News & Analysis

All the more reason to wait on drafting a quarterback

Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) scrambles with the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) and outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) chase during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)

The fantasy football industry is enormous and ever-expanding. (It’s also insanely tight-knit and supportive, as I’ve learned the last few days.) And I’d wager the most common piece of advice you’ll find across the industry is “wait on quarterback.”

Well, it’s actually probably “Don’t read the comments,” but when it actually comes to fantasy advice, “Wait on quarterback” has to rank pretty highly.

Anyway, this logic makes sense. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are great, but the difference between them and, say, Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, and this year’s iteration of 2017 Carson Wentz just isn’t bigger than the difference between the top skill players and their late-round corollaries. On top of that, if you splurge on Rodgers early, you literally can’t afford to be wrong. People who dove on Rodgers early in the draft last year and lost him to injury were in a more dire position than those who ended up with Dalvin Cook, for example.

But there’s another factor in that advice that I think gets lost, and it’s just as important as the ones above: Transactions.

Too often, we behave as though the rosters we draft are the rosters we have for the year. And for some fantasy players, it’s probably true. But trading and waiver-wire action are just as important as draft savvy. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and if maybe you’re a better negotiator than you are a drafter, there’s no shame in utilizing that strength.

To wit: A couple years ago, 2016, one of my leagues, made up of guys who did not subscribe to the “wait on QBs” approach, went crazy for the position. And then, when they saw that one other guy and I were waiting, they went even crazier. Guys took two, three quarterbacks in an effort to make sure he and I had no one of any quality. In the end, he drafted only Jimmy Garoppolo (15th round) to use during Tom Brady’s suspension, with an idea of using the wire later, while I took Ryan Fitzpatrick in the 14th and followed up with Browns-era Robert Griffin III in the 15th. I believed in neither guy as a sure starter, but with 25 quarterbacks off the board in that range, they had the highest ceiling.

And they lasted as my quarterback duo for one week. I lost Week 1 with Griffin at the helm, but it didn’t take any time at all for one of the teams that had over-quarterbacked to have to make some roster moves, and within a week, my quarterback duo was the relatively safe Andy Dalton and the upside-laden Dak Prescott. They ended the year as the No. 13 fantasy quarterback (Dalton) and the No. 6 (Prescott), and I rode my bevy of early- and mid-round RBs and WRs to a fantasy title with waiver scraps at QB.

In my primary league, I have literally never drafted a quarterback early. Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota, and others have been my picks more often than I can really remember. And just about every year in that league, I end the season with Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees, or Cam Newton (or, once, Tim Tebow, but that’s not really germane here). I’m a good fantasy drafter. But I’m a very good fantasy trader. And that part of the fantasy advice gets lost in the conversation sometimes.

Wait on quarterback, and get a super-stud all the same. That’s the best mix of everything.


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