NFL quarterbacks get a lot of airtime. Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo‘s chiseled jawline or Aaron Rodgers‘ greasy mop spilling out the back of his Schutt helmet, television cameras are locked in on the supposed “most important player on the field”.
Quarterbacks do have immeasurable value in the game of football, but not in fantasy football. In leagues where managers can only start one QB, they have the least value of any scoring position. The reason is rooted in traditional fantasy scoring formats and the depth of talent we are blessed with in this era of professional football. To boil it down, why spend valuable draft capital on a player who might not outscore another option available multiple rounds later in the draft? How late is too late?
The late-round QB strategy also works for dynasty leagues! Check out my article here.
The original author of the “Late-Round QB Theory”, J.J. Zachariason, has retracted some of his strongest stances against spending early picks on QBs. Some of this is due to the increasing number of “Konami Code” quarterbacks, whose fantasy floors and ceilings are buoyed by their prowess as rushers. In dynasty, it makes more sense to go get a young, mobile quarterback early to lock down elite production for the foreseeable future. In redraft, however, I believe those quarterbacks are not only overvalued but push plenty of players with QB1 upside further down the board than where they should be.
When examining ADP for 2022 redrafts, I can already tell I won’t have any teams with Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. My beloved Justin Herbert has also crept up in ADP and thus out of my life. No bother; their points-per-game production will be ultimately indistinguishable from my projections for Jalen Hurts (ADP: 71 – QB8) and Trey Lance (ADP: 106 – QB14). Even Konami quarterbacks can be had many rounds later if there is a measure of uncertainty hovering around their name.
There is such a thing as “too late”, but it’s much later than you think. I define “late” as reserving a quarterback pick for after all other starting positions are filled. Often, I will wait even longer if my favorite mid-round values at other positions are slipping down the board. Too late would be missing on all of the quarterbacks with top-12 potential at the position. Even then, there are about 20 whom I deem to have that upside and are worthy of plugging in as my only rostered quarterback.
Hurts was the QB12 in preseason redraft ADP last year. He finished as QB6 (in PPG) in 2021, right behind QB5 Mahomes, whose QB1 ADP resulted in a whopping 0.5 PPG advantage over the Eagles quarterback, who was regularly available in the ninth round of drafts. This is only one example of the late-round QB advantage. Waiting even longer on the position still yields a growing return on investment.
Some redraft leagues have transitioned to a Superflex format, where an additional quarterback can be started in a particular “super” flex spot. This has drastically altered the importance of the QB fantasy landscape in that it restores value in the position. Twice as many quarterbacks are in play every week. Therefore, the margin for error in drafting the position is exponentially smaller.
In 1-QB leagues, there isn’t a need to draft a second quarterback when one can stream a decent starter off waivers in the event of a bye week or injury. In Superflex, not having a third viable quarterback can harm a fantasy team. There is a trick to it, however. Draft your QB1 in Superflex in the first two rounds, then wait until the later rounds to double-tap QBs 2 & 3 to round out the roster.
Since most redraft leagues still only start one quarterback, my advice is to draft like a cat hunts. Stay low, watching and waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. You only need one QB to satisfy your roster need. Read the draft board and let your trigger-happy opponents waste critical expected value on quarterbacks who won’t provide the same advantage-over-replacement as the other positions will have in the early rounds. These are the late-round quarterbacks who I will target for my 2022 redraft teams:
- Trey Lance (QB – SF)
- Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
- Derek Carr (QB – LV)
- Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
- Matt Ryan (QB – IND)
- Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
- Jameis Winston (QB – NO)
- Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
- Zach Wilson (QB – NYJ)
- Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
- Marcus Mariota (QB – ATL)
All of these quarterbacks have an ADP outside of the top 100 in redraft for 2022. I am willing to roll the dice on a few players. If you’re not as risk-tolerant as I am and don’t feel comfortable omitting a backup quarterback, feel free to double-tap at the position late in your draft and stream on matchups between them.
The last three names on this list are nearly unpalatable to mention but actually have QB1 upside; Wilson has a litany of talented offensive weapons at his disposal in an offensive system that made Jimmy Garoppolo look decent. Jones has rushing upside and a competent coaching staff (for the first time). Mariota has rushing upside and two of the most exciting young receivers in the game today, in Kyle Pitts and Drake London. The Falcons’ defense is also likely to be atrocious yet again, painting a lot of negative game scripts to rack up fantasy points. The caveat with Mariota might be the likelihood that he is usurped midseason by Desmond Ridder. The rookie might be a wise choice for the end of your draft if you have Mariota tabbed a bit earlier.
The draft is merely your starting block in a marathon season rife with unpredictability. Don’t put QBs on a pedestal in fantasy; they aren’t nearly as valuable to your fantasy team as to their NFL franchise. Loading up on the skill positions is the sharp move with the most potential upside to catapult your squad to glory.
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