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Best Ball: Quarterback Definitive Starts

arolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton
arolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton

December 30, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Panthers defeated the Saints 44-38. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After laying out what the Definitive Start meant for receivers, running backs and tight ends for your Best Ball leagues, we’ve finally reached the point of examining the quarterback position.

Most importantly, we’ve outlined when to take them in draft only leagues.

A Definitive Start is any time a player finishes a week as a starter at his position. The goal of looking at Definitive Starts is to see how many usable weeks you would be guaranteed from a player and, most importantly, how many points he can provide you.

PLAYER

AVG ST

AVG GP

AVG ST PTS

START PT%

PTS/START

RODGERS

11.3

14.7

296.8

88.7%

26.2

GRIFFIN

10.0

15.0

256.7

85.2%

25.7

NEWTON

11.5

15.0

293.8

87.7%

25.5

BRADY

9.7

15.0

239.3

75.8%

24.8

VICK

7.3

11.0

181.4

82.3%

24.7

WILSON

7.0

15.0

172.0

68.8%

24.6

ROETHLISBERGER

4.7

12.7

109.4

54.3%

23.4

BREES

11.7

15.0

270.0

86.6%

23.1

STAFFORD

9.0

15.0

205.9

73.2%

22.9

LUCK

8.0

15.0

179.7

68.9%

22.5

RYAN

8.0

15.0

177.9

67.9%

22.2

ROMO

6.7

12.0

146.3

70.2%

21.9

BRADFORD

2.3

13.3

50.9

31.1%

21.8

P.MANNING

10.5

15.0

225.4

81.3%

21.5

DALTON

4.0

10.0

85.1

58.1%

21.3

FREEMAN

4.7

14.7

98.7

44.2%

21.2

SCHAUB

6.3

13.3

133.5

66.2%

21.1

FLACCO

5.7

15.0

118.9

54.5%

21.0

E. MANNING

7.0

15.0

146.7

65.2%

21.0

CUTLER

4.7

13.0

96.7

56.9%

20.7

RIVERS

7.3

15.0

148.4

63.8%

20.2

PALMER

5.0

13.0

101.0

55.1%

20.2

A. SMITH

3.3

11.3

66.0

46.2%

19.8

TANNEHILL

3.0

15.0

59.0

33.4%

19.7

KAEPERNICK

5.0

6.0

97.8

86.9%

19.6

*Table Organized by Pts/Start

*Data from 2010-2012

Just as one would assume, Rodgers leads in points per start and average points per season due to his high number of starts. His stats are anchored by his ridiculous 2011 season (14 starts for 380 points) when the league was coming out of the lockout.

That was likely an outlier performance, as his 2012 was not nearly as productive (nine starts for 241.3 points).

Newton immediately sticks out as he’s been right behind Rodger’s production over the past two years. Twenty-two rushing touchdowns definitely helps him out, as owners can use the running quarterbacks to their advantage in best ball leagues due to passing touchdowns only being worth four points.

You can see that effect as Newton is joined by Griffin and Vick in the top five in points per game.

Surprisingly, Brees and Peyton fall to the middle of the pack in in points per start, but they both sport a high average in number of top 12 performances per year. A player like Roethlisberger has performed on par with Brees when he’s at his best, but he’s far more inconsistent with those big showings.

If you check out the Start Point Percentage column, you can see that there’s a dramatic cliff for guaranteed points as you move down the tiers for the position. Even players in the lower QB1 range fall to the 70 percent area, while true backups generally only put around half of their seasons worth of scoring in your best ball piggy bank.

On to the question that everyone is asking right now. Is taking a top quarterback early in best ball leagues an advantage?

I decided to run a test with data from the 2012 season. I chose Rodgers, and paired him with the absolute best backup quarterback last season, Josh Freeman . Then I paired the QB12, Dalton, with two below average options in Bradford and Palmer.

