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Passing On Passers - A Case For Drafting Your QB1 Late

You hear it every year: wait, wait, wait, and wait some more on quarterback. It's arguably the most common fantasy strategy out there these days. The premise is simple; waiting on your QB1 allows you to soak up all of the stronger running backs and wide receivers, ending up with a late round passer who is solid enough to compete. Quarterback is deeper than it's even been in fantasy and that's precisely why this mindset exists in the first place.

The counter to this plan of attack is usually something along the lines of "quarterbacks score the most points so having one better than my opponent gives me an advantage." Yes, that is mathematically true, can't argue basic arithmetic. But missing from that counterpoint is the rest of your team's roster construction. If you drafted well, your team should have more usable assets at other positions than your opponent. It's all about checks and balances. And since running backs and receivers are harder to replace, you're at an advantage in general.

Now let's talk about some actual players that you should be looking at in the middle to later portion of your fantasy drafts in 2017.

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QB1 Values to Target Later in Drafts

If "Wait On Quarterback" were a summer blockbuster movie, the poster would feature Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford standing back-to-back during a dramatic action sequence. The two of them are the prototypical late round QBs to target. Neither of them are flashy picks yet they still manage to get the job done more often than not.

Having said all that, Philip Rivers actually had a down year in 2016. His 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns look fine on paper, but throw in a total of 28 turnovers (21 interceptions plus seven fumbles) and Rivers was a bit of a headache to own. Finishing as QB14, he was just outside QB1 status in a 12-team league. Between Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, and Antonio Gates, this offense is one of the deeper units in the league. There's plenty of reason to believe Rivers can be better in 2017. All it would take is a decrease in turnovers to jump right back up to true QB1 status. With an ADP of 117, Philip Rivers is one of the premiere late round quarterbacks worth grabbing.

For some added context as to just how badly turnovers crushed Rivers last year, look no further than Matthew Stafford's 2016 stat line. Stafford ended up with 4,327 yards and 24 scores in 2016, slotting him seventh among fantasy quarterbacks. The difference? Stafford had 15 less turnovers than Rivers. So while both of them were serviceable, Stafford was much more efficient. Again, waiting on the position to snag either of these two signal callers can pay off tremendously. Stafford's ADP of 112 puts him in the same neighborhood so it's really a matter of preference here. Personally, I prefer Stafford's efficiency over Rivers' weapons.

One last late round passer to target is that of Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills. Taylor was ninth among fantasy quarterbacks last season despite only having 3,023 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. The key to Taylor's success is his rushing. He's had back-t0-back seasons of at least 500 rushing yards, an attribute that has benefited the likes of Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. For what Taylor lacks through the air he compensates for on the ground. The lowest ADP of the bunch at 152, Taylor is practically free for fantasy purposes.


Try Doubling Down

Now would be a good time for me to interject one small addendum to the concept of waiting on quarterback. The best way to approach this strategy would be to double down on the position by taking two guys you like. I'm adding this in here rather than the beginning because it applies directly to someone like Taylor. Tyrod Taylor is no sure thing for fantasy, and he certainly doesn't have as proven of a track record as a Philip Rivers or Matthew Stafford. It'd be wise to give yourself two shots at striking oil at QB, rostering Taylor plus someone else. Maybe even two out of the aforementioned three. Owning a backup isn't necessary when you're locked into a superstar like Aaron Rodgers, but it's best to have some security in case your late round flier goes awry.

Rivers, Stafford, and Taylor are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to settling into this plan of attack. Eli Manning, Carson Wentz, and Carson Palmer are all part of the discussion when it comes to waiting. They too would be names to consider doubling up on.

Whatever strategy you commit to, be sure to prepare yourself for every possible scenario. Maybe you head into your draft dead-set on waiting on quarterback only to see Aaron Rodgers floating around in round five. At some point or another, value trumps strategy and vice versa. Know your league, plan for everything, and be flexible. Waiting on quarterback has a proven path to success, but it's not foolproof. Zero RB, RB/RB, WR/WR, wait on QB, none of these strategies are perfect. It just so happens that the depth of the quarterback position makes this particular game plan more enticing than the rest.


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