Draft day is near. Pretty soon all the research you have done to draft the most dominant 2QB squad will be put to the test. … And then ultimately discarded once the draft proceedings have concluded. Before that happens though we gathered the TwoQBs staff for a roundtable on 2QB draft strategy and quarterback targets. You can read their answers below…
What is your optimal 2QB draft strategy this year?
Greg Smith: I’m sure this is exactly what our readers wanted, another platform for me to intone the virtues of late-round quarterback drafting. Check out my SQB% article for evidence of depth at the quarterback position and the value of mid-tier passers. In this space, I’ll attempt to better outline how to make LRQB work for you. It’s not simply a matter of waiting to draft the position because drafters can certainly wait too long and fall behind. The goal is landing at least two (and hopefully three) of the top-25 signal callers while spending minimal draft capital on those players. It’s all about value. Rather than worry about which specific quarterbacks I draft, I care more about getting my passers at a discount based on market price (i.e. ADP or pre-draft auction values). For example, a fifth-round quarterback pick fits the LRQB mold for me if the player is typically drafted in the third round. Finding those sorts of QB discounts allows us to load up on the more important positions with earlier picks. Meanwhile, we can’t help but find such discounts if we’re patient enough, if only because the quarterback position is so ridiculously deep.
Ben Cummins: I generally like waiting on QBs in 2QB leagues and this season is no different. The position is deeper than it’s ever been, which makes this strategy more viable than ever in 2016. Through the first five rounds of my drafts I won’t even consider taking a QB. While other owners in my leagues are busy worrying about signal callers, I’ll be loading up on stud WRs and RBs. In the sixth round, I’ll start looking at Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, and Tyrod Taylor. I’d like to grab at least one of those guys. I’ll even double up if there’s an opportunity to grab two in the sixth and seventh rounds. However, I’m perfectly fine waiting if all four have been drafted by the sixth. At which point I’ll target Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, and Ryan Tannehill. I’m fine grabbing two or three from that tier and playing matchups all season. My goal is to have a weekly advantage, specifically at WR, but hopefully at RB too. I believe that’ll give me the best chance to win it all.
Joshua Lake: Ideally, I’d like to get my first QB in the QB8-12 range, then another in the QB15-20 range. I have nothing against the elite quarterbacks, but I find myself liking my teams better if I take skill position players early and QBs later.
Joe Siniscalchi: With QB being so deep this year I plan on going with the studs and streaming approach. I’d like to wait on QB until I see a value at QB1 (the likes of Eli, Rivers, or Romo if they fall into a range where I’m comfortable snagging them). As for my QB2/3, I’ll be targeting the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, and Joe Flacco. This approach allows me to hit on WR early, where it is extremely top heavy in my opinion, then hit running back in the middle of the draft, where the position is deepest. Getting those elite wideouts early, combined with a modest floor, high ceiling quarterback, and high floor running backs seems to be the path to a well-balanced team this season.
Brian Malone: I’m not going pure late-round QB, but I don’t plan to draft any in the first three rounds. After that, anything goes, but I’ll probably end up with three top-25 QBs, and I’ll probably start drafting them in the eighth round.
James Simpson: This year, like every other year, will be a chance to underpay for the over-talented. Do you have the chance to take Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck at the late first/early second? Then take it. Are you able to grab two of the top receivers in the class with your first two picks because your league mates have gone QB-heavy? Then grab them. I can’t stress how much flexibility is key having a successful draft. Every strategy works if you get the right players, so know your values, know who to pay for and when, and reap the rewards. (P.S. the key is knowing your tiers across positions, where they begin and where they end, so you can stay one step ahead.)
Josh Hornsby: It depends on draft position, first and foremost. If it’s an earlier pick (1-4), I will go WR-heavy and wait on three QBs in the 18-24 range as long as I can. If it’s mid-round (5-8), I have oscillated between a WR/QB/QB start (Dez/Wilson/Brees) or a WR/WR/QB start, depending on what goes ahead of me. Late-round starts (9-12) have been “best available,” although there is certainly merit into a quick-strike at a dominating tandem (Wilson/Rodgers, for instance) that should tilt the entire league into a QB-heavy approach while you stock up on great WRs/RBs in the 3rd-10th rounds.
