When To Draft a Fantasy QB in 2020

Saturday, Aug 1, 2020 at 11:26 am ET

With the exception of a handful of skilled players, the biggest point contributor to your fantasy team on a weekly basis is likely to be your quarterback. For example, in standard scoring, Christian McCaffrey is expected to produce an average of 16.4 fantasy points each week. QB Lamar Jackson on the other hand is projected for 23.3 fantasy points each week. A quarterback is valuable, but as every seasoned fantasy owner knows, value lies in the cost that you had to pay.

One concept that we preach every year is the mantra from billionaire Warren Buffett:

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.

This really comes down to opportunity cost. It's not so much about which guy you drafted, but which guy you didn't. If you took Jackson at #1 overall instead of McCaffrey, you'd gain 6.9 points each week, and based upon current ADP, you'll end up with Todd Gurley (10.9 pts/wk) and Melvin Gordon (10.1) if you went RB/RB next. Your first three picks should bring you a solid 44.3 points each week themselves. Now, if you had passed on Jackson and taken McCaffrey instead, based upon current ADP, you'd have Austin Ekeler (11.1 pts/wk) as your second RB and could still pull the trigger on a QB if you really wanted to. Patrick Mahomes is sitting there with a weekly projection of 22.5 for a total of 50 points each week giving you a net increase of 5.7 points each week - essentially an extra touchdown every week.

  Player Proj Pts Player Proj Pts
Round 1 L. Jackson 23.3 C. McCaffrey 16.4
Round 2 T. Gurley 10.9 A. Ekeler 11.1
Round 3 M. Gordon 10.1 P. Mahomes 22.5
Total   44.3   50.0

This may be a simplistic example, but it highlights the value that's available at each round. Unless you're in a Superflex league, drafting a QB early doesn't typically make sense because of the opportunity cost. Extrapolate this further down your draft board. If you wait a few more rounds, you can still get quality quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Josh Allen where the point differential each week is significantly better than if you waited and had to roster running backs like Cam Akers, D'Andre Swift, Raheem Mostert, and Kareem Hunt instead.

If you draft a QB too early instead of quality running backs for example, the backs available in the later rounds all have some question marks around them. Most are in time-shares or you're banking on their ability to establish themselves as the lead back - an increasingly difficult proposition with no preseason. On the other hand, if you stocked up on higher quality RB's, the quarterbacks that you have to choose from are all verified starters for their teams with significantly fewer question marks.

But...you can't wait too long.

Since 2017, the likelihood of you being able to draft a Top 12 QB with an ADP of 100 or greater was fairly strong. Looking at ADP data for 2020 suggests that most QB's are coming off the boards a full round earlier than in previous years. It also suggests that fantasy has shifted back to valuing the workhorse RB again as nearly 25 backs will be off the board by the time you get close to finishing the fourth round of your draft.

Here's who to target for each tier:

Rounds 1-3

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson

Given their current ADP, this is where Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are likely to go in your draft.

If you want either of these guys, you'll need to pay a second or third round pick for them. Obviously, there's no doubt around their talent. The only real question comes down to opportunity cost as you're likely passing on guys like Aaron Jones, Kenyan Drake, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay.

Rounds 4-6

This round of quarterbacks is still very talented and has solid rushing upside along with impressive redzone potential.

  • Deshaun Watson4th Rd
  • Dak Prescott4th Rd
  • Russell Wilson4th Rd
  • Kyler Murray4th Rd
  • Josh Allen6th Rd
  • Matt Ryan6th Rd

The weekly floor for this group of QB's is solid and you can bank on their weekly contribution somewhere in that 18 point range.

At this point in your draft, you would likely already have your starting RB's and perhaps even your starting WR's, TE, or Flex option. Any one of these QB's would be a great anchor.

Rounds 7-12

Here's where things get interesting. At this point in your draft, you've got a solid core of players on your roster with some depth.

  • Drew Brees7th Rd
  • Tom Brady7th Rd
  • Carson Wentz7th Rd
  • Aaron Rodgers8th Rd
  • Matthew Stafford10th Rd
  • Baker Mayfield11th Rd
  • Daniel Jones11th Rd
  • Jared Goff11th Rd
  • Ryan Tannehill12th Rd
  • Joe Burrow12th Rd
  • Ben Roethlisberger12th Rd
  • Jimmy Garoppolo12th Rd

That is quite the eclectic group, isn't it? We've got veterans like Brees, Brady, and Rodgers mixed in with some dynamic, but developing players like Jones, Goff, and Mayfield. Throw in a rookie with perhaps unrealistically high-expectations (Burrow) along with a veteran returning from a season-ending injury (Big Ben) and there's a lot going on with this group.

The real value to this round is that the opportunity cost from previous rounds has essentially flattened out. Brees and Brady are projected for just one point less per week than the previous group. Although the Packers aren't the same throwing team that they have been in the past, Rodgers is still projected for just two points less than the previous group. You're still looking at between 15 and 17 projected points each week from this group.

Rounds 13 and greater

This could probably be best described as the QB streamers group. They may not be reliable on an every week start basis, but they can hold value if you want to stream them based upon weekly matchups. At this point in your draft, you've got solid starters across all other skill positions PLUS you've got solid depth to last you all the way to the playoffs.

  • Kirk Cousins13th Rd
  • Gardner Minshew15th Rd
  • Drew Lock15th Rd
  • Philip Rivers15th Rd
  • Tua Tagovailoa16th Rd
  • Teddy Bridgewater17th Rd
  • Derek Carr17th Rd
  • Sam Darnold18th Rd
  • Cam Newton18th Rd

Where To Draft A QB

The answer to that question comes down to the flow of your draft and where your comfort level is around opportunity cost. Drafting a QB too early means passing on solid players hoping to find some value later. The mid rounds force you to sacrifice a bit of depth but give you a safe floor. The mid-late rounds introduce more risk but not significant risk based upon the depth that you would have acquired by that point. Waiting until the end to draft a streaming QB is definitely a risk if you don't catch a bit of luck and you're not willing to put in the time to play the matchups.

Join the Discussion

RichGannon CommentedAug 1, 2020 6:29 pm

What are you thoughts about drafting a receiver along with his QB? What are the pros/cons?

mrock CommentedAug 2, 2020 6:58 pm

Well, a con would be that they'd have the same bye week. Other than that, I've never been one to put a lot of stock into that scenario. I'm just looking for the most points. If they happen to be from the same team, great.

Nerd CommentedAug 4, 2020 9:50 am

I agree. The only real downside is that they have the same bye week. If they can put up numbers, then I don't know that it would bother me much. Remember 2007 when Tom Brady and Randy Moss single-highhandedly put fantasy owners into the playoffs? I'd take that any day.

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