There is an old Paul Cole song ringing through my head, “…Where have all the Cowboys gone?” Instead of the Stetson domed boot wear’in cowboys, I want to know where all the QB’s have gone? In fantasy football that is. Long considered a key component of a winning fantasy team, the QB market is dry and transitioning. And it’s leaving a hole on fantasy rosters.
Over the last few years, the fantasy football players have seen a spell of weakening in the value of running backs. Once considered the top priority bar-none for any scoring type. Now with two set backs and teams relying on a platoon of runners and fewer teams relying on single backs, the top of the draft has become a landing spot for quarterbacks.
Quarterbacks are becoming harder to slot in your fantasy draft and more often than not, teams are reaching for a QB who normally would have been drafted much lower. In the first round, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees hold spots anywhere from the fifth spot down. The value after that has dropped considerably and some would argue that even those three being drafted mid-round first is too high. Especially in standard scoring leagues where the QB receives 4 points for every touchdown.
It’s beyond those three that has me wondering where indeed the QB’s have gone.
Michael Vick was a consensus first round pick last year but a poor season and skepticism has him ranked as far as the 3rd round making him a high risk player in the 2nd. Phillip Rivers lost his starting WR’s and TE Antonio Gates is starting to slide with his production and health. Suddenly the poor season the historically consistent Rivers last year, seems more likely to repeat than reverse.
The only QB who statistically is making a move up the ranks is Matt Stafford who many drafted in the middle rounds. Now suddenly, Stafford is poised to become the fourth QB off the board. In Carolina, Cam Newton showed a ton of potential but Newton could become this years Michael Vick. Over-drafted with little return. Is Cam Newton a second round fantasy draft selection? Is he a top end 3?
The issue here is simple. Most leagues are 12 teams leagues. Some will be ten. With three QB’s standing out and above all the others and fourth making a legit climb, six to eight teams will have to grab a QB early or risk having mediocre talent holding their top roster spot on Sundays head to head or point match-ups.
With Rivers, Vick, and Newton likely to garner considerations in rounds 2 and 3 which potentially could be serious reaches if/when point production rate out to the values as a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Behind those two, the drop off is considerable.
While Peyton Manning is lining up behind center this year, concerns about the Denver offense and his health is a concern that is keeping his stock from flying up into the to rounds…and rightfully so. Last years Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning is still so up and down inconsistent that even his WR’s are not first look WR’s. Truth is that despite Eli’s Super Bowl showing, his first six games last year cost teams victories and his production fantasy wise became a weekly question mark for teams wondering if they should start him.
Eli and Peyton Manning however may be the best of what is left of a weakening QB crop. The inconsistent Tony Romo, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub coming back from a season ending injury, Buffalo’s short leashed Ryan Fitzpatrick, or last years rookie sensation Andy Dalton suddenly have become the top if not only options for teams not drafting in a QB friendly slot. Do you reach on a QB early or do you take a risk late on a rookie like Andrew Luck or RGIII?
Traditionally, teams want to lock up two starting QB’s. One to cover the bye week and two to cover injury. Looking at the lineup of QB’s and the questionable value of their draft slotting, teams may wait longer to take their second starter or may even have to wait to take their primary. No longer is there a list of bona-fide producing QB’s on the draft charts.
The good news is that could easily change in only a few years. A large influx of talent in the last two seasons has seen the NFL QB pool begin to fill with prospective talent. Guys like Jake Locker and Christian Ponder to go along with Andy Dalton. Matt Flynn in Seattle could become a valuable QB in the future. Luck and RGIII are supposed to be future franchise QB’s as is Ryan Tannehill in Miami and Brandon Weedon in Cleveland.
For now it’s a roll of the roulette wheel. Do you draft early and reach for a QB who is coming off a down season with questionable possibility of reversing this season or do you stick to your guns and wait taking players who may provide a better stability for your roster overall but leave you dry when placing a name next to the QB slot at the top of your active roster?
That is the beauty of fantasy football. You simply just don’t know what is going to happen.
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