Editor’s Note: Find out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s premium QB projections in the Ultimate Draft Kit. Pre-order before it releases on June 1st.
Single QB Strategy History
As little as five years ago, the “wait on QB” strategy was an obscure strategy for those crazy people who were trying to buck a trend. In 2012, three QBs had first round ADP’s and eight in the first five rounds. After a terrible year for QBs, 2013’s first two QBs came off the board in the mid-third round, but still saw eight drafted by the end of round six. Since then, QB ADPs have slowly declined as more and more owners are buying into the “wait on QB” strategy as they recognize that the QBs available later in drafts are just as viable as starters as the mid-round QBs. As more owners bought into waiting to draft a QB, an even more obscure strategy came out: streaming QBs. This strategy focuses on drafting a QB strictly for Week 1 and then use the waiver wire as your QB bench each week to pick up the QB with the best matchup of the week.
I like to consider myself a bit of a forerunner for the wait on QB strategy. I recognized early in my fantasy career, as early as 2006, that a good enough QB could be drafted late. I’ll never forget my very best wait on QB moment: August 30th, 2008. For those that forget how quickly times change, the very first iPhone was released in June 2007. In August 2008, the adoption of smartphones wasn’t yet in full swing and fantasy sports information was not being pushed out to phones as quickly as the Rotoworld blurb writer hit submit. However, ESPN had a newsfeed text messaging system and I was tuned in. Draft day for my main league was that memorable Saturday. By random draw, I was assigned the first overall pick and I was fully intent on waiting to draft a QB towards the end of the draft. Roughly halfway through, my phone buzzed with an ESPN alert: Cardinals name Kurt Warner Week 1 starter. I coyly smiled and tucked my phone back into my pocket. I bit my lip, hard, when another owner selected his “breakout QB of the year”, Matt Leinart. To add insult to the league, I chose to select a defense in round 14 and a kicker in round 15. With the 160th and final pick of the 2008 draft, I selected our leagues Mr. Irrelevant, Kurt Warner. I was mocked, especially by the guy who drafted Leinart, for only drafting one QB who wasn’t even his team’s starter; or so they thought. Warner finished 2nd in the NFL in passing yards (4,582) and 2nd in passing TDs (30).
Consider switching to a 2-QB or Superflex format
I shared that long intro story because I’ve long been a firm believer that 10 and 12 team leagues should consider switching to a format that requires two-QBs to start. There is upwards of 20-22 fantasy-worthy starters each week, yet most leagues only require 10-12 of them to be started. Most “normal” leagues will see roughly half the league only rostering one QB. Over the past few seasons, the 2-QB formats have gained more popularity as leagues recognize that half their league is waiting until the last few rounds to draft QBs and a couple owners are streaming weekly. In a 2-QB or superflex league, it’s highly likely that 28-34 QBs will be rostered at the draft. While the 2-QB setting is still a niche setup, more leagues are making the change and you need to be prepared if your league makes the leap.
There are two very different setups that are often lumped together as they, typically, have the similar effect of increasing the draft value of the QB position in fantasy leagues. A full-on 2-QB league is just that; each team is required to start two QBs each week. The other version is the superflex setup, where you can start a second QB in a flex position, but are not required to. The benefit of the superflex league is allowing flexibility during the bye weeks or in the unfortunate situation of injuries, the owner can plug in an RB/WR/TE instead of the second QB.
What impact does a 2-QB or Superflex league setting have on ADP and your draft? Comparing ADP, a league using a 2-QB setting will cause QB ADPs to rise by 2-4 rounds! The increased draft cost of the QBs also drives down the ADP for the RBs and WRs.
I will outline a few strategies for drafting QBs in these formats and highlight the pros and cons of the strategy. The idea is to always be flexible. If a few picks go off-script, you must be able to recognize the opportunity to jump at values at the other positions and change your strategy on the fly to build the best roster possible.
Two Stud QBs
This first strategy is pretty straight forward. Your goal is to land two studs to anchor your team. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, current 2-QB ADP shows up to three QBs with first round ADP: Aaron Rodgers (1.03), Andrew Luck and Drew Brees (both at 1.12). Tom Brady falls in with a 2.07 ADP. Your goal with this strategy is to land 2 studs in the first two or three rounds, with the goal of giving you a positional advantage.
– Perceived positional advantage each week
– No weekly worries; set it and forget it
– May start a QB run amongst the other owners
– Missing out on the top RB/WR talent
– Cost of drafting early QBs may not replace the lost value of top RB/WRs
One Stud, One Middle Tier
This will probably be the most common strategy for your competition. The owners using this strategy are going to target getting a top 5-10 QB and then wait for a little and get a QB in the 12-18 range. The goal is to land a QB like Matt Ryan to pair with a Philip Rivers-type QB.
– Still rolling with an every week starter and a high-quality second starter
– Able to draft a high-end RB/WR in the early rounds
– Most owners will use this strategy
– No differentiation of roster construction
Two Middle Tier QBs
This strategy is going to appeal to the “wait on QB” crowd. You know that those later QBs can be just as effective on a weekly basis, so why use early draft capital? The key to this strategy is not waiting too long to get your QBs. It’s impossible to predict exactly how each league will draft, but you’ll have to commit much earlier than a normal 1-QB league. Where you would normally wait until round 10, you’ll be drafting QBs in rounds 5-7. The goal of this strategy is to load up early on the RB/WR value that falls due to the increased number of QBs being drafted, while still rostering two QBs in the Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Andy Dalton Tier.
– Your RB/WR’s will be significantly stronger than your competition
– Still able to draft QBs capable of multiple top 5 weeks
– Confidence that the QBs you’re drafting will have a starting job for all 16 weeks (barring injury)
– This tier of QB’s has plenty of ups and downs. There may be weeks of low production
– Committing to this strategy means you must pass on any mid-round RB/WR value that falls to make sure you secure your QBs of choice
– Wait too long and you’ll miss out and forced into the final strategy
In a normal league, streaming QBs requires weekly add/drops at the QB position to play the best possible matchups. In 2-QB/superflex league, the waiver wire will be devoid of QBs as almost every starter will be rostered. So how can you stream QBs? Draft and roster 3-4 of the lowest ranked QBs. With this strategy, you’re focused on building a stellar team of RB/WR/TE, then playing the two QBs with the best matchups each week. Players that are often found on a team built like this would be Trevor Siemian, Cody Kessler, Jared Goff and the rookies. It’s also not uncommon to see someone draft both QBs from a tenuous situation, such as rostering both Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky.
– Ability to take advantage of the lowered draft cost of the RB/WRs, rostering more high-end players than your competition
– Possibility of hitting on a late-round stud and having a weekly starter
– Committed to rostering 3-4 QBs reduces the number of RB/WR you can roster
– These lower ranked QBs are often on a short-leash, forcing you to scramble if your QB loses his job
– Two lower ranked QBs are likely to tank at the same time a few weeks
– Every week your going to have tough decisions to make at the QB spots
The 2-QB and superflex formats are gaining steam and are extremely fun to play in. If you have not yet played in one, I highly recommend it. If you are in a 10 or 12 team league and think it’s time to spice up the league, suggest moving to superflex. The format is supported on most major platforms. Much like PPRs’ ascension to mainstream usage, 2-QB formats will continue to gain popularity.