The appropriate timing of drafting a quarterback has been long debated in fantasy football. Draft a QB too early and you risk missing out on a great RB or WR that you could have taken instead. Draft a QB too late and you end up trying to pull through with Trent Dilfer. Below are the results of a quick analysis of average fantasy points per game vs. the average draft position of several top QB’s based on standard Yahoo! leagues using 2010 statistics. To make some sense of the raw data, the table below presents the results, clumped by average draft round. Michael Vick was excluded because his ridiculously good season on a points per start basis skewed the data considerably. (He averaged 28.8 points per start in 2010.) If he manages to repeat that for an entire season, any waiting period should be waived and he should be placed directly into the mythical Fantasy Football Hall Of Fame.
|Rounds 1 &2||Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady,Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers||19.09|
|Rounds 3-6||Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan,Matt Schaub||17.00|
|Rounds 7-11||Eli Manning, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford,Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco||15.97|
As can be seen, the top flight quarterbacks really were a step ahead of their peers. Whether or not the differential is enough to merit a pick in the first two rounds is difficult to say (more analysis on that given in the link below). Interestingly, if you take out Rodgers, the top group only averaged 18.61 points per start. A 1.6 point per game differential between the top and middle tiers is not really all that much.
Once you break out of that top tier, there is very little difference between a QB taken in the fourth round and a QB taken in the eleventh round. Though it is still unclear if you should draft a top flight quarterback, it is clear that there is little point rushing to grab a quarterback in the middle rounds when you could take one later in the draft and significantly improve the depth of your team in the meantime.
PPR Bonus Thought: Don’t forget that in PPR leagues, quarterbacks are uniformly less valuable across the board. While even a poor pass catching RB is likely to gain at least one point-per-game for receptions, quarterbacks rarely have more than one reception per year. This value slide only compounds when you compare QB’s to good pass catchers.
UPDATE: Additional Info Here Focusing On Running Backs – When Should You Draft a Fantasy Running Back v. Quarterback? Follow-up Quantitative Analysis.