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The data is in: We all play in two QB leagues.
According to comprehensive Yahoo research into public leagues. Since 2015, an average of 1.96 quarterbacks are drafted in one-QB leagues.
“So, okay,” you say, “people may draft two QBs, but that doesn’t mean they’re keeping them. That would be madness.”
Well, mama, we’re all crazy now since the average number of QBs rostered PER WEEK dips only slightly, to 1.92. (Note this is in 10-team leagues but we assume the number will be at least that high in deeper leagues.)
This means that if we play in a 12-team, one-QB league, we must expect that about 23 will be taken and that about 23 will always be rostered. This alters the draft landscape at the position. In leagues where experts draft, very few owners roster two QBs in the draft or at any time during the season. So it seems like the expert view of the quarterback market that is not relatable to the leagues in which our readers play.
So let’s change that.
If you wait until the last round to pick a quarterback in a 12-team league, your expectation is that you’ll have to pick from QBs 23-to-32. Who are they?
As of right now, in Yahoo drafts, that pool is headed by Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith and the field. No other QB is drafted often enough to chart. And these are on average picks 122-to-130. So most leagues not only draft a lot of QBs but draft them relatively early. Taking the 22nd QB in the 10th round seems like lunacy but at some point you have to play the game your league is playing.
So how should we attack the QB pool? I turned to C.D. Carter, co-host of the Living the Stream podcast.
“That 1.92 number is … something else. Hard to believe that many people find it necessary to have a damn backup QB. That would change my approach a bit — I would be compelled to take *someone* in the 10-12th round range unless there were screaming WR or RB values there because so many people used so much draft capital on QB.”
That range currently on Yahoo gets you on average your choice of Carr, Mariota, Trubisky and Smith, who seems like a bargain. You can even double tap and get two of these guys in rounds 11 and 12. This seems solid enough to me, assuming you’ve leveraged your drafting advantage at other positions.
You need to hit though because streaming or the waiver-wire fallback becomes more difficult. Each week, you only have about 10 quarterbacks to pick from in 12-team leagues.
Based on last summer’s ADP, you could have gotten on waivers after Week 1 (in most leagues) Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, Case Keenum and Blake Bortles. That’s not a bad haul, though how bettable it is from year to year is a mystery we simply can’t solve in August.
My recommendation is to get ONE quarterback you are comfortable rolling out there every week and reserve the waiver wire for the bye week or an injury emergency. In other words, do not spend two picks in the draft on a quarterback. And, with the exception of that one week when you are a bye, never roster two, either. This is like when your mother asked you that if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you, too? It’s the happy compromise of acknowledging the madness of how leagues draft quarterbacks while still trying to leverage some advantage from it without punting the position.
What quarterback should we target?
The sweet spot seems to be around pick 100. There you have Ben Roethlisberger (99), Matt Ryan (108), Philip Rivers (112), Pat Mahomes (113) and Andrew Luck (114).
It’s hard to bet on Luck until he makes it through the preseason, again assuming you’re taking my advice and drafting just one QB. Mahomes is also risky because he’s essentially a rookie. I would take the other three off the board in the same order as Yahoo drafters. I think Roethlsberger is super explosive given he had 500-yard games last year against top defenses of Jacksonville (playoffs) and Baltimore. Yes, these games were at home and Road Ben is still a problem. But it wasn’t any more of a problem last year than Road Matthew Stafford or, most years, Road Drew Brees.
You don’t get to follow Carter’s advice and wait quite that long. You are into the QB pool around the start of Round nine, end of Round eight at worst. But you still have a good chance of landing a top-five scoring asset at the position. And you’ll at least be close enough to the pack where QB can be a neutral position for you, allowing you maximum flexibility and resources to win your league elsewhere.