Can You Really Wait To Draft a QB?

Sunday, Aug 15, 2021 at 11:46 am ET

The quarterback position remains one of the most consistent positions for points each week. Depending upon the league format (Superflex for example) and the relative experience level of your leaguemates, QBs tend to come off the board as early as the first or second round with some owners waiting until much later to grab their first signal caller.

Patrick MahomesEach year we preach the value of waiting on QB, and this year will be no different. Last year, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson were the top two QBs taken in virtually every draft. Their ADP had them frequently going in the late 2nd/early 3rd rounds. Guess how they finished the league? Mahomes was the 4th-best fantasy QB and Jackson was the 10th. Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady, and Justin Herbert all finished higher than Lamar and their ADPs were many rounds later.

The average per week difference between Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers was 1.16 points. The mean from 2020's Top 12 fantasy QBs was 22.81 points with a median of 23.08. If you play in a 1-QB league and draft a QB1, the only real questions come down to what round you took that player in and what you gave up on to get him. We call that the missed opportunity cost. Given that the 7th-best fantasy QB could have been had in the 11th round of last year's drafts, there is ample room for missed opportunities.

For example, Mahomes is coming off the boards this year at 2.11. That means fantasy owners are passing on guys like Justin Jefferson (2.12) and A.J. Brown (3.01) to put Mahomes into their starting QB spot. If the point differential between Mahomes/Allen/Murray and other QB1's is within a point or two each week on average, it would make sense for us to look at the point differential on the guys we passed up.

That same fantasy owner will have to wait until Round 3/4 to pick up another receiver or back. In this case, based upon current ADP, we're looking at Robert Woods or Mike Evans.

Player Weekly Contribution
Justin Jefferson 16 points
A.J. Brown 16.1 points
Robert Woods 14.3 points
Mike Evans 14.3 points

The point differential here is about ~2 points per week, but when you extrapolate this out to further rounds, the differential starts getting into several points each week. A Tier 1 QB is going to come with a 2nd/3rd round cost. A Tier 2 QB like Justin Herbert will come with a 6th-round cost and the point differential between the quarterbacks and the missed opportunities starts to come into focus.

Last year, Josh Allen was drafted in the 6th/7th round of most drafts and was the #1 fantasy QB on the season. Aaron Rodgers finished in the Top 5 and was the 76th player taken in most drafts. While not a super exciting pick, Ryan Tannehill was taken in the 11th round and finished 7th in fantasy. The value there should be statistically obvious.

Even the waiver wire had a few gems last year. Baker Mayfield, Jaylen Hurts, and Taysom Hill were just a few of the names that were hot on the waivers and could easily be used to stream a QB.

Caveats: Superflex & Scoring Formats

While all the above is applicable to normal scoring, 1-QB leagues, there is a particular caveat that comes with different formats. If your league awards 6 points for a passing touchdown or you can start a QB in the flex, the rules change a bit. In that case, landing at least one Tier 1 QB is of paramount importance. In Superflex leagues, landing a high upside QB2 should be a priority after your first QB is safely stashed and you have at least starting roster spots filled. Landing a Matthew Stafford as your QB2 in Superflex would set you up nicely for weekly points.

Final Thoughts

Don't wait on quarterbacks just for the sake of waiting. That is not what we're preaching. Instead, pay attention to how the draft is going. If a QB presents a value at that spot in your draft, or you are confident in the depth at your other positions, go ahead and hit the Draft button.

What we want is value compared to cost - a topic you'll see more about when we release our annual draft strategies article.

Join the Discussion

RaiderLuv4LIFE CommentedAug 26, 2021 8:58 am

Kirk Cousins is my QB1, Big Ben and Mayfield are still available would you recommend any of those two? Great job on the upgraded website!

Nerd CommentedAug 26, 2021 1:31 pm

For me it's a toss up between Cousins and Mayfield.

RaiderLuv4LIFE CommentedAug 27, 2021 12:25 am


OldGeezer CommentedAug 29, 2021 6:32 pm

I get to keep one keeper in our league. (PPR league, with QB's receiving 6 pts per passing TD. I can choose from P Mahomes, N Chubb, J Mixon, and A Ekeler.

drcharlie CommentedAug 29, 2021 8:16 pm

i would keep mahomes

Nerd CommentedAug 29, 2021 8:18 pm

As much as I like Mahomes, I'd probably keep Chubb or Ekeler. In a 1-QB league, I wouldn't normally keep the QB, but could totally see doing it for Mahomes. Is there a round attached to your keepers?

OldGeezer CommentedAug 29, 2021 10:21 pm

1 qb league and no round attached to keeper

Nerd CommentedAug 30, 2021 9:18 am

I'd probably keep Ekeler in a PPR format, but ever so slight over Chubb.

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