It’s been almost a week since Super Bowl XLVII passed and somewhere San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is going over his All-22 Coaches Film for material he can use in the greatest PowerPoint presentation in the history of PowerPoint Presentations to convince Commissioner Roger Goodell that the Super Bowl should either be replayed or that the NFL rip the Lombardi Trophy out of his brother’s hands and give it to him, the Dark Lord Emperor Jim Harbaugh. That’s going to happen, right?
Back to the Super Bowl… Of note the most over talked about aspect of this year’s playoffs has to do with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his “elite” play. Yes, I italicized, bolded, underlined, and put the word elite in quotation marks when referencing Flacco to highlight how much the ‘Is Joe Flacco elite?” conversation has gone overboard. With Super Bowl XLVII officially in the books we can look at the stats put up by Flacco, who completed one of the best ever statistical post-seasons at the QB position in the history of the Super Bowl era, to determine his elitism.
During the 2012 Postseason Flacco was 73 of 126 for 1,140 yards passing, and he threw 11 touchdowns to go with zero interceptions, and had a QB rating of 117.2. When you compare those numbers to the NFL postseason record book Flacco tied both Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most touchdown passes thrown during an NFL single post-season (only Flacco and Montana didn’t throw any interceptions to go along with their 11 TDs), and Flacco also throw for the most passing yards and had the highest quarterback rating for a single-postseason. No matter how you look at the numbers Flacco brought his A-game during the playoffs this year.
However, when you throw the word elite around at the quarterback position it should be reserved for the likes of Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Joe Flacco elite? Let me get my shine box out to give you an idea as to what my answer is. When you look at some numbers like how since 2008 Flacco leads all starting quarterbacks in playoff wins or how he and Peyton Manning have the same amount of career playoff wins you might be able to talk yourself into thinking that Flacco’s a pretty great playoff quarterback.
Yet, even with that in mind it’s crazy to think that Flacco might, just maybe, perhaps, possibly so, become the highest paid quarterback in the NFL next season. It’s all about timing and when you have one of the best statistical postseasons in the history of the NFL, win a Super Bowl and are named Super Bowl MVP and on top of that become a free agent as soon as that all goes down it’s kind of hard not to think of yourself as an elite quarterback that needs to get paid.
While Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti need to figure out Flacco’s real life value those of us in the fake football world are tasked with something much more difficult, which is evaluating Flacco’s fantasy football value. If fantasy football quarterback rankings were based on number of Super Bowl MVPs owned then Flacco would be ranked in the top 6 of fantasy quarterbacks with the likes of Brady, both Mannings, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find any fantasy footballer that thinks that Flacco is a top-6 fantasy football QB. And that leaves us having to put more work into determining Flacco’s fantasy football value.
In the world of fantasy football Flacco’s post-season run, while magical, won’t hold much weight going into fantasy football draft war rooms this season. While what a quarterback does in the post season, looking at you Colin Kaepernick with your 798 yards passing, 264 yards rushing and 7 total touchdowns, will be factored into fantasy QB rankings, what happened in the regular season will also play a large factor. And when we look at Flacco’s regular season stats from this past season (3,817 yards passing, 22 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and three rushing touchdowns) he was the 14th highest scoring fantasy QB. In 1-QB leagues that’s unstartable territory but Flacco would make a suitable QB2 in leagues that start two fantasy quarterbacks.
All of this talk about the newly elite Joe Flacco and his playoff run that netted him the Super Bowl MVP trophy is just one long preamble into an overview of the quarterback position in the fake football sphere. With the NFL season now over and done with it’s time for us to start our research for next season and get started on our fantasy football preparations. Since this site is dedicated to 2-QB fantasy football leagues I thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the early fantasy football rankings from some of the top fantasy football minds in the business and see how they would apply to the 2-QB fantasy football league format.
For this study I’ve chosen six fantasy football experts whose work I greatly admire and have typed up their early QB rankings in a handy spreadsheet for your viewing pleasure below but you can also click on each of their names (with published rankings dates in parenthesis) and you’ll be directed to the rankings in question; but be warned that Eric Karabell’s rankings require you to have an ESPN Insider account. The six experts I’ve chosen for this study are ESPN’s Matthew Berry (January 3), 4for4’s John Paulsen (January 4), ESPN’s Eric Karabell (January 8, 2013), David Gonos (January 12, 2012), Rotoworld’s Evan Silva (January 28), and CBSFantasySports’ Jamey Eisenberg (Feb 6).
