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Dynasty Startup Draft Primer: Quarterback Strategy, Rankings & Tiers (2023 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Startup Draft Primer: Quarterback Strategy, Rankings & Tiers (2023 Fantasy Football)

The way you approach the quarterback position in startup dynasty drafts depends entirely on how you play the game. I’m not talking about your tactical preferences (although those will certainly shape your QB strategy, too). I’m talking about your league format.

In superflex formats, you’re required to start one quarterback and can start a second quarterback in a flex spot, which dramatically increases the importance of the position. You’ll always want to start a quarterback in the superflex spot because QBs generally score more points than RBs, WRs and TEs.

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Dynasty managers in superflex leagues are preoccupied with the QB position — they have to be. Dynasty managers in 1QB leagues can take a more laissez-faire approach to quarterbacks. It’s not that the position is unimportant in 1QB leagues, but the ample supply of quarterbacks and the reduced demand in 1QB formats makes the position less of a priority.

I generally don’t like preaching to people about how they should configure their leagues. Some people are uncomfortable with quarterback scarcity and prefer to stick with the traditional 1QB alignment. Fine. Different strokes for different folks, yada, yada, yada. But if you’re starting a dynasty league, I highly recommend making it a superflex league. The superflex format adds another layer of strategy and gives the QB position the weight it deserves. And here’s the biggest reason to go superflex: Once your startup draft is over, you’re only going to be drafting rookies and free agents in subsequent years, and rookie drafts are far more interesting in superflex formats with the added emphasis on quarterbacks.

OK, enough preaching. Let’s move on.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

Dynasty Startup Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Quarterbacks

Let’s dive into some dynasty startup strategy before examining rankings and tiers as you prepare for your dynasty startup drafts.

Dynasty Startup Draft Strategy

Before you start drafting in a dynasty startup, chart a course and then build a coherent draft strategy around it. The course you choose will determine your tactical approach at all positions, not just quarterback.

Charting a course means deciding when you expect your team to establish its dynastic reign over the league. Here are the three primary options:

  • Win now: Establish your dominance immediately. While your competitors focus on youth in the startup draft, scoop up proven veterans at discounted prices and build a roster that will be a favorite for the league title in Year 1.
  • Win in Year 2: Focus on youth but mix in some proven veterans. Your young roster might not have the juice to win right away, but you’ll have a collection of players whose value is likely to be higher a year from now, positioning you to contend in Year 2.
  • Productive struggle: (Hat tip to Ryan McDowell of Dynasty League Football for coining the term.) Commit to a slow build that will put you in title contention in 2-4 years. Focus heavily on youth in the startup draft and be willing to trade startup picks for picks in future rookie drafts.

The earlier you plan to contend for championships, the more aggressive you should be in addressing the QB position in your draft.

Quarterback Strategy: 1QB Dynasty Startup Leagues

How many quarterbacks should you carry on your roster in a 1QB league? It depends on roster size. With rosters of 30 or more players, it’s fine to carry three QBs, especially if you don’t have a star. You’ll have more flexibility to play matchups with your subpremium quarterbacks. Don’t feel compelled to draft more than two, however. In 1QB leagues, there are usually a few starting quarterbacks available on waivers, and you’ll be able to grab one if an injury puts you in a pinch. With rosters of 28 players or fewer, stick with just two quarterbacks and throw an extra dart at the all-important RB and WR positions.

The goal is to get a top quarterback at a reasonable price. If your competitors are overdrafting the premium QBs, or if you’re missing out on them by a few picks because of where you’re positioned in the draft, it’s fine to settle for a non-premium quarterback (especially if you’ve charted a course for a productive struggle).

The value of quarterbacks can vary based on the lineup configuration your league uses. If your league requires you to start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE and 1 FLEX, your quarterback represents one-seventh of your starting lineup and is more important than in a league with, say, 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and 3 FLEX, where your quarterback represents one-tenth of your starting lineup. The fewer the starting lineup spots, the more important quarterbacks become.

Let’s sort quarterbacks into three baskets based on where they’re likely to be chosen in startup drafts. Estimated round values are based on league formats that require you to start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 FLEX.

Elite

Expect these quarterbacks to be drafted in the mid-third round to early fourth round.

Foundational

Expect these quarterbacks to be drafted in the mid fourth round to early sixth round.

Quality young veterans and promising rookies

Expect these quarterbacks to be drafted in the mid sixth round to the ninth round; I’m including rookies even though rookies may or may not be eligible for your startup draft.

