When to Target QBs in Superflex & 2QB Fantasy Football Leagues
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.
This isn’t the sexiest topic; I get it. Sleepers and breakouts are much more interesting, but folks, this may be every bit as important if you want to win your league. The vast majority of podcasts focus primarily or even entirely on standard one quarterback leagues. It makes sense since a two-QB podcast would alienate 85% of listeners, but I’m convinced that number will continue to shrink in a hurry. In fact, I’d wager we are less than 5 years away from the industry-standard replacing kickers with a Superflex spot. I’m here for it, of course, since quarterback in the single most important real-life position in major American sports, but has minimal value in standard one-QB fantasy leagues. Perhaps your league is among those finally making the switch and you haven’t the slightest clue how to adjust your rankings to accommodate the league changes. The answer is actually quite simple, yet year after year, so many people get it wrong which minimizes their odds at winning a title. Today, I’ll explain the math that paints a clear picture as to when you should be grabbing your quarterbacks.
How do you quantify value in fantasy?
As most of you know, in standard one-QB leagues, most analysts in the industry advise waiting for a late-round quarterback. Fantasy player value is derived from how much better a player is from the replacement level player. Value Based Drafting (2018 leaderboard), or VBD, measures a QB’s final season fantasy points to the 13th best quarterback, but that doesn’t quite do it for me. Most of you are probably looking at that leaderboard as seeing Patrick Mahomes at #5 overall. Essentially, VBD implies if he could repeat that season, he would be worth the 5th overall pick in one-QB drafts. But the 13th best QB by season’s end isn’t usually available in most leagues. “Oh, so he is better than 5th overall then!?” Not so fast.
You see, the 5th best quarterback most years isn’t even a top 12 quarterback in 50% of his weeks. The 13th QB is usually a QB1 only 35-40% of weeks. That happens because the end-of-season QB #24 and QB #19 both sneak in for several QB1 weeks and the fact of the matter is that those weeks are typically easy to predict. When Matthew Stafford goes up against the Chiefs’ lousy secondary, he is often ranked in the Top 12 by most experts. That makes him the top streamer of the week, and over the last five seasons, the most commonly used streamers actually have a higher rate of QB1 performances than the seasons end QB #5! What I’m trying to tell you is that the replacement level isn’t Kirk Cousins‘ 282 point fantasy season, it’s all cumulative top streamers’ 300+ point fantasy season. VBD misses the mark for quarterbacks and not only that, but in many leagues, you were able to pick up Patrick Mahomes last year or Alex Smith/Carson Wentz/Jared Goff in 2017 or Matt Ryan in 2016. Quarterbacks are such a volatile position in one-QB fantasy leagues that you can’t look at the average 100+ VBD of the #1 QB and assume the preseason’s #1 QB will attain that mark. Rather, the ADP QB1 returns an average of just over 40 VBD, as there hasn’t been a repeat QB1 in over a decade. 40 VBD is solid, but early-4th-round-solid instead of middle-of-the-1st-solid. Now that you understand the line of thought, let’s see how a SuperFlex league adjusts everything.
Translating to SuperFlex and Two-QB Value
As you might imagine, when 20 to 24 quarterbacks are started every week, their fantasy value soars. It still isn’t the single most important position, as I’d argue it should be, which is why I recommend making passing touchdowns worth 6 points and interceptions worth -4. That change helps make the best NFL players the most important fantasy owners too. Even so, SuperFlex changes each quarterback’s value over replacement player substantially. Most leagues allow for you to own as many QBs as you want or limits it at three. If that is the case, every single starting quarterback, and even some backups are owned in those leagues. VBD would say the value over replacement measurement is QB25 which last year, was Blake Bortles at 173 fantasy points. I’d argue that it should be the top RB/WR flex streamer of the week (that you don’t have to spend 25% of your FAAB budget on). That player tends to warrant around 8 half-PPR points. Multiply it by 17 weeks and we’ve got the replacement level line set at just 136. That’s a far cry from Bortles’ 173.