Overall, I see QBs grouped into four tiers in 2016:
- QBs 1-4 (High Floor Elite) – Wilson, Newton, Brees, Rodgers
- QBs 5-9 (High Ceiling Volatile) – Rivers, Luck, Taylor, Palmer, Brady
- QBs 10-24 (The DMZ) – QBs I expect to score within 30 points of one another over the season
- QBs 25-36 (Better You Than Me) – Some high upside, but primarily streamers with volume risks. QB3s only.
Anthony Amico: I love going with a late-round QB strategy this season. I’ll take advantage of the heightened QB ADP by securing studs at the running back and wide receiver positions, including some depth. Then I’ll try to grab my first quarterback around the time some teams are already taking a second, maybe QB15 or so. My second signal caller probably comes closer to that QB20 range. By doing this I feel like I can be strong at the skill positions, flexible at quarterback, and only be at a slight disadvantage at the position.
Jeff Dumont: I seem to like my teams the most when I go with the “studs and streaming” approach in 2QB leagues. If I take Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, or Andrew Luck in the first round, that will allow me to go on a best-player-available terror for the next 6-10 rounds. For this strategy I keep a close eye on QBs taken throughout the draft. After the first 20 or so QBs are selected, I’ll queue up guys like Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzmagic, Joe Flacco, Brock Osweiler, RG3, and Teddy Bridgewater. If I can get any two of these guys as my QB2 and QB3 I’m thrilled. If I am forced to take Blaine Gabbert or Mark Sanchez I’ll probably take their handcuffs because both the Broncos and 49ers offensive systems are fantasy-friendly and there will be quite a bit of value for each starting QB.
Salvatore Stefanile: I tend to lean towards a studs and streaming approach, like my friend Jeff mentioned above. However, with the quarterback position at an unprecedented level of depth, I find the value play is to wait and grab a gaggle of throwers from the mid-to-late rounds. This means targeting anyone from the QB14 to the QB25 tier according to our ADP data. You can still field a startable duo from this tier and will be able to stockpile elite talent at WR and RB.
Which top-12 QB are you targeting in drafts and why?
Greg Smith: I don’t like targeting specific players, as outlined in my answer above, but I’ve selected Tom Brady more than any other top-12 quarterback in our 2QB mock drafts. I like to leave drafts owning three or four cemented starting QBs, which sets up my rosters well to cover for Brady’s season-opening suspension. Other drafters may cower in fear over the thought of four missed starts, but fantasy football is a weekly game and Angry Tom should launch right back into elite play when he returns to action in Week 5. Per-game dominance at a discount is exactly what I want from my QB1.
Ben Cummins: Eli Manning. His ADP is in the sixth round, which is in my comfort zone. He checks off all of the boxes: questionable defense, questionable run game, favorable schedule, and a coach that wants to throw early and often (Manning has set a new career high in pass attempts each of the past two years with McAdoo). And his offense is full of weapons: one of the best WRs in the NFL (OBJ), a reliable pass catching back (Vereen), and a more-than-capable supporting cast (Jennings, Shepard, Tye, Donnell, Harris, and possibly Cruz).
Joshua Lake: Philip Rivers. See this article, this article, or this article. I love the offense, his volume, his weapons, and his consistency. And his price. He is a reliable low-end QB1, but you don’t have to pay an exorbitant draft day price to add him.
Joe Siniscalchi: If I consider Tony Romo a Top-12 QB does that count? He’s been consistently a low-end QB1, who is falling well outside that range. I’ll gladly take him as my QB1 and capitalize on picking wideouts and running backs while others reach for Tom Brady and Blake Bortles. My top-12 QB in our ADP is Philip Rivers. With the health returning to the offense, as well as most likely the running game, Rivers will once again be a mid-level QB1 with a high ceiling.
