Fantasy Debate: Should You Draft A QB Early?

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2014 | 0



With the National Football League (NFL) becoming more of a passing league as each season rolls by, one of the most hotly debated fantasy topics heading into 2014 is whether or not you should draft a high-level quarterback (QB) with one of your early round picks.

Denver Broncos star QB Peyton Manning produced the finest-ever season for a passer in NFL history last year, throwing for an insane 5,477 yards with 55 touchdowns, both all-time marks. New Orleans Saints leader Drew Brees wasn’t far behind, passing for 5,162 yards and 39 scores of his own.

If not for a collarbone injury that cost him much of the 2013 season, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers would have most likely flirted with similar numbers as Brees. Some feel that Rodgers may be the best fantasy QB in the league thanks to his added potential as a rusher.

All of that obviously puts an extreme emphasis on these elite talents, resulting in some extremely high draft positions for the top tier of QBs. Manning currently comes with an average draft position (ADP) of 11 in Yahoo! leagues, and the statistics would suggest he might be worth it. Just over 55 percent of Yahoo! league winners in 2013 had Manning as their signal caller, a mind-boggling statistic to be certain.

Brees clocks in at an ADP of 17, not exactly a bargain. He’s also dealt with a nagging oblique injury in training camp this year, holding him out of the Saints’ first two preseason games. He’s supposed to be more than ready for opening day (Sept. 7, 2014). With all his weapons and precision, he’s still a very good bet to throw for 5,000 yards again, a feat that was considering nearly unattainable only a short decade ago.

Rodgers, the 2010 Super Bowl MVP, also has an extensive arsenal of weapons in wide receivers (WRs) Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin, and second year running back (RB) Eddie Lacy. After an injury-plagued 2013, Rodgers is poised to bounce back in a huge way in 2014. With an ADP of 21, he’s a bit of a better deal than Manning and Brees, but he’s still light years ahead of the next QB off the board, the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford at 49.

The detractors of this strategy would tell you that there’s simply too much value at QB, noting that you can easily find top shelf production for a fraction of the price that the three top-ranked quarterbacks demand.


And they could be right, as a bevy of value passers with top five upside begins with Atlanta Falcon Matt Ryan at an ADP of 56, firmly supplanting him in the middle of the fifth round. Ryan had a down year in 2013 with star wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White dealing with unfortunate injuries, but both are back healthy this year. The Falcons also solidified their line by drafting touted left tackle Jake Matthews in the first round of this year’s draft. You can definitely take a top-level WR or RB early on and wait to draft Ryan a few rounds later.

The value gets even more attractive around pick 78, when Dallas Cowboys signal called Tony Romo begins going off the board. Despite his penchant for boneheaded plays in the final moments of big games, Romo actually has been nothing less than stellar in the virtual realm. With new offensive guru Scott Linehan directing Romo’s rocket arm, expect well over 4,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. Having WRs Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams alongside longtime star TE Jason Witten doesn’t hurt either.

Another similarly maligned QB is the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler. He’s failed to play all 16 games since making his way to the Midwest, but Cutler is stacked to the brim with weapons under head coach Marc Trestman. With Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and Martellus Bennett at his disposal, Cutler may have the most talented stable in all of the NFL. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a huge value for his current 100 ADP.

The final value QB on this list is Chargers’ leader Philip Rivers, who was reinvented in 2013. He may not have the weapons of Cutler or Ryan, but he does have a very respectable offense in WR Keenan Allen, TEs Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green, and RB Ryan Matthews. The South Carolina native could flirt with huge numbers in 2014; the only thing potentially holding him back in the Chargers’ propensity to pound the run. Still, at an ADP of 104, Rivers is a ridiculously good deal in later rounds.

So there you have it. With a litany of highly productive QBs waiting for you in the mid-to-late rounds, you can solidify the more important positions of RB and WR in early rounds rather than putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Of course it’s all a matter of personal preference, but remember one thing: seasons like Peyton Manning had last year (and to a lesser extent, Brees) just don’t come along that often, so you can’t expect a repeat performance, especially with Manning now 38 years old.

If you exercise a bit of patience before drafting a QB in your fantasy league this year, there’s a good chance you’ll be glad you did when you’re gearing up for a playoff run.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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