2013 Fantasy Football: Analyzing Quarterback ADP and Draft Value
Quarterbacks are where it’s at in the NFL. Joe Flacco once again showed why it’s a quarterback-driven league, as he passed for three touchdowns and took home the Super Bowl 47 MVP, as well as a win to end the 2012 NFL season.
It worked the same in fantasy football, as the leading point-getter was a quarterback. Not too surprisingly, Drew Brees was the passer who did the most damage, as he ended the year atop everyone in standard scoring formats, thanks to his NFL record second straight 5,000+ yard season, as well as 44 total touchdowns.
If Brees didn’t show you how boss quarterbacks are in fantasy, then just run down the leaderboard and watch your jaw drop. The names will ring several bells, while you have to go six deep and stop at Denver’s Peyton Manning before you hit the first non-quarterback in the final 2012 season rankings for total points scored.
Adrian Peterson creates the gap, but the quarterbacks pick it right back up with Matt Ryan in the 8th spot, and don’t look back until spot number 12, where rookie running back Doug Martin starts to show the power of the running back in our fantasy realm.
However, that still makes the quarterbacks the mighty position, as 10 of the first 11 fantasy point leaders work under center for a living. If you keep going, you’ll find that 19 out of the top 25 fantasy point scorers in 2012 were quarterbacks.
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Of those 19 quarterbacks, seven topped 300 total points, three were rookies, and five had at least 200+ rushing yards on the ground to go with their sick numbers through the air.
So, pick the guy you think will blow it up the most in 2013 and do what is necessary to get him in round one, right?
Wrong. If it wasn’t already obvious heading into 2012, it sure is now: the quarterback position is deeper than ever, and it’s not about to change anytime soon.
Peyton Manning is back into the equation. Sure, he’ll be 37, but he was actually better in 2012 than he was the last time he played, and there’s reason to believe he’ll be that good or better again in 2013.
Colin Kaepernick is a phenom, and he isn’t on the leader board because he only has 10 career starts to his name. Stretch him out for a full season and maximize his potential, and few would argue that you’re looking at a guy who can throw for 3,000+ yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for 400+ yards and 5 more scores. And that’s being conservative.
Then you have the big impact from the sensational rookies in Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Unless those guys do complete face plants, they should ride the momentum they had toward the end of the year into even better sophomore campaigns. RG3 is the lone guy there that could be an exception with the torn ACL, but that actually could end up making him a huge steal.
And have we even begun to touch on the league’s staple fantasy beasts such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers (and the aforementioned Drew Brees), as well as not-going-away studs like Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford?
Once we’re done with all the super elites, we still have plenty of studs with mega potential like Matt Ryan and Tony Romo, along with guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub and Josh Freeman who have the ability to take it up another level in any given year.
The point? The quarterback position is extremely deep, and you probably can wait until the third or fourth round (if not much, much later) in your 2013 fantasy draft to snag a guy (or two) that will get you deep into the season.
Last year, I strolled through many fantasy drafts without getting a quarterback until round four or five. Usually I went with Michael Vick or Philip Rivers, simple because they were under valued and I felt they were in for monster seasons. I was dead wrong about Vick and a little more than slightly off about Rivers. However, I saved my own behind by grabbing RG3 in just about every league as an insurance policy. As the #5 leading fantasy scorer, that worked out just fine.
You can split the quarterbacks into tiers, play with projections, figure in injuries and roster changes, and try to argue value all you want. The fact is, there are way more potent quarterbacks than there are running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
But with 19 coming in the top 25, that doesn’t mean you need to knee-jerk your way to landing a Brees, Brady, Rodgers or Newton in 2013. You can wait and pick one of your secondary favorites, while stocking up on a thin running back crop and getting two stud wide receivers, while watching as your buddies struggle to find even one.
As we get closer to the season, we’ll rank every player at every position and provide projections, but to kick start things, everyone at least has to be aware of the inflation at the quarterback position. You can win leagues with Matt Ryan, who only had 41 less fantasy points than Drew Brees, and per last year, you could have drafted him much later.
To get an even clearer picture of just how much value is at the quarterback position, consider some ADP results per Fantasy Football Calculator. We’ll use a standard 10-team, 15-round mock to punch out the logic.
It’s super early, but recent mock numbers have Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees being taken in the first round, followed by Tom Brady in the second, and then Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and RG3 in the third.
The next quarterback doesn’t come off the board (on average) until the sixth round.
That could tell you that most fantasy owners are catching on and only taking the super elites in the first three rounds, but the more important note is that a TON of potentially elite talent is going to be available to you in the middle rounds.
Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan are the next guys to go in the sixth. All three were in the top 10 for fantasy quarterbacks in 2012, and all three were also in the top 11 for overall production. And they’re being drafted five rounds after the other quarterbacks who are supposedly “far superior” to them.
Then you have Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo going in the seventh and eight rounds, respectively. Romo was the #9 overall fantasy option, and this was in a year where he threw a career-high 19 interceptions. With Dez Bryant in tow, this dude isn’t going anywhere but up. And Stafford, although his touchdowns took a major dip, resides in an offense that almost had him hit 5,000+ passing yards for the second straight season (sorry, Matt, only Brees can do that).
It gets better.
Right after those guys is Colin Kaepernick, who is currently incredibly under valued in the ninth round, where he shares ADP time with Eli Manning. Both of these guys could easily be top-five fantasy quarterbacks in 2013.
After them, you’ll find Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers and a few other semi-big names that will be very solid, and still have some upside from rounds 10-14. Depending on who you roll with that late, you literally could still be landing an elite fantasy quarterback. Example: Jay Cutler is going off boards in round 14, and I love his upside with offensive guru Marc Trestman taking over as his head coach in Chicago.
And with all of that said, it looks pretty clear that if you draft a quarterback in round one, you’re wasting your pick. If you draft one in the first three rounds, you’re simply over-paying. If you do your research and you land one of your favorite guys in rounds 6-8, you’re ahead of the curve. If you can land your guy in rounds 10-12, you’re just gravy.
This kind of parity is pretty incredible, but what’s even crazier is that seven months from now, it’s still not going away. Quarterbacks are insanely over-valued these days in fantasy football. Acknowledge that, conduct mocks, learn the ADP, and pick the guys you’ll be targeting. If you do that, you’ll end up with a stud quarterback and a quality backup, and if you’re lucky, a deep, balanced offense to go along with it.