Dynasty SuperFlex: Do We Overvalue QBs in Rookie Drafts?
QB… the most important position in professional sports. No big deal right?
It’s easy to point the finger at NFL teams and deduce that they get things terribly wrong. Consider an organization worth in the billions with unlimited resources whiffs like a fart in the wind regularly despite dedicating so many resources towards the scouting department. Time + Effort + Money + Energy often can turn into a fruitless endeavor.
Sounds a lot like fantasy football to me!
Yep, dynasty managers need to take the plank out of their own eyes to see how rough it can be sometimes drafting in SuperFlex leagues. I decided to stroll down memory lane with you and look at every QB selected in SuperFlex rookie drafts since 2014. From Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger to the mysterious tale of Trey Lance and some guy named Malik Willis.
The goal of this exercise was to assess what managers might’ve been thinking, what statistical thresholds to use, and determine how dynasty ADP can give us a small picture of what we think we know. Are we good at drafting rookie QBs in SuperFlex dynasty leagues?
SuperFlex Lessons Learned
To get this party started, I compiled a list of every QB taken in the first round of SuperFlex rookie drafts since 2014 including their fantasy points per game through their 4th year in the NFL:
I want to point your attention to the various thresholds for QBs over their first couple of years.
Number of starts– Among these 24 QBs listed above, only five started every single game for their respective NFL franchises as a rookie. Since 2012, every 1st round rookie QB (except Jordan Love) has had at least one start in Year 1 and the average start time was Week 4. If we focus on Kenny Pickett (pick 20) or anyone else taken later in the 1st round, the start time was pushed back to Week 8 on average. Manziel, Lynch, and Trey Lance were the only ones in this group to not start at least six games.
Fantasy Points– Raw fantasy points may seem like a silly thing to measure but what it does display for us is simple: were they on the field enough to make a dent? It coincides with games started as forcing your way onto the field earlier in your NFL career is a better sign for the future and securing a long-term contract as a QB. The Brett Favres and Aaron Rodgers of the world who have to wait multiple years to get a starting job are the outliers. Now if only the Packers were in a similar situation in 2023 where they had a young QB waiting in the wings to take their starting role after years of twiddling their thumbs…
Fantasy Points per Game
- Perhaps a better measurement is combining those two statistics and seeing what these rookie QBs did on a per-start basis.
- There was a clear break from QBs averaging 17+ fantasy points per game as a rookie… and everyone else. I zeroed in on that figure to give you a relative top-12 QB benchmark. 13 of the 24 QBs hit our top-12 threshold within the first two years, that’s a 54 percent hit rate.
- All of the QBs who put up that number in their rookie year maintained that number or improved upon it in Year 2… except Baker Mayfield. Among the 16 QBs who didn’t hit that mark, only five made the jump in Year 2 to that 17 fppg threshold.
- But in terms of hitting truly elite numbers, only 37.5 percent (nine QBs) had a top-6 season within the first three years.
- Lamar Jackson‘s numbers need adjustment as he took over as the starter for Joe Flacco in Week 11 but appeared in the nine games before as a situational runner. In those final seven starts, he averaged 18.6 fantasy points per game, the third-best mark in this data set behind only Deshaun Watson (24.1) and Justin Herbert (22.2).
- For more on this subject, we talked QBs on the new Fantasy Footballers Dynasty Podcast.
Based on that data, if you knew finding at least one top-12 season in this group was about a 50/50 shot, is that still worth it based on other RBs & WRs on the board?
The SuperFlex Dynasty ADP Conundrum
Let’s break down this all-important 1st round group a bit further to see how they progressed in dynasty value.
I regularly like to question the term “dynasty ADP” because I think it’s a bit of a misnomer. Normally, we use ADP in redraft leagues to answer a simple question: where does the consensus rank this player based on how many fantasy points they score in this given year? In other words, Christian McCaffrey is the RB1 because the masses think he will score the most fantasy points, or at least has the highest odds in their minds to score the most fantasy points. Seems pretty straightforward right?
