Cleat Geeks

Redraft Fantasy Football: Wait For It…

With week two of the 2018 NFL preseason under way, that can only mean one thing, we are entering the heart of draft season for redraft leagues! As most dynasty startup drafts have wrapped up throughout this chaotic off-season, I too will be shifting my focus for the purposes of this article to redraft formats. Fantasy football minds will never agree on when to take certain positions during the draft process. We often see the “Zero RB” advocates and their cries are followed by supporters chanting “Load up on running back early!” While neither of those options will be discussed in this article, we will be focusing our efforts on the value available at the position of quarterback beyond the first 9 rounds (assume 12 team, 1 QB, 4 point passing TD leagues).

You can certainly choose to reach on a quarterback and take one off the board in an early round, but especially in a one quarterback league, you will see throughout this article why that might not be your best route come draft day.

Dating back to the 2013 season, there is ever-growing parity throughout the quarterback position. Below is a breakdown of all quarterbacks with an ADP earlier than the 10th round of drafts from 2013 to present, as well as their end of season position ranking.

Drafted Position 2013 EOS Rank 2014 EOS Rank 2015 EOS Rank 2016 EOS Rank 2017 EOS Rank
QB1 Brees 2 Peyton 4 Luck 28 Newton 17 Rodgers 29
QB2 Rodgers 22 Brees 6 Rodgers 7 Rodgers 1 Brady 3
QB3 Peyton 1 Rodgers 1 Peyton 34 Wilson 11 Brees 9
QB4 Brady 14 Stafford 15 Brees 6 Luck 4 Ryan 15
QB5 Newton 3 Luck 2 Roethlisberger 20 Brees 3 Wilson 1
QB6 Ryan 15 Brady 9 Brady 2 Brady 15 Carr 19
QB7 Stafford 7 Ryan 7 Wilson 3 Roethlisberger 18 Mariota 18
QB8 Kaepernick 9 Foles 29 Ryan 19 Palmer 19 Winston 22
QB9 Luck 4 Cutler 14 Romo 42 Bortles 9 Cousins 6
QB10 RGIII 18 Romo 11 Bradford 24 Eli 21 Newton 2
QB11 Romo 10 Newton 17 Tannehill 17 Rivers 14 Luck N/A
QB12 Wilson 8 Rivers 12 Stafford 9 Carr 10 Roethlisberger 11
QB13 Eli 21 Kaepernick 16 Eli 10
QB14 Vick 35 Wilson 3

As you can see, 2013 and 2014 both saw multiple end of season top 4 quarterbacks taken as one of the first 3 quarterbacks in each draft. Since then, there has been a greater level of uncertainty when taking a quarterback so early. Below is a graphic showing all quarterbacks with an ADP between the 10th and 15th rounds from 2013 through 2017.

2013 EOS Rank 2014 EOS Rank 2015 EOS Rank 2016 EOS Rank 2017 EOS Rank
Dalton 5 RGIII 36 Rivers 12 Cousins 5 Rivers 8
Roethlisberger 11 Dalton 18 Newton 1 Tyrod 8 Prescott 10
Cutler 23 Roethlisberger 5 Bridgewater 23 Stafford 7 Stafford 7
Palmer 17 Palmer 31 Palmer 5 Winston 16 Dalton 17
Schaub 33 Tannehill 8 Flacco 26 Dalton 13 Wentz 5
Flacco 19 McCown 28 Kaepernick 31 Mariota 12 Eli 23
Bradford 29 Flacco 13 Tyrod 16 Prescott 6 Palmer 32
J Freeman 44 Cutler 21 Ryan 2 Cutler 27
Alex Smith 13 Mariota 22 Fitzpatrick 29 Tyrod 16
Tannehill 16 Carr 14 Tannehill 27
Rivers 6 RGIII 35
Manuel 28 Osweiler 28

We have seen a total of 12 of the last 24 top 12 drafted QBs not finish the season as such. On the other hand, there have been 10 quarterbacks drafted between the 10th and 15th rounds go on to finish as a QB1 (again, 12 team leagues) in the past 2 seasons. With this data available, why do we continuously torture ourselves by taking a quarterback early in 1 QB formats with the position seemingly getting deeper every season?

Below (End of Season Ranking vs. Total Fantasy Points) shows the drastic change of the quarterback landscape since 2013, revealing a disappearing gap between top tier quarterbacks and your average, run of the mill QB2s. The difference over the course of the season between the top 2 QB average and QB13-16 average was a staggering 141 points in 2013. That number has dwindled to a mere 88 points in 2017. Quarterbacks have been taken slightly later in redraft drafts year after year, but that is not to say some people are still stuck in their ways.

End of Season Ranking 2013 2014 2016 2017
QB1-2 384 351 361 321
QB3-5 291 313 312 288
QB6-10 271 282 270 267
QB11-12 258 266 259 256
QB13-16 247 253 256 233
QB17-24 186 196 231 201

With all this information available, let’s discuss two quarterbacks that are being taken early in 2018 and two alternatives that are available much later in the draft at a far greater value.

