Fantasy Football: Who Can Be a QB1?

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You’d think with all the attention given to the most important position in professional sports, it would be easy identifying the top QB performers each week. However, this exercise is much more of a Russian Roulette than an exact science most weeks. There definitely are certain QBs that you can trust and select with confidence at the top of your drafts like Aaron Rodgers. However, the amount of variance from week-to-week might be shocking for fantasy owners who have never thought about streaming the QB position.

Let’s revisit Week 12 of last year and the top 12 QBs in order of standard scoring (4 pts. per passing TD):

Kaepernick, Brees, Cousins, Siemian, Tannehill, Rodgers, Prescott, Mariota, Bortles, Roethlisberger, Barkley, Taylor

Was it clear that there were some glaring omissions in that list? Where is Matt Ryan? Tom Brady? Did you realize that if you had the moxy to start Colin Kaepernick, Trevor Siemian, or Matt Barkley instead of those two eventual Super Bowl gunslingers you would’ve ended with a better week? Now apart from using them as a GPP play in DFS lineups, you most likely weren’t setting your home league lineup with one of those guys. Regardless, we need to get a clearer picture before the season starts about what makes up a weekly QB1 field. If streaming QBs is new to your vocabulary, this is a great place to start.

To see which QBs stand out among Andy, Mike, and Jason, check out their 2017 QB Rankings.

2016 QB1 Performers

Check out last year’s top 12 weekly finishers in 4 pt. standard passing leagues through Week 16. (Week 17 is dead to me and your league)

Sifting through this rainbowed assortment of data can be a bit overwhelming and dizzying. Let’s highlight 10 statistics to give you a better picture of the hodge-podge of guys that weekly make up a QB1 performance.

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1. In 4 pt. passing leagues, we saw 40(!) different QBs contribute a top 12 week, the same exact number as 2015. With 32 teams in the league, we can confidently say that QB fantasy numbers abound. There is little scarcity to this position as the majority of leagues start just one QB. For those who start multiple signal-callers on their fantasy teams, check out a recent article on 2QB and Superflex leagues.

2. The Jets were the only team that failed to have 2 QB1 weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s Week 2 finish as QB9 seems like a distant memory in a poo-poo filled season in new York for QBs. Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty, and Geno Smith combined to lead the league with 25 INTs.

3. The Browns are the only team in history to have 4 different QBs submit QB1 fantasy weeks in any given season. Despite 1 win all year, Cody Kessler (Week 6), Josh McCown (Week 7), Kevin Hogan (Week 8), and Robert Griffin III (Week 15)  all were top 12 at some point. Now only if they had let Terrelle Pryor sling the rock.

4. Dak Prescott finished with an unprecedented 10 QB1 weeks in standard scoring, the highest total by a rookie QB since Cam Newton‘s monster 2011 campaign in which he had an unreal 706 yards and 14 TDs just on the ground. Prescott was the QB3 from Weeks 3-12 and as steady as them come, not finishing lower than QB13 in that span.

Getty Images Sport / Ezra Shaw

5. Marcus Mariota was a QB1 eight straight weeks from Weeks 5-12 averaging a league-leading 24.6 fantasy points per contest in that span. Aaron Rodgers was the only other QB to have a streak of eight on the season.

6. Despite having a brief season cut short by a gruesome injury in Week 7, Brian Hoyer performed as QB1 3 straight games during Weeks 3-5. If you would’ve had the gumption to stream Hoyer, you would’ve had the 3rd overall QB in fantasy in that span.

7. Colin Kaepernick scored 4 straight QB1 weeks (Weeks 9-12) yet continues to find himself unemployed as we speak. During that span, he was the QB2 behind only Aaron Rodgers and 2nd overall among all fantasy performers.

8. When you see names like Matt Moore skyrocket to a top 2 performance in Week 15, you realize that QB1 numbers can come out of nowhere. Moore’s 4 TD effort versus the Jets came on only 12 completed passes!

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9. You’ll notice that after Week 5, there’s zero bright yellow blocks on that chart. Philip Rivers failed to register a top 12 performance for the final 11 weeks! He finished 17th among QBs in 4 point leagues but curiously 8th in 6 point-per-TD leagues.

10. Andrew Luck had an incredible 11 weeks as a top 12 option finishing as the QB4 in standard scoring. In his unbelievable 2014 season, he had 13 weeks as a top 12 guy, behind only Peyton Manning’s magical 2013 season for most in the past 5 years.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look back at 2016 and find out who averaged out as the top QB performers on a consistency basis. The final numbers are great to look at the end of the year but they don’t do justice. Fantasy football is won week-t0-week and the consistency charts found in the Ultimate Draft Kit are a great place to start!


[…] a Decoding the Top 12 QBs column, a Midseason QB Review as well as an offseason series entitled “Who Can Be a QB1?” Speaking of the off-season… stay tuned for player profile articles, season report card […]

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Glen says:

I love fantasy, but would never have Kaepernick on my team. Just pissed me off way to much last year. I boycotted the NFL and let them know it often. Great info otherwise though, thanks much.

Andrew says:

Great info. This helps prove how u can handle the QB position for managing rosters this year. Rivers is always one of those guys u have to replace later in the year. Maybe due to injuries on that team I wrote some PPR articles recently here: for sleepers for

Bxt317 says:

This is awesome, but how easy is it to predict these great weeks? Would be great to see some analysis regarding these stats vs def. i.e. Does streaming the qb facing bottom 3 passing d always make them a qb1?

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