2QB Things We’ll Learn in 2016

2QB Things We’ll Learn in 2016

The 2015 fantasy football season is winding down and with 2QBers being eliminated in their leagues I wanted to shift gears with this week’s ‘2QB Things We Learned’ and discuss early 2016 2QB draft strategies.

We may be a few months away from even thinking about seasonal 2QB draft strategies for the 2016 fantasy season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start forming ideas as to how we will handle 2QB drafts next year.

It’s never a bad thing to get started early, and below are a few takeaways of my current thinking when it comes to 2016 2QB draft season preparation…

1. Avoid the QB1 Landmines

Of the first 12 quarterbacks drafted in 2QB leagues this offseason, based on Joshua Lakes’ 2QB ADP data, only five are currently in the Top-12 of fantasy quarterback scoring:

  • Cam Newton (ADP-QB7/Current Fantasy Rank-QB2)
  • Aaron Rodgers (ADP-QB2/Current Fantasy Rank-QB4)
  • Russell Wilson (ADP-QB3/Current Fantasy Rank-QB5)
  • Eli Manning (ADP-QB11-/Current Fantasy Rank-QB8)
  • Drew Brees (ADP-QB8/Current Fantasy Rank-QB11)

Based on the fantasy production from the quarterback position after 14 weeks, we have had a 42 percent hit rate for early-round drafted quarterbacks. Basically a coin flip as to whether or not your early-round drafted quarterback is a QB1.

Here’s how the rest of the 2QB ADP Top-12 tier looks like:

  • QB1 – Andrew Luck — Fantasy QB28 *Injured
  • QB4 – Ben Roethlisberger — Fantasy QB22 *Injured (PPG=QB8)
  • QB5 – Matt Ryan — Fantasy QB20
  • QB6 – Peyton Manning — Fantasy QB31 *Injured
  • QB9 – Tony Romo — Fantasy QB38 *Injured
  • QB10 – Ryan Tannehill — Fantasy QB20
  • QB12 – Matthew Stafford — Fantasy QB14

Quite a few landmines occupy the Top-12 tier, and if you were unfortunate to draft one of the above signal callers you had an uphill battle to climb in terms of being competitive. Trades and key waiver wire pickups can turn any ship around though, but a bust at the QB1 slot does provide a challenge.

It will be interesting to see what the QB1 ADP tier looks like next season, and how we can use that to our advantage when it comes to draft strategy.
If I had to guess, this is what I think the Top-12 quarterback ADP could like next year in 2QB leagues (in no particular order): Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr.

I’m not one hundred percent confident with the list, but I do feel confident with the first nine quarterbacks I rattled off. Let’s assume that those 12 are the first 12 drafted. Are you going to use an early-round pick on a quarterback?

Take a look at some of the names not listed (with current fantasy rank in bracket): Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB9), Philip Rivers (QB10), Alex Smith (QB12), Matthew Stafford (QB14), Jameis Winston (QB15), Tyrod Taylor (QB16), Marcus Mariota (QB17), Matt Ryan (QB20), Jay Cutler (QB21), Joe Flacco (QB23), Peyton Manning, and Tony Romo.

I just listed an additional 12 viable fantasy quarterbacks, bringing us 24 deep at the position.

Free agency and the draft will shake things up, but the key takeaway here is how deep the quarterback position is. Something many in the fantasy community have been harping on for years. I will ask the question again, now that you have seen how deep quarterback is, will you use an early-round draft pick on a fantasy signal caller?

If you’re into maximizing value in drafts and care about draft cost your answer is no. Especially if youcan select someone like Alex Smith late in your 2QB draft.

Smith had an ADP of QB24 last year, and has rewarded his believers with six Top-12 weekly fantasy performances this year, and is the current QB12.

Injuries to star quarterbacks has played a significant role in late-round quarterbacks shooting up the fantasy scoring board, but there was a ton of production available late in 2QB drafts this year. Tyrod Taylor went undrafted in a majority of leagues, as an extreme example.