Functional veterans and youthful wild cards

Expect these quarterbacks to be drafted in the 10h round and beyond.

Final Thoughts

Two final thoughts on drafting quarterbacks in 1QB startups:

  • Value-seeking is the way to go in a 1QB startup draft. Don’t zero in on a single target and overdraft that player by a full round or more. The QB position is too bountiful in 1QB leagues to justify an overpay.
  • While the elite quarterbacks are needle-movers who can give your team a major lift, there is an opportunity cost to taking an elite quarterback and bypassing good young running backs and wide receivers. Don’t overspend. Besides, it’s relatively easy to trade for a quality quarterback in 1QB dynasty leagues because of the abundant supply. There are likely to be managers in your league who are sitting on two or three good quarterbacks and would be willing to part with one for a reasonable price.

Quarterback Strategy: Superflex Dynasty Startup Leagues

The QB position is an obsession in superflex dynasty leagues. Quarterbacks drive the economy in superflex leagues. The value of all players in superflex leagues is filtered through the prism of QB value.

While the QB supply is abundant in 1QB dynasty leagues, quarterbacks are a scarce asset in superflex leagues, and the market reflects that. Quarterbacks will dominate the first round of a superflex startup draft. Once the draft is over, good QBs will always be expensive in the trade market. Prying one away from one of your rivals will require you to part with one or more good young players and/or premium picks in rookie drafts.

The hard truth is that you might have to overspend for at least one of your quarterbacks in a startup draft. Value-seeking is the No. 1 objective in startup drafts, but you may be forced to set aside that objective in order to survive, because the consequences of punting the QB position in a superflex dynasty league are frightful. It’s hard to win games in a dynasty league when you’re starting Jimmy Garoppolo and Desmond Ridder, and your opponents are throwing Mahomes/Prescott and Hurts/Lawrence combos at you.

Ideally, you’ll draft an anchor quarterback in Round 1 or Round 2. If you’re picking in the top half of the first round, you’re obligated to take a quarterback. It’s simply the right thing to do.

Beyond the first two rounds, things get tricky. The goal is to draft opportunistically at the QB position in order to maximize value, but also to not get left out in the cold. It’s a difficult balancing act, because quarterbacks are almost always overdrafted from Round 2 on in superflex startups. You may be required to temporarily abandon your value-seeking principles when addressing the QB position. The alternative is ending up with Sam Howell as your QB2. Not great, Bob.

And let’s be clear: Having an inadequate QB combo in a superflex league is unpleasant. It’s not impossible to win a superflex dynasty league with below-average quarterbacks, but it’s a herculean task. The rest of your roster would need to be a war machine. The more likely result of inadequacy at the QB position is also-ran status in your league and a daily preoccupation with fixing a hard-to-fix problem.

Let’s once again sort the quarterbacks into baskets, but the superflex baskets are going to look different than the 1QB baskets.

Premium

Draft one of these eight quarterbacks in Round 1 if you have the chance.

Good enough

If you pick in the 1.09-1.12 zone, draft one of these quarterbacks, but don’t double-tap the QB position with your first two picks — the value just isn’t there. I’m once again including rookies even though rookies may or may not be eligible for your startup draft.

Worthwhile

These quarterbacks are likely to go anywhere from the late second round to the seventh round. Draft opportunistically if the value is right.

Filler

This group is an assortment of veterans who might not be starters for much longer and youngsters who might not be good enough to hold starting gigs long-term. Draft for depth if the value is right.

Final Thoughts

A few final thoughts on drafting quarterbacks in superflex startups:

  • Don’t be so youth-obsessed that you overlook the value of aging veterans who have firm grips on starting QB jobs.
  • One way to maximize QB value in a startup draft is by trading up or down. In most dynasty leagues, there’s a lot of trading in startup drafts. Don’t be shy about entering the fray. If there’s only one quarterback from a QB tier still on the board and eight picks to go before your selection, trading up makes sense. If you’re on the clock and need a quarterback, but all of the available QBs would be reaches in that spot, trade back. You can acquire extra draft capital and take a QB a little later.
  • Handcuffing a starting QB in superflex can be a viable strategy, but only if league roster sizes are big enough to justify the opportunity cost (at least 26-28 roster spots), and only if you’re convinced the backup would fare reasonably well if forced into action.

Fitz’s Dynasty Startup Draft Quarterback Rankings

2023 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyProsECR (TM) – Expert Consensus Rankings

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