“Traditionally, the 12th quarterback in a 12-team draft gets selected in the middle of the 8th round. In years past, there was some doubt associated with that quarterback. But with more and more young talent under center, you can afford to wait even longer in leagues where just one quarterback is started on each team each week.”
And, yes, what he said makes absolute sense. If you look at the current ADP for quarterbacks in 12-team, non-PPR leagues (this will be the standard ADP referenced to in the rest of this article unless otherwise noted) right now the 12th drafted quarterback on average based on ADP data from MyFantasyLeague.com is Tony Romo, who happened to be 2012’s 8th highest scoring fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. If you don’t think you could field a competitive fantasy football team with Romo as your QB1 in a league that starts only one fantasy quarterback on a weekly basis then you either drafted really poorly elsewhere or you have extremely high hopes for your fantasy football team.
In 1-QB fantasy football leagues you don’t have to worry a whole lot about your quarterback draft strategy because the supply far outweighs the demand. Even if you were the last team to draft a starting QB1 in a 12-team league and another owner or two grabbed their back-up QBs before you even drafted your starting quarterback that would still leave you with the 13th or 14th best quarterback. Based on current quarterback ADP your QB would be either Eli Manning or Joe Flacco. Again, the question to ask yourself is, would you be okay with Eli or Flacco as your starting quarterback in a 1-QB league; the answer should be yes.
Even if Romo, Eli or Flacco lack the numbers that the Aaron Rodgers’, Tom Bradys or Drew Brees’ normally put up, Romo, Eli or Flacco scored only 5.55, 7.04, and 6.92 points per game less, respectively, than Brees in 2012, who was last season’s highest scoring fantasy quarterback.
So, if drafting quarterbacks in a 1-QB league doesn’t involve much thought, effort or preparation, why not make a switch to a 2-QB league? More quarterbacks=more fun and more draft strategy prep time, right? At least it does to me and when preparing for a 2-QB league draft your strategy and preparation is markedly different than how you would go about things in a 1-QB league.
Before I go into detail regarding 2-QB fantasy football draft strategies I want to provide you with some data and information regarding the fantasy quarterback position (both from a personal and non-personal perspective) that will help you focus solely on the quarterback position in fantasy football.
In my most competitive 2-QB fantasy football league (starting roster is 2QB/2RB/3WR/1TE/1 Flex (RB/TE/WR)/1K/1DST) where passing touchdowns are worth 6 points and you receive 1 point for every 25 yards passing and lose 2 points per interception, there have been eleven teams that have drafted a quarterback in the first round the past two seasons.
Last season in my league, four teams drafted two quarterbacks within the first two rounds and by the time round three rolled around a total of nine teams had their starting quarterback situation settled. The year before that, six teams took both their QB1 and QB2 by the end of round two.
Below you will find the percentage of total points scored from the starting quarterback position for the top three teams in the final standings:
1st place: 29.45% of team’s total points.
2nd pace: 30.92% of team’s total points.
3rd place: 28.77% of team’s total points.
The first place team’s starting quarterback duo was Matt Ryan (1.06) and Robert Griffin III (3.06). Second place drafted Rodgers (1.01) and Andrew Luck (3.01). Third place had a QB1 and QB2 combo of Brady (1.02) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (3.02). As you can surmise from those three teams and their quarterback draft strategy, they went heavy at the quarterback position relatively early, with Fitzpatrick being the only “bust” of the group.
And the term bust is used lightly, as Fitzpatrick was the 20th quarterback drafted in the league but did end up finishing the season as the 20th ranked fantasy quarterback in the league. RG3 and Luck providing more value than their 2012 ADP had more to do with the top two teams finishing where they did than anything else. Luck’s 2012 ADP had him at QB16 and in this league he was the 19th quarterback drafted. RG3 was the 12th QB being drafted based on his 2012 ADP but he was the 23rd quarterback taken off the board in this league. RG3 wound up as the 7th highest scoring quarterback in the league; Luck the 10th.
The highest scoring quarterback, Brees, was drafted by the team that finished in 7th place, and his QB2 was Josh Freeman; their total points scored combined accounted for 35.72% (highest in the league) of his team’s total fantasy points, with Brees alone scoring 21% of this team’s total points.
