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Draft A Quarterback Early in 2023? How To Win Your Fantasy Football Drafts

Josh Allen - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

For years, all you heard repeatedly was to wait on quarterbacks in fantasy football drafts. This made sense at the time, as there was not a huge falloff at the position. Analyst drafts would often become games of quarterback chicken. It didn’t take long for home leagues to follow suit.

Back then, QBs ran far less often. While there was a slight advantage to having Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, the low-end QB1s would only average slightly fewer fantasy points per game (FPPG).

However, this is not your father’s fantasy football draft. For the first time, we have reached the point where there is an advantage to be had if you decide to draft a signal-caller in the early rounds.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Draft an Elite Fantasy Football QB in the Early Rounds

Last season, three quarterbacks set themselves apart from the pack. If you had Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Jalen Hurts, you know how big of an advantage it was having one of them.

Mahomes scored the most fantasy points ever by a QB. There is an argument to be had that he wasn’t even the best fantasy QB. Hurts averaged more FPPG but his shoulder injury caused him to miss two weeks. Allen finished as QB2, but if not for the canceled game, he had a shot to finish as the top-scoring fantasy QB for a third straight season.

Last season, Hurts led the way in scoring with 25.2 FPPG, followed by Allen at 24.7 FPPG and Mahomes at 24.6 FPPG. Joe Burrow averaged 21.9 FPPG last season and was the only other QB outside the top three to average over 20 FPPG. While the big three QBs gave you an average of 25 FPPG each week, all but one other QB gave you more than 20 FPPG.

That would be the equivalent of these QBs starting with a free 25-yard touchdown every week. The further you wait on QB, the bigger the advantage becomes. Kirk Cousins was the QB12 in FPPG last season, averaging 17.2 FPPG. The advantage at that point is the equivalent of two passing touchdowns per week.

These three QBs bring such a high floor and video game-like ceilings. That is the difference between these QBs and the top options of past years. Not only do they put up monster numbers as passers, but they add a lot of value due to their rushing ability.

Back in the day, top QBs seldom ran, but the game has changed. Those who have mastered the ability to put up high volume as passers and runners are the closest thing to a cheat code in fantasy football.

The rushing numbers are important, which is why Allen and Hurts should rank ahead of Mahomes. The two-time MVP may be the greatest passer of the football ever and he can rewrite the record books while also adding some value with his legs. You cannot go wrong with any of these three. To be honest, my recommendation would be to take whichever of these three goes last in the draft.

Right now, they are all going as borderline second/third-round picks. This means you can get them at the end of the second round or at the beginning of the third round, depending on the site you play on.

The early part of the third round is the sweet spot to nab one of these great QBs. If you play your cards right, you could have an elite receiver in the first round and a top running back in the second round. You can then pair them with one of these game-changing QBs in the third round.


What if You Miss Out on the Top Three QBs?

If you miss out on the three elite options, you should not just punt the QB position. There is a group of strong fallback options, and after this group, there is another falloff at the position. The next group is made up of Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert, and Trevor Lawrence.

Currently, Jackson goes in the third round, Burrow in the fourth, Fields and Herbert in the fifth, and Lawrence rounds it out in the sixth. There is about a two-round gap between him and the next QB to get drafted.

Jackson averaged 19.7 FPPG in a down year, which was the same as Fields. He now has a new offensive coordinator that should let him pass more and arguably the best group of pass catchers of his career. Burrow was already the fourth-best QB last year and has arguably the best one-two punch of pass catchers in the league.

Fields was a cheat code for much of last season due to his rushing abilities. His team went out and acquired DJ Moore, which should lead to improved passing numbers. Herbert has a new, more aggressive offensive coordinator and his team added even more weapons for him to throw to this season.

Lawrence took huge strides last year after a dismal rookie season. He's getting upgraded weapons in a pass-first offense and adds value with his legs. Each of these QBs has the potential to take another jump and close the gap on the top three elite options. They each happen to play in strong offenses and already have a proven track record of fantasy success.

While it is ideal to take one of the top QBs in the early third round, that is not always possible. If you end up missing out on the big three, the strategy has to be to grab one of the next five QBs. It is recommended to grab one of the top eight QBs this season.


What if You Miss Out on the Top Eight Fantasy QBs?

The top eight fantasy QBs bring the perfect combination of a safe floor and high upside. That's why you do not want to miss out on them. If you do, there is a great way you can piece it together by having more than one QB. You can take the upside gamble on Deshaun Watson, Anthony Richardson, and to a lesser extent, Tua Tagovailoa.

All three bring upside, with a shaky floor. Watson was a top-six fantasy QB in FPPG in every season he played with the Texans. He struggled mightily in the six games he played in 2022, but it was his first time playing in over a year and a half. He was with a new team in Cleveland and played in some bad weather. There is no guarantee he will return to form, which is why the floor is low with him.

After the top eight fantasy QBs, no one left brings as much upside. Richardson is the most athletic QB to enter the league since Cam Newton. He is playing with Shane Steichen, the offensive coordinator who coached Jalen Hurts last year. The example of his fantasy upside continues to be Fields from last season.

Fields threw for under 2,300 yards and just 17 touchdowns but finished as a top fantasy option due to his rushing ability. Richardson brings the upside to finish highly in fantasy even if he struggles as a passer.

The ceiling is very high, but the floor is low due to him being a rookie. Tagovailoa doesn’t bring the same sort of upside as the other two, but he was averaging 20 FPPG in the first half of last season. He was a top-four fantasy QB in four of his first seven games before the injuries. His floor is low due to those injury concerns. When healthy, he is the QB on one of the most explosive offenses in football.

You can pair one of these upside QBs with a safer one later in the draft. There is no shortage of options to pair them with such as Dak Prescott, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, and Jared Goff. Doing this allows you to still take an upside swing and gives you a shot at finding a difference-making QB. If that doesn’t work, you have a solid option you can start.

However, if you are starting one of those safer options and your opponent has Mahomes, Allen, or Hurts, it's like you are starting by being down two passing touchdowns already. That's why you should prioritize drafting a QB in the early rounds this year more than ever.

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio. 

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