Brian Malone: There’s a lot of negativity around Ben Roethlisberger, and I think it’s backlash from folks drafting him before Drew Brees early in the offseason. But they’re not as far apart as their ADP indicates. I’m more inclined to grab Roethlisberger (ADP = 39.2) than Brees (ADP = 23.7).
James Simpson: Rodgers and Luck. Either one could be the overall QB1, and I think they will end as QB1 and QB2. However, the real reason I am targeting them is because 40+ touchdown seasons aren’t out of the realm of possibility. In fact, they are both approaching the season healthy and with multiple receiving options who we expect to perform. They can single-handedly win your league and make up for the unpredictability of the later rounds. Go get ’em.
Josh Hornsby: Aaron Rodgers – The Packers Revenge Tour of 2016 will be real and glorious.
Anthony Amico: If I am going to divert from LRQB this season it’s going to be to draft Drew Brees. He has been a top-six quarterback for the last decade. That is not a typo. Brees is incredibly safe, and also provides a ton of upside, as he has been a top two signal caller in half of those seasons. The best part? This may be his best collection of weapons ever. I’ll gladly take him at the 2/3 turn this season at a value.
Jeff Dumont: The 2QB ADP of Aaron Rodgers (10th overall) is insane. I would take him #1 overall in 2QB formats. If he and his receivers are healthy, Rodgers’ floor is the second-best fantasy quarterback. That’s incredible. With Rodgers you’re paying for his incredibly high floor, knowing the likely outcome for his 2016 season is NFL MVP. I would put good money on Cam Newton and Russell Wilson both regressing in stats and fantasy output this season. Luck has the ceiling to match Rodgers but with a pretty low floor, as last season showed. With the return of Jordy Nelson and the addition of Jared Cook to the offense this year I will be surprised if Rodgers isn’t fantasy’s best QB in 2016.
Salvatore Stefanile: The simplest answer would be to say Derek Carr because he’s the cheapest of the bunch based on ADP, but my real answer might shock some: Russell Wilson. I’m usually against drafting quarterbacks early, but Wilson has the potential to be the overall fantasy QB1 this year. Anthony Amico laid out the case as to how that can happen and I’ve bought in. Wilson’s draft day cost means having to use a first or second round pick to acquire him, which I’m predisposed not to do, but if forced to do so I’d be inclined to go with the Seahawk.
Which top-12 QB are you avoiding in drafts and why?
Greg Smith: As an LRQB die-hard, Cam Newton is the easy choice because I refuse to take a quarterback in the first round. In Episode 16 of the 2QB Experience podcast, Joshua Lake and I looked back at our home 2QB leagues to see where winning teams drafted their QBs. This is anecdotal, but only one time has someone in my home league won having first-picked a passer in the past eight years. The opportunity cost for a first-round quarterback is too high and Newton is the epitome of a first-rounder as the #1 QB in ADP.
Ben Cummins: Ben Roethlisberger. He’s being drafted too high for me. His ADP never corrected itself after Martavis Bryant was suspended, he’ll possibly be without Le’Veon Bell for four games, his security blanket Heath Miller retired, and Ladarius Green’s career might be in jeopardy. Even though Roethlisberger is tied to the best WR in football he’s someone to avoid at his fourth-round price tag.
Joshua Lake: Blake Bortles. His QB9 ADP baffles me. I think he’s primed for regression. Bortles likely isn’t terrible, so I wouldn’t argue you should avoid him entirely. But if he’s going anywhere near his QB9 ADP in your draft, I wouldn’t touch him.
Joe Siniscalchi: Big Ben is an easy avoid for me. Since entering mid-March with arguably the league’s most potent offense, Ben has lost Martavis Bryant to suspension, Le’Veon Bell to suspension, and potentially Ladarius Green to injury. He’s a fine QB1, but I think Eli, Palmer, and Rivers all possess more upside.
Brian Malone: I’ll probably never be the guy to break the seal at QB, which means I’ll probably never be the guy to draft Cam Newton. He’d have to fall to the middle of the second round before I consider him. Otherwise, I’ll hang back and try to snag the last of the Newton-Rodgers-Wilson-Luck tier.
