JJ Zachariason

Draft Analysis

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Quarterbacks & 2013 Depth

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If we were to use Evan Silva’s Post-Season Top 150, we’d find that he’s ranked the top-12 quarterbacks for 2013 as follows:

1. Drew Brees
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Tom Brady
4. Cam Newton
5. Colin Kaepernick
6. Matt Ryan
7. Matthew Stafford
8. Peyton Manning
9. Russell Wilson
10. Robert Griffin III
11. Tony Romo
12. Andrew Luck

Now, if we assume each team has drafted according to Silva’s quarterback rankings -- and hasn't drafted its backup yet -- then we’re left with Andrew Luck waiting for DeMarco Polo.

Would you feel good about having Luck as your 2013 starter? What if I told you Luck was available eight rounds after you chose Brady?

One paranoid concern rushes through an owner's mind when he implements the late-round quarterback strategy. He fears other owners will collude against him. He thinks it’s insane to grab a just-adequate running back over a Pro Bowl quarterback. He becomes terrified at the idea of seeing an owner draft a backup passer before he gets his starter.

But what the panicked late-round quarterback drafter may not understand is that those other owners aren’t drafting for value when they reach for backup quarterbacks. And they’re certainly not planning properly post-draft. They’re trying to ruin his fantasy season by intentionally selecting backups before he picks his starter. Really, though, those owners are hurting their own chances at a championship.

In 2013, your starter could be the 15th quarterback off the board and you’d more than survive. The literature I've put together on the subject not only says you’d stay highly competitive regardless of quarterback selection, but that given the depth of this year’s class, you’re going to feel more confident with your late-round quarterback than ever before. Eli Manning will be someone’s backup in a standard league. Ben Roethlisberger, too. And Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton.

I’m not telling you that those options are better than players going ahead of them. But when you can easily pinpoint a usable player in the late rounds of your draft, how are you not tempted to pursue that player? Those guys may not be fantasy studs, but that’s part of the issue. We’ve associated the word “stud” with top quarterbacks because of what we see on the field. Quarterbacks are important to real football, but fantasy football is different. Historically -- last season included -- top quarterbacks haven’t performed a whole lot better than their peers. And when there’s little differentiation, there’s less of a need to obtain top talent.

Why should we reach for them?

Traditionally, the 12th quarterback in a 12-team draft gets selected in the middle of the 8th round. In years past, there was some doubt associated with that quarterback. But with more and more young talent under center, you can afford to wait even longer in leagues where just one quarterback is started on each team each week.

If we trust the 2013 fantasy quarterback class, then there’s no room for fear. If someone in your draft wants to take their backup quarterback before you select your starter, just let them. If your friend feels the need to own both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, then allow him to waste valuable top-half picks on those players.

In 2013, there’s a quarterback for everyone.


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