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Drew Brees has been a fantasy player’s dream at quarterback over the last what seems to be centuries. Since at least 2010, Brees has never produced a season outside of QB9. With 2017 being one of his most consistent seasons on a week to week basis, he also saw his lowest touchdown output since the 2003 season, with only 23. While I am sure there will be some regression to the mean in 2018, a reinvigorated running game might throw a wrench in his return to top tier status. As a result of such a strong commitment to the run in 2017, Brees saw his fewest pass attempts (536) since 2009. Even though Sean Payton has said the Saints do not plan on increasing Alvin Kamara’s workload and while Mark Ingram is suspended through the first 4 games of 2018, you would think this would bode well for Brees and the passing game. However, I expect Sean Payton to run Ingram into the ground after returning from suspension, as he is an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2019 season. While Drew Brees has been nothing short of remarkable throughout his career, his current ADP of 6.11 (QB5) seems to be a bit expensive and I believe similar weekly consistent production can be had 4 rounds later.

For more of a bargain, we don’t even have to leave the NFC South. Matt Ryan, currently being drafted in the 10th round at 10.01, is more than capable to produce not only similar end of year numbers, but also similar week to week consistency as Drew Brees. While not nearly as dominant as his counterpart, Matt Ryan has been able to produce 5 top 8 seasons in the last 8 years. Ryan has also seen a continuous improvement over the last 4 years in terms of week to week consistency. As I have thoroughly discussed in previous articles, I believe coefficient of variation is a very telling statistic in showing week to week consistency. Coefficient of variation is simply the standard deviation divided by the average. The closer to zero, the more consistent a player is. Matt Ryan has posted constantly improving coefficient of variations of 37.77, 33.37, 27.96, and 25.92 from 2014 to 2017. To put this in perspective, Drew Brees has only posted 2 seasons with a coefficient variation under 30 dating back to 2010. With the 3rd highest ranked offensive line in 2018 (according to PFF), the addition of 1st round pick Calvin Ridley, and more familiarity with 2nd year Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, Matt Ryan can yield a nice return for owners in 2018 with his current ADP of 10.01 (QB12).

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Next, we will look at a quarterback that has not been taken later than QB6 since at least 2013, and that would be Tom Brady. As with Drew Brees, by no means am I saying that neither Brees nor Brady won’t have a strong 2018, but I do believe that by waiting on quarterback that can net similar production, you are at an advantage by scooping up a position player in early rounds. In the last 5 seasons, Tom Brady has only met or exceeded his ADP in 2 of those seasons. Brady is currently being drafted as QB3, which puts him at 5.11. By pulling the trigger this early on a quarterback, even one as great as Tom Brady, you are passing up on valuable starting assets, such as Kerryon Johnson, Corey Davis, Marquise Goodwin, etc. Especially if you are in a league with deeper starting requirements, players like this are critical in helping you make your way to the playoffs. While the great Tom Brady is coming off of a fantastic end of season ranking of QB4, there is a quarterback with eerily similar numbers that is currently being taken 5 rounds later.

Philip Rivers is currently being taken as QB13 at 10.02 overall. Last year, Rivers finished as QB7 with a similar resume as Tom Brady. Below is a breakdown of some key numbers comparing the two quarterbacks.

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Year QB Rank Player G Total Points Average CV QB1% QB2% QB1+2%
2017 4 Tom Brady 16 291.9 18.24 38.46 68.75% 25.00% 93.75%
2017 7 Philip Rivers 16 270.5 16.91 37.39 68.75% 18.75% 87.50%
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As you can see, both finished as high end QBs with 11 QB1 weeks each. Both ended 2017 with a below average coefficient of variation within 1.07 points of each other and were within 22 total fantasy points of each other throughout the entire 2017 season. Amazingly, Rivers was able to finish 2017 as a QB1 despite being pressured as often as he was. According to PFF, his guard, Kenny Wiggins, gave up the most pressures of any guard in the NFL (41) and Spencer Pulley ranked last among all centers in the NFL with 38 QB pressures. While we might not see an improvement in 2018, it’s reassuring to know that Rivers can be successful despite his offensive line woes. With a plethora of weapons to support Philip Rivers, waiting until the 10th round to take a quarterback will be a sound decision in your 2018 redraft league draft.

While both Tom Brady and Drew Brees might have yet another spectacular season, there’s no need to reach for a quarterback in a one quarterback league. Being taken at 5.11 and 6.11, respectively, it’s a much wiser investment to draft a position player at this point in the draft than dumping stock into a quarterback with how deep this position has gotten throughout the years. Hold off…wait until the 10th round and grab that value from 2 quarterbacks that you can be confident in giving you weekly consistency and have proven to be a QB1 in the past. Wait for it, and you’ll be happy that you did.

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