The biggest part of draft preparation is knowing how you want to build your team; the strategy you plan on using come draft day.  Over the years, as the game has evolved, there have been many new theories on how to construct the best fantasy roster but one strategy that we often find ourselves using, is to wait when it comes to taking a quarterback.  Now, I’m not saying the likes of perennial early-round quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady can’t be the cornerstone of a championship-caliber roster but for me, I find it more valuable to build depth at other positions, given the productivity of the quarterbacks usually taken in the mid-to-late rounds.  To understand the strategy, let’s break down some of the quarterbacks expected to go throughout the different tiers of the draft and compare the production between those who go early versus those who go late.

Early Round ADP’s

This is where we are going to find Aaron Rodgers , Russell Wilson , Tom Brady , Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton .  Per average ADP’s so far, you will be drafting these players between the third and sixth rounds in 12-team standard leagues.  To say that each of these five quarterbacks come with questions is an understatement, not to mention you will be drafting one of these five players instead of building your depth at running back or wide receiver, the positions that seemingly have the most variance. 

Rodgers is coming off a season in which he sustained a major injury and the Packers also decided to release his favorite receiver, Jordy Nelson .  To replace Nelson, the Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham . While Graham has been among the top tight ends over recent years, fantasy players are also familiar with the fact that Rodgers and the Packers offense rarely incorporate the tight end into their game plan.  Now sure, that could change this season given the caliber of player Graham is but that is still an uncertainty. 

With Russell Wilson we have the man who lead the NFL with 34 passing touchdowns last season, but Jimmy Graham caught 10 of those and now he’s in Green Bay.  Receiver Paul Richardson caught six touchdowns and he is now a member of the Redskins.  Wilson is fortunate to still have Doug Baldwin as his primary receiver but their No.1 tight end, according to their depth chart right now, is Nick Vannett whom they took in the third round back in 2016. Unfortunately, though, he has made zero impact on the roster while veteran Ed Dickson who is not known for his receiving skills, also joins the fray. Their No.2 wideout is listed as Brandon Marshall and the 34-year old missed most of 2017 due to injury while their No.3 receiver is Tyler Lockett who has never put together that breakout season so many hoped to see already.  Add to all of that, the Seahawks used their first-round pick on running back Rashaad Penny and I can see some decline in Russell Wilson this year. 

As a Patriots fan I have no problem with you drafting Tom Brady .  He is the G.O.A.T and he can do no wrong but, to try and be objective, if there was ever a season for the shine to come off it would be 2018.  Brady has lost Julian Edelman for the first four games due to a PEDs suspension, the Patriots traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams and they let Danny Amendola go to Miami via free agency.  This offseason both Brady and Rob Gronkowski have been more interested in their off-field endeavors than being with the team which makes you wonder how committed they will be during the season. Brady is also 40 years old which means that decline could be on the horizon.

With Deshaun Watson you only need to look as far as his medical records as to wonder how effective he will be in 2018.  The man suffered a ton of injuries during college which included a torn ACL of the opposite knee he suffered a torn ACL in during the 2017 season.  While many have Watson as their No. 2 quarterback, according to ADP, it is safe to wonder if he will be the same playmaker coming back from such an injury. 

Then there is Cam Newton , who of the bunch, I would actually consider drafting this season.  Newton doesn’t rely on his arm to score you fantasy points but rather his legs as he rushed for 754 yards and six touchdowns last season to go along with his lowly 3,302 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.  The rushing yards total at the quarterback position is elite but we have started to see Newton take some big shots which has to make you question just how long he can continue to play in this fashion. We saw it with Michael Vick as he started to take some shots which wore down his durability. If Newton gets injured and misses time or is forced to play through something that limits his mobility, we are stuck with the Cam Newton who needs to throw the football in order to be fantasy relevant and we don’t want any part of that.

Mid-to-Late Round ADP’s

So you’ve decided to bypass the top quarterbacks and fill out your roster at the skill positions? Personally, I like to take running backs and wide receivers with my first six or seven picks before I even think about drafting a quarterback, so kudos to you. This year, there are plenty of viable options sitting with ADP’s that offer up plenty of upside at the position.  To me a name that sticks out and is a player who I am very much looking to target this season is Kirk Cousins .

Cousins has an average ADP of 96.41 which places him around the eighth round of standard 12-team fantasy football drafts.  Last season, Cousins finished as the sixth-ranked quarterback in terms of fantasy scoring and that was with a receiving cast that included a bunch of disappointments in Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor .  Cousins now plays for the Vikings which not only means he plays half of his games inside a dome but he also is surrounded by the likes of Adam Thielen , Stefon Diggs , Kyle Rudolph and dual-threat running back Dalvin Cook .  The recipe for success is certainly there for Cousins. 