RODGERS

FREEMAN

WEEK

DALTON

PALMER

BRADFORD

22.82

 10.82

1

 5.94

17.88

 12.12
 10.16

13.72

2

 4.58  17.62

23.4

10.62

 6.5

3

24.72

 18.86  3.48

28.06

 14.76

4

22.6

 8.08  6.64

25.1

 23.62

5

 11.46 BYE

11.64

39.22

 BYE

6

 19.74  14.12

24

 25.68

30.1

7

 6.1

19.32

 12.2
 13.84

22.38

8

 BYE

14.26

 10.5

26.02

 18.08

9

 15.56

28.86

 BYE
 BYE

16.8

10

 23.76  18.72

19

 15.74

22.62

11

24.5

 16.68  11.5

10.96

 10.24

12

20.9

 5.84  14.3
 14.94

16.38

13

 14.94

20.34

 13.94
 14.12

16.86

14

 10.24

14.82

 13.66

24.94

 1.96

15

 12.88  7.68

27.98

32.78

 12.68

16

 7.12  1.24

13.74

220.52

138.86

TOTAL

116.48

115.48

100.76

359.38

SEASON

332.72

 

Rodgers and the best backup still outscored the backup hydra for the entire season, but only by 26.7 points. The other thing that you can see is Freeman’s strong mid to late part of the season actually carved over 20 points from Rodgers definitive starts.

That, coupled with the small separation of points from the trio on the right, leads us to our old friend, opportunity cost.

As illustrated in the tight end definitive start post, it’s nearly impossible to build a tight end duo or trio that can equal the production from an elite tight end.

Since you need to extend your grasp on obtaining one of the top options at an “onesie” position already, also taking a quarterback extremely high is not an option. Especially when similar replaceability is available down the line. You still need to load up on backs and pass catchers in the middle rounds.

You can gain those 27 points and then some by selecting a skill position player instead of an early round quarterback.

The other key item that is available to owners this season is that the groupthink is so strong (and warranted) on waiting on the quarterback position; you now have the option to start your quarterback best ball serpent off with a better option than in previous seasons.

If you aren’t comfortable on waiting to build a team of all backups (like above), you can now secure a low end QB1 in rounds 6-8 (see below).

PLAYER

ADP

RODGERS

25.2

BREES

33.1

NEWTON

51.3

BRADY

52.3

P.MANNING

56.9

KAEPERNICK

65.8

RYAN

66.6

STAFFORD

74

WILSON

74.1

LUCK

77

GRIFFIN

78.6

ROMO

85.9

E. MANNING

103.3

ROETHLISBERGER

121.3

DALTON

126.6

FLACCO

131.9

CUTLER

135.3

VICK

136.4

FREEMAN

150.8

BRADFORD

152.1

TANNEHILL

153.5

RIVERS

154.4

SCHAUB

163

PALMER

163

A. SMITH

178

*Current MFL10 ADP DATA

Assuming you’re going all in on waiting to select a quarterback and don’t mind missing on any of the QB1 options, here’s how I would go about building my late round Best Ball QB Behemoth.

If you’re looking at the three year history table, you can spot the strong late round values. Starting your Frankenstein off with a lead man like Eli is the best way to go if he falls into the ninth or tenth round. He has the best start percentage (46.7) out of all the backups and provides a solid foundation of points.

Schaub is another slam dunk buy. He’s going on average in the 12th round and posts a definitive start in half of his games coupled with solid points per game in those starts.

You’re also going to want to monitor the Eagles quarterback situation throughout the preseason. If Vick wins the job, he’s been better than Brees and Peyton when he registers a Definitive Start. That kind of late round upside may also make a player like Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel another strong late round buy. Remember, running quarterbacks have a distinct edge over the pocket passers.

You can net a trio of Eli, Vick and Schaub on average in rounds 9-12 (if Vick were to lose the Philly derby, I would look to acquire Manuel, Ben or Rivers). Those three combined average 20 definitive starts per year over the past three seasons. Overlapping the number of starts at quarterback in a Best Ball is a sound plan as evidence by the Rodgers/Freeman pairing above.

Sometimes you’ll have big weeks from both or all of your options; you don’t know them in advance. Securing more starts also gives you a wider margin to avoid a lousy week from your team of backups.

The most advisable strategy would be to get one of the last top-12 quarterbacks if they happen to fall into the eighth round or later. If that happens, don’t rest your laurels.

Back them up with one or two the late round options mentioned and build a Best Ball Juggernaut. But if you are one who wants to take the approach to the extreme, you can definitely bypass selecting an early quarterback and be just fine throughout the season.

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