Why are we Devaluing the QB in Fantasy – Part II

Since the release of Why are we Devaluing the QB in Fantasy? I began to receive requests about diving deeper into the conversation that compared the consistency and overall value of quarterbacks vs. wide receivers. Even though I did not dive deep into data in Part I, the article did shed light on the myth that all quarterbacks are created equal in terms of fantasy. I wanted to spark the conversation, and it did just that.

So, let’s get more specific. We will stick to standard scoring seeing as how that is the most common scoring format and the format that was most talked about in the Part I’s discussion.

We will use the standard roster setting of 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, 1 flex spot, 1 tight end, and 7 bench positions.

(ESPN)

We will go with 10 teams, meaning that each team will need to have at least one quarterback and two wide receivers. We’ll take a fair average that each team will select five receivers and because some guys will roll with one quarterback and stream during their starter’s bye we will say each team will roster 1.5 signal callers. This gives us a total of 15 quarterbacks, and 50 wide receivers that we will analyze.

I used Gary Davenport’s of Bleacher Report’s rankings for the upcoming 2017 season to project the players that could be potentially chosen in your draft. His top 15 ranked quarterbacks and top 50 ranked wide receivers will be the players who will be used for comparison and listed in the following sections.

Quarterbacks

Drew Brees catches a snap in 2015
  1. Aaron Rodgers GB
  2. Tom Brady NE
  3. Drew Brees NO
  4. Andrew Luck IND
  5. Russell Wilson SEA
  6. Matt Ryan ATL
  7. Cam Newton CAR
  8. Ben Roethlisberger PIT
  9. Derek Carr OAK
  10. Jameis Winston TB
  11. Marcus Mariota TEN
  12. Philip Rivers LA
  13. Matthew Stafford DET
  14. Kirk Cousins WAS
  15. Dak Prescott DAL

We have already debunked that not all quarterbacks are created equal when it comes to fantasy. Using ESPN’s standard scoring totals for 2016 you’ll see a margin of 47.7 points between 1st and 3rd. If you go further down the list, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott scored 286.9 points and was the 6th best quarterback, a difference of nearly 100 points and 6 points a week.

There are four truly elite quarterbacks in terms of fantasy for the 2017 season. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. It remains to be seen if Matt Ryan will repeat his amazing 2016 season and if Russell Wilson and Cam Newton can return to top fantasy form.

Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown, (Steelers at Ravens 12/27/15)
  1. Antonio Brown PIT
  2. Julio Jones ATL
  3. Odell Beckham NYG
  4. Mike Evans TAM
  5. A.J. Green CIN
  6. Jordy Nelson GB
  7. Dez Bryant DAL
  8. T.Y. Hilton IND
  9. Michael Thomas NO
  10. Amari Cooper OAK
  11. DeAndre Hopkins HOU
  12. Brandin Cooks NE
  13. Doug Baldwin SEA
  14. Demaryius Thomas DEN
  15. Alshon Jeffery PHI
  16. Allen Robinson JAX
  17. Keenan Allen LA
  18. Jarvis Landry MIA
  19. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ
  20. Sammy Watkins BUF
  21. Michael Crabtree OAK
  22. Golden Tate DET
  23. Davante Adams GB
  24. DeSean Jackson TAM
  25. Julian Edelman NE
  26. Kelvin Benjamin CAR
  27. Brandon Marshall NYG
  28. Emmanuel Sanders DEN
  29. Terrelle Pryor WAS
  30. Stefon Diggs MIN
  31. Eric Decker N/A
  32. Willie Snead NO
  33. Tyreek Hill KAN
  34. Donte Moncrief IND
  35. Randall Cobb GB
  36. Martavis Bryant PIT
  37. Jamison Crowder WAS
  38. Corey Davis TEN
  39. Pierre Garcon SF
  40. Jeremy Maclin N/A
  41. Rishard Matthews TEN
  42. John Brown ARZ
  43. Adam Thielen MIN
  44. Corey Coleman CLE
  45.  Jordan Matthews PHI
  46. Marvin Jones DET
  47. DeVante Parker MIA
  48. Kenny Britt CLE
  49. Sterling Shepard NYG
  50. Mike Wallace BAL

The drop off is much steeper from the top quarterbacks to the mid-tier than it is for the receivers. To match the difference between the 1st-6th quarterbacks you’ll need to travel from 1st-20th for receivers.

(ESPN)

Looking beyond number 20, 24th-33rd point totals are within 10 points, 33rd-42nd are within 10 points and 42nd-47th are within 10 points. So, if you draft a receiver from the 24th rank to the 42nd you are drafting a player that produces 20 points or fewer over the course of a season than a similar player. This tells us that parody exists among receivers from top to bottom.

Mock Scenarios

So let’s put this information into a few scenarios that you could come across in your draft this season. For this, I will use Fantasy Football Calculator’s average draft positions (ADP) thus far in 2017.

Fantasy Football Calculator ADP as of June 2017

Top 3

Let’s start in the 1st round, and you are picking in one of the top three spots. You get yourself David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell or Ezekiel Elliot. Most likely no quarterbacks will be selected. In fact, according to the current ADP Aaron Rodgers isn’t selected until round 3 pick 24. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham, Jr. will be off the board, which now puts you in a position that could make or break your draft. ADP tells us that Rob Gronkowski is the 20th pick, Lamar Miller is the 21st and Amari Cooper is the 22nd. This is where you select Rodgers. While Gronkowski is the best TE in the league the man never stays healthy. Take your shot at TE somewhere else, later on in the draft. Miller averaged an unimpressive 4.0 YPC in 2016 and he averaged only 1.3 yards after contact, which was third worst in the NFL. Miller is still a promising young back but is in no position to be taken over the guy who could be the best fantasy player of 2017. You now have the strongest one-two punch in your league with a combination of Johnson, Bell, or Elliot and Rodgers.

