Whether you’re a first time fantasy football player, or you’re just starting to pay attention again, it’s good to have a general idea of your draft strategy. As you draft your fantasy football team, you’ll be looking for players that come at a value. One of the best ways of determining value is knowing the Average Draft Position (ADP). Drafting a player later than his ADP is inherently good value.
Understanding the value of the quarterback is difficult for first-time fantasy players. Quarterbacks aren’t as valuable as runningbacks and wide receivers, or frankly even close. A simple comparison should illustrate what we’re looking for: Last year, the top quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) scored 380 fantasy points. The 12th ranked quarterback (Derek Carr) scored 268 points, a difference of 112 points. The top ranked runningback (David Johnson) outscored the 12th ranked runningback (Frank Gore) by 193.5 points. Furthermore, because you only start 1 quarterback, but 2 or sometimes 3 runningbacks, they hold more value. It’s not uncommon to see players draft quarterbacks after they’ve filled their RB and WR positions. Let’s take a look at the quarterback position, and quarterback’s ADP according to ESPN.com, as of July 22.
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the big dogs of the quarterback position this year, and have been for the past decade. It’s easy to see why these 2 are being drafted so high: Last year, Rodgers was the top overall player in all of fantasy football. Not only that, Rodgers has been one of the top 2 fantasy players in 7 of the last 9 seasons. In 2016, he threw for over 4000 yards and 40 TDs. He’s good, he’s consistent, and he’s fun.
Tom Brady will be 40 when he next starts a game in the NFL. But he’s coming off yet another Super Bowl, and his weapons are much better now than they were in 2016, with the addition of Brandin Cooks, Mike Gillislee, and a healthy Gronk. All that being said, the ADP of these 2 Quarterbacks is mid to late 2nd round in a 12-man league. Players with similar ADPs include Jay Ajayi, Dez Bryant, and Amari Cooper. In standard formats that only start 1 QB, it is difficult to justify taking a quarterback this early because you will ultimately end up drafting 5-7 RBs and WRs, but only 1 or 2 quarterbacks. And as you’ll see, there are a lot of good quarterbacks available. That being said, if you want to pick a quarterback early and not worry about that position until his bye week, Rodgers and Brady are your best bets.
3 Drew Brees, NO QB 37.4
4 Matt Ryan, Atl QB 42.3
These 2 players effectively end the first tier of quarterbacks. Drew Brees is another quarterback that has been elite for a long time. Brees has 5 of the top 8 passing yards seasons, and threw over 5000 yards and 37 TDs in 2016, on a career high 673 pass attempts. But he is 38 and the addition of Adrian Peterson, it’s safe to expect less than 673 passes. Matt Ryan is the NFL MVP, and he set career highs in yards (4,944) and TDs (38), and a career low in INTs (7). Players with similar ADPs include Christian McCaffrey, Jarvis Landry, and Sammy Watkins.
5 Andrew Luck, Ind QB 57.0
6 Russell Wilson, Sea QB 68.3
7 Dak Prescott, Dal QB 74.7
8 Cam Newton, Car QB 75.8
9 Derek Carr, Oak QB 82.6
The second tier of quarterbacks includes a few household names, and a few fairly new faces. I’m not sure Luck or Wilson are elite yet, but they’re very good. Derek Carr and Dak Prescott had breakout roles, and could be found at the end of drafts last year. This is not uncommon. There’s always a few gems to find in these drafts. Drafting a quarterback in this range (6th-8th round) is more standard, as by now, your team is well-filled out.
10 Ben Roethlisberger, Pit QB 92.9
11 Kirk Cousins, Wsh QB 95.6
12 Jameis Winston, TB QB 104.0
13 Matthew Stafford, Det QB 112.3
14 Marcus Mariota, Ten QB 121.3
15 Eli Manning, NYG QB 126.4
16 Philip Rivers, LAC QB 128.2
I’m a little surprised to see Marcus Mariota this low in the ADP. Last season, from weeks 5-12, Mariota was the top Quarterback in fantasy, and that was before the addition of Corey Davis or Eric Decker. I expect to see much more of him than this ADP indicates. Ben Roethlisberger has perhaps the best weapons in the NFL at his disposal, and Kirk Cousins has been a top-10 QB in consecutive years. Stafford and Eli have good games, but are a little too inconsistent. This is my ideal range to draft a quarterback. However, if you don’t manage to pick up one of these quarterbacks, you’re in trouble.
17 Deshaun Watson, Hou QB 129.1
18 Carson Wentz, Phi QB 130.1
19 Tyrod Taylor, Buf QB 130.2
20 Carson Palmer, Ari QB 135.7
21 Andy Dalton, Cin QB 136.3
22 Ryan Tannehill, Mia QB 142.7
23 Joe Flacco, Bal QB 144.1
24 Blake Bortles, Jax QB 149.5
These guys should only be drafted if you need a backup, or you’re playing in a 2-quarterback lead. They simply aren’t consistent enough to start each week. Deshaun Watson isn’t even the starter yet.
This is a good overview of the quarterback position. There is no right or wrong way to draft, but “reaching” for a player (drafting before his ADP) is not advisable unless you know something your league mates don’t. Ultimately, drafting elite talent early or waiting until you can grab good value is up to you. Do whatever you feel helps your team.