The 2014 FA Fantasy Football Draft Guide - Click Here to Start WINNING!
Let's assume the following setup.
A 12 team league with the following starters: 1 QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, FLEX, K, DEF
In this setup you start 12 quarterbacks, 24 running backs, 36 wide receivers and 12 tight ends. There will also be the need for 12 flex options further penetrating into the RB, WR and TE pools. This is a huge key that everyone seems to miss. Let's put the pieces of the puzzle together.
You start 12 quarterbacks in this setup. Remember what we just learned: 15 of the top-20 point producers last season were quarterbacks. You could have QB #15 last year and still get a top-20 overall point performer. Why reach on a quarterback? You don't need to.
What you need to be worried about is the other positions, not quarterback. Remember, you're starting way more players at the other spots – at least running back and wide receiver.
For the sake of what follows I'm going to assume that we're starting a RB or WR at the flex spot. That means I will assume that there are 12 tight ends starting, 30 runners (the 24 you have to start and six more at flex) and 42 at wide out (the 36 you have to start and six more at flex).
This is key, and it's the main point that people always miss. There are 32 NFL teams. That means...
We are starting 12 of 32 quarterbacks.
That's 37.5 percent of the league.
We are starting 30 of 32 running backs.
That's 93.8 percent of the league.
We are starting 42 of 64 wide receivers.
That's 67 percent of the league.
We are starting 12 of 32 tight ends.
That's 37.5 percent of the league.
I'm assuming that we're basically talking tailbacks only at the running back position and that teams are using a traditional two wideout set as their base. You could easily argue that a good deal of teams start three wideouts. Even if we grant that half the league does that we would still be starting 42 of 80 wideouts, still more than 50 percent of the starters at the position.
With so much player penetration at running back and wide receiver it becomes a simple case of supply and demand. You need to start more than twice as many runners as quarterbacks and three times as many wideouts as signal callers. You simply have to draft more of them. Recall that quarterbacks all score the most points. This is simply not true a the other skill positions and we have to start more skill position guys than signal callers. Let's move on to the data.
THE 2013 SEASON
There were 15 QBs in the top-20 overall point producers last year. Peyton Manning scored 467.1 points to top the list while the 12th ranked QB, Tom Brady, came in at 309.9 points. That's a difference of 157.2 points from the top QB to the last starting QB. That's obviously a huge gap between the two but what if we remove the astronomically impressive season of Peyton Manning? Lets compare #2 (Drew Brees) to Brady. If we do that the gap shrinks to 85.2 points.
The 12th ranked QB was the 14th overall point producer in 2013.
Jamaal Charles scored 382.0 points to lead all runners. The 30th ranked runner was C.J. Spiller who recorded 137.9 points. That's a difference of 244.1 points. Remember, the gap between the top starting QB and the last starting QB in the fantasy game last season was 157.2 points. The top ranked runner more than doubled – substantially – the point total of the 30th ranked runner. More than doubled (re-listed for emphasis).
The 30th ranked RB was the 127th overall point producer in 2013.
The top wide last season was Calvin Johnson. His point total was 305.2, the 16th highest overall mark in fantasy football. The 42nd best wide receiver in 2013 was Eddie Royal with 146.1 points. The difference between the elite of the position and the last weekly starter was was 159.1 points.
The 42nd ranked WR was the 113th overall point producer in 2013.
The leading tight end in points last season was Jimmy Graham with 285.4 of them. The 12th best tight end, Coby Fleener, was 129th overall overall with 137.3 points, less than half the point total of the lowest starting quarterback.
The 12th ranked TE was the 129th overall point producer in 2013.
Are you seeing why going with a quarterback in the first or second or third round simply because they score the most points may not be the best plan? Quarterbacks are fairly consistent from week to week, especially when compared to the other positions, I'll grant that. Rarely will a starting quarterback go out and throw for 134 yards and three interceptions without a score. However, that's not the case with skill players. How many times does a runner for for 43 yards and no scores, or a receiver catch three balls for 26 yards? It happens all the time – every single week in fact. While some see that and think they need to go QB early to lock in that consistency, I think he exact opposite is true. ALL QBs SCORE POINTS. Not all runners and receivers do on a weekly basis. This makes it even more important to try an load up on the elite skill position players because, again, I can wait to roster a quarterback and still end up with a very stable commodity. I can't say the same thing at running back and wide receiver.
One further set of numbers to help to drive the nail into the proverbial coffin that it makes any sense to draft a quarterback early.