The beauty of this scenario is you are on the clock again in the snake draft format. Select Amari Cooper, a young receiver who scored 230 fantasy points last season and is projected to hit that mark again next season. Now that Oakland has Marshawn Lynch this could lead to more downfield targets for Cooper as defenses will have to account for beast mode, at least in the beginning of the season. The trio of Rodgers-Bell-Cooper, for instance, gives you 56.5 points a week. Between the three players, they had 28 games with 20 or more fantasy points in 2016 and let’s not forget Bell missed the first 3 games due to suspension.

Pick 5

Now let’s say you are picking in the middle of the draft at pick number 5. Some people like this spot, some people hate it. More than likely Johnson, Bell, Elliot, and Brown will be taken ahead of you. The decision to make here is whether to select Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jr. or Mike Evans. LeSean McCoy and Melvin Gordon should not be drafted here. McCoy is a guy who is pushing 30 on a sub-par team that will not be as run dependant as they were under Rex Ryan. To me, McCoy is too risky of a pick in the 1st round. Make your decision on Jones, Beckham, Jr. or Evans and move on.

In the 2nd round is where it could get dicey. If we look at the ADP Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, Jordy Nelson, and DeMarco Murray, will be gone. In this scenario, the ADP says Michael Thomas will be selected next and in this scenario that may not be a bad decision. Now that the top running backs are depleted it is a good idea to wait a little while at that position. Go ahead and nab Thomas and get yourself a great 1-2 punch at receiver.

I know what you’re saying right now: “You’ve been talking throughout part I and now again in this article about how quarterbacks are more valuable than receivers, and you’re telling me to take two receivers right off the bat.” Well, it’s all based on the scenario and my rule of thumb is to make sure you get your quarterback before the end of the third round.

In this scenario, you select your signal caller next. If you can get Rodgers pull the trigger if not go ahead and nab Drew Brees and that gives you the stack with Thomas.

So your team after the third round is Jones-Thomas-Brees. You have arguably the best receiver in the game an elite quarterback and a potential star receiver that will get you 52.9 weekly fantasy points based on their numbers last season and 20 games with 20 or more fantasy points.

If you are wondering what to do at running back, they’re will be plenty of options left after the 3rd. Carlos Hyde, Spencer Ware, Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery and rookie Christian McCaffrey to name a few.

Bottom 3

Alright so you’re picking towards the back side of round one, if you have the 10th pick you’ll have two in a row to start out the draft. Now what you have to remember is that you’ll have 19 picks before your next selection after your first two. Again, Johnson, Bell, Elliot will be gone and Brown, Jones, and Beckham Jr. will be gone. If you can grab Mike Evans you do it. With new additions: DeSean Jackson and rookie TE O.J. Howard nabbing attention next season Evans could be poised to have a killer year. With your following pick, you can do it one of two ways, If you want the top fantasy football player in the NFL you draft Rodgers, if you are okay with Brees, Brady or Luck you select a guy like Jordy Nelson or Devonta Freeman. For variety’s sake we will select Nelson giving us a deadly 1-2 combo again at receiver.

On the backside of round three, you’ll have two in a row again and that’s when you’ll grab your quarterback. You are a Patriots fan so you go Brady. Then grab yourself a RB and you are sitting pretty with a combination of Evans-Nelson-Brady that will get you a weekly average of 53.3 fantasy points a week based upon ESPN’s 2017 projections. In 2016 this trio combined for 20 games with 20 or more fantasy points.

So adopting my no later than 3rd round quarterback strategy could get you a core of Johnson-Rodgers-Cooper, Jones-Thomas-Brees, or Evans-Nelson-Brady. In all three scenarios, I believe you will have contending chances barring injury in your league.

Full Mock Draft

I put this strategy to use in a full mock draft on ESPN on June 10, 2017 to show what a full team might look like using this strategy this season.

I drafted at pick #2 in this mock draft and the guy who picked #1 opted to select Le’Veon Bell first overall. I gladly took Johnson. I followed that up with Rodgers in the second round who was actually the second quarterback drafted in the mock draft as Tom Brady was drafted three picks earlier. Michael Thomas was still available in round three so he was our guy. After that, you can clearly see that there is plenty of talent to be had at the skill positions later in the draft. Jeremy Maclin in the 14th round? I know he is homeless right now but a team will acquire his services sooner than later. Definitely worth the risk there. Defenses and kickers were only drafted because I was forced to choose them.

This team is sneaky good with some under the radar guys like Perkins, Abdullah, and Murray at running back and deep threat Ginn Jr. in his new home of New Orleans this season. We have big play potential oozing out of the computer screen and consistent elite scoring from Rodgers and Johnson.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Following the 2011 season, Fantasy guru’s and experts alike began devaluing elite quarterbacks. This is the season that we saw three quarterbacks finish with over 5,000 passing yards (Brees, Brady, and Matt Stafford). As years have gone by the perception that Elite quarterbacks are not important in fantasy is simply not the reality. While I am not suggesting that the “no later than 3rd round” quarterback strategy is the only strategy that can work for you, I am suggesting that Aaron Rodgers can make a huge difference on your fantasy team and he should not be overlooked, nor should Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Andrew Luck.

At the end of the day, while we play fantasy football for fun, it is an investment. I want to invest my money in a guy who is protected on every play and I want to invest my money in a guy who touches the ball on every offensive play.

Don’t pass on elite quarterbacks, if you get the chance take one and if you play your cards right you could find yourself in your league’s championship come next Christmas.

 

–Nick Olson, @CoachO37 on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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