Another quarterback with fantasy appeal is Carson Wentz .  Wentz was well on his way to an MVP season when an ACL injury stopped him in his tracks.  Despite missing the final three games, he finished second in the league in touchdown passes with 33 and he finished fifth in standard league scoring among all fantasy quarterbacks.  He has a current ADP of 79.37 which puts him as a fringe mid-round fantasy selection but with No.1 overall fantasy QB-upside if we believe in his breakout 2017 season. 

Having a breakout season with Wentz was the quarterback taken right ahead of him in the 2016 NFL draft -- Jared Goff . While the Rams offense was centered around Todd Gurley , Goff went on to throw for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions, finishing the season as the 12th-ranked fantasy quarterback in standard league formats.  Heading into drafts this season, Goff has an average ADP of 115.30 which is between the ninth and 10th rounds.  The team added receiver Brandin Cooks who will be an upgrade over Sammy Watkins and while the offense in Los Angeles will still run through Gurley, Goff is certainly capable of another QB1-type campaign.

Veteran quarterbacks such as Philip Rivers , Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford all finished among the top-10 of fantasy quarterbacks last season and have current ADP’s ranging from 104 to 118.  Stafford ranked the highest in 2017, finishing seventh while Rivers was eighth and Roethlisberger 10th overall.  All three of these quarterbacks are expected to keep slinging it in 2018 and, barring an injury, it is not unreasonable to expect more QB1-type production out of the trio. 

Finishing ninth in standard league scoring last season and sitting with an ADP of 87.69 is Drew Brees .  He is an interesting case because in 2017, he threw for his fewest yards in a season with just 23 passing touchdowns, his lowest mark since becoming a full-time starter in 2002.  However, Brees did set a new career-high in completion percentage and finished with his highest QB-rating since 2013.  The Saints used more of a ground attack in 2017 with Mark Ingram and the emergence of Alvin Kamara but with Ingram suspended to begin the year we could be looking at more of the old gunslinger in Drew Brees .

If you want to take the high risk/high reward approach to selecting a quarterback this season, then take a shot with Andrew Luck .  Luck hasn’t played football since 2016 after missing all of 2017 due to a shoulder injury. He has yet to throw an NFL-sized football which is certainly concerning and the Colts offensive line and receiving corps leave much to be desired beyond T.Y. Hilton , but we have seen Luck put up some serious fantasy numbers with his ability to sling it and run.  His current ADP is 114.37 and even that may be too rich for my blood

If we are looking at some potential breakout candidates for 2018 we have Jimmy Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes .  Garoppolo will have the weight of the 49ers franchise on his shoulders this season after he went 5-0 to close out the season as their starter. Add to it his signing of a mega-contract extension to be the face of the franchise and the pressure is even more intense.  The 49ers did not do much in the way off bringing in added weapons for Garoppolo as the only newcomer he will be playing with will be Pierre Garcon who was actually with the 49ers last season but was injured before taking a snap with Jimmy G on the field.  Instead, the 49ers re-upped Marquise Goodwin and plan on going into the season with Trent Taylor as their slot receiver and George Kittle at tight end.  San Francisco did sign running back Jerick McKinnon to be their featured back and he is also capable of helping in the passing attack, so there is some potential upside for Garoppolo there if the two can build a rapport.

The Chiefs traded Alex Smith during the offseason and officially ushered in the Patrick Mahomes era.  Mahomes started the final week of last year for the Chiefs and was relatively underwhelming.  He completed 62.9-percent of his passes for 284 yards and one interception.  With a full season under his belt to learn the system, the hope is Mahomes can help with team’s passing attack after Smith was largely ineffective (with the exception of last season) when it came to making big plays down field.  Mahomes has more than enough arm to make those big plays and the Chiefs have the playmakers in Tyreek Hill , Travis Kelce , Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt to give Mahomes plenty of targets.  Right now, Garoppolo has an average ADP of 102.33 while Mahomes has an ADP of 119.25. 

There are plenty of other viable late round quarterbacks like Matt Ryan , Dak Prescott , Case Keenum , Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles and hopefully that just by listing them out you can see that there are just so many options at the position that it makes sense to wait on drafting a quarterback.  It’s even a popular strategy that, once you get to these mid-to-later rounds to go with a quarterback with two straight picks and that way you can stream between the two each week. You should join a mock draft or two and try waiting on the position and see how your roster turns out.  It is a strategy that just makes sense to me and one that I think you will find plenty of success with when using.