First things first, some of these rankings are already out of date. Only Eisenberg’s rankings are from this month and his updated rankings are the only post-Super Bowl rankings out of the bunch. But this is just a study to see how some of these experts are thinking about quarterbacks and fantasy football in general. The first thing that stands out to me when looking at all the ranked quarterbacks is Silva’s ranking of Kaepernick at five. Only two other experts have him ranked in the top ten (Paulsen at 7; Eisenberg at 8) but after Kaepernick came in and showed off his passing and rushing talents there’s no way the dual threat 49er QB isn’t among the very first quarterbacks taken in fantasy football. Right now I’d be leaning more towards Silva’s ranking of him and can easily see him being the fifth drafted fantasy QB this season, with the potential of going higher depending on how crazy he gets hyped up during the off-season. The other thing that stands out to me the most is the depth the fantasy QB position this year. As an example take the #12 ranked QB in each of the rankings: Kaepernick (Karabell and Berry), Josh Freeman (Gonos), Eli Manning (Eisenberg), Andrew Luck (Silva), and Tony Romo (Paulsen). In 1-QB leagues you’d be pretty pleased with any of those QBs as your QB1, I’d imagine, and they’d be nice to have as part of your starting QB tandem in 2-QB leagues too.
Sorry to interrupt here but I just wanted to point out how I went two whole paragraphs without talking about Flacco! However, if you’ll allow me, I want to go back to Flacco for just a moment. Here are his rankings from highest to lowest from the rankings data I’ve presented you with from the six experts: 15 (Eisenberg), 15 (Silva), 19 (Karabell), 20 (Berry), 20 (Paulsen), and 21 (Gonos). Basically he’s a top QB2 and nothing more than that in the minds of these fantasy experts and that seems about right. Just off the top of my head I’d rather have the following QBs on my fantasy roster before Flacco: Rodgers, Brady, Brees, RG3, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Peyton, Kaepernick, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Luck, and Ben Roethlisberger. That’s twelve QBs I just mentioned, which again puts Flacco in the QB2 range. As you can see, Flacco’s Super Bowl run will get him paid in real life but not respected as an elite talent in fantasy football circles.
Taking a look at the ADP data from mock drafts completed between January 15 and February 1st on FantasyFootballCalculator there are three QBs being taken in the first round, Rodgers (1.06), Brees (1.07), and Brady (1.11). In the second round we have two: Peyton Manning (2.08) and RG3 (2.12) and one in each the third and fourth rounds: Newton (3.03) and Wilson (4.10). So, in the first four rounds we have seven quarterbacks taken off the board. When you look at last season’s fantasy points totals the difference between first round pick Rodgers and third round pick Newton is 20.14 points. Why would you draft a QB two rounds earlier than a guy you can take later on in the draft that is also being considered a top-5 pick at the moment based on ADP? The trend this year at the QB position in fantasy football is depth. I’ve mentioned it already once before but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. If you look at the QB rankings from the six fantasy experts you’ll notice how deep this year the fantasy QB position will be and that’s especially the case in 1-QB leagues.
In twelve team leagues that only start 1-QB that means only 12 QBs really need to be drafted. The twelfth drafted QB in terms of ADP right now is Kaepernick, who’s going in the 8th round. The 8th round! Too bad these drafts happening right now aren’t real because I’d love to take Kaepernick in the 8th round, which won’t happen once real fantasy football drafts start happening. Kaepernick came on in relief of incumbent 49ers starter Alex Smith this season after Smith suffered a concussion in Week 10 of the 2012 NFL regular season against the St. Louis Rams.
