NFL teams do whatever it takes to secure a franchise quarterback. In fact, the bad ones are often accused of not trying their hardest at the end of a lost season in order to get a better draft pick. Every April, the talk is always about which quarterbacks will go at the beginning of the draft. Quarterbacks are the focus for any team needing a spark.
Except fantasy ones, of course. A couple teams probably used an earlier draft pick on a quarterback, and they’ve been rewarded with good play. But waiting on a QB? That’s proving to be the real shrewd move.
Kyler Murray might have been the third quarterback chosen in your league (top five in most of them), but the dividends continue to pay off. You can argue that’s still taking a quarterback “early,” but it was late enough that his team was able to scoop up premier talent in other areas. If you wanted Patrick Mahomes (no slouch himself, obviously), you paid for it. Same with Josh Allen. With those guys, you have to consider the opportunity cost as well. What player did you miss out on taking because you had to use such an early pick? Would they have been a difference-maker for your team? Maybe the difference between 1-3 and 3-1 after four weeks?
But the longer you waited, the better off you might be. You could have picked up Carr, Herbert, Stafford or Hurts much later in your draft and stacked your team with receivers and running backs. Maybe even splurged on Kelce so you’re dominating at several positions. If you planned to “get by” with a decent quarterback, there’s a good chance you’re getting stellar play and look great headed toward the bye weeks.
I know this phenomenon isn’t unique to this season. I’ve won titles with quarterbacks I selected several rounds after most other teams in my league. But you know what? I think I got lucky a lot of times. Looking back, I chose the one guy left that could help me win a championship. Maybe there were two. I wasn’t some drafting genius. I got the right quarterback late and it paid off.
But this year seems different, at least through the first month of games. I see a lot of excellent fantasy players who don’t seem to be slowing down. Even if they don’t keep up this particular level of play, you can win a title with them. And there are probably a few teams out there who hit upon two great quarterbacks. What then? Use one as trade bait? Play matchups? Keep the depth in case something terrible happens? It’s up to you.
Of course, there’s also the uglier side of the coin: What if you didn’t get a big-name QB and you missed out on one of the excellent mid-range options? What if you were banking on Roethlisberger or one of the rookies to carry you through the early part of the season? In a traditional league, quarterbacks are often the thinnest part of the waiver wire. And if you start two, forget it. So what are your options?
The way I see it, you have two: Trade for a decent starter, or lose. There are too many good fantasy quarterbacks out there right now. You might not separate yourself with one, because most teams have one as well. But if you don’t, you’re dealing with a major deficit. Carson Wentz isn’t the answer in week 4 or week 14. You need great QB performances to compete these days.
On the bright side, you’re probably benefiting from a trickle-down effect based on the gaudy quarterback stats. There’s a good chance you can find a viable receiver on the waiver wire. Most NFL teams now have two (or even three) guys who can lead the team in receiving stats on any given week. But if you don’t see a standout quarterback on your roster, it’s unlikely you’re at the top of your standings.
Granted, things might look very different in week 8. But this isn’t week 8. Teams that pile up wins right now are building a cushion for whatever happens later. And let’s be honest: There’s no way all of the quarterback surprises will regress to average stats. At the end of the year, we’ll point to a few guys who really made the difference in fantasy leagues, and we all passed them up for a few rounds. Whether it costs us or not depends on what we can put together in our starting lineups. Good luck this week.
Do you wish you had taken a quarterback earlier, or later? Which early-season surprise is most likely to keep it up, and which one is most likely to regress to mediocrity? Anybody out there winning games without a great quarterback leading the way? Share your thoughts below.