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Fantasy Football Today: Is Waiting For QB Still The Best Way To Win Your Fantasy Football League?

For years we’ve been telling them to wait to draft their quarterbacks, and for years they haven’t been listening. Every year, so-called “expert” drafts see top-level starting quarterbacks drop to the middle rounds, while the vast majority of drafts have quarterbacks who routinely come off the board in the second round.

And I’m starting to think that we were wrong and all of you were right.

The 2022 edition of the CBS Sports Fantasy Football Draft Guide will be on newsstands in the coming weeks, and in that magazine you’ll see what you usually see in our mock drafts: quarterbacks last much longer than in most drafts. . The only exception? I took Josh Allen in the second round. Three full rounds before the next QB taken.

And you’re going to see that a lot from me this draft season. OK, maybe if I know I’m writing with Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and the rest of the fantasy football today QB Haters Club, might try to wait until, say, the third round to take a QB. But I’ll probably be one of the first people to pick a QB in most of my drafts this season, that’s the point.

Why did I have a change of heart? I wrote about it for the magazine, and I have the research to back it up in today’s FFT newsletter. I wanted to post this article before I review my top 24 players for the 2022 season in the coming days, because I wanted to make sure everyone understood why I’m going to have Allen (and possibly Patrick Mahomes, I think). I haven’t made it yet) in the first two rounds of my ranking.

So look out for the top 24 breakdown soon, along with a rundown of the most interesting things I’ve seen in the minicamp reports in recent weeks. We’ll also be doing an off-season mail bag soon, so be sure to send your questions to Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com with the subject line “#AskFFT” to include.

Now here’s why I changed my mind about early-round quarterbacks:

The case of first-round QBs

Fantasy analysts have long argued that although quarterbacks score the most points of any position, prioritizing them in drafts was not the optimal strategy because viable starters could always be found in the later rounds or in the early rounds. waivers. And the data confirmed it: From 2016 through 2019, more than half of all weeks in the top 12 in six-point touchdown passing came from quarterbacks who were drafted outside the top 12 in ADP that season. The top 12 quarterbacks in ADP also accounted for just 46.6% of all top-six finishes.

Being one of the first people in his league to pick a quarterback gave him an edge in the past, but it wasn’t enough to justify the price tag. Not when you had multiple quarterbacks from later rounds capable of great performances. In 2019, Lamar Jackson (QB15 at ADP), Dak Prescott (QB18) and Matthew Stafford (QB24) had at least five top-six finishes; 2018 saw Patrick Mahomes (QB15) and Jared Goff (QB16) do it; 2017 had Carson Wentz (QB18) and Josh McCown (QB30), while Alex Smith (QB23) added 10 top-12 finishes.

Things have changed quite dramatically in the last two seasons. Between 2020 and 2021, 51.4% of all top-12 finishes came from those top 12 quarterbacks drafted each season. But it’s even more dramatic at the top end, where 67% of all weekly top-six finishes came from a top-12 QB at ADP. Kirk Cousins ​​(QB17) was the only QB picked outside the top 13 to have had more than three top six or seven top 12 finishes, with only two others having even six top 12 finishes.

Think of it this way: Who did you feel comfortable broadcasting to last season if you found yourself stuck in that position? Derek Carr had the moments of it (seven top-12 finishes), as did Carson Wentz from the start (six), though he turned on pretty epically at the end. But guys like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston just never emerged as reliable weekly options like we’d hoped.

Of course, it’s not just that streaming options fell short of expectations last season. It’s also that the bar for streaming viability keeps rising. In 2021, the No. 12 QB in points per game averaged 21.6, a mark he was below 20 in 2016, 2017 and 2019; in 2018, the No. 12 QB averaged 20.6, a relative boom year.

None of this is to say that it’s impossible to win without a first-round quarterback. However, it does mean that you have to be intentional about the position. You used to be able to just ignore the position late and still finish without much of a deficit, but it’s getting harder to do that: 17-18 points a game from your QB position isn’t going to cut it when half the league has more. 25 years old.