I mentioned earlier that of the twelve teams in this league, eleven of them went quarterback in the first round, which means that there was only one team that didn’t draft a quarterback in round one and that team ended up in 4th place on the season. The percentage of total points scored by his starting quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger/Carson Palmer) was 24% of his team’s total points.
Here’s a quick rundown of the total starting quarterback points totals from my 2-QB league:
Starting QB Points Total
1. 744.06 (Rodgers/Luck) – Finished in 2nd place
2. 734.08 (Brees/Freeman) – Finished in 7th place
3. 726.36 (Ryan/RG3) – Finished in 1st place
4. 669.98 (Brady/Fitzpatrick) – Finished in 3rd place
5. 651.78 (Peyton/Schaub) – Finished in 6th place
6. 643.2 (Wilson/Stafford) – Finished in 9th place
7. 640.32 (Newton/Flacco) – Finished in 10h place
8. 557.54 (Romo/Cutler) – Finished in 8th place
9. 554.12 (Roethlisberger/Palmer) – Finished in 4th place
10. 456.90 (Dalton/Locker) – Finished in 5th place
11. 436.06 (Tannehill/Ponder) – Finished in 11th place
12. 429.04 (Eli/Sanchez) – Finished in 12th place
The highest scoring QB total points duo was Rodgers and Luck with 744.06 points scored. The worst scoring duo was Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez with 429.04 points. Eight of the above combinations were quarterbacking duos drafted within the first three rounds. The difference between the Rodgers/Luck duo and the Eli/Sanchez duo was 315.02 points, or 18.53 points per game (we play the full 17 weeks in this league).
If only one quarterback was required to start the difference between the highest scoring QB, Brees (431.58 points) and the 12th highest scoring quarterback, Dalton (304.76 points) the difference would have been 126.82, or 7.46 points per game. But this is a 2-QB league and that extra starting quarterback meant the difference of 11.37 points more per game.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself after looking at the above points total breakdown of starting quarterback combinations that the lone team that didn’t draft a quarterback in the first round still wound up with the fifth highest scoring team. Proponents of the late round quarterback strategy in 1-QB leagues might be wondering if such a strategy would work in 2-QB leagues?
Let’s take a moment to answer that question. This “late round” 2-QB team decided to solidify his running back position by going with Ray Rice in the first round instead of a quarterback and then took Ben Roethlisberger in the second round, Matt Forte in the third round, and Trent Richardson in the fourth round. Rice and Richardson (over Forte, eventually) as his RB1 and RB2 is a pretty darn solid twosome to have, in 1-QB or 2-QB leagues. His quarterback situation though left much to be desired, as he drafted the aforementioned Roethlisberger in the second round, Sam Bradford in the fifth round and Brandon Weeden in 9th round. He later wound up with Carson Palmer as his every week QB2 after a trade that involved trading away Russell Wilson. If he had gone with say Arian Foster in the first round instead of Rice and stuck with Wilson as his QB2 there’s a very good chance that he could have won the league and proved you don’t need to draft a quarterback in the first round to win.
Of course, that didn’t happen for him, and eventually Palmer crapped out near the end of the year, Roethlisberger missed time to injury, and Bradford was forced to step up for him. While he did draft for depth at other positions his quarterbacking duo and quarterback depth eventually did him in and it shows that drafting a quarterback late in 2-QB leagues, while possibly viable if you draft wisely, isn’t the way to go when drafting in 2-QB leagues. And, he did draft his first quarterback (13th QB drafted overall) within the first two rounds, which isn’t all that late when you think about it.
Now let’s turn our attention to scoring breakdown position by position when looking at the top 50 fantasy scorers from last season.
Here’s the breakdown in my 2-QB league (remember passing touchdowns are worth 6 points in this league) of the top 50 scorers (not counting D/ST):
QB – 26
RB – 12
WR – 12
TE – 0
The top eleven scorers overall were quarterbacks and Adrian Peterson was the first non-QB to make an appearance on the overall scoring list, coming in as the 12th highest scoring fantasy player in this league.
