Fantasy Football Today: Is Waiting For QB Still The Best Way To Win Your Fantasy Football League?

For years we’ve been telling you to wait until you draft your quarterbacks, and for years you haven’t listened. Each year, so-called “expert” drafts see high-end starting quarterbacks drop in the middle rounds, while the vast majority of drafts otherwise have quarterbacks who routinely get off the board in the second round.

And I’m beginning to think that we were wrong and you were all right.

The 2022 edition of CBS Sports Fantasy Football Draft Guide magazine will hit newsstands in the coming weeks, and in this magazine you’ll see what you typically see in our mock drafts: quarterbacks that last much longer than most drafts. The only exception? I took Josh Allen with me second round. Taken three full laps before the next QB.

And you’re going to see that from me a lot this draft season. Okay maybe if I know I’m drawing with Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and the others Fantasy football today QB Haters Club, I might try waiting until say round three to take a QB. But I’ll probably be one of the first to pick a QB in most of my drafts this season, that’s the whole point.

Why did I have a change of heart? I wrote about it for the magazine and I have the research to back it up for you in today’s FFT newsletter. I wanted to publish this article before I go through my top 24 players for the 2022 season in the coming days because I wanted to make sure you all understand why I chose Allen (and possibly Patrick Mahomes, I haven’t quite nailed that yet ) in the first two rounds of my ranking.

So you can look for this top 24 breakdown soon, along with a roundup of the most interesting things I’ve seen in the past few weeks’ minicamp reports. We’ll also be creating an off-season mailbag soon, so make sure to send your questions to [email protected] with the subject line “#AskFFT.”

Well, here’s why I changed my mind about early-round quarterbacks:

The case for early-round QBs

Fantasy analysts have long argued that while quarterbacks score the most points at all positions, prioritizing them in drafts wasn’t the optimal strategy because you could always find viable starters in the later rounds or on layoffs. And the data backs it up — from 2016 through 2019, more than half of all top 12 weeks scoring six-points-per-pass touchdown came from quarterbacks drafted outside of the ADP top 12 that season. The top 12 quarterbacks in ADP also accounted for only 46.6% of all top 6 placements.

Being one of the first players in your league to pick up a quarterback has given you an advantage in the past, but it wasn’t enough to justify the price. Not when you had multiple quarterbacks in later rounds who were capable of great performances. In 2019, Lamar Jackson (QB15 in ADP), Dak Prescott (QB18) and Matthew Stafford (QB24) all had at least five top six finishes; In 2018 Patrick Mahomes (QB15) and Jared Goff (QB16) did it; 2017 had Carson Wentz (QB18) and Josh McCown (QB30), while Alex Smith (QB23) added 10 top 12 finishes of his own.

Things have changed quite dramatically in the last few seasons. Between 2020 and 2021, 51.4% of all top 12 finishes came from the top 12 quarterbacks drafted each season. But it’s even more dramatic at the top end, where 67% of all weekly top 6 finishes came from a top 12 QB in ADP. Kirk Cousins ​​(QB17) was the only QB selected outside the top 13 to have more than three top 6 finishes or seven top 12 finishes, and only two others even had six top 12 finishes.

Think of it this way: who did you enjoy streaming last season when you were stuck in that position? Derek Carr had his moments (seven top 12 finishes), as did Carson Wentz early (six), although he broke out quite epicly at the end. But the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Taysom Hill, and Jameis Winston just never turned out to be reliable weekly options like we’d hoped.

Of course, it wasn’t just the streaming options that failed to live up to expectations last season. It’s also that the bar for the viability of streaming is getting higher and higher. In 2021, the No. 12 QB averaged 21.6 in points per game, a mark that was below 20 in each of 2016, 2017, and 2019; In 2018, the #12 QB averaged 20.6, a relative boom year.

None of this is to say that it’s impossible to win without an early-round quarterback. It does mean, however, that you must take the position intentionally. You used to be able to just ignore the position late and still not go far behind, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that – 17-18 points a game from your QB spot won’t do half the league gets 25-plus.

