Fantasy Draft, to QB or not QB, that is the question

Jan 17, 2010; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers (17) throws a pass in the first quarter of the 2010 AFC Divisional playoff game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium.

While many of your fantasy drafts are probably months away, now is the time to start thinking of draft strategy. League scoring systems need to be first and foremost in ones mind, in a PPR league Wes Welker is king, but in others (like the MFL) he is just another serviceable receiver. The real killer in most drafts is always that first pick, do you go tried and true RB, or do you reach out to make your QB choice easy. In both the NFL and Fantasy Football. if you have two starters, you really have none. Lets look at some numbers.

Looking at last season in the MFL, 8 out of the top 12 scorers were Quarterbacks. Yet in the first round exactly ZERO QB’s were taken. Drew Brees was the first QB taken in the late second round, but not until the top 7 WR’s were taken. As an individual the QB can be your highest scoring player on almost a weekly basis.

But that only tells part of the story. The rules of supply and demand play heavily on the RB or QB decision. Since each team plays two RBs on a weekly basis and only one QB, not taking a RB round one almost certainly means that by round 2 you are scraping for a back that even starts for his team. In a 12 team league there are 24 RB starters, leaving only 8 NFL running backs not starting on FF rosters, and they will be sitting on someones bench.  With so many high scoring QBs there is a better chance of grabbing a solid sleeper in later rounds than taking a chance at a third string RB.

Let us look at the Top 4 running backs heading into next season, and assume they will be the first 4 picks in any given draft.

1. Chris Johnson – insane numbers last year, while he probably will not repeat then, even 75% of last years production still lands him a top pick.

2. Adrian Peterson – improved in his sophomore season, you can be sure he will continue to get a heavy dose of carries for a few seasons to come.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew – had a terrible start to the year, but finished strong.

4. Ray Rice – While he didn’t come out of nowhere, his level of play and the points he put up were well beyond expectations.

5. Your pick

What to do? After those top 4 you get a sea of unknowns, Thomas Jones, Frank Gore, Ricky Williams and Ryan Grant all had great seasons last year. The RB is a fickle beast, prone to wild fluxuation from year to year with the inevitable breakdown. Do you take a chance that one of these guys will have another good year? Do you have a RB that was down a little last year you expect to comeback? Or do you take a Brees, Rodgers, or Farve, all guys you can more or less bank on putting up points from week to week?

Last year I won the title selecting Brandon Jacobs as my top RB. This was obviously a disgusting mistake. What saved me was grabbing Mr 20 FF points a game Phillip Rivers in the 4th round. All in all, I could have just as well used that Jacobs pick on Brees in the first and grabbed Ray Rice, who slipped to the early fourth round.

I suggest a top flight QB or WR over a random grab at RB. If you find yourself taking a RB in the first round just because everyone else is, then odds are you’ll also be losing out on the best player in the other spots, don’t be afraid to break the trend and go your own direction.  Yes this can cause some instability at your RB spots, but that is the nature of the RB, you just need to be that much more vigilant for the guy ready to step up.

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