How to Draft a Quarterback in 2012
When drafting a quarterback, I abide by a general rule. You need to get one of the top five or six, or you need two of the top twelve or thirteen. Each year is a little different, but I start from that general principal and adapt. It is applicable in auction and draft although in an auction I tend to favor the two qb approach, because the cost for acquiring two quarterbacks of that tier is so small. The reason for doubling up is twofold. First, quarterbacks are often in this range because they are risks with a high reward. With two, you double your chance to hit on a fantasy star. Second, with two decent options, you can play the guy with the better matchup.
This year there are three signal callers who warrant a significant investment. If you draft Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees, you do not need a backup. You’re going to play those guys week in and week out, regardless of the matchup.
Next we have a wrinkle specific to this year. Both Matt Stafford and Michael Vick are every week qbs, but both possess a stronger risk of injury than the average quarterback. If they are healthy you will play them. You do need a backup, but one that will ideally play in bye weeks only.
That leaves ten acceptable quarterbacks. Six to fifteen. Quarterbacks are deep this year. To be fair, I might consider Tony Romo a notch above the pack and worthy of being the only fantasy quarterback on your roster. But for the rest, you want two. You likely have a personal preference and since it’s your team that you’re drafting, that’s a good enough way to choose. In many cases, the draft order and the selections of others will narrow your options. Of course you’d prefer Eli Manning to Matt Schaub in a vacuum, but this column isn’t about rankings. You can find fantasy rankings here.
Additionally, you can attempt acquire quarterbacks whose schedules match up well. At the very least, you need to be sure that they don’t have the same bye week. But there might be an advantage in drafting the following pairs. For example, look at the schedules of Phil Rivers and Jay Cutler. Rivers is your primary quarterback here. When Rivers plays Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Cutler plays Minnesota. Tim Tebow passed against that defense. But for each of the tougher matchups on Rivers’s schedule, Cutler has an appealing opponent. And he has Detroit during San Diego’s bye week.
Here’s another combo. Matt Ryan’s easy opening schedule allows you to test Carson Palmer. Then when Ryan encounters a tough string mid-season, with Philly and Dallas following a bye week, you can put Palmer against some easy pass defenses if he is playing well.
One final caveat: we can’t be 100% accurate in predicting how tough defenses will be in the upcoming season. That does not mean we should not consider schedules at all. We are also not 100% accurate in predicting how offensive lines will block for our running backs, or how our wide receivers will adjust two new surroundings. That doesn’t mean we should not consider all of the information available. Over the course of the schedule, some matchups will be worse than you think, others will be better. But you will be right about many.