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Quarterback Drafting Strategies: Pros and Cons of Four Different Approaches

There are a variety of different drafting strategies that can be used to fill the quarterback position on your team. The best approach for you largely depends on such factors as your overall level of experience playing fantasy football, the amount of time you want to invest on a weekly basis, your propensity for risk taking, and your relative position in the draft. Let’s examine some of the key pros and cons of each strategy so that you can better determine which approach is best for you (note: this article assumes that your league uses one starting quarterback).

Option 1: Draft a Stud Quarterback in Rounds 1-3 and a Bye Week Replacement in Round 10 or later.

Pros:
A) Easy lineup decision each week will save you time and consternation, and B) can usually count on a stud quarterback to deliver a consistently high number of points each week.

Cons:
A) Requires the usage of a high-draft pick on a quarterback instead of a running back or wide receiver that could be more beneficial to your team, and B) A lot rides on your stud quarterback (so you hope he doesn’t get hurt during the season).

Recommendation:
This approach may be best for a new fantasy football player or for someone that does not enjoy spending time each week analyzing and stewing over a decision. It can also be a good fit for someone that is drafting for “best value.” In other words, if the highest-rated player available at the time that you pick is the top-rated quarterback and there is not a running back or wide receiver you really like then take the quarterback (for example – Round 1, Pick 12).

Option 2: Draft a Stud Quarterback in Rounds 1-3 and play the waiver wire the week you need a Backup

Pros:
A) All the advantages of Option 1 listed above, B) Helps free up another draft spot for a sleeper pick, and C) Allows you to defer your bye week replacement quarterback until the week you really need it so you can make the decision based on actual performance rather than pre-draft rankings.

Cons:
A) All the disadvantages listed above under Option 1, and B) Risky to rely on waiver wire for backup quarterback because you could be picking from the dregs (note: even more dicey if your stud quarterback also gets hurt).

Recommendation:
This approach can work well if you are a more experienced player that is willing to take some additional risk. It allows you to use another draft pick to take a sleeper pick at running back or wide receiver that could help deliver a championship. If you are comfortable taking the risk and are willing to live off the waiver wire if your quarterback goes down (or doesn’t play well) then this approach can pay big dividends for you.

Option 3: Draft two decent Quarterbacks in Rounds 7-10 and play best weekly matchup.

Pros:
A) Allows you to use your high draft picks on other positions, B) Offers greater flexibility because you can play the best matchup for each week, and C) Having two decent quarterbacks provides insurance in case one gets hurt or benched during the season.

Cons:
A) Requires more time each week to conduct analysis and make a potentially tough decision on the starting quarterback, and B) The point total from your quarterback position may not be as consistently high as it would be with a stud quarterback.

Recommendation:
This approach typically works best for more experienced players that prefer to use their top draft picks for other key point-producing positions such as running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Two other key questions to ask yourself when considering this strategy are: 1) Will you enjoy the ongoing analysis and decision-making processes that will be required to determine your weekly starting quarterback? and 2) Will you have the time to perform these required weekly management duties? If the answer to both questions is “no” then you are probably better suited to use the strategy described in Option 1.

Option 4: Don’t Draft a Quarterback; instead, pick a quarterback each week off the Waiver Wire with the best matchup

Pros:
A) Permits you to use your draft picks for other key positions as well as sleepers, B) Allows you to make your weekly quarterback decision based on best matchup and current performance data (not preseason ratings), C) Not locked into starting a quarterback if he has a bad matchup that week, and D) May out-produce a stud quarterback at the end of the NFL season.

Cons:
A) Extremely risky living off the waiver wire every week, B) Takes time each week to analyze data and matchups, and C) May face competition each week from your opponents for a viable starting quarterback.

Recommendation:
The “quarterback du jour” approach is the same kind of strategy that is often used successfully with a defense and/or kicker. This “high-risk/high-reward” approach works best with an experienced fantasy football player that has the time, knowledge and personal demeanor to live on the edge each week. During the final weeks of the season, this strategy also has the potential to out-produce the stud quarterbacks strategies listed in Options 1 and 2 above. The reason being that a stud quarterback on a playoff-bound NFL team is often rested towards the end of the regular season (he won’t play the entire game). If you decide to deploy Option 4 then be prepared for an exciting and stimulating season. Even if you do not win your league championship, this quarterback strategy can be the most gratifying.  

Overall Summary:
 Each of the four quarterback drafting strategies described above can successfully lead you to a fantasy football championship. The key is for you to decide which approach best fits your personal situation. By examining the pros, cons and recommendations listed above – your personal decision should be easier to make in 2011.

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