For dynasty, the crowd factors in player age, contract, team situation, and the supply/demand of the position over a somewhat ambiguous timeframe. Is this how you view a player’s performance and probabilities over two years? Three years? Five or more? Depending on who you ask, you are going to get a wide range of answers. Thus, dynasty ADP is not an exact measurement of value by any stretch of the imagination. Rather in dynasty, we care more about a player’s perceived value and worth at the present moment knowing that valuations change drastically over the years.
How did the QBs taken in the 1st round of SuperFlex drafts far in terms of dynasty value year-to-year? Using RotoViz’s Dynasty ADP tool, here are the running 4-Year StartUp ADPs for each QB selected in the 1st round of rookie drafts since 2014.
The red boxes indicate where this current group is being drafted before the 2023 NFL Draft.
A couple of takeaways for me:
- Exactly HALF of the QBs listed here lost perceived “dynasty value” from Year 1 to Year 2. Call that a buy-low opportunity in Year 2 or a market that overvalued the position in Year 1.
- 37.5 percent of these QBs vaulted into being top-10 dynasty QBs by Year 2, a valuable commodity. By Year 3, HALF of the QBs visited that elite dynasty territory although some (Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff & Baker Mayfield) look like wild overcorrections.
- The 2018 class is a great case study that could be helpful to review based on everyone’s notion that five QBs could be drafted in the 1st round in 2023. Josh Allen (as you’ll read here shortly) was a mid-2nd round pick in Superflex leagues, a major whiff from drafters.
What Did We Miss?
The QBs listed above in the first section of this article were not only all 1st round SuperFlex rookie picks but all 24 of them carried 1st round NFL Draft capital. We could’ve just ended the discussion there and log out.
But what about 2nd and 3rd round rookie picks? Is there anything we missed?
Ok, a lot was missed. Drafters are getting smarter and smarter so maybe some of these were just a cautionary tale of years past.
- Patrick Mahomes?!?!- Yep. The Chiefs traded up to take Mahomes 10th overall… so he could sit behind Alex Smith apart from a meaningless Week 17 start against Denver. The future GOAT at the position bided his time and managers seem to value immediate opportunity over draft capital. Here were some of the positional players taken ahead of Mahomes in SuperFlex drafts that year: O.J. Howard, John Ross, and Samaje Perine. Based upon the 29 1st-round QBs taken the NFL Draft since 2014, only ONE of them started fewer than six games as a rookie and ended up putting up a QB1 season: some guy named Patrick Mahomes.
- Josh Allen?!?!- Yes, again. Allen was about as polarizing a prospect you could find and depending on who you talked to, Allen was either a project or simply a full-blown bust already when the Bills took him 7th overall. Regardless of scouting evaluation, a QB taken in the top 10 of the NFL Draft will be given the opportunity to not only start away but a long leash for their development. Allen was wildly inaccurate but still possessed some boom potential as a rookie including a massive upset against the Vikings in Minnesota where he put himself on the fantasy map.
- Malik Willis– From the favorite to go No. 2 overall to dropping to the 3rd round, Willis was basically seen as an afterthought by the NFL. However, drafters were still intrigued by his rushing upside thanks to the recent success of rushing QBs drafted outside the 1st round. As you can see from the list, no one drafted beyond the 2nd round besides Dak Prescott had any fantasy relevance… at all.
- Jalen Hurts– Aside from Patrick Mahomes, Hurts is the only QB over the last decade to start fewer than five games as a rookie and eventually become a QB1. He’s incredible but honestly an outlier. Personal story, I took him at the end of the third round of a 1QB dynasty league and it felt like cashing in a lottery ticket.
- Dak Prescott– It feels like Dak has been around forever but remember this guy was taken in the 4th round of the NFL Draft and only stumbled into a starting role in the NFL thanks to a Tony Romo injury. There’s very little prescriptive about Dak’s ascension other than being in the right place at the right time. As a late 3rd round rookie pick, it was arguably the only time (outside of Hurts) that one of those has hit.