My mantra is all about value- get as much as you can in every round. RBs, WRs, and TEs fly off the board in different spots each draft, but quarterbacks tend to be relatively stable in groups. Keeper, Dynasty, and multiple QB Leagues get a lot more complicated and we would be glad to answer those questions specifically. This framework is intended for the most common format- 12 team re-draft.
What I like to do is commit to a certain tier, at a certain place in the draft, depending on where I am slotted to draft from. You should always have a plan B and I will be discussing this as well. If there is one mistake I see most commonly, it is people over reaching for Quarterbacks. This disrupts your ability to get optimum value and lessens your chances of winning. Let’s talk about this year’s Quarterbacks, then move on to strategy based on draft position.
Aaron Rodgers: total stud, not worth the 1st round price tag to me
Michael Vick: ditto, plus I am worried about him staying upright for 16 games
Drew Brees: reduced price, favorable schedule makes him tempting
Phillip Rivers: no longer undervalued in fantasy… less likely I will own him now
Peyton Manning: gets a free pass from me on the health concerns
Tom Brady: more weapons than last year, very fair price
Tony Romo: I call him “EKG,” he will both carry and burn you this season
Ben Roethlisberger: very solid on health and production. Lower ceiling but a higher floor than other QBs.
Matt Ryan: Very sexy pick this year and I like him, but he seems to be getting reached for to the point where he will not end up on any of my teams.
Matt Schaub: The only QB in Tier 3 or below that has any chance of finishing as the top QB scorer this season. There is some inherent risk, but he is one of my favorites for the money.
Eli Manning: Has to be the most disrespected player in real and fantasy football history. You should get around 3,500 yards and 25 TDs out of him. Is that so bad?
Matthew Stafford: Make or break year for him. Lots of people are taking him, even reaching, so they can look like a genius. If I own him, I will own another QB just in case.
Josh Freeman: Upward trajectory looks promising but is not guaranteed. Like Stafford, I will buy insurance on him.
Kevin Kolb: I see his production as 4 huge games, 4 games that kill you, and 8 that are a mixed bag. I like him as a flier/possible Keeper.
Jay Cutler: Pretty much done with the mental midget. We know what he is, and what he is not at this point. I would much rather get the upside of a Kolb, Bradford, or Cassel for my money.
Joe Flacco: Almost no chance of a huge season from him. Serviceable as a fill-in or 2nd QB.
Sam Bradford: There should not be a sophomore slump because he will have more weapons, as long as they do not all get injured again. If I am in a situation where I am rostering 2 QBs, I would like for him to be one of them.
Kyle Orton: 50/50 chance he starts the whole season but if he does, production should far outpace his cost.
Matt Cassel: Solid late round flier. Coming in to his own in KC.
So that is a brief rundown of the QB landscape this season. I obviously left out some players but they just do not warrant discussion in a one QB league setting. If there is enough interest, I might bring a 2 QB league draft strategy column at a later date. I am in a 2 QB league and I really like the format but it is very rare.
Making rules for ourselves is important because it gives a framework. It is more important that we have a plan for doing something than it is for the plan to be a good one. What happens over time is we see what worked, what did not, and adjust our formula. Eventually we end up with a much better methodology than we would by plodding along aimlessly each season, swaying at the whims of fantasy “experts” predictions.
My framework for understanding QB has evolved to the point that when the rankings come out, I innately break the players down into tiers and try to figure out where I can get the most bang for my buck. Being flexible is important and I move players around based on conversations with other savvy fantasy players. At this point, what you see above is my tiers; what I will be working with when I do my own drafts. That is the first part of the equation. Mix in the second ingredient and you have the QB Formula:
Tiers + Draft Slot Strategy = Maximum Value
Depending on where I am drafting from I know what tier of QBs I will be targeting. Other owners in your league might reach for position players, allowing QBs to fall to you below market value. In that situation, you obviously abandon the plan and take the player. Other owners might also reach for QBs and/or start taking multiple QBs even though they already have a good starter. Your strategy will have to be adjusted in that scenario too and I will discuss that in depth shortly. Let’s lay out our tier targets based on draft position:
1-3: In round 2, take Brees if he is there (Rodgers and Vick won’t be). Otherwise, you can take a QB from Tier 2 if your league is heavy on QB scoring (6 points for passing TDs rather than just 4). If this is not the case, take the best position player on the board. Round 3 is a good time to take a QB from Tier 2 but if there is a position player you cannot turn down, go to plan B.
4-7: In round 3, if a Tier 2 QB falls to you take him. If not, take a Tier 3 QB in round 4. If something goes wrong, go to plan B.
8-12: DO NOT take Rodgers or Vick in rounds 1 or 2. In round 4, take your pick of the Tier 3 players. If you fail to acquire a Tier 3 QB, go to plan B.
As a general rule, never take two quarterbacks. It is a wasted roster spot you could use on a Sleeper position player and that is what wins people Championships. If I get a QB from Tiers 1, 2, or 3 I WILL NOT have a backup QB on my roster. When the Bye Week rolls around, I will pick one up same as I do for TE, but otherwise I will never have two on my team. The only exception that rule is when I have to go to Plan B.
Plan B is fairly simple. If you do not acquire a Tier 1, 2, or 3 Quarterback, you need to grab two quarterbacks from Tiers 4 and 5 combined at appropriate value. I put some thoughts above on individual players but feel free to make your own judgments. If you are drafting QBs from these Tiers, it should mean that your leaguemates have mostly filled their QB needs. If they are not particularly savvy, they might keep taking QBs and leaving valuable position players on the board. In that scenario it is acceptable to only draft one QB from those two Tiers and instead take the position players, banking on being able to make a trade for a QB after the draft or during the season.
This is as close to a comprehensive strategy revolving around QB as I can come up with. The best answer to any question is “it depends” and there opportunities to poke holes in this theory. As I said earlier, however, it is more important to have a plan with flaws than no plan at all. I look forward to interacting with you in the Comments section below.