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The Perfect Pair - Two Mid-Round QBs that Can Combine for QB1 Value

The same question is everlastingly debated every year – should you take one of the elite level quarterbacks early, or wait on some of the QB2s with upside later? It’s definitely a debate worth having, but there are so many moving parts it becomes difficult to say decisively if taking a QB either early or late works one way or the other.

What can be said for sure though, is that there is a shot every year at finding QB1 value outside of the top six rounds (we’re looking at you Carson Wentz).

Everybody’s strategy is different, but if you are someone that is solely focused on loading up on running back and wide receiver talent early, your best plan of action might be to grab two QB2s with the potential to combine for QB1 value late. Let’s try to tap into something that might just make the argument null and void and look at two QBs that each have a legitimate shot at returning QB1 value this year.

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The Perfect Combo

Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)

Buried on a team that can’t quite seem to push themselves above mediocrity, the Detroit Lions’ problem has never been Matthew Stafford. Even though he is currently being drafted at the top of the second tier of QBs, Stafford has shown each year that he is a QB1 talent, and will rarely be the reason that you lose a week. Stafford finished as a QB1 in half of the games he suited up for in 2017 and finished the year as the QB6 overall, despite being drafted right in the middle of the pack as the 15th QB off the board.

Stafford has very quietly finished as a QB1 in six of the last seven seasons. Despite this fact, Stafford continues to be drafted as a QB2 each year, and it will likely be the same again in this fall’s fantasy drafts. His current ADP has him going at the back end of the 8th round, but as in years past there is a real probability that he outperforms this position. The Lions offensive line has gradually improved over the past few seasons, and Pro Football Focus has them ranked eighth best heading into the season. The team also added veteran LeGarrette Blount to the backfield, and while this isn’t the flashiest free agency addition, it could certainly make their ground game more respectable than it has been the past few years to create more openings for Stafford. Even with Blount in town, the Lions aren’t expected to stray too far away from being the team that has ranked in the top three in passing percentage each of the past three seasons, relying on Stafford’s arm 62% of the time in that span. Put all this together and Stafford could be in line for his fourth straight season as a top 10 fantasy QB.

Not to be ignored is also the fact that Stafford has started all 16 games each year over those past seven seasons. Over that time Stafford has battled multiple injuries, and at times a complete lack of discernable talent on the field with him, and has still been on the field each week. Even though his ADP is two rounds higher than last season, grabbing Stafford just before the 9th round is still substantial value. No one will deny that Stafford will slip some average weeks in here and there, but he will also provide you with no less than the bare minimum you expect from the QB slot and has shown that he can produce at a high level for several weeks out of the season.


Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)

While Stafford has consistently shown he can have QB1 value each year, Marcus Mariota makes the cut based on the gold mine of potential that he and the Tennessee Titans are sitting on this year. Mariota had a rough go last year and ended up throwing more interceptions than he did touchdowns, but still somehow managed to lead the Titans to a playoff win last January.  Although he was ready for training camp last season coming off his leg injury, he didn’t quite look like himself for most of the year and clearly took a step in the wrong direction.  Mariota would go on to finish as the Q18 last year, coming off an 11th place finish the year before in 2016.

This year should materialize differently though, as the Titans should be in pretty good shape to open the season. Mariota is heading into camp fully healthy, and there is a new offensive coordinator in town who just so happened to work wonders with Jared Goff last year and Matt Ryan the season before when he finished as the third best QB in fantasy. The Titans also managed to keep the fifth best offensive line from a season ago intact, while adding even more talent in the backfield to run behind them with Dion Lewis. Throw in a burgeoning pack of young receivers that feel like they are on the verge of something big, and Mariota has everything he needs to step forward right at his feet. Even if Mariota continues to be up and down like he was much of last season, his career high five rushing touchdowns last year indicate that even in one of his worst weeks he can still give you a massive boost on the ground.

Last year was bad, but a tested offensive line, skill players that will make him better, and a preseason that wasn’t dedicated to rehabbing all point to major improvements for the fourth-year QB. The coaching changes in Tennessee could easily return Mariota to his pre-injury form from 2016 when he threw for just under 3500 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, while adding another 350 yards on the ground in 15 games. Mariota is worth the grab in the 11th round, and could very well end up as your go-to starter by the middle of the season.


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