When you look at Kaepernick’s Week 10 to Week 17 numbers you get the following stat line: 1,725 yards passing, 10 passing touchdowns, 304 yards rushing, 3 rushing touchdowns, 3 interceptions and 1 fumble lost. Kaepernick had made appearances in previous games before Week 10 and when you look at his complete season total stats he was the 25th highest scoring fantasy QB. However, if you calculate his per game fantasy points from Week 10 to Week 17 in a standard fantasy scoring league where touchdowns are worth six points, every 25 yards passing is worth 1 point, every 10 yards rushing is worth 1 point and 2 points are deducted for turnovers Kaepernick would have scored 21.18 fantasy points/game. Extrapolate that over a 16 game season and Kaepernick would have been the fourth highest fantasy scoring quarterback with 338.80 total fantasy points, only 6.78 points behind Brees, 4.8 points behind Rodgers and 1.48 points Brady, who finished 1-2-3 in fantasy at the QB position.
Going back to the current ADP data provided by FantasyFootballCalculator where Rodgers, Brees and Brady are all going in the first round and Kaepernick is going in the 8th round I’d rather have Kaepernick in the 8th round than any of those three quarterbacks in the first round and I imagine many others are thinking that exact same thing; at least hopefully they are. With fantasy QBs providing value late in fantasy football drafts I don’t see the need to reach for a QB early when there are so many serviceable fantasy QBs that can be had. For more information on the late round quarterback strategy check out JJ Zachariason over at LateRoundQB.com; he’s got all the good stuff you need about drafting QBs late.
Below I took a screenshot from the FantasyFootballCalculator ADP so you can see how QBs are being mock drafted. Each league is different of course. Leagues where QBs are only awarded 4 points/touchdown will be different than leagues in which passing touchdowns are worth 6 points and 2-QB leagues will place more of an emphasis on QBs because you don’t want to get stuck with the likes of Mark Sanchez as your second QB. The QB ADP is just to give you a general sense of how many QBs are worth starting in fantasy football this year.
With the expert rankings and the ADP at our disposal let us now focus our attention to 2-QB leagues, the reason why I started this website in the first place. In some 2-QB leagues the draft strategy remains the same; fill your roster up at the prime positions like WR and RB and then take the best QB available. In other 2-QB leagues QBs fly off the draft board early with the thinking that you gotta get at least one top flight QB early before they’re all gone or you’ll be stuck with a Jake Locker type as your QB1.
But what about this year? How are 2-QB leagues going to be drafted this year?
We already know that in ten or twelve team 1-QB leagues you can be the last person to draft a starting QB but you should still have a pretty decent fantasy QB on your roster, unless some owner trying to spite you takes their back-up before you take your starter. And if the current ADP holds true, which it won’t, that QB, Kaepernick, could be the most valuable fantasy QB when the season is all said and done with. What you have to decide as an owner in 2-QB leagues is to figure out how you want to draft. Do you play in a league where multiple QBs are taken in the first round? If so you’re going to want to snag a guy like Brady, Brees or Rodgers to form a good QB tandem with whomever your QB2 ends up being. If your 2-QB league is drafted like a 1-QB league waiting on a guy like Matthew Stafford isn’t a bad idea. Sure, Stafford wasn’t the same top fantasy QB in 2012 like he was in 2011 but he did attempt 727 passes and that amount of volume will lead to fantasy points, even if they aren’t pretty, which could potentially provide you with quite a bit of value and see you get a QB1 without having to pay a QB1 price.
When you look at the ADP I posted and the QB rankings from the six fantasy experts one thing for certain is that there are over 20 viable fantasy starting QBs in the 2-QB league format and that’s not counting the likes of Alex Smith, Michael Vick, Matt Flynn and any rookie QBs that might find themselves in juicy situations depending on what team drafts them and what system they’ll be playing in if given the chance to start. In a ten team 2-QB league you have enough starting fantasy QBs to go around. In twelve team leagues you’re cutting it close. However, which QBs you draft will shape your roster. A Rodgers-Dalton combo is better than a Locker-Tannehill combo so you still have to come up with a good drafting strategy to avoid having a disaster at the quarterback position.
For now this 2-QB fantasy football league rankings study is meant to make you think about the fantasy QB landscape in 2-QB fantasy football leagues so that you can start preparing yourself for your eventual drafts. Knowing how many worthwhile fantasy QBs there currently are makes you contemplate the value at the position and leagues that start two QBs won’t be looked upon as the ugly duckling of the fantasy football world for much longer.