While Mahomes’ VBD was at 134 and 5th overall last year and his value above streamer around 90 and 12th overall, it soars to—ready for this? 234 VBD and 180 VAS. Friends, both of those numbers are higher than Todd Gurley last year, making Mahomes the single most useful player in SuperFlex leagues last season. Granted, the #1 QB in ADP only warrants around 140, but that still would have been good for 4th overall last year sandwiched between Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. So this is your final answer: The #1 QB should usually go around pick #4 in SuperFlex drafts. One to three others belong in the first round with another two to four going in each of the next six rounds. From there, the final 10-15 QBs should trickle off the board a bit slower by draft’s end.
Two-QB value is even more inflated, as the replacement level is quite a bit lower. You will rarely be able to fill-in for an QB on his bye via the waiver wire so rather, replacement level comes from your bench. Seeing that the average QB3 last year (QB #25 – QB #36) was worth just 129 points, that increases VBD by 43 points from when Bortles was the replacement standard. That means that 13 fantasy quarterbacks last year were more useful in two-QB leagues than Alvin Kamara (who was #4 in one-QB VBD). Of course, QB volatility and RB/WR volume reliability lessen the expectations for QBs, but in two-QB and SuperFlex leagues, quarterback durability becomes much more important than a standard one-QB league where you can easily replace their volume off the waivers. I figure the best way to sum up the answer is to just provide a quick list for a summary.
- Round 1 (Patrick Mahomes #4, Aaron Rodgers #9, Deshaun Watson #12)
- Round 2 (Matt Ryan #14, Andrew Luck #15)
- Round 3 (Cam Newton #26, Jared Goff #32, Jameis Winston #33, Baker Mayfield #34)
- Round 4 (Drew Brees #39, Kirk Cousins #43, Dak Prescott #44, Mitch Trubisky #47, Russell Wilson #48)
- Round 5 (Ben Roethlisberger #50, Kyler Murray #53)
- Round 6 (Phillip Rivers #61, Carson Wentz #63, Lamar Jackson #64)
- Round 7 (Matthew Stafford #75, Tom Brady #76, Jimmy Garoppolo #80)
- Round 8 (Josh Allen #85, Ryan Fitzpatrick #93)
- Round 9-10 (Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco)
- Round 11-13 (Eli Manning, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen, Daniel Jones)
- Round 14-16 (Ryan Tannehill, Jacoby Brissett, Drew Lock, Will Grier, Robert Griffin, Blake Bortles)
- Round 1 (Patrick Mahomes #1, Aaron Rodgers #6, Deshaun Watson #7, Matt Ryan #11, Andrew Luck #12)
- Round 2 (Cam Newton #18, Jared Goff #22, Jameis Winston #23, Baker Mayfield #24)
- Round 3 (Drew Brees #28, Kirk Cousins #32, Dak Prescott #34)
- Round 4 (Mitch Trubisky #37, Russell Wilson #38, Ben Roethlisberger #42, Kyler Murray #44)
- Round 5 (Phillip Rivers #50, Carson Wentz #51, Lamar Jackson #52, Matthew Stafford #55, Tom Brady #56, Jimmy Garoppolo #60)
- Round 6 (Josh Allen #64)
- Round 7 (Ryan Fitzpatrick #73, Derek Carr #75, Andy Dalton #76, Sam Darnold #77)
- Round 8 (Nick Foles #86, Marcus Mariota #87, Joe Flacco #91, Eli Manning #92, Case Keenum #96)
- Round 9-10 (Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen, Daniel Jones, Ryan Tannehill)
- Round 11-13 (Jacoby Brissett, Drew Lock, Will Grier, Robert Griffin, Blake Bortles, Taysom Hill)
- Round 14-16 (Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, Nick Mullens, Colt McCoy, AJ McCarron, DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler)