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.

Tier 1

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

Tier 2

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

Tier 3

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.

Tier 4

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.

Tier 5

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.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

  1. Trevor says:
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    I got a 2 QB league for two hundred bones tomorrow night…I’ve been in and out with waht to do and I think I like Brees alot more now. I like Rivers quite a bit at the right spot and I also have began to like Shaub a whole lot. I really like Bradford, and Cassel and I aim to get these guys at the right price. I really am undecided what to do at this point because last year I played a two QB league where I took no quarterbacks and ended up playing in the championship with Grossman, some other guy, and fucking Brian Brohm (and if i played freaking mark brunell i think i’d have won or something crazy) and ended up in 2nd place but this league is heavy on QB scoring with 4 points for all touchdowns… PPR as well.

  2. Topps says:
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    Strategy Comumn/Post Idea: Thought process when choosing a flex spot between a WR & a RB in a PPR league. Could impact my draft strategy (i.e. Felix Jones continues to be my best value at a certain spot in the draft but he’d be 3rd RB & probable flex and I always favored a WR in PPR at that spot)

  3. Shawn says:
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    “I call him “EKG,” he will both carry and burn you this season”

    ^^WTF does that mean?

  4. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Trevor: You were very fortunate to pull that off last season and I would be concerned about punting QB again. In 2 QB Leagues you are forced to reach so the key is to strike a balance. Reach a little bit to take your QBs but do not go crazy. Reaching too much weakens you with position players and not reaching at all will leave you at a disadvantage, particularly in your scoring format. In my 2 QB League, I like to draft 4 QBs if I can- 1 for Bye Weeks, 1 for trading. You can really rake people over the coals for a QB in these leagues. Good luck with your draft!

    @Topps: I tend to go WR heavy so often my flex spot is a WR, but that is not a rule set in stone. During the draft I think you just try to get as much value as you can and worry about who you will play where later. As the season progresses, things will change in unexpected ways. Who would have thought last year that Mike Tolbert would be worthy of an RB2 spot? Get what you can in the beginning and keep your eyes open for all the changes that are inevitable.

  5. Lubey says:
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    I am in a league where there is a universal flex meaning it can be any position. Im assuming the thing to do is go for 2 top qbs or 1 qb thats a tier 1-2 and then a tier 3-4 guy, though I do like Bradford this year. Would reaching a little and taking 2 qbs in the first two rounds be ok? Any advice would be helpful. Also why arent you looking to take Rodgers or Vick in your draft strategy even if your sitting late first round??

  6. John says:
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    I dont know why but i always seem to value QB’s a lot less then most people. I feel the difference between the league average and the lowest scoring QB is not that great to warrent the early pick when you could get a potential stud at WR/RB at that spot.

    My strategy for the past few years of picking at the end of a 14 team league is ill wait for the turn in rounds 8/9/ or 10 and pair two QB’s from your Tier 5 (this year ive been getting bradford/ cutler/ Flacco/ Fitzpatrick(underrated) ) and just use match ups between the two.

  7. John says:
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    Does anything change in a 16 team ppr, 1QB 4 TD/pass, pass-yardage heavy league? If so, how much? Drafting 3rd overall and was thinking of picking up a RB but then again, I started thinking of picking up Vick or Rodgers because if I take a RB, my next pick will be #29 and not sure many QBs worth having at that point.

  8. Cole says:
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    Do you look at playoff schedules when trying to pick between players in the same tier? Or is that looking to far in advance?

  9. Alex says:
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    @John:

    John I’m no expert but most of Vick’s value is tied up in his legs. Most sites I see are pegging him for 500-750 yds rushing and 5-7 TD’s. If it’s a pass yardage heavy league, I would skip over him. Same with Rodgers but to a lesser extent. He’ll have a chance to pass 4,000 yards but I’d put less money on it than someone like Brees/Manning/Rivers. I’d be looking Brees/Brady is round 2 or Manning/Rivers/Schaub/Romo in round 3

  10. Bourne says:
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    I am in a 6 point per TD thrown league. I read one article that said in these leagues you must draft your QB first. I still like AP and the other top RBs, but would this rule move QBs up for you as a solid late first round, or even more?

  11. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Shawn: EKG is one of those heartbeat things that spikes up and down

    @Lubey: In 1 QB Leagues I am not looking at them because I do not feel like I am getting value there. It’s my opinion, and I could end up being wrong, but that is how I am drafting my own teams. I would be willing to reach a little for QB in your league because it basically is a 2 QB League. In fact, I might even try to get 2 good QBs and a third solid one.

    @John: I agree with you for the most part, although I do think a solid QB has some value. I think 3rd overall is too early for me, even with the scoring. I might rather reach with your 3rd round pick for someone from Tier 3.

