The biggest question that seems to be on everyone’s mind this year is when to take a quarterback in the draft. Over the last several years, the general consensus has been that it is okay to wait on the quarterback position as the necessity for high-end running backs and high-end wide receivers was enormous if you wanted to be successful. There was a wealth of talent at running back and to win your league, you were locking down two of the premier players at the position and if you were unable to secure two, then there were a number of top wideouts available and a secondary running back could be had in round three.
However, in recent years, with teams moving to more of a committee approach with their running game, the talent pool at the position has thinned out greatly and the number of no-brainer, top-tier running backs has significantly decreased. Add that to the increased passing attacks in the NFL, the number of wide receivers that get into the action per game and the fact that fantasy rosters are all moving towards a three-wide receiver format (with most of them adding a flex) and suddenly two of the most plentiful skill positions out there are looking as thin as Terry Bradshaw’s hairline.
Do these trends that are occurring in the fantasy game mean that quarterbacks are more valuable now than ever? With multi-back rushing attacks reducing the number of quality running backs available and an abundance of wide receivers reducing the number of points individuals accrue per game, are the quarterbacks suddenly the guys on your fantasy team that are bringing you the biggest point totals? Is it now time to start moving quarterbacks up on your draft board?
Some fantasy experts will tell you that the times are changing and it’s time to act fast, grab yourself a high-end QB as quickly as possible, and then build the rest of your squad with the subsequent rounds. If you want big points, it’s the top-tiered quarterbacks who will prove to be the most consistent producers. Others will tell you that with the lack of depth at the other positions, you need to act as quickly as possible to grab as much of the top tier as you can find amongst the running backs and wide receivers and hold off on the quarterbacks as most leagues start just one and there is plenty of depth to be had. You can still grab a consistent point-scorer in the fifth and sixth round while you have a leg up on your competition at the other positions now. Both are viable strategies and success can probably be found either way, so long as you do enough research, stick to your game plan and, well, get a little lucky.
But if you still can’t decide which way to go; if you need a little nudge in one direction more than the other, then the best thing to do is see which way the general fantasy community is leaning and make your determination there. Using the ADP trend report is one of the most helpful tools to see what most people are doing in their respective drafts. Are they taking quarterbacks quicker today than they were a few weeks ago? Are people still content with waiting? And how does that affect the decision you will ultimately make when you’re sitting there on draft day and officially on the clock?
Rather than use the regular ADP trend report to illustrate recent movement amongst the players in drafts, I’ve broadened the spectrum a little. Instead of looking at just the last two weeks, I’ve pulled the quarterback ADP data from a month ago and inserted it into the usual table to see how big of a change, if any, there has been in quarterback drafting. Here’s a look at the number with some analysis and thoughts immediately following.
|Current ADP||Change||2 Weeks Ago||Change||1 Month Ago||Overall Trend|
Obviously, the first thing that jumps out at you is the increase we see for the top three quarterbacks. If you want one of them, you’re going to have to act fast. By the middle of the second round, they’re gone. Based on Aaron Rodgers current ADP, it would seem that once the top five running backs are off the board –arguably the most valuable commodities in the fantasy game still – people run to grab Rodgers. Even Calvin Johnson’s ADP (7.15) is consistently behind that of the Green Bay gunslinger. And not too long after Rodgers goes, so do Drew Brees and Tom Brady, both of whom have seen a continued increase over the last month.
An interesting side note here is that a month ago, it was Cam Newton sitting in the third position over Brady. However, with the Panthers retaining Jonathan Stewart and bringing in another short-yardage back in Mike Tolbert, the number of rushing touchdowns for Newton is expected to decline, thus hurting his overall value. But back to the trends…
In looking at the next seven quarterbacks on the list, with the exception of Philip Rivers who has obviously lost a bit of luster with the injury to Ryan Mathews, the draft ranks are all increasing for the remaining members of the top 10…well, 11 actually. The fluctuations aren’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, but they have been on the rise for a month. It would appear right now, that you can still wait on these players, as the difference in their ADP rank is but a small handful of picks, but if the trend continues its upward trajectory, you may have to start bumping them up on your draft board a little further.
The bottom half of the top 20, however, has seen a small but steady decline. Jay Cutler has grown a little in popularity, but certainly not enough to make him your primary QB. But overall, if we’re assuming leagues between 10 and 12 teams (and even 14-teamers, really), your choice for a back-up QB can definitely be put on the back-burner.
So let’s just recap quickly as we get ready to use this information to formulate a draft strategy –
1. 1. The top three quarterbacks are gone in the blink of an eye. People who don’t get a top five overall pick in their draft are scooping them up as quickly as they can. People in 10 or 12-team leagues that are picking late might be taking a running back or a wide receiver first, but only because they have two picks on top of each other and can afford to do so.
2. 2. The balance of the top 10 are still in similar draft positions as before, but they are all on the rise. If they continue to increase, you’re going to have to act quicker than you have in past years.
3. 3. With a primary QB in place on your roster, you can happily wait on a back-up as they are all trending down and going later and later in drafts.
Now the only question remains is how much you believe in the talent at the other positions. Do you take an injury-prone Darren McFadden over Drew Brees because the running backs are thin this year? Do you think Larry Fitzgerald is going to out-produce Cam Newton? Would you rather take a wide-receiver like A.J. Green who has tremendous upside but is really handcuffed to the job Andy Dalton does or grab the more proven and consistent Matthew Stafford? These are questions you’ll have to continuously ask yourself right up until draft day, but if you’re going by the recent ADP trends and the direction they seem headed, it would appear that most people are thinking that an early quarterback selection is the way to go.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for questions, thoughts or comments, email him at email@example.com.
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By ghova05, 8/14/2012 7:31 AM
I have the 8,9,10 spots in my upcoming drafts Drew Brees has fell to me a few times during mock drafts but it also has been times where I went with running backs and waited on a qb in a later round like Peyton or Phillip tell me where I should go.
By rotobuzzguy, 8/14/2012 10:48 AM
@ghova05 -- for me, it comes down to which RBs are falling to you. If it's the usual fare, according to the ADP ranks, then you can snag Brees first and then come back around the turn and grab one of the RBs available to you. That would ensure you building a solid core group right there. I feel like there's a bit of an advantage this year picking that late for just this reason. However, if somehow a top RB -- a low-risk guy who has the job all to himself -- is available, I might be inclined to grab him first and then Brees then. if Brees is already gone, there's nothing wring about grabbing Brady. Thanks for reading and good luck! Howard Bender
By chrishawkcarter , 8/14/2012 11:54 AM
Im in a 16 league team. I have the 8th spot to pick. Im sure Rodgers, Bree's, Brady, McCoy, Foster, Rice and Stafford will be gone. I don't know if I should go after Calvin Johnson or Cam Newton.
By rotobuzzguy, 8/14/2012 6:36 PM
@chrishawkcarter -- I like taking Calvin Johnson here, especially in a 16-team league. There's enough depth at the quarterback position for you to grab someone in the 4th or even 5th round, but the number of true playmakers like Megatron is very, very small. Grab him with the 8th pick and maybe see aboiut a decent RB if he falls to you next. I'm sure an Eli Manning or Matt Ryan will be available to you a little further down.
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