2009 Fantasy Football Preview: QBs

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Generally speaking, there are three schools of thought when drafting a quarterback. The first is to draft a stud in the first round or two and hope that he’s destined for a great year like the one Tom Brady had in 2007. The risk here is if this early pick doesn’t vastly outplay most of his peers, or if the owner isn’t able to unearth a good RB or WR in the middle rounds, the team is going to have trouble competing on a weekly basis.

The next theory is to go with running backs and/or wide receivers with the first two or three picks and then start looking for QB value in the next few rounds. This strategy could lead to an owner getting a player ranked in the top 5 in the third or fourth round, or a guy ranked 6-10 in the fifth or sixth round, or even later.

The final approach is to intentionally ignore the quarterback position in all of the early rounds, instead building up depth at running back and wide receiver (and maybe even tight end). Then in the eighth or ninth round, start to look at drafting a QB or three in the next few rounds with the hope of putting together a cohesive Quarterback By Committee (QBBC). (I recently posted a more detailed article that focuses solely on the QBBC.)

All of these strategies can work, but they each represent a different level of risk. For owners that always draft a QB early, they need that player to stay healthy and perform at a level commensurate with their draft position. The same goes for the owner who waits for value to emerge in rounds 3-6, though his QB has better odds of matching or outplaying his draft position. The owner that holds off until the middle rounds and then picks two or three guys that he expects to start throughout the season ultimately has quite a bit more room for error. If one player has a down year, the other (or other two) could very well pick up the slack.

Which strategy you choose may ultimately depend on your draft position. If there are five or six running backs you really like in the first round, but you have pick #12, you may elect to go with Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning instead of taking a RB leftover. Or if you have pick #4 and don’t deem any of those three worthy of your first rounder, but they’re all gone by 2.09, you’ll probably end up taking another RB or going with a WR.

The key is to look for value. That might mean waiting until Aaron Rodgers slips to you in the early 5th, or going with David Garrard and Jason Campbell in the late rounds as part of a QBBC, or even pulling the trigger on Peyton Manning in the early third, especially if there isn’t a RB or WR there that you like.

Below is a list of several guys that seem to represent good value at their current average draft positions (ADP). We’ll also provide rankings for the entire QB position, broken into tiers. Keep in mind that your scoring system will have a great impact on the value of the QB position.

Any ADP data you see is from Antsports (from mock drafts completed 7/15 to 8/5), and it assumes a 12-team league with a high performance scoring system, which includes 4 points per pass TD and one point per 20 yards passing. Quarterbacks will be more important in leagues with 6 points per pass TD or in leagues that don’t give a point per reception. Starting requirements are 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 flex (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 PK and 1 DT.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers (4.08)
Statistically speaking, Rodgers was stellar in his first year under center for the Packers. He finished the season as QB2 and was remarkably consistent; he only had one game with fewer than 14.0 fantasy points. Nothing much has changed in the Packers offense – Greg Jennings re-signed – and while the defense should be a bit better, Green Bay’s games should be about as competitive as they were in 2008. The schedule looks a bit easier, so all signs point to another top 5 year for Rodgers. He’s a nice value at his current ADP or later.

Tony Romo, Cowboys (5.08)
From a fantasy perspective, the only thing Romo did wrong in 2008 was miss a few games in the middle of the season with an injury. When he played, he was one of the top QBs in the game, as evidenced by his 21.5 fppg average, which was third best in the league. Terrell Owens is gone, but Roy Williams has had an offseason to adjust to the Cowboys’ offense, and with top TE Jason Witten roaming the middle, Romo has no shortage of options. In order to avoid a late season swoon, the Cowboys have had him on a stricter workout regimen this summer. To top it all off, his schedule is a bit easier and he has a very nice matchup in Week 16. If he’s there in the 5th, he’s a nice pick.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (7.07)
According to Footballguys (who know what they’re doing), Roethlisberger’s strength of schedule is almost 26% easier than last season. He finished as QB16 in ’08 and QB5 in ’07, so with a nice schedule, Big Ben’s upside is big. He has two great receivers in Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, and a dependable TE in Heath Miller. The offensive line is still a concern, but the unit came together pretty well last season and they added Kraig Urbik in the second round. With a tough or mediocre schedule, Roethlisberger is probably more of a fringe starter, but with arguably the easiest schedule in the league, Big Ben looks like a very solid pick in the 6th or 7th round.

David Garrard, Jaguars (10.02)
His schedule is a bit tougher than last year, but for the money, Garrard has been one of the most steady and dependable QBs over the past two seasons. In 2008, he was QB9 with a 17.4 fppg average despite all sorts of injuries on the offensive line, which is healthy now and should be better with new additions Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton In 2007, he finished as QB16 (because he missed a few games), but had the 11th-best per game average. With Torry Holt on board, Garrard’s prospects are brighter, yet he’s still flying under the radar with an ADP in the 9th or 10th round. He’d make a stellar backup or a quality member of a two-man or three-man QBBC.

Joe Flacco, Ravens (11.02)
While Baltimore’s receiving corps is worrisome (especially if Derrick Mason stays retired), Flacco’s performance should benefit from two things: 1) having a year of experience under his belt and 2) having a much easier schedule. As a rookie, Flacco finished the season as QB19, so with some experience and several easy matchups, he’s a good bet to outplay his current draft position.

Shaun Hill / Alex Smith, 49ers (14.01 / ???)
If Hill does fend of Alex Smith’s bid for the starting job in San Francisco, he projects to be a great fantasy value. In 2008, he had an 18.3 fppg average in nine games, which was the 11th-best in the league. The 49ers should continue to play from behind, and along with the addition of Michael Crabtree and another easy schedule, Hill is a nice value in the late rounds. If Smith does indeed beat Hill out as QB1 for the 49ers, he’s worth a look too, though he hasn’t yet proven that he can perform in game situations.

Here are our official quarterback rankings:

1. Drew Brees
2. Tom Brady
3. Peyton Manning

4. Aaron Rodgers
5. Tony Romo

6. Philip Rivers
7. Donovan McNabb
8. Kurt Warner
9. Ben Roethlisberger
10. Jay Cutler
11. Carson Palmer

12. David Garrard
13. Matt Cassel
14. Matt Ryan
15. Matt Schaub
16. Eli Manning

17. Joe Flacco
18. Matt Hasselbeck
19. Trent Edwards
20. Jason Campbell
21. Kyle Orton
22. Shaun Hill / Alex Smith

23. Chad Pennington
24. Jake Delhomme
25. Marc Bulger
26. Matthew Stafford
27. JaMarcus Russell
28. Kerry Collins
29. Brady Quinn
30. Mark Sanchez

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

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