James Simpson: I’m not particularly excited with Blake Bortles’ current ADP, and wouldn’t approach him in the range of Carlos Hyde, Greg Olsen, Doug Baldwin and Jordan Matthews. I understand he’ll have a strong floor with a flourishing Allen Robinson, but I don’t buy the big numbers returning for a second season. You can get similar production later on.
Josh Hornsby: Derek Carr – He shackles the dynamic playmakers on the roster.
Anthony Amico: If there is one top-12 QB I’m not drafting this year it’s Ben Roethlisberger. I already wrote an opus on why I think he is overvalued, and I have a strong distaste for his price. Roethlisberger has finished better than QB12 in points per game just once in the last five seasons, and you’re paying a clear QB6 price.
Jeff Dumont: Ben Roethlisberger as the sixth QB taken off the board (39th overall). Already one of the most injury prone QBs in the NFL, the losses of Martavis Bryant for the year and now Ladarius Green potentially for the season will be too much for Big Ben to return value on his current ADP. The Steeler’ signing of Green was directly correlated to Bryant’s suspension in the first place, with the team needing a player with size and speed that can take advantage of mismatches down the field. This leaves a black hole at TE and even more pressure on Antonio Brown. While Sammie Coates has intriguing upside and is worth the gamble in fantasy he is still very raw. Perhaps the Steelers can turn into the Arizona Cardinals East with three-wide sets and completely ignore the TE, but Coates and Markus Wheaton are definitely no Michael Floyd and John Brown. Roethlisberger’s ADP is laughable when you can get a better QB with higher upside several picks later in Carson Palmer.
Salvatore Stefanile: Ben Roethlisberger will be the popular answer to this question so I’ll go with Tom Brady. Losing your QB1 for 25 percent of the season is a tough pill to swallow, especially since he’s going off the board at pick 48. Yes, I’ve outlined ways to replace Brady for those four games if you draft him, but I’d rather use that pick on a RB or WR who will actually produce and help me win rather than someone I have to leave on the bench.
Which late-round QB do you think finishes the season as a QB1 (top-ten)?
Greg Smith: I’m not sure exactly how deep we’re supposed to dig into the quarterback ranks to answer this, but Tony Romo is being severely disrespected at his current ADP. He routinely finished top-12 in both total points and points per game through the three seasons before his injury-shortened campaign in 2015. The same post-injury perception made Carson Palmer a draft day bargain in 2014. Romo has returned to health like Palmer did last offseason and is primed to get back to his QB1 ways with the help of Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, Jason Witten, and one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
Ben Cummins: I like Joe Flacco a lot this season. In Marc Trestman’s first year with the Ravens they threw the most passes in the entire NFL. Even though the skill position players are a nightmare to figure out for fantasy owners, drafting Flacco gives you exposure to the entire high-volume passing offense.
49ers QB is another option. I’d love to see Blaine Gabbert start the entire season, but there’s no way to predict that. If he does, he could finish in the top-ten. Instead, I’ll go with this: The combination of Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, and Jeff Driskel could combine to finish as a top-ten option. The 49ers are going to be very bad this season which means there will be plenty of favorable game scripts. For fantasy purposes, I’m a Chip Kelly truther. He will have the 49ers running a ton of plays, which means the volume will be there and all three QBs have the rushing upside to cumulatively get them in the top-ten.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is my real answer to this question, though. His ADP has not corrected itself since he ended his holdout at the beginning of training camp. Brandon Marshall’s ADP is currently in the third round, Eric Decker’s is in the sixth, and Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are both very good pass catchers out of the backfield. Under Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick already finished as the QB11 last season. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also coached Tyler Thigpen for eleven games in 2008, and was able to coax out over 3,000 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns.
Joe Siniscalchi: I can see Ryan Tannehill taking a huge step forward with QB guru Adam Gase. Now in an offense flush with receiving talent and a coach that wants to keep him upright, I wouldn’t be shocked if this were the year where it all comes together for Tannehill. Each year, at least one QB who seems to be written off steps up into QB1 territory, and this year, Tannehill fits the bill.