In a standard scoring league where passing touchdowns are worth 4 points (not 6) here’s the top 50 breakdown (again, not counting D/ST):
QB – 25
RB – 14
WR – 11
TE – 0
In this scoring format six of the first players were quarterbacks and eleven of twelve total were quarterbacks, with Peterson, again, being the lone exception, coming in as the seventh highest scoring player in fantasy football last season.
The biggest difference when it comes to 2-QB leagues is that you’re starting one extra quarterback. Duh, right? You didn’t need me to tell you that. But it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. By looking at the top 50 scorers, in either format, you see that there were enough quarterbacks to fill out starting quarterback slots in 12-team 2-QB leagues. Of course the two quarterbacks you ended up with would be more important than just knowing there were at least 24 quarterbacks in the top 50 fantasy football scorers last season.
I also wanted to take a look at how much of an impact having to start one extra quarterback makes in fantasy football and compare that to the running back and wide receiver positions in fantasy football.
First off let’s look at leagues where only 4 points are awarded for touchdowns. But before that happens I want to give a huge shout out to Greg Smith aka gregsauce over at The Fake Football for his 2012 Scoring Settings Analysis – QB article. The man did work on that article and I used his excel scoring spreadsheet analysis for much of the breakdown you’re about to read. I also used his excel scoring settings analysis to help me out in other parts of this article. I just want to give props where props are due. Now, back to your regularly scheduled article…
Difference in points scored between:
QB1 and QB12 – 94.82 or Points Per Game (PPG) Difference of 5.93
QB1 and QB24 – 162.72 or PPG Difference of 10.17
QB12 and QB24 – 67.90 or PPG Difference of 4.24
QB1 and QB13 – 97.80 or PPG Difference of 6.11
QB1 and QB25 – 171.52 or PPG Difference of 10.70
Now let’s see how different the scoring differential is in leagues where passing touchdowns are worth 6 points instead of 4:
Difference in points scored between:
QB1 and QB12 – 126.82 or PPG Difference of 7.93
QB1 and QB24 – 224.72 or PPG Difference of 14.05
QB12 and QB24 – 97.90 or PPG Difference of 6.12
QB1 and QB13 – 129.08 or PPG Difference of 8.07
QB1 and QB25 – 232.52 or PPG Difference of 14.53
When you do the same thing with running backs you get the following differentials:
RB1 and RB12 – 129.96 or PPG Difference of 8.12
RB1 and RB24 – 190.70 or PPG Difference of 11.92
At the WR position here’s the difference in points:
WR1 and WR12 – 49.00 or PPG Difference of 3.06
WR1 and WR24 – 89.40 or PPG Difference of 5.59
WR1 and WR36 – 108.21 or PPG Difference of 6.77
So, what does the above points differential data tell us? In 1-QB leagues running backs are more valuable than QBs because the point differential between the highest scoring running back and the 12th highest RB or the 24th highest RB is greater than the point differential between the highest scoring QB and the 12th highest scoring QB or the 24th highest scoring QB (unless it’s a league where QB passing TDs are worth 6 points).
In leagues where passing touchdowns are worth 6 points the difference between the highest scoring RB and 12th highest scoring RB is only worth 0.19 points more per game. And the difference between an RB1 and RB 24 is actually 2.13 points less per game than the points differential between the QB1 and QB24. When it comes to 2012 ADP the 12th RB off the board was Ryan Mathews with an ADP of 28.55, which is early third round range in 12-team leagues. The 2012 ADP of the 24th QB, Jake Locker, was 155.21, which in 12 team leagues is late 13th round territory. Of course in leagues that draft two quarterbacks the 24th quarterback drafted won’t be taken at the end of the draft though since he’ll be starting in 2-QB leagues; just like how most leagues that start two running backs probably won’t be drafting RB2s late.