So you have a few options that you can choose from on Draft day. You can lock down high-end QB play with one of Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, both of whom are worth drafting as early as Round 2 in all formats, with Allen likely going a few picks ahead of Mahomes. Mahomes is as good as anyone in the league in his prime, but he wasn’t in his prime last season in the midst of a midseason swoon, and now he has to deal with life without Tyreek Hill. for the first time. That’s enough to knock him down half a level for me.

You can wait a few more rounds for one of the Justin Herbert/Joe Burrow/Lamar Jackson/Kyler Murray levels, or wait a few more rounds for Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts or Aaron Rodgers. If he goes that route, he’ll probably pick a quarterback in the first six rounds, and that probably should be the only quarterback he picks in the draft. My favorites based on where they’re likely to go, for what it’s worth, are jacksonMurray or Wilson, or Stafford if he falls a little more than the rest.

Or you can wait. The thing is, that list already takes us through the top 11 in Current ADP. Based on the past few years, at least, we’re already starting to run out of options. Tom Brady is still a top player, but he could be without three of his top four receivers from last season to start the year, which is concerning. Kirk Cousins ​​and Derek Carr are in the top 12, but probably not in the top six, on the upside. Deshaun Watson has a lead in the top six, but he may not be able to play for much or all of the season pending the results of the investigation into the allegations against him. If he picks any of that pool, he’ll probably want to pair them with another high-potential option just in case.

Or, you can say “fuck the trends” and go all out on late-round quarterbacks. Trends aren’t destiny, after all, and there are still plenty of potential quarterbacks who could crash the party like Jackson, Allen, Mahomes and Murray have in recent seasons.

If you’re going to look for late-round quarterbacks, you’re going to want guys who have significant upside potential or passing volume. Or, ideally, a mix of both.

Here are my five favorites to look for:

trey lance

We saw Lance start two games last season, and he had 120 yards on 21 carries in those two games, so that’s all you need to know. The 49ers are committed to him as a long-term starter and he is surrounded by one of the best group of playmakers in the league, with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle especially standing out as two of the best receivers after the catch in football. . I worry if Lance will be able to make the most of the pass receivers here, but if you’re looking for someone with the potential to be the next Allen, he’s your best bet.

justin fields

In terms of physical gifts, Fields is up there with anyone in the position. The question is whether his rookie problems were due to some inherent limitations of his game or the situation he found himself in. I’m willing to bet the coaching staff will now be more willing to use him as a running back after previous staff used him very rarely on read option concepts. The problem is that Fields’ playmaking corps is one of the worst in the league, so he’ll have to do a lot of the heavy lifting on his own. That brings us back to questions about the inherent limitations of it. He might be willing to draft Lance on his own, but Fields requires a Carr or Cousins ​​to match him — a high-floor option, in other words, because his could be in the basement.

Tua Tagovailoa

I was expecting Tagovailoa to make a leap last season thanks to an improved supporting cast, so there’s some risk of making the same mistake again. However, Tyreek Hill is one of the best playmakers in the league, pairing with Jaylen Waddle to give Tagovailoa the fastest receiving duo in the game. Tagovailoa relied more heavily on RPO concepts than any quarterback a year ago, so he needs to step up to become a more complete quarterback. But if he does, it could be a tough offense to stop.

trevor lawrence

Lawrence had the kind of rookie season that makes you seriously reconsider a prospect’s chances of making an impact. He led the league in interceptions and averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt, ranking last or near last in nearly every relevant statistical category, including just three top-12 finishes in fantasy. Yet he, too, was left with a clearly outmatched NFL-level coach and a pretty lousy collection of receivers. The Jaguars invested heavily in improving the latter, signing Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram in free agency, and new coach Doug Pederson helped turn Carson Wentz’s career around after a similarly lackluster rookie season.

Daniel Jones

Jones has plateaued as a passer, but he continues to shine as a running back, so we’ll follow the Giants’ example and give him one last chance. This is as much a bet on new head coach Brian Daboll as anything else, though it’s also worth noting that the Giants actually have a pretty intriguing group of playmakers if they can stay healthy. That was a problem for each of Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney last season, but there’s something good here if that trio is in the field and Daboll lives up to the hype.

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