The depth of the quarterback position affords you not only leeway to not have to use an early-round pick on quarterback but also the ability to still find QB1-type production late. It’s the best of both worlds for 2QBers.

So, if we fade the early-round QB1 tier next year in 2QB drafts who should we target?

2. Start in the (QB2) Middle

If I were to plan for 2016 2QB drafts I would start in the middle and work my way out, like licking the frosting of an Oreo before dunking it in the milk.

After having dissected the fantasy quarterback landscape, below are a few signal callers I would circle on my 2016 2QB draft day card if I were to wait:

*Ryan Fitzpatrick: If he is a Jet next year, Ryan Fitzpatrick would return to an offense featuring Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Chris Ivory, and a hopefully healthy Jace Amaro. We’ve seen what FitzMagic has done in such a situation this year (current fantasy QB9, career high 25 passing touchdowns with three games left to play).

*Alex Smith: Usually taken in the eighth round or later of 2QB drafts in 2015, Alex Smith has provided an immense ROI this year as the fantasy QB12. He’s scored 20 or more fantasy points in a game four times and has six Top-12 weekly finishes. The addition of Jeremy Maclin has provided him with a much needed pass catching weapon at wide receiver. With a returning Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, Travis Kelce, and Albert Wilson there’s no reason to think Smith will decline next year. The added boost from rushing fantasy points is a bonus, as Smith has 366 rushing yards and two scores on the ground this year.

*Tyrod Taylor: Whether you call him Tygod or Tygoat you can call him a fantasy QB1. The only reason Tyrod Taylor is the QB16 in overall scoring has to do with injuries, as he has appeared in only 11 games this season. If we look at it from a points per game perspective, Taylor is the fantasy QB9 (tied with Drew Brees), scoring an average of 19.4 fantasy points per game. The excitement surrounding Taylor this offseason stemmed from his #KonamiCode potential, and he hasn’t disappointed. His 371 rushing yards is third to Cam Newton (480) and Russell Wilson (456), and only Cam Newton (7), Jameis Winston (5), and Kirk Cousins (4) have ran for more touchdowns than Taylor (3) this year. Throw-in a budding rapport with Sammy Watkins and Taylor could become a draft day steal in 2016.

*Jameis Winston: We’ve seen two different versions of Jameis Winston this year. There was the mistake-prone rookie who threw seven interceptions in his first five games, and who scored 15 or more fantasy points in a game only twice during that span. Then there’s the Winston who has thrown a total of only four interceptions in his next eight games, and who has five games of 18+ fantasy points. He’s still a rookie learning the game, having completed under 60 percent of his passes in a game seven times this year, but he’s flashed promise, both via the air and the ground (18 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns). Playing in an offense featuring Mike Evans, a hopefully healthy Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Doug Martin (if he returns) could lead to another mid-range, at worst, QB2 season for Winston.

*Marcus Mariota: The #2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota, like Taylor, has also dealt with injuries that sidelined him this year. But just like Taylor, when you focus on points per game, Mariota is a top-ten fantasy quarterback, scoring the 11th-most fantasy points per game at quarterback with 19.2. He hasn’t been unleashed in the running game as much as we hoped, with only 34 rushing attempts. However, if his 87-yard rushing touchdown in Week 13 is a sign of things to come, he could sneak into the low-end fantasy QB1 tier next season. A new offensive coordinator/head coach that builds around Mariota’s strengths would help that become a reality. An emerging Dorial Green-Beckham paired up with the consistent Delanie Walker would also make this an offense worth investing in.