With the addition of just one extra quarterback to the weekly starting line-up in 2-QB leagues the quarterback position becomes more valuable because the difference between the best quarterback and the 24th best quarterback is much, much greater than the difference between the best quarterback and the 12th best quarterback. Even though the difference in points per game between the first quarterback being taken in drafts based on the current ADP, Rodgers, and the 24th quarterback being drafted, Bradford, when using last season’s points totals, is only 7.05 points per game. But when you double that up with the addition of the second required starting quarterback you see how valuable it is to draft a quarterback early. A team with two Rodgers’ compared to a team with two Bradfords would have scored 14.10 points more per game in a standard scoring league, and 14.85 points more per game in a league where touchdowns are worth 6 points.
With all this talk of top fantasy scorers and ADP below I’ve posted a spreadsheet that I put together that shows you the 2012 ADP of QBs and the points scored (standard scoring format) for each quarterback in 2012:
After taking a look at the spreadsheet what did you notice? Quarterbacks were being drafted fairly high, right? Five quarterbacks had an ADP that would have seen them drafted in the first two rounds (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford). And minus Stafford, who finished as the 11th highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2012, the other four did indeed finish in the top four of fantasy scoring at the quarterback position in 2012 and each one of them ended the season as a QB1.
When looking at the top 24 quarterback ADP as whole only three quarterbacks didn’t finish the season in top 24 of fantasy scoring quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Jake Locker and Alex Smith. Each one of those three players had their issues with injuries, below average play, or both, and they could have possibly finished in the top 24 if they had played full healthy and adequate seasons.
Below is another spreadsheet with some notes regarding the 2012 QB ADP and how they ended the season scoring wise in fantasy football that might also be of interest to you:
After looking at the second spreadsheet you’ll see just how hard it is to find value at the quarterback position late in 2-QB leagues. Only Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Russell Wilson were drafted outside of the top 12 quarterbacks and ended up finishing in the top 12 of fantasy quarterback scoring, which means 75% of the quarterbacks drafted in the top twelve finished in the top 12. The same thing can be said for the quarterbacks drafted in the top 24 overall, with Bradford, Christian Ponder and Ryan Tannehill cracking the top 24 scoring. That’s a 62.5% success rate when it comes to drafting your top two quarterbacks. If you told me I had an almost two out of three chance at finding guaranteed success at each of my quarterback positions in a 2-QB league I’d take those odds.
That’s a pretty good chance for success but of course it’s all about finding the right two quarterbacks. If you had drafted Vick on your team you probably were cursing yourself out, and cursing at your television set whenever Vick was shown picking himself up off the football field, throughout the course of the season. However, if you had taken Wilson as your QB2 to go along with Vick at QB1 you would have more than likely been able to salvage your season a little bit and that’s where drafting strategy comes into play in 2-QB leagues.
Quarterbacks generally tend to score the most amount of points in most fantasy football leagues and the one thing you need to keep in mind when drafting in a 2-QB league is that you need to draft a top-notch quarterback early. I would hope that you would have caught onto that theme while reading along but now I’ve said it out loud so you have no excuse for not realizing it. Without a top quarterback anchoring your QB1 and QB2 tandem you’re going to have a hard time staying afloat throughout the season. It’s really as simple as that.
How early you draft your first quarterback, and ultimately your second quarterback, is going to depend on how your draft plays out, how your fellow leaguemates draft, and what the scoring settings is like for quarterbacks, and other positions, in your league. You saw earlier how many quarterbacks were drafted early in my 2-QB league, where passing points are high, as eleven quarterbacks went in the first round in back-to-back seasons and a total of 35 quarterbacks were drafted in 2012 and 32 quarterbacks were taken in the 2011 draft.
Would quarterbacks have been drafted that high if passing points were devalued? Again, it will depend on how your league views quarterbacks, but my answer would probably lean closer towards ‘no.’ In a recent sort of 2-QB mock draft, where you can start up to two quarterbacks (one as your starting QB and another in the flex), and passing touchdowns are worth 4 points and 1 point is awarded for every 33 passing yards, that was the creation of Mike Clay from Pro Football Focus, as part of a deep league trial, which you can read about more in Clay’s Rotoworld recap, that featured many fantasy football experts, the first quarterback off the board was Rodgers in the early part of the third round (3.02). Brees was taken later in the third round (3.11) and those quarterbacks were the only ones drafted in the first three rounds.
