Why Quarterback By Committee (QBBC) works

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) changes a play at the line during first half action at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 2, 2011. UPI/A.J. Sisco

In the world of fantasy football, we’re neck deep in no man’s land. The playoffs are over, the draft is still something fuzzy off in the distance, and there’s a rain cloud over our heads in the form of the ongoing NFL labor negotiations. But this is a great time to examine some of the traditional and non-traditional fantasy football strategies and tweak them for use in the future.

One such strategy is Quarterback By Committee (QBBC). For the neophyte, this strategy encourages the fantasy owner to wait to draft a QB on draft day until such time that he can grab two or three solid players in the mid to late rounds. In standard 12-team leagues, this usually means somewhere in the 8th to 14th rounds. If you can find two or three players whose schedules compliment each other, you can sometimes get QB5-type production at a deep discount.

Every preseason, I write a QBBC article that recommends a few combinations to fantasy owners. For the 2010 season, my top recommendation was Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Eli finished #7 in total fantasy points, while Roethlisberger finished #7 in average fantasy points even though he was suspended for the first four games. During the preseason, Eli was going in the 8th round, while Big Ben was going in the 11th, so owners who went with this duo got great production at QB on the cheap. This approach allows for owners to load up on talent at RB, WR and even TE knowing that they’ll be at least “okay” at QB.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the historical fantasy data for the QB position for the last 10 years and see if we can learn anything from it. Below you’ll find a graph that shows the total fantasy points by the Top 32 QBs as well as data for the Top 10 fantasy QBs and Next 10 (QBs #11-#20).

(Click on the graph to see a bigger version.)

What does this mean?

After a low point in 2005, the QB position has shown strong growth for the last five years. This is indicated by the blue bars — total fantasy points for the Top 32 QBs. Pundits always say that the NFL is a passing league, and these numbers support that.

Over the past four years, the total production of the Top 10 QBs have stayed about the same, with a low of 3170 points in 2008 and a high of 3399 in 2009. Over the same span, the Next 10 QBs have shown fairly consistent growth from 2246 in 2007 to 2646 in 2010. It’s clear that the Next 10 group is responsible for most of the overall growth at the position over the last half decade.

Keep in mind that when I say “Top 10,” I’m referring to the Top 10 QBs in total fantasy points at the end of the season, not the Top 10 QBs in terms of draft position. Every year, there were players that were drafted outside of the Top 10 that finish in the Top 10. Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Josh Freeman and Matt Ryan were all Top 10 QBs in 2010, yet were generally available in the 8th round or later. This only serves to support the QBBC strategy because you may very well end up with a Top 10 QB even though you take him at QB15 later. (Freeman wasn’t even in the Top 24 in ADP heading into 2010, but finished QB9.)

I have some anecdotal evidence that supports QBBC as well. In my auction league, I started Tony Romo until he went down in Week 7. At that point, I scrambled to put together a committee of QBs that I could use for the stretch run. I ended up using a combination of David Garrard, Brett Favre, Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman down the stretch. That group averaged 24.3 points per game. Only Mike Vick (29.2) had a higher per-game average for the season, and Aaron Rodgers was second with 23.8 points per game. I went on to win the league with Freeman starting the final three games.

Part of this was good decision making on my part because I had to pick my starter every week based on his matchup, but the fact that I had a bullpen of three or four QBs to call upon ensured that I had at least one semi-favorable matchup to use. This is one of the biggest benefits of QBBC: Don’t like a certain matchup? Well, someone on your bench is bound to have a better one. And since you’re not beholden to the theory that you should be starting your stud, you can play your matchups without worrying that you’re not showing enough faith in your early draft picks.

Another benefit is injury insurance. When Tony Romo went down, I thought my season might be over. But I was able to pick up a few QBs off the waiver wire to create my in-season committee. I was lucky because Garrard, Freeman and Bradford were all available on the waiver wire at one point or another. Had I gone with QBBC from the start, I would have been able to simply plug another QB into my committee if one of my guys went down.

The depth at the position is tremendous right now as there are 20 or so QBs that I would feel comfortable starting heading into next season…given a good matchup, of course.

So heading into the 2011 season (assuming there is a 2011 season), remember to use those early picks to load up on RBs, WRs and TEs, and save two or three of those middle and late round picks for a couple of QBs. Check back in July and I’ll tell you which ones to target.

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