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Don’t be a square – Draft a stud QB early

Now let me say up front I am a running back wh … – oh yea this is going to be front page of fantasy sharks – in redraft leagues, but the last couple of years I have been getting a little loose on this and maybe going wide receiver in the second round because a run always seems to happen. Last year I did go running back with the first two picks and then grabbed Roddy White in the third round, which is exactly why I wrote this article. Draft value for the fantasy football ‘shark’.

Like me, I’m sure there are many in here that play in a very competitive league. Of course anyone can draft off a sheet, and that’s what most home leaguers do – they pick up a couple of magazines, get the oldest information available and take it as gospel. They put together a decent team during the draft, but it’s cookie cutter with no imagination. This doesn’t win fantasy football championships. What owners like you and I do is swim the tank all year and talk football. I believe this gives us a major advantage. Duh, right?

Well then use it to your advantage! I believe that I am the best drafter in the room, bar none, in my home league. OK, Garret, then why are you going to draft a stud quarterback early? Everyone knows you don’t do that! Well I’ll tell you why: because I am going to get the most value out of my mid-round picks out of anyone in my draft. I’m confident in that, so I can afford to draft outside the box a bit. In fact, I think breaking the mold is an advantage to me.

So let’s get into it

When you start getting into Rounds 3-5, owners start taking risks on their picks. They’ll start taking rookie running backs, guys from last year that showed promise, and players that are being hyped by the so called “experts”. There’s a lot of question marks with picks like that – you may hit a home run, or you may hit into a double play. Shonn Greene, anyone?

I see four quarterbacks that will be going in those rounds that you know are going to perform and get you top points this year. Tom Brady (top fantasy quarterback last year), Peyton Manning (slight injury concern but as steady as she comes), Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. These guys will anchor your team all year, and you don’t have to worry about a backup or playing matchups. To me, that’s priceless. On top of being able to shutdown as far as your quarterback is concerned and just go on autopilot, all four of these guys have the potential to absolutely blowup and be the No. 1 scorer in your league in all positions. That’s not bad for a Round 3-5 pick, huh?

Well what about Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick? You left them out!

Patience, grasshopper!

Rodgers – Reverse my analysis above. Rodgers is nice, no doubt, however I don’t see any more upside than the rest of the quarterbacks listed, plus he has concussion concerns. We all know he’ll be in the Top 5, even if he’s No. 1 say with 400 fantasy points like projected, and Brees, Brady, Manning and Rivers are all around 370-380, is he worth that first-round pick for that 1.5 point per game difference? You just gave up on a stud running back or wide received for 1.5 points per game. That’s not a good value. But if for some crazy reason he falls to you in Round 3, by all means hop aboard the Rodgers’ train.

Now we get to Vick. The only quarterback I will entertain in Rounds 1-2 is Vick, and here’s why. Last year he had 31 points per game – wow! That’s seven more total than the next closest (Brady, 24). That translates into 496 total points, which is 191 more than if you go with the ‘wait on a quarterback’ theory and grab an Eli Manning type (12 points per game), or 112 points better than Brady (496-384). Wow, that’s value.

Do I think he’ll produce at that clip? Yes I do. The guy’s a dynamic talent that can beat you so many ways, and now that he’s an accurate passer defenses have to respect his arm. The days of bringing extra guys in the box against Vick are over. You either commit to his pass or try to defend the run. Which is he going to do? Defend against the pass and the play breaks down – Vick just burned you for 25 and a touchdown. Another reason I really think he’s legit is his maturity as a player. The deeper reason that he’s a more accurate passer is his patience. His legs are no longer his first option. He goes through all his progressions now and if nothing’s open then he uses his legs. This is a major change in his game and one that shouldn’t be overlooked when analyzing if he will repeat or come close to repeating 2010 numbers.

If I’m sitting at pick eight or later and all the running backs I want are gone, Andre Johnson’s gone and questions start staring me in the face, I think I’ll go Vick. He has the best upside bar none. Many owners rode him to a championship last year. This is fantasy football, and it’s all about numbers, potential, upside, etc … right? So who in our game has more upside at pick eight or later than Vick? Sure if you draft him you’ll probably have to grab a backup later in the draft, but if he comes anywhere near last year’s numbers just sit back and watch your team cruise to the championship because we already established that we’re sharks and are going to maximize our value during the draft right?

So in Summary

Maximize your draft by taking proven talent (quarterbacks in this case) early and use your countless hours in the tank and researching to take that quarterback and know you’re going to be able to get the same value you were targeting in the next round because roughly half of your league is going to let a lot of value fall through. You may even get the player you were targeting a round later, but you most likely will not be able to get the quarterbacks we’re talking about a round after their average draft position (ADP) as they tend to go around their ADP in home leagues (read: owners take magazines as gospel). Another advantage to this is you may start a quarterback run, letting even more players fall through to your next round.

Stay tuned for my next article: “Don’t be a square – Draft a stud tight end early.”

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