A Case Study: This is for someone who has been a league MVP and a top 3 QB in ADP for years until these past couple of years where he has fallen in ADP as the Allen's, Lamar's, and Herbert's have climbed. Aaron Rodgers was the MVP the last two seasons; he finished as a QB6 last year and the QB3 the year prior. I know what you are thinking "But Zach, those are really good fantasy QB seasons!" Yes, they were really good finishes but last year you were getting Rodgers as the QB3 in drafts and finished as QB6 with his average ADP going before or around the same rounds as the QB1 that year in Allen and the QB2 in Herbert. So, tell me would you have rather had A-Rod as the 3rd QB off the board, or would have wanted to wait for a round or two and had gotten Allen or Herbert? Or waiting for 4-6 more rounds and getting the QB8 in Burrow. The early-round QB strategy rarely works, especially when you are drafting someone at a spot where most likely they can only finish worse. Plus, the round you take him in is the same as some of the high-end RBs and WRs.
Even in his 2019 MVP year finishing as QB3, Rodgers only averaged two more fantasy points a game than the QB10 that year. In 2016, he was the QB1 and drafted like that in 2017. He only played six games in 2017 and probably killed the fantasy championship chances of whatever team drafted him. In 2018 and 2019 he was drafted as a top 5 QB in ADP and he finished at QB6 and QB10. I know it is easy to say with hindsight, but this has been true of QBs for years now. You will see this stat in my top five at each position article but here is the number of repeats in the top five at the QB position since 2015 – 3/35. Allen just did it in 2020 and 2021 and Watson did it from 2018 – 2020. It has only been done by two QBs in the last 7 years. It is telling you that if you draft a QB in the top5 in ADP because they finished in the top five the year before that you are going to be disappointed. Mahomes, Lamar, and Allen are all starting to have the same problem, they are just so much fun to watch on the field and have all had spectacular fantasy seasons. All of them being the QB1 at some point, now people are drafting them with the expectation that they are the only three that can finish there. You are setting yourself up for disappointment when you reach on a guy with the expectation that they will finish in the top five.
Also, for the most recent example, people who drafted Mahomes last year in that round 2-4 range like where Allen is going this year. Players you could have missed out on using one of your first 4 round picks on a QB were Cooper Kupp, Mike Evans, Tee Higgins, and Jonathan Taylor depending on where you drafted them in that 2-4 Rd range. The late-round QB movement has never been about the talent of the QBs at the top, or the fact like I stated that they rarely hit at their ADP. It is about the fact that you are passing up on the top talent at positions like RB where the bottom can drop out on you if you do not get one of the top 12. If we take just last year the QB1 Josh Allen averaged 24 points per game, the QB10 averaged 22. The top 2 RBs averaged about 20 points per game, the RB10 averaged 13, and the RB20 averaged 10 points per game. Let's go to WR, the WR2 since Cooper Kupp had a historically great season, we'll take the WR2 so it's a more realistic average. The WR2 Deebo averaged 19 points per game, the WR12-14 averaged 12 points per game, and the WR20 averaged 11 points per game. So even a position like WR that is very deep has quite the drop-off to the next tier. To get a 7-point drop-off in points per game at QB from the top one you would have to go to the QB12 and to get a 10-point drop-off like RB you would have to go down to the QB18. So, the difference in rounds between the QB1 and QB10 is a difference of about 8-10 rounds. The difference between the RB1 and RB10 is about a round, and the difference between the WR1 and WR10 is about 2 rounds. Plus, you are drafting multiple starters at RB and WR, taking a QB early has just never made sense unless you are in a two-QB league, and in that case, they are more valuable than the other positions because they score so many points compared to the skill positions.
Without further ado here is the list of the guys going top 3 in ADP all being drafted in the first 5 rounds of drafts this year and why you should be wary about them specifically.
1. Josh Allen BUF – Okay, so I am starting this article off with some heat. Josh Allen will not be a top 5 QB in fantasy this year and should not be drafted in the first two rounds in non-super-flex leagues. Everyone has been the number one QB in fantasy two straight years, we rarely see repeats in the top 5 spots in fantasy at QB, let alone #1. He will not finish as the number one QB in fantasy for a 3rd straight year, so you are already drafting him at a ceiling that he probably won't reach. I have always thought even since draft day that the best comp for Allen is Cam Newton, in that 4-year stretch where Cam was dominating, he finished as the QB1, QB17, QB2, and QB12. The physical style of play caught up to Cam and while it might not catch up to Allen next year or even the next 3-4 years since I do think he is a better QB than Cam. But drafting him in those early rounds is a terrible investment. I know it is insane to go against every fantasy analyst's rankings but there is a reason the Late-Round-QB is a movement that keeps growing. In most seasons the difference between the QB1 and QB12 is nowhere close to the difference between the RB1 or WR1 and the RB12 or WR12. Drafting a QB in rounds 2 and 3 when you still have the high-end RBs and WRs available usually will not work out. Drafting Allen in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of drafts in one QB league is not a smart investment. When you draft a QB in these first two rounds he has to finish as the number one QB, there is no room for error or a down stretch. They have to be perfect and while I love Allen, he got worse in 2021 compared to 2020. He had more interceptions, fewer touchdowns, and a worse QB Rating and Completion percentage. What if that trend continues into next year, then what? He very well could be the number one QB again and I do think he will finish in the top 5, he's just not the investment you want in those early rounds of redraft leagues.
