I’m not sure how your leagues where only one starting quarterback is required in the line-up are faring, but one thing I know is that you can’t trade quarterbacks in 1-QB leagues. It’s just not happening. Every team has a good-to-great fantasy quarterback in their line-up, and that has rendered any trade value they might have obsolete.
You might be able to trade for a Peyton Manning, but is giving up your starting quarterback plus another valuable fantasy commodity from your line-up worth it? As hard as it is to trade quarterbacks in 1-QB leagues, 2-QB fantasy football leagues are a completely different story.
In 2-QB leagues there are teams desperate for quarterbacks, whether it’s because the quarterback they drafted turned out to be a dud, or they’re scrambling for a bye week replacement. Owners of 2-QB teams that drafted three weekly starting quarterback options will always have an advantage over their league mates, because they’ll be able to trade that fantasy commodity for something that can help their team right now.
With a quarter of the NFL season out of the way, I thought it would be a good time to re-rank the quarterback position in 2-QB fantasy football leagues, so we can reflect on the year that’s been, while also gauging the value of quarterbacks for trading purposes in 2-QB leagues.
If you’ve been reading the 2-QB content on XN Sports from the start, you know a lot of my preseason and weekly fantasy quarterback rankings for 2-QB leagues were influenced by Pro Football Focus’ Patrick Thorman‘s preseason strength of schedule chart. The chart found in this article was a great resource, and provided me with valuable insight regarding which fantasy defenses to avoid or exploit.
Now that we’ve seen every team in the NFL play a few times, and what their defenses are like, I asked Pat to help me come up with an updated strength of schedule chart. Below you’ll see my quarterback rankings for 2-QB rankings for the rest of season, with each of their schedules color coded.
Here is the color coding legend:
ORANGE=Tough match-up/Avoid if possible
YELLOW=Potentially bad matchup
LIGHT GREEN=Good match-up
DARK GREEN=Must start match-up
Now that you’ve seen the rankings, and the schedules for each quarterback, one thing to take away from all this is that there are really only two fantasy defenses I would be afraid to play my fantasy quarterback against, and they’re the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs.
There are plenty of fantasy defenses in the Orange/Yellow category that would give me second thoughts though, such as New Orleans, and Denver, especially when Von Miller and Champ Bailey return.
However, there’s a larger story at play here in the NFL and it has repercussions in fantasy football. What we’re witnessing in the NFL is a league that continues to transform itself into a passing league, and this year that transformation has been taken to a new level.
JJ Zachariason of numberFire.com had an interesting tweet today, saying that the NFL is “on pace for 11,300 running back runs” this year, which would be the first time since 2001 it’s under 12,000.
Look at the pass attempts stat column for quarterbacks this year and we can look at the other side of the coin. Seven quarterbacks are averaging at least 40 throws per game, with Sam Bradford at 45.5 pass attempts per game leading the league. On top of that, another six quarterbacks are throwing at least 37 times a game.
Last season saw one quarterback attempt 40 or more passes a game and that was Matthew Stafford who averaged 42.8 throws a game. Drew Brees, in second, averaged 39.4 pass attempts each game. No matter how good a defense might be in real life, if there’s that much passing volume occurring, fantasy quarterbacks are going to get their fantasy points, even if they have to throw 40 times a game.
We’ve seen that there are thirteen quarterbacks with 37 or more pass attempts per game, but there are also eight defenses that have seen teams attempt at least 40 passes per game against them, with Minnesota being the most targeted team, with 46.75 passes attempted versus them each game.
In fantasy football, we don’t care how we get our fantasy points, as long as we’re getting them, and quarterback efficiency isn’t a stat that awards fantasy points. Knowing that, and knowing which teams like to throw the ball a lot, and which teams are thrown against the most, should help you with your weekly quarterback line-up decisions. It should also help when valuing players in trades. That’s also where the chart in this article and the rest of season quarterback rankings come into play.
For instance, knowing that Aaron Rodgers has two match-ups versus the Minnesota Vikings, and has already completed his bye, should make him a high quarterback target priority. It might be hard to trade for Rodgers, but if you’re a Peyton Manning owner, it’s a thought worth entertaining.
