaged over 19 fantasy points a game. And yet, Taylor was STILL not owned in all leagues. Further, even with a question mark at right tackle, the Buffalo O-line ranks 10th in the league for the upcoming season, per Pro Football Focus. If their second round pick even rounds out to average, this line with be among the best in the league. These are the facts; you make the decision.
Mike Glennon: Okay, I admit, Glennon is clearly not my first choice. Or second. Or third. But, let’s take a look at the realities of Glennon’s situation. One, Glennon was confirmed to be the starting quarterback by the Chicago Bears. Two, it was recently reported that the Bears are not in a hurry to start Mitchell Trubisky. Three, PFF ranked the Chicago offensive line as the fifth best in the league going into 2017. PFF rankings are not tell all, be all, but that line is really good, especially with the addition of guard Josh Sitton.
Now, let’s look at some stats. Through 18 career starts, Glennon has 4,100 yards and a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. That was behind Tampa Bay offensive lines that were bottom-10 in the league. According to FantasyPros, the former Buc faces the fourth-easiest schedule in 2017 for quarterbacks. Though he doesn’t come into a team with the best weapons in the league, things should open up after running back Jordan Howard’s break-out season in 2016.
This becomes an even more advantageous strategy when you think about the quarterbacks going before the ones listed above.
Ben Roethlisberger has lost a step and really struggled if you watched him last season. Philip Rivers is likely going to lose his rookie guard Forrest Lamp to an ACL tear. Not to mention that both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are high injury risks. Eli Manning’s offensive line is a complete mess. The same can be said the same of Matthew Stafford, who lost right tackle Taylor Decker. Also Andy Dalton! His O-line was completely ripped apart during the off-season despite adding weapons. The quarterback pool is awfully confusing this season, so why be impatient?
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