Top Players available around Allen's ADP: Aaron Jones, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Zeke Elliot, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Mark Andrews, Tee Higgins, and AJ Brown
2. Patrick Mahomes KC – This guy is a perfect example of being drafted at their ceiling and only being able to disappoint even if he is the best QB in the league. Last year he was drafted as the number one QB in fantasy in rounds 2 through 4. He finished as the QB4 in fantasy, so while he did not have a bad year that fantasy manager was 100% disappointed with what he got from Mahomes with the draft capital spent on him. He is now going as the 2nd QB drafted but still around that round 3-5 area. While I believe he finishes in the top 5 still, I won't be drafting him that high when I'm still looking for starting RBs, WRs, and Flex options. Why draft Mahomes in round 4 or 5 when you can get someone that will get you 90% of the production Mahomes gets you but in round 10 or later when most of your roster is filled. I talked about this a little in the case study that Mahomes is suffering from the same thing Rodgers was, being the best QB in football makes it so people draft you in fantasy as the top QB in fantasy football. That seldom translates over. There are probably 8-10 QBs with a realistic shot at finishing as the QB one in fantasy this year. So, when you take someone like Mahomes in the 3rd round the baseline your setting is that he has to be one of the 3 best QBs in fantasy to justify him as a top 5 QB in ADP. He also has to be certifiably better than any starting RB, or WR that you would have drafted there plus the numbers of the late-round QB. So, the question is do you think Mahomes + the RB or WR you get in round 10 scores more points than the RB/WR you get in round 3 plus the QB that is drafted in round 10.
Top Players available around Mahomes ADP: David Montgomery, Antonio Gibson, Michael Pittman, Josh Jacobs, George Kittle, DJ Moore, Darren Waller, Mike Williams, and Dionte Johnson
3. Justin Herbert LAC - I know the guy is ultra-talented and that LAC offense was amazing last year but they will have a regression in points scored. We have seen this story happen back-to-back years. Lamar finished number one in fantasy in 2019 but was 10th in 2020. Kyler Murray was 2nd in scoring in 2020 and 10th last year in 2021. This offense will come back to earth, it should not come as a shock that the guy that stood behind Herbert that scored 20 touchdowns last year after scoring 2 the year before will probably have a regression and not be a top 5 RB this year. I think the offense as a whole will take a step back even if the team itself takes a step forward with a much-improved defense after this offseason. I have never been a fan of drafting QBs at their ceiling, it puts so much pressure on that pick in your drafts that they can almost only disappoint you. With the improved defense this team will not be getting in as many shootouts, we could see a much steadier team. Also improving as a QB and being great on the football field does not always translate to being better for fantasy. While I believe he finishes in the QB3-6 range, drafting him ahead of Dionte Johnson, Kittle, McLaurin, Waddle, and Pittman is just too high a price. Especially when all the guys I named are 100% day 1 starters for your fantasy team. This article is more about saying you can find 80%-90% of these top 3 QBs in round 8 or later.
Top Players available around Herbert's ADP: The same players as Mahomes since they are ADPs right now are the same.
Top Players available around the QB8s ADP - Damien Harris, TJ Hockinson, C.E.H, Adam Thielen, Devin Singletary, Miles Sanders, Michael Thomas, Gabriel Davis, Jerry Jeudy, Kareem Hunt, and Tony Pollard.
Have fun with those top 3 guys as your starter since you'll probably have to start one of these guys if you draft them. I will take any of these guys below at QB and get to start one of those other talented players available in the first 5 rounds.
Jalen Hurts – He was the QB1 through eleven games before getting hurt. With the addition of AJ Brown and him coming in even more bulked up, this could be a big breakout year for him.
Tom Brady – He was the QB3 last year, and they should still have to throw the ball a ton this year. Especially with the other high-powered offenses in the NFC.
Russell Wilson – Has been a QB1 in the past and the Broncos have stated they are building the offense around him to sling the ball around. They saw what Seattle was doing and while they are going to run the ball in Den still with that 1-2 punch, Russ is going to be the focal point of this offense.
Matthew Stafford – He was the QB5 last year, they added an Allen Robinson to the offense, and this offense does not look like it will be taking any steps back this year.
Dak Prescott – He was the QB2 in 2019 before he has the ankle injury in 2020, while he is short on weapons it seems like he will be using his legs more and he has stated himself he is very confident in his team's ability and the offense to be fine.
Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence – We have seen the year two jump from Mahomes and Lamar when in a dynamic offense. All three of these guys use their legs, have big arms, and 1st round pedigree. Lance is the only one in a dynamic offense, but I would not be shocked if Lawrence or Fields broke out in a big way this year. I could also see Lance being a guy with top 5 QB potential.
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