Saturday, August 27, 2011

Elite QB Strategy Vs. Two-QB Strategy

       For the past several years in fantasy football, the value of a quarterback has gradually increased. While it used to be uncommon for a quarterback to go in round 1, we have seen a large amount of quarterbacks drafted in the early rounds. While there are 6 clear elite quarterbacks this year, and maybe a seventh in Tony Romo, the depth at quarterback has also increased. While some prefer to jump on the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick, others prefer to wait for a combination like Matt Stafford and Eli Manning. There can be benefits to either strategy.
       While in the past I would have waited to draft a QB like Ben Roethisberger later, I have now become an advocate of taking a QB in rounds 2-4. Each draft will vary, but you cannot argue with the consistency and production from this year's top 7. Besides Michael Vick, you almost know what you will get from these top quarterbacks. Even Tony Romo last year was on pace for a solid 4280 yards and 29 touchdowns before he got injured. Just take a look at the averages for the past 3 full seasons for each elite quarterback. 

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Michael Vick (just last year's)
Philip Rivers
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Tony Romo

       Obviously, with players like Rodgers and Vick, they see their points increase greatly thanks to rushing stats which also helps their argument as surefire first rounders. But you can see why it is to your benefit to grab one of the elites. They have the marks of consistent production year in and year out. That said, overpaying can leave you short-handed at key WR and RB positions, so be careful. Snagging someone like Philip Rivers, for instance, who is not too different from Rodgers, is a better bargain being drafted 2-3 rounds later. But stretching for someone like Peyton Manning, who I have advised to be avoided in drafts for now obvious reasons, can be a poorly valued pick.
       So the question that arises is, "What if I want to wait altogether on a quarterback? How much do I lose by going with the likes of Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford as opposed to Tom Brady?". The answer is not simple. For one, you lose a bench spot to a quarterback. With a top 7 QB, you hardly need a backup save their bye weeks. For any other quarterback, you will surely need a backup. In addition, playing matchups can become stressful and it makes for tough weekly decisions.

       So let's take a look at some scenarios that may have played out in just last season. I will assume that the best decision possible was made each week in these 2-QB scenarios.

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Eli Manning/Ryan

       So, clearly the two quarterback strategy can work. In fact, it can even work better than an elite quarterback. But this strategy is risky and far from a given. Playing the matchups perfectly is nearly impossible to do. And the fact that these quarterbacks are not as consistent as the elite leaves you vulnerable to implosions. 
       The quarterbacks being drafted later are drafted for clear reasons. Some may be injury-prone like Stafford, others may be pick magnets like Manning, and some are still young and unproven like Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford. I do believe that there is great potential for some of these quarterbacks, but they no doubt have a risk and a bit of an "unknown" factor. That is, we still do not really know how they will do. This is a sharp contrast to someone like Brady or Rodgers. Consistency is a big issue as well; thus, making matchup playing a nightmare. 
       Is it worth it? To me, the answer is no. To others who think they are brilliant coaches and matchup wizards, go for it. But I would much rather have the safety of a Rivers, Rodgers, or Brady than a mixture of Eli Manning and Matt Stafford. I figure, you save a bench spot for a non-quarterback and avoid stressful decision making during the week. Not only are you going to get consistent, solid production, you will have the luxury in knowing that you have a top quarterback who does not need to be subbed out. 
       If you do miss out on an elite quarterback (Tony Romo signifies the end of the elites), don't panic and be patient. Who knows, getting Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford could be a blessing in disguise. This year there is potential outside of the top 7 for similar production to an elite quarterback. While you won't be nearly as safe, you can still have a top-notch team that can crack the playoffs. I still advise getting a top tier QB, but at least for this season, it is not the end of the world to miss out. 

all stats from ESPN stats and game logs

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