Brian Malone: It’ll take a lot of “if”s, but Colin Kaepernick has the best chance of anyone outside the top-25 QBs to crack the top-10. He’ll have to earn the starting role and be competent as a passer, but if Chip Kelly lets Kaepernick run, he can break off enough long ones to finish as a QB1.
James Simpson: He’s not a super-late selection at QB19, but Marcus Mariota will be a top-ten quarterback this year. The Titans’ offense will be much improved from last year, and Mariota will see a massive increase in production in his second year in the pros. Say what you will about their run-heavy plans, it doesn’t take away from his talent, and as the run game begins to produce it will only improve his play and scoring opportunities. After Mariota, I believe Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have every chance to jump into the top-ten as later-round selections.
Josh Hornsby: Joe Flacco has the best opportunity, I believe. Like Rodgers, who had a rough 2015 with limited receiving options around him, Flacco will gain (back) talent we expected him to excel with last year. While some questions still remain about the receiving talent, upgrades to protection combined with Trestman’s QB-friendly scheme project him in the QB10 range.
I would like to put Tony Romo in this space, but I have real concerns over play volume in Dallas. What volume is there (500 drop-backs) will require incredible efficiency to place him in the Top-10.
Anthony Amico: Tyrod Taylor is going to finish in the top-10 this season. In fact, since he’s only QB14 in our ADP I’ll raise the stakes: Taylor will be a top-seven signal caller in 2016. He possesses rushing upside that is probably only topped by Cam Newton, and was one of the most efficient quarterbacks of 2015. I’m expecting Buffalo to continue to stink on defense with Rob Ryan in tow, and that means the Bills leaning even more heavily on their now-extended QB. There is a ton of upside here at a low price.
Jeff Dumont: Ryan Tannehill. He was a top-ten QB just two seasons ago and his environment has improved since then. The addition of Adam Gase is the biggest factor here. He coached Peyton Manning into that record breaking 55 TD season but his most impressive feat was turning Jay Cutler into a respectable quarterback. Jarvis Landry has turned into a route running and possession monster with some of the best hands in the NFL. DeVante Parker has the skill set, pedigree, and upside to be the next AJ Green. Jordan Cameron finally has a TE-friendly coach and is a sneaky bet to finish as a top-10 tight end in fantasy. Perhaps the most underrated aspect in Tannehill’s game is his rushing ability. A converted WR and very athletic, Tannehill had 141 rushing yards last year but 311 the year before. I expect his 2016 total to get back to 300+ rushing yards. That 15-20 point boost would really shoot Tannehill up the QB standings at the end of the year.
Salvatore Stefanile: I think a high number of quarterbacks going in the late rounds could finish as a top-ten fantasy QB, but I’ll go with Alex Smith. A returning Jamaal Charles, year two with Jeremy Maclin, and hopefully an offensive game plan that remembers Travis Kelce is on the team will give Smith an impressive set of weapons in the pass game. Tack on his rushing abilities and you’re looking at a fantasy signal caller who could be left for dead by many on draft turn into a high-end fantasy option. He has one top-13 fantasy finish on his resume and was a QB1 (top-12) fantasy performer seven times last year.
What’s one piece of draft day advice you want to share with 2QBers?
Greg Smith: Draft Alex Smith, draft Joe Flacco, and logout. Whoa, I blacked out, what just happened? Is Sal using his mind control powers again? (If he is, then at least I agree with this next point.) Trust in tiers more than individual player rankings. Understanding where the value gaps are in positional ranks will help you avoid reaches and overreactions to runs. Furthermore, embracing a tiered outlook of the draft will help you disassociate specific names from valuations of players. You may think Kirk Cousins is the best of the quarterbacks being drafted outside the top-12, but tiers will reveal similar values at the position in case an opponent reaches for Cousins too early or he’s sniped immediately before you would pick him. You won’t always be able to draft who you like the most, and tiers help us find new fantasy crushes when our preferred options go off to dance with other owners.