You can read more about the results of this particular draft on my website, 2QBornot2QB.com, when it comes to quarterback drafting to get more in depth analysis. But, the one thing to take away from Clay’s “2-QB” league is that even though the quarterback position was devalued quarterbacks were still taken relatively high because you could start up to two and quarterbacks tend to produce the most amount of points in fantasy football. If that league awarded 6 points per passing touchdown and 1 point per 25 yards passing I can see quarterbacks being drafted much earlier than the third round.
One important tip I have for you when drafting in a 2-QB league is that you want a steady and reliable QB2 to go with your QB1. While the dream is to draft two QB1s that’s not necessarily something that will always happen when drafting in 2-QB fantasy football leagues. The jackpot in 2-QB leagues is drafting a QB2 that winds up as a QB1, which happened in 2012 with Luck, Dalton and Wilson. To do that you need to look carefully at ADP when compiling draft rankings. For instance, right now the 2013 QB ADP in 12-team leagues is as follows, with overall ADP in brackets:
1. Aaron Rodgers (18.39)
2. Drew Brees (31.39)
3. Cam Newton (37.63)
4. Tom Brady (48.00)
5. Colin Kaepernick (51.05)
6. Andrew Luck (51.89)
7. Robert Griffin III (59.68)
8. Matthew Stafford (60.11)
9. Matt Ryan (62.87)
10. Russell Wilson (72.22)
11. Peyton Manning (72.57)
12. Tony Romo (92.03)
13. Eli Manning (109.91)
14. Joe Flacco (122.12)
15. Ben Roethlisberger (126.83)
16. Andy Dalton (134.54)
17. Josh Freeman (143.33)
18. Jay Cutler (144.83)
19. Michael Vick (145.50)
20. Philip Rivers (148.09)
21. Geno Smith (151.27)
22. Ryan Tannehill (151.90)
23. Matt Schaub (154.60)
24. Sam Bradford (159.00)
25. Jake Locker (165.19)
Based on the above ADP your best bet at snagging a potential QB1 from the QB2 group is Roethlisberger. Although the potential loss of WR Mike Wallace and TE Heath Miller perhaps not being ready to start the 2013 NFL regular season after tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL at the end of the 2012 NFL regular season will hurt; but that could only drop his ADP and raise his value so there’s a potential win-win silver lining in there. Last season Roethlisberger was averaging 21.22 points per game in 6 point TD passing leagues and 17.22 points per game in 4 point TD passing leagues, which was good for eighth and 12th place, respectively. If you’re able to snag Roethlisberger as your QB2 after drafting a top twelve quarterback you’re going to be set up quite nicely for the season.
No matter the type of league you play in it’s always about drafting with value in mind. Even if you can’t draft two top twelve quarterbacks being able to get a top ten or top twelve quarterback and pairing him with a top 16 quarterback is also pretty good. A quarterback that could fit such a criteria worth targeting is Bradford, who ended the 2012 season as the 16th highest scoring fantasy quarterback. He’s currently being drafted as the 24th quarterback off the board when it comes to early 2013 ADP. If the St. Louis Rams hold on to slot-God WR Danny Amendola and the rest of Bradford’s receiving corps, including the likes of Brian Quick, Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson, are able to step their games up in 2013 then Bradford could match or exceed his 2012 totals.
When drafting in 2-QB leagues you need to come up with your own draft rankings at every position that you feel comfortable with. You shouldn’t always draft based on what others tell you, even though it never hurts to listen to the advice and opinions of fantasy football experts, you should still leave some room in your fantasy brain to think for yourself because it is your team after all. For instance, last year I was high on Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Jake Locker and Robert Griffin III and down on Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Ryan and Griffin obviously were both great picks, Stafford was decent but not as great as he was in 2011, and both Manning and Newton proved me wrong. But that’s just how I felt and I approached my draft with my mentality towards those specific quarterbacks and it wasn’t a surprise to me when Ryan and RG3 showed up on my rosters and the others didn’t; I was lucky enough to dodge the Stafford bullet and was able to come to grips with my errors when it came to my viewpoints on Locker, Peyton and Cam. Although Locker did come to cause me quite a bit of grief in my 2-QB league as my QB3.