    @Cole: It’s funny you say that because in past seasons I have done columns based on that and have used it in my decision making process. This year I am trying to look at the talent/situation first. I will say though that one of the reasons I love Brees is his ease of schedule/weather.

  12. Ryan says:
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    My 12-team league scores 1 PPR, 4 passing TD, and -2 INT. Am I wrong to wait as long as I can on QB and try to grab two of Cassel, Stafford, and Bradford?

  13. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Ryan: That strategy is perfect for your scoring format. You should do well.

  14. Howard says:
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    @Drew I’m playing in a league with 2QBs, 2ppc and 6pt for TD. Am I wrong to reach for an elite QB with my first pick? Someone like Manning or Brees that’s 900 pts just on completions alone. It’s an non-ppr otherwise.

  15. Mike says:
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    14 team league 7 passing TD should go after a QB early or later and should I get a back up QB

  16. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Howard: With that scoring, position players are almost irrelevant. I would never say this normally but yeah I would take Brees first overall. Rodgers and Vick are more “home run hitters” who throw a lot of TDs but you’re looking for QBs who just get a lot of completions.

    @Mike: 7 points per passing TD? Are rushing/receiving more or less than that? If the scoring is skewed toward QBs, then it is justified to reach a little for them. The only time I advocate going crazy, though, is in a situation like Howard’s where QB scoring is so unbalanced.

  17. Mike says:
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    QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, RB, TE, W/R, K, DEF, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN
    Fractional Points: Yes
    Negative Points: Yes
    Make League Publicly Viewable: No
    Offense League Value Yahoo! Default Value
    Passing Yards 25 yards per point; 25 points at 350 yards; 35 points at 400 yards; 50 points at 500 yards
    Passing Touchdowns 7 4
    Interceptions -1
    Rushing Yards 10 yards per point; 5 points at 150 yards; 10 points at 175 yards; 15 points at 200 yards
    Rushing Touchdowns 7 6
    Reception Yards 25 yards per point; 5 points at 150 yards; 10 points at 175 yards; 15 points at 200 yards 10 yards per point; 5 points at 150 yards; 10 points at 175 yards; 15 points at 200 yards
    Reception Touchdowns 7 6
    Return Yards 20 yards per point; 2 points at 150 yards; 4 points at 200 yards; 6 points at 400 yards

  18. The Sequential Hermaphrodite says:
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    I’m thinking Colt McCoy might be a guy who get jump to the top of Tier 5. He looked decent in his first preseason game and should be good for 200 rushing yards. Would you be happy with him as a backup to a Tier 4 guy since he can probably be grabbed in the last couple rounds of a draft?

  19. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Mike: That’s a lot of bonuses! The scoring is fairly even, all things considered. I wouldn’t weight Quarterbacks much more in that format. You can reach a little for peace of mind if you want.

    @The Sequential Hermaphrodite: During the preseason it seems so easy to break everything down but the regular season always turns certainties in to falsehoods and vice versa. Players will move up and down on these Tiers and new players will belong that no one considered. McCoy is kind of a nice Sleeper and could be a cagey move for a backup. He actually played fairly well when he got his chance last year and has been pretty solid in the preseason. There’s not much around him so I don’t know how high the ceiling is, but you could do much worse. I like the idea and it’s got me thinking…

  20. bg says:
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    I’m picking first in a 10 team PPR league.

    An early run on QBs is an annual occurence because we have a QB/RB/WR/TE flex position…so, basically, this is a 2 QB league. QBs have the highest value because we give .25 points for completed passes (-.25 for incomplete passes). We only give 4 points for throwing touchdowns.

    My question:
    If I pick Arian Foster first, is it reaching too far to take someone like Tony Romo or Matt Schaub with the 20th/21st pick?

    My dilemma is that I can get incredible value on an elite RB & WR (because of the early quarterback run), but I’m afraid of letting QBs slide too far.

  21. bg says:
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    I’m picking first in a 10 team PPR league.

    An early run on QBs is an annual occurence because we have a QB/RB/WR/TE flex position…so, basically, this is a 2 QB league. QBs have the highest value because we give .25 points for completed passes (-.25 for incomplete passes). We only give 4 points for throwing touchdowns.

    My question:
    If I pick Arian Foster first, is it reaching too far to take someone like Tony Romo or Matt Schaub with the 20th/21st pick?

    My dilemma is that I can get incredible value on an elite RB & WR (because of the early quarterback run), but I’m afraid of letting QBs slide too far.

  22. Ray says:
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    People still play in 1QB leagues??

  23. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @BG: It would be nice if someone from Tier 2 fell to you but that prolly won’t happen. Picking 1st in that format kind of screws you out of QBs at proper value. I think reaching in round 2 would be OK only because if you don’t, it will be difficult to compete.