Ben Cummins: Don’t draft QBs early just because you play in a 2QB league. It’s all about opportunity cost. Drafting early QBs means you’re bypassing stud WRs and RBs. Not only do you still have to start multiple players at those positions as well, but predicting WR and RB success has historically been much more difficult than predicting QB success. Load up on WRs and RBs early and figure out the QB position throughout the season. You’ll not only win many weeks that way, but your roster will be stacked for playoff success.
Joe Siniscalchi: Don’t force one strategy on yourself. Be flexible. If you want to go LRQB and Drew Brees falls to round three, don’t pass on him out of principle. Values will always present themselves in the draft, and if you properly recognize them, you can field an extremely strong team. By starting with Julio Jones and Mark Ingram and then grabbing a falling Brees, you can suddenly have a top-heavy team at all three positions and still have flexibility with the remainder of your draft. Even if you wait until late to get your second QB, you still snagged an elite QB at a discount.
Brian Malone: Here are some players who helped bring home fantasy championships in 2015:
QB: Brock Osweiler, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford
RB: Tim Hightower, Bilal Powell, James White, Mike Gillislee, Denard Robinson
WR: Doug Baldwin, Kamar Aiken, Ted Ginn
TE: Zach Miller, Will Tye
The draft doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. That coveted RB who got sniped in the 10th round is probably a bust. So get over it and put yourself in the best position to succeed.
James Simpson: My one piece of advice would be to ‘get your guys’, however you can. Don’t worry about what is a ‘reach’ and whatever the outside noise may be – If you want Ryan Tannehill, make sure you get him. If you get him and you’re right about him, there won’t be a greater feeling. If you don’t go out on a limb and draft your players, you’ll be gutted when they perform to your high expectations and they aren’t on your rosters. There’s nothing worse than considering taking your favourite buy/sleeper in one round, thinking you’ll be able to get him in the next round, then seeing him snapped up before your eyes. I’m getting Mariota, Melvin Gordon and Kevin White everywhere I can this year, because they are ‘my guys’. Sink or swim with your people, and you won’t regret it.
Josh Hornsby: Don’t be so committed to any one strategy, be it LRQB, ZeroRB, etc, that you miss opportunities to aggressively tilt the draft in your favor. This wise saying sums it up best:
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Don’t be afraid to zig a bit and stress the other drafters with foreign decisions, driving them to choose players and/or positions out of their normal sequence. Unforced errors, on their part, will be your gain.
Likewise, don’t buy non-productive chunks of an offense with designs on an injury suddenly making that player viable. Instead, opt for overlooked, less sexy players with guaranteed productive volume (Woodhead, Sanu, Witten) that will provide a solid floor every week.
Plant your flag, be aggressive, and enjoy the time with your friends, family, & co-workers.
Anthony Amico: Don’t panic when the quarterback run comes. There is going to come a point in the draft where people start hammering the position. Instead of being one of the last drafters in a run of signal callers, take a player in your highest tier of running backs or wide receivers (maybe even tight ends if you’re feeling frosty). Take advantage of the value your league mates provide; don’t hand it to somebody else.
Jeff Dumont: Zig while your league mates zag. If ten QBs get taken in the first 20 picks, don’t panic. The QB position is incredibly deep, perhaps the deepest it has been in NFL history. The LRQB strategy is real because you’ll never have to reach for any player and can find some incredible values while others are reaching for QBs. Fantasy football is simply all about value, and the more value picks you make, the higher the chances are of winning your championship.
Salvatore Stefanile: Don’t be tempted to join in on quarterback runs in your league. There will come a point in your draft, possibly multiple occasions, where your league mates will draft quarterback after quarterback after quarterback. Don’t fall into that trap. Look at the QB board and see that while you might miss out on an Andy Dalton in round seven or eight you can grab a Jay Cutler in round 13. Be aware of your surroundings and remember how deep quarterback is this year. Use that knowledge to your advantage.