*Jay Cutler: The often-maligned Bears starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, was left for dead this offseason by 2QBers after a tumultuous end to his 2014 campaign and the firing of Marc Trestman. However, he has been a fairly reliable fantasy contributor this season with seven games of 17 or more fantasy points. The Bears offense could look different next year, and the big three of Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett is no guarantee to return in 2016. With Kevin White and Jeremy Langford in the mix that might not matter a whole lot. Cutler’s name has a black mark attached to it in fantasy circles. If someone like Forte were to not return that would only drive Cutler’s 2QB ADP down, making him a potential value pick next year.

*Joe Flacco: While he might not be elite, Joe Flacco doesn’t get the respect he deserves from a fantasy football point of view. Due to a season-ending injury, Flacco only played in ten games this year. In five of those ten games he scored at least 20 fantasy points though, and was a fantasy QB1 in each of those performances. Whether or not Steve Smith follows through with his retirement plans, Flacco will return to an offense that has talent at RB, WR, and TE in the forms of Justin Forsett/Buck Allen, Breshad Perriman/Kamar Aiken (restricted free agent)/Chris Givens, Maxx Williams/Crockett Gillmore. Flacco was taken on average as the 16th quarterback in 2015 2QB drafts and that number will surely drop because of his 2015 injury/no Steve Smith.

*Tony Romo: Minus a 2009-shortened season due to injuries, Romo has scored between 204.02 fantasy points to 295.34 points every other season between 2007 to 2014. That’s consistency you crave out of your fantasy quarterback. Romo will be 36 next season, and we’ve seen how older quarterbacks with injury histories are treated — see Carson Palmer and his 2015 2QB ADP of QB18. There’s a chance Romo could fall out of the early-round QB1 tier in 2016 because of his injuries and age. If there are no lingering injury issues and he returns as the QB1 in Dallas, Romo could become the steal of 2016 2QB drafts. We’ve seen what he is capable of at full health, averaging 31 touchdowns and 270.55 fantasy points from 2011-2014. He was a Top-12 fantasy quarterback in each of those four seasons. And we haven’t even mentioned the Dez Bryant factor.

3. What about going LRQB in 2016?

Blake Bortles is the fantasy QB6 in overall scoring, Tyrod Taylor is the fantasy QB9 in fantasy points per game scoring, Marcus Mariota is the QB11 in fantasy points per game scoring. They are the three most notable names drafted outside of the QB2 tier (Top-24), according to last year’s 2QB ADP data. Taylor routinely went undrafted.

If we can find talent like that in the late rounds of 2QB drafts wouldn’t that provide more value?

The obvious answer is yes, but waiting that long to draft your quarterbacks is dangerous. Ryan Fitzpatrick (undrafted) and Blake Bortles (QB30 ADP) are the only two quarterbacks currently in the Top-12 of fantasy scoring quarterbacks.

Five came from the QB1 ADP tier (Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Drew Brees), while the other five were drafted in the QB2 tier (Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith).

I have no issue waiting and waiting and waiting in 2QB drafts, and we’ll get a clearer picture of what the QB3/QB4 tier will look like in the upcoming months. Incoming rookies and veteran free agents moving teams tend to make the best late round quarterbacks targets, and you never know who the next Newton, RG3, Terrelle Pryor, or Taylor will be.

But the middle tier tends to provide the combination of value and potential, as you have a greater likelihood of hitting on a potential QB1 at a discount count. Not to say that can’t happen in the QB25-QB36 or below tier, just that the odds aren’t in your favor.

The Bortles’, Taylors, Mariotas, Daltons’, Fitzpatricks’ of the late-round quarterback tier will likely see their ADPs rise next year, and we might not get the same production out of whoever replaces them.

*Stats used in this article courtesy of FantasyData

**This post was republished from 2QBFFB.com

Salvatore Stefanile

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and has been playing fantasy football since his high school days. He is a proponent of 2QB fantasy football leagues and his work has been featured on XN Sports, RotoViz, and Rotoworld. His writing on 2QB fantasy football leagues earned him the FSWA award for 'Best Fantasy Football On-Going Series' in 2013. He earned a second FSWA nomination in 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @2QBFFB

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