  24. Pepe Silvia says:
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    good analysis/strategy generally speaking, but I am a little at odds with part of your advice. you say for those with picks 4-7 or 8-12 to possibly take a Tier 3 QB in Round 4. now, if we’re talking Romo I’d say I agree, but I feel like you can get any of those other guys a good bit later, which makes me feel like it’d be kind of a waste to use a 4th round pick in that way. especially Ryan, I don’t think I’ve seen or done a single mock draft where he’s gone nearly that high — Big Ben as well, to an extent. I feel like you’re way better off with someone like Ryan Grant or Dez Bryant or Mark Ingram (just to name a random few that seem to go mid-to-late 4th round) or a top-tier TE there.

  25. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Pepe Silvia: Those QBs are all ADP in the 40s in Yahoo. Rounds 4-5 is where I have seen them go most of the time.

  26. B.o.B. says:
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    I’m in a 10 team league where QBs get 6 pts for TD and 1 point every 50 yards passing. Does this strategy hold exact or how would you change it?

  27. Trevor says:
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    I think i ended up with a great team.1 pt PPR, all TDs are 4 pts

    QB: Roethlisberger, Cassel, Mccoy
    RB: Mccoy, Fred Jax, Tolbert, Addai, Mike Bush, Ridley, Forsett
    WR: Andre Johnson, Wes Welker , Roy Williams, Earl Bennett, Greg Little, Arelious Been
    TE: Finley

    What do you think of thae haul? I think im gonna win lol

  28. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Trevor: I am a big fan of that team Trevor; you have a lot of my primary targets for my upcoming drafts. Especially considering it’s a full 1 PPR, you should be able to wreck house.

  29. Mike says:
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    Im new to fantasy football and am stuck on my first couple picks. My league settings are:
    1 point for 25 passing yards
    6 points for passing TD
    -2 point per interceptions thrown
    -1 point per sack
    1 point per every ten yards rushed
    6 points per rushing TD
    1 point per every 10 yards received
    6 points per every receiving TD

    There are a few more offensive stats but those are the bulk of them. Based on those stats i am unsure what position to take. Its a 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, and one flex that could be RB or WR league. The stats seem fairly even for each position but someone like Vick would bring plenty of rushing yards as well.

  30. Tony says:
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    Great article Drew. In a 12 man 1.0PPR league that’s also 6pts passing TDs. I drafted from the tail and ended up with:

    QB: S Bradford, J Flacco
    RB: L McCoy, J Best, B Wells, T Hightower, S Ridley
    WR: R White, W Welker, B Marshall, S Rice, D Bess, R Meachem, D Mason
    TE: D Clark

    I guess I ended up going Plan B because I didn’t want to reach for Tier 3 in the 3rd round. Can the rest of my team make up for my weakness at QB? Should I be looking to make a trade for Eli or Stafford? Maybe Wells’ stock will rise with the increased workload in Ari…

  31. Trevor says:
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    I need a kicker and defense. Who do you think I drop of those guys? Im thinkin Benn and forsett

  32. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Mike: Your league is pretty vanilla but it does have 3 WR so you want to make sure you get plenty of those. Don’t get too fixated on specific players; just try to get the best value you can with each pick.

    @Tony: I think you’re good w/ the QBs you have unless you can get Eli or Stafford for Flacco + something. I really like Bradford and think your team will be great without any changes.

    @Trevor: Yeah I think those are the safest players to drop.

  33. RiffRaff says:
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    Nice article. I generally agree with the idea of targeting value and letting others reach, and that strategy has served me well. But I will be grabbing a QB early this year. My league gives a slight point boost to QBs (4.5/pass TD; 3 pt bonus at 300 & 420 yds). In past drafts my league-mates grabbed QBs early. Last year I was disappointed with Shaub and I don’t want to miss out on one of the top 6 this year. So that means I’ll be grabbing one in round 1 (Rodgers) or 2 (Brees, Brady, Rivers). Appreciate your advice though.

  34. Gannon says:
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    Great article. Quick question, do you think trading Beanie Wells for Cassel in a 2QB league is valuable in light of the Ryan Williams injury?

    My QBs, unfortunately, are Bradford, Newton, and Tarvaris, while my RBs are Foster, Charles, and Grant/Beanie for flex (ppr). Thanks!

  35. Rich says:
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    I am in a 12 team league that gives 6 pts for passing TDs (same as rushing and receiving TDs) and 1 pt for every 20 passing yards (1 pt for every 10 rushing/receiving yards). Format is QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/TE/Flex.

    I have the #2 pick – is it worth it to take Aaron Rodgers here. I am worried I might not get a tier 1 or 2 QB if I take AP or Arian Foster here. Thanks!

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