2010 Fantasy Football Preview: Quarterback By Committee (QBBC)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants against the Carolina Panthers at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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Every year, I kickoff TSR’s hardcore fantasy football coverage with my Quarterback By Committee (QBBC) post. I do this for a couple of reasons: 1) out of curiosity, as I usually draft a QBBC myself, and 2) there’s a lot of number crunching so it gets the fantasy football juices flowing.

For the neophytes, QBBC is a strategy often utilized by savvy fantasy footballers who want to take advantage of the relative depth at quarterback by forming a committee of overlooked mid-rounders. The premise is this: Two or three mediocre quarterbacks whose schedules mesh nicely — i.e. they have several favorable matchups when their schedules are combined — will give you the positional production of a top 5 QB.

This allows fantasy owners to load up on running backs, wide receivers and even a stud tight end in the early rounds, building depth at the positions where talent is at a premium. Sure, it’s great to have Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees anchoring your team, but that means you don’t get that second round RB or WR that you had your eye on. If you can get Top 5 QB production from a couple of guys that you grab in the 8th, 9th or 10th rounds, and your early-round RBs and WRs perform up to expectations, your team will definitely be playoff bound.

This works because of the depth at QB. We know that the signal callers going in round 8 — guys like Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco — are going to start and throw a lot of passes for their respective teams (barring injury, of course). Running backs or wide receivers that are going in the 8th round are another animal. RBs still available in the middle rounds are either sharing time or fighting for the starting job. WRs available that late are typically the second, third or even fourth options on their teams.

So that’s the theory — now for the research. To come up with a reasonable expectation for each two-man QBBC combination, I took the season projections from Footballguys (a great fantasy football site) and using their strength of schedule for each team, I was able to produce a week-by-week projection for each quarterback. From there, it was relatively easy to come up with a list of the duos that project to have the best combined seasons.

I only focused on those QBs going in the 8th round or later, so this exercise excludes the Top 11 signal callers (in terms of Average Draft Position): Aaron Rodgers (1.08), Drew Brees (1.10), Peyton Manning (2.04), Tom Brady (2.11), Tony Romo (3.09), Matt Schaub (3.11), Phillip Rivers (4.01), Jay Cutler (6.04), Kevin Kolb (6.04), Donovan McNabb (6.09) and Brett Favre (6.11). (Note: this article assumes a 12-team draft, so all mention of specific rounds and ADP have that in mind.)

This allows fantasy owners to spend at least the first seven picks on RBs, WRs and TEs, putting together a balanced squad before turning to the QB position.

So what was the top QBBC combination? The answer might surprise you:

Matt Ryan / Ben Roethlisberger (320.2 fantasy points)
Eli Manning / Ben Roethlisberger (320.2 fantasy points)

Maybe it’s not so surprising. Roethlisberger finished QB9 last season and averaged 22.0 fantasy points per game. He missed Week 12, and had he played and scored his average, he would have finished QB4. He’s going to miss the first six weeks of the season due to his recent behavior in a college bar, and as a result he’s going in the 11th round.

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

A savvy owner (who is not worried about the bad karma associated with drafting a guy with a history of sexual assault) looks at this situation and sees that he can get a Top 5 QB for half a season for the price of a 10th or 11th rounder. If he can just get through the first seven weeks of the season (PIT has a bye in Week 5), he’d be sitting pretty with Big Ben and QB X for the stretch run.

In fact, Roethlisberger is part of the top seven QBBCs and eight of the top nine combos. Along with Ryan (8.02), E. Manning (8.07), Big Ben is a good match with Joe Flacco (8.12) and Carson Palmer (9.12). All four of those combinations would require two picks in rounds 8-10. Roethlisberger also meshes well with Alex Smith (12.09), Vince Young (12.08), Jason Campbell (13.02) and Matt Stafford (12.05), in that order. Those QBBCs are all projected to score in the 288-300 fp range (or QB 6-8 production), for the price of a 10th rounder (Roethlisberger) and a 12th rounder. Not bad.

To execute this strategy… One way would be to wait until the 8th round to draft your first QB and take Ryan/Manning/Flacco. Personally, I’d go with Manning first, then Ryan and then Flacco. Here’s why: Manning was QB10 last season and averaged 20.3 points over the last eight games. This was the 8th highest average during that span. His strength of schedule is actually a bit better than last year and he should benefit from improvement by Hakeem Nicks and Kevin Boss. While I like both Ryan and Flacco, and they are entrenched as the starters for their respective teams, their schedules are a little tougher this season. Still, either guy would be a nice match with Big Ben.

If you don’t want to burn an 8th rounder on your first QB, or if you miss out on Manning/Ryan/Flacco, you could wait until the 10th round to grab Roethlisberger, and then look to add Smith, Young, Campbell or Stafford in the 12th or 13th round. These players are not in uber-stable situations, but they should start, at least for the first seven games.

Don’t want Roethlisberger? The top non-Ben QBBC is Eli Manning and Carson Palmer, which would probably require you to use your 8th and 9th round picks to get both players. A cheaper (and almost as effective) duo would be Flacco and Smith. Other cheaper duos: Manning/Henne, Ryan/Garrard, Ryan/Henne, Manning/Young, Ryan/Smith, Flacco/Young, Manning/Smith.

Top three-man combination without drafting a QB in rounds 1-9? How about Big Ben, Smith and David Garrard? Garrard’s nice schedule in W5-W7 offsets Smith’s somewhat difficult schedule during that stretch. The trio is projected to score 308.4 fantasy points. (That’s QB4-type production.) Take Roethlisberger in the 10th, Smith in the 11th and Garrard in the 12th. If you miss out on Garrard, Young is also a good fit with Roethlisberger and Smith.

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