Ranking quarterbacks based on tiers is even more important in 2-QB leagues because it gives you an idea of where the top talent peters out and when. Below is a quick Tier ranking system for you based on how I feel about the fantasy quarterback position as of today:
I personally have six tiers and 26 quarterbacks but you might have five tiers and 20 quarterbacks or eight tiers and 29 quarterbacks. The number of tiers and quarterbacks doesn’t matter. What really matters is that you provide yourself a template that you can constantly reference that shows you how you value quarterbacks. For me, looking at the above tiers my preference is to grab one quarterback from the first three tiers and two overall from the first four tiers. I want two of the top twelve, or close to it, quarterbacks and will look towards drafting a third quarterback to fill in for bye weeks from my later tiers, like Tier 5 or Tier 6, if I can afford to do so.
Drafting a third quarterback has two benefits: one it covers your quarterback bye weeks, as you have to worry about two byes instead of one, and a third quarterback also gives you trade bait that you can use in negotiations with a team that didn’t draft all that great of a QB1-QB2 combination. Although, a third quarterback isn’t a necessity, and there aren’t enough startable quarterbacks to go around in a 12-team league, and just barely enough in 10-team leagues for each team to roster three quarterbacks. If you want to preserve your bench for a player at a position other than quarterback that you will use more than once or twice during the season then bypassing a third quarterback in your draft is a defensible strategy, even more so if you play in a shallow bench league.
In the end, when preparing for a 2-QB draft you have to look at the supply and demand of the quarterback position. Do you play in a ten team league? If so 20 quarterbacks is the cut off point you want to focus on. If you play in a 12 team league then you’re going to be focusing on the top 24 quarterbacks. This year the supply of quarterbacks is much greater than it has been in recent years, perhaps even in the history of fantasy football. Above I ranked 26 quarterbacks I would feel comfortable enough as my starting quarterbacks. Of course I wouldn’t want a combination of Bradford and Locker but if either one of those quarterbacks were my QB2 to go along with a Kaepernick, Wilson or Ryan I would feel quite confident in my starting quarterback combination.
It’s still early in the off-season so we don’t know the final situation when it comes to certain quarterbacks like Alex Smith, Matt Flynn and Matt Moore, not to mention the incoming rookie class, which could produce a first year starter like Geno Smith. Those quarterbacks could also find themselves in the fantasy football conversation when draft day rolls around for most of you fantasy footballers out there and they will only deepen the starting quarterback pool in 2-QB leagues. When the supply is so high the demand isn’t as great, but still you don’t want to be left out in the cold by missing out on a top quarterback. While it’s nice and all knowing that there are more than enough quarterbacks to go around in a 2-QB league you still want to take a quarterback you believe can produce at a high level, either to keep up with the drafting pace of your competing leaguemates or to be one step ahead of them. You might be tempted to go in a different direction if a quarterback run occurs, which it can, but if you miss out on the run of the top fantasy quarterbacks you could be looking at a messy situation all year long in your 2-QB fantasy football league.
It’s true that you want to draft based on value in fantasy football but if the quarterback position is at a demand in your league then taking part in a quarterback draft run will be a course of action you have to consider, and that’s especially true in a league where quarterback points are valued highly. But in a standard scoring league where quarterback points aren’t at a premium you have more leeway to zig and not take part in a quarterback run and stock up on other positions, while the quarterback position loses some of its value. Always remember that the way your league drafts and the points settings will be the biggest determining factors of your ultimate 2-QB fantasy football draft strategy.
Drafting in terms of value will take on much more significance in 2-QB leagues this year than years past because there’s the opportunity to draft a QB2 later in the draft because of the number of quarterbacks that are worth rostering that could also potentially turn out to be a QB1 or QB3s that could turn into QB2s and that could lead to certain quarterbacks being taken later than they normally would in 2-QB leagues. Although, the way your draft unfolds will determine whether or not that happens, and to what extent.
Stats used in this article courtesy of: MyFantasyLeague.com, Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, NFLData.com, and TheFakeFootball.com, especially Greg Smith’s 2012 Scoring Settings Analysis – QB article.