OpinionSeptember 5, 2010

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More QBs, Please - 3 comments

By Drew Szczerba

This is Jeopardy! ”Jeopardy” is a little known program that spun off from a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Will Ferrell’s portrayal of a mildly condescending game show host. It is also important to note that it is generally considered favorable for contestants to give their “answers” in the form of questions. Let’s try one. Ready? Here’s the clue…

“Kickers, Tight Ends, Defenses, Quarterbacks”

Hmmm . . . What are things you can wait on? 

Correct!  Nice job.  And while your answer is very impressive, it sheds light on a truth that is very sad.  You see, of the six positions needed in standard leagues (QB, RB, WR, TE, DEF, K), four of them can be forgotten about until the later part of your draft.  Only running backs and wide receivers need to be taken early.  Think about it.  Two-thirds of the required positions can be safely ignored in the early rounds.  It’s true, players such as Dallas Clark and Drew Brees will likely find their way into the second or third round.  But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get them.  Why?  Because Matt Ryan and Chris Cooley will do just fine. 

While it’s probably true that all of the aforementioned “ignorable four” positions can use a boost in fantasy relevance, quarterbacks are clearly the group most deserving of such an increase.  The best way to do this is to require each team to start two QBs.  Consider the benefits.  First, the most essential position in the NFL will now also be considered important for fantasy.  No longer will the first round of your draft merely be an exercise in crossing off running backs while hoping for your favorite to go unclaimed.  A “Start Two QB League” gives you options and forces owners to make tough decisions.  Do you take Aaron Rodgers in the first round, or should you go with a runner because you believe Matt Schaub will be there on the way back? 

Then there’s the issue of trades.  In a traditional league, it is unlikely that any deals can be completed that involve quarterbacks other than Brees or Rodgers.  Let me rephrase that.  In a traditional league, it is unlikely that any deals can be justified that involve quarterbacks other than Brees or Rodgers.  Why?  Suppose you’re in a traditional ten team, one-QB league and you leave your draft with Palmer, Ryan, and Henne as your quarterbacks.  You may say to yourself, “I’ve got three pretty good QBs.  I bet I could use one of them as trade bait.” 

Although you’d be correct in thinking you have three good NFL quarterbacks, you’d be wrong in thinking you could trade any of them.  This is because your three good quarterbacks amount to replacement level players when you consider that only ten quarterbacks need to be started in your entire league.  Remember, there are 32 professional football teams if you include the Rams.  This means only 31% (10 of 32) of players at the most important position will be started each week.  Unfortunately, this misrepresents the sport as a whole and minimizes the amount of strategy needed to build a winning fantasy team.

Realizing that your quarterbacks have virtually no trade value, you may think it’s a good idea to trade for a quarterback.  You could certainly justify trading a QB plus another player for Brees. Brees is widely considered a top option at the position and would be a significant upgrade for your team.  But what about trading for, say, Jay Cutler?  Cutler is likely better than all of your quarterbacks.  Still, the prospect of trading for him doesn’t seem too appealing.  Of your three replacement level QBs, one of them is likely to have an easier opponent than Cutler most weeks.  Obviously it will probably be a different guy on a week-to-week basis, but you will be able to play match ups and attain Cutler-level productivity from the quarterback position. 

A “Start Two QB League” cures all of these problems.  It respects the game’s most crucial position, allows for the viability of additional draft strategies, and unfreezes trading markets by increasing quarterback value.  If you’re starting a new league, two QBs is the way to go.  However, if you trying to improve an existing one-QB league, change won’t come easy.  Many people will resist altering what has been in place for so long.  To these people I say, embrace the change.  The NFL didn’t always have wild card teams, instant replay, and two-point conversions.  Today, I couldn’t imagine football without wild card weekend or second guessing my favorite team for kicking the extra point.  I’m not saying every change is for the better, but I am hoping the days of one-QB dominance are in jeopardy.

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3 Responses to “More QBs, Please”

  1. Solak says:

    Hummm. Hopefully the author doesn’t really think that Jeopardy is a spin-off from SNL…. Other then that, interesting article. My question would be does the scoring in a two QB league become so QB dependent that it lessons the importance of RBs or WRs too much? Do you have to adjust the points awarded on QB stats any at all to maintain balance?

  2. User avatar Indibuck says:

    “My question would be does the scoring in a two QB league become so QB dependent that it lessons the importance of RBs or WRs too much? Do you have to adjust the points awarded on QB stats any at all to maintain balance?”

    My main redraft league just went to the start-2 QB system this year, and we held our draft a few weeks ago.

    To answer your question, it’s not as much about QB scoring (remember, ALL QBs have the same scoring system) as it is about positional scarcity.

    Positional scarcity means the number of viable players at a position per number of total roster spots per position. In most standard leagues, that’s why 75% of the players taken in the first round are RBs — there’s only a handful of workhorse running backs in the NFL, making them more scarce than elite WRs, TEs, or QBs.

    In a start-2 QB league, QBs become as scarce (or even more scarce if there are 12 owners) as RBs. Why? There are 32 starting QBs in the NFL, meaning 20 (in a 10-team league) or 24 (in a 12-team) are starting fantasy QBs every week. Throw out the Delhommes/Bradfords/Matt Moores and then add in bye weeks, and it’s impossible for every team to be strong at the position.

    In my 10-team, start-2QB league, there were 10 QBs selected in the first 2 rounds. It’s my experience that if you don’t have 2 QBs by the start of the 4th round, you’re going to struggle in certain weeks at the position.

  3. Oatsdad says:

    “Hopefully the author doesn’t really think that Jeopardy is a spin-off from SNL…. ”

    Since he referred to “Jeopardy” as “little-known”, I’m pretty sure his tongue was firmly in cheek…


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