(Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire)
Know Your League Settings
The strategy of waiting on drafting a quarterback is not “one size fits all.” This advice pertains to leagues with the more traditional structure of one QB roster slot, four points per pass TD, and one point per 25 passing yards. To truly maximize the potential of your fantasy roster, it’s crucial to tailor it to your specific league settings. We would not advise waiting on a quarterback in leagues with two QB slots, a Super-Flex slot, and/or leagues that reward six points per pass TD. These leagues all place more of a premium on the position, and taking at least one of the “elite” quarterbacks early in the draft can provide a nice weekly advantage over your opponent. In short, this strategy assumes you are participating in a league with the more traditional roster and scoring settings.
Look for Value at All Times
Just because we hear it dozens of times during draft prep season doesn’t make it any less true: deciding when to draft a player or position all comes down to value. When it comes to quarterbacks, it’s much easier to find value late in the draft or on the waiver wire throughout the season. Those of us who have had to find a running back, wide receiver, or tight end replacement or streaming option on waivers on a given week know that it’s a roll of the dice whether or not they provide meaningful production. Save yourself the headache and let your league draft their starting quarterback while you load up on much-less-replaceable running backs and wide receivers.
Once you feel comfortable with your depth at the skill positions, then start looking ahead at quarterback bargains you like for your next pick(s). If your draft prep includes assigning tiers to each position, the question you should ask is “if I don’t take [RB/WR/TE] now, what options are likely to be there for my next pick?” Most of the time, the top tiers at those positions dry up quickly and the value diminishes with each passing round. There is no set-in-stone time to draft a quarterback, but the sentiment here is feeling good about the depth that will make up the majority of your lineup/bench before moving on to the quarterback slot.
Know the Player, Know the Team, Check the Schedule
At this point, all or most of your league has now drafted their starting QB (we’ll say 11-12 QBs are now off the board). Don’t panic; this is where it all starts to come together. Fantasy managers tend to gravitate toward the shiny new toys, the previous year’s breakouts, and the quarterbacks who play for their favorite team first, typically leaving a clump of boring but reliable veteran options and young, unproven signal callers at the back of the pack. This is the hand-me-down car you got in high school that isn’t flashy and sputters sometimes, but it gets the job done. Nobody in the draft room will react much when you select these types of players, but these are the guys who can lead you to the promised land. If you can’t bear to see this player’s name at the top of your lineup every week, balance out that out by pairing it with one of the young, unproven options with upside. Those who took late upside players like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in recent years are glad they did.
Although late draft picks can produce excellent value at quarterback, there is a caveat. You don’t want to pick just anyone. Other things to consider include their supporting cast (pass-catchers, offensive line), their team’s offensive scheme (play-caller philosophy), rushing ability, and schedule (how do those first few matchups look on paper?). It’s not worth drafting a quarterback if they have nobody to throw to or no time to throw, if their team rarely passes (and the QB rarely runs), or if they have to go through a gauntlet of brutal secondaries to start the season. A fantasy football regular season breaks down to a series of one-week matchups, so focus on schedule early on while making sure your QB has some playmakers to throw to. Other teams that drafted two quarterbacks are usually quick to shed one once they get excited by something on the waiver wire, and most teams will put their waiver claims in for non-quarterback early-season breakouts, opening the door for a “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” acquisition.
Don’t wait for the sake of waiting; if a quarterback falls below their Average Draft Position or you feel good about the options that should be available to add depth at other positions in the next round, by all means, take your shot. But it hurts looking back at the draft results and seeing the players you could have had if you didn’t spring for a quarterback early.