Trading away Manning, especially in a 2-QB league might sound blasphemous but Manning still has his bye and two games versus the Kansas City Chiefs. For Rodgers, two games against his division rival Chicago Bears are the only blimps on his rest of season schedule. If you were to dangle Manning to the Rodgers owner in your 2-QB league, you might be able to get something more in return alongside Rodgers, like a RB2, or WR3. Something that could help your team.
That’s really what you should be using the chart for, in regards to trade ideas. Of course my rankings might differ with your rankings, but they should at least make you think about the value of certain quarterbacks.
As for the quarterback rankings, and weekly schedules, use the color coded system to help you with line-up issues if you’re stuck. You might not think that Colin Kaepernick should be benched for Philip Rivers, in Week 5, for example, but when Rivers is facing the Raiders, it should at least make you think twice about starting a “stud” quarterback.
You’ll see that I’ve broken down rankings into the following tiers: QB1, QB2, QB3, and QB4. QB1 means that I would feel comfortable with any quarterback in that tier to be my 2-QB team’s QB1. QB2 means that I would feel comfortable with any quarterback in that tier to be my 2-QB team’s QB2. The QB3 tier is littered with bye week replacement options, and quarterbacks that can be considered QB2 stream worthy.
If you have two quarterbacks from Tier 1 on your 2-QB team, you’re set at the position. Not everybody can be as fortunate though, and hopefully you have at least two quarterbacks rostered from the first two tiers combined. If your starting quarterback duo consists of QB3 tier quarterbacks, you might want to look into an upgrade ASAP.
QB4 tier is full of back-up quarterback options and guys to keep an eye on.
Jake Locker is a guy that would have ranked higher if it weren’t for his injury, but I would still like to keep him on my 2-QB roster, if possible. The same thing can be said about EJ Manuel. If their injuries aren’t long term, and you have the room on your bench to keep them, then just stash them for now. They could prove valuable later on in the season.
Cassel is ranked over Ponder, because he’s the current starting quarterback in Minnesota, and because if he plays the way he did in Week 3, it’ll be hard to see Ponder get his job back. Brandon Weeden has a chance to move up into the bottom QB2 tier and playing with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron should help elevate him into that tier.
Not everybody might have Vick ranked as high as I do, and this could be your chance to acquire a QB1 at a price not normally associated with QB1s. It doesn’t hurt to ask about Vick in a trade scenario, as most Vick owners might be afraid of his past injury concerns. But if he keeps playing the way he does, and that Eagles offense gradually improves, Vick should finish in the top five of quarterback fantasy scoring this year. His rest of season schedule doesn’t hurt either.
If you have an eye on the long term prospects of your team, and are eyeing the fantasy playoff season, which is usually Weeks 14-16 in most leagues, then the quarterbacks you’re going to want to focus on acquiring are: Stafford, Romo, Rivers, Alex Smith, Tannehill, Dalton, and Flacco. Although, I can’t really recommend trading for any of the last three.
Alex Smith would be the cheapest name to target, and the one you would most likely be able to obtain in a fair trade. Not many fantasy footballers believe Smith will put up respectable fantasy numbers for the rest of the season, and if you can find somebody that thinks like that, you’ll reap the benefits of Smith’s fairly easy rest of season schedule.
If you’re worried about match-ups, one name you might want to consider trading if you can get equal or more value is Cam Newton. From weeks 13-16 he faces four potentially tough defenses, and in the heart of fantasy playoff time, you don’t want to worry about your fantasy quarterback putting up a dud because of who they’re playing.
We also know that any starting quarterback has fantasy value but Jeff Tuel is a name you’ll want to avoid. The Bills would be better off bringing in a veteran quarterback to replace Tuel in Manuel’s absence, so don’t put too much stock into Tuel.
Also, remember that rankings will continue to change throughout the season, just like defenses can change as well, so you need to keep up with the times. For example, the Green Bay Packers pose an easy match-up now, but they might not be a team that can be passed on as easily, the longer the season goes on, and things could be different once Casey Hayward is back.
For now though, this is how I view the fantasy quarterback position in 2-QB leagues, and hopefully it can help you when deciphering trade offers in your 2-QB league that involves quarterbacks. Good luck the rest of the season.