So you have a few options to choose from on Draft Day. You can complete high-end QB games with either Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, both of whom are draft worthy as early as Round 2 in all formats, with Allen Mahomes likely to be a few picks ahead. Mahomes is as good as anyone in the league at his best, but he wasn’t at his best often enough last season amid a mid-season swoon and now he’s grappling with life without Tyreek Hill for the first time. That’s enough for me to knock him down half a floor.

You can wait a few more turns for one of the Justin Herbert/Joe Burrow/Lamar Jackson/Kyler Murray tiers, or wait a few more turns for the likes of Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, or Aaron Rodgers. If you go that route, you’re probably picking a QB in the first six rounds, and that should probably be the only quarterback you’re picking in the draft. My favorites based on where they’re likely to go for what it’s worth are JacksonMurray or Wilson or Stafford if he falls a little further than the others.

Or you can wait. The thing about it is that this list already takes us through the top 11 currently ADP. At least based on the last few years, we are already running out of options. Tom Brady remains a senior player but he could be without three of his top four receivers from last season at the start of the year, which is worrying. Kirk Cousins ​​and Derek Carr have the top-12, but probably not the top-6, up. Deshaun Watson has top-six advantage but may not be able to play for much or all of the season pending the results of the investigation into the allegations against him. If you pick one from this group, you’ll probably want to combine it with another high-upside option, just in case.

Or you can say, “Fuck the trends,” and go all-in against quarterbacks in the late round. Trends aren’t destiny, after all, and there are still plenty of quarterbacks with potential who could crash the party like Jackson, Allen, Mahomes and Murray have done in recent seasons.

If you’re looking for late-round quarterbacks, you want guys who either charge up or have significant passing volume potential. Or preferably a mixture of both.

Here are my five favorites:

Trey Lance

We saw Lance start in two games last season and he had 120 yards on 21 carries in those two games, so that’s pretty much all you need to know. The 49ers have signed him as a longtime regular and he’s surrounded by one of the best groups of playmakers in the league, with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle notably standing out as two of football’s best after-the-catch receivers. I have concerns about Lance getting the best out of pass catchers here, but if you’re looking for someone who has the potential to become the next Allen, he’s your best bet.

Justin Fields

In terms of physical gifts, Fields is on par with everyone at the position. The question is whether his rookie struggles are due to some inherent limitations in his game or the guilt of the situation he found himself in. I’m willing to bet that the coaching staff that’s in place now will be more willing to use him as a rusher after the previous staff so seldom used him in read option concepts. The problem is that Fields’ corps of playmakers is among the worst in the league, so he has to do a lot of the heavy lifting himself. This brings us back to questions about its inherent limitations. I might be willing to draft Lance on my own, but Fields needs a Carr or Cousins ​​to pair with him – in other words, a high-floor option because he might be in the basement.

Tua Tagovailoa

I expected Tagovailoa to make a leap last season thanks to an improved supporting cast, so there’s some risk of the same mistake being made again. However, Tyreek Hill is one of the best playmakers in the league and he forms the fastest receiving duo in the game alongside Jaylen Waddle of Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa relied more on RPO concepts than any other passer a year ago, so he needs to take a step forward to become a more complete passer. But if he does, it could be a tough offense to stop.

Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence had the kind of rookie season that makes you seriously reconsider a prospect’s chances of making a difference. He led the league in interceptions and averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt, finishing last or near last in pretty much every relevant statistical category — including just three top-12 finishes in fantasy. However, he was also stuck with a coach clearly out of his depth at the NFL level and a pretty poor collection of pass catchers. The Jaguars invested heavily in upgrading the latter, giving free rein to Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram, and new coach Doug Pederson helped turn Carson Wentz’s career around after a similarly lackluster rookie season.

Daniel Jones

Jones has stagnated as a passer, but he continues to flash as a rusher, so we’ll follow the Giants’ lead and give him one last chance. This is as much a bet on new head coach Brian Daboll as anything else, although it’s also worth noting that the Giants actually have a pretty intriguing group of playmakers if they can stay healthy. That was a concern for Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney last season, but with that trio on the field and Daboll living up to the hype, there are some upsides here.

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