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Quarterback Fantasy Football Strategy 2012
Newton, Rodgers and Brees
This is the third in my series of Hubs on positional strategy for fantasy football in 2012 (I have already covered Wide Receivers and Running Backs). The strategy for quarterbacks boils down one very simple question: do you believe that there will be quarterback(s) in 2012 with out-of-this world seasons like there were in 2011?
As a reminder, in 2011, five quarterbacks had fantasy football numbers that far exceeded anyone else at the QB position: Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Stafford and Newton. Those guys were off-the-charts good even in an era of inflated passing yards in the NFL. To make it simple: if you believe that there will be any (be it one or a half-dozen) off-the-charts QB(s) in 2012 (i.e., 40 or more TDs or, in Newton's case, another great rushing season), then you must get one! It's that basic.
Why? Their point differential relative to the point differential at other positions is not even close. This chart from Pro Football Reference makes it clear: you cannot make up this point differential at the highest-scoring position anywhere else. In fact, the ONLY time since 2007 that a quarterback's relative value was as high as any of the five elite QBs of 2012 was Tom Brady's 50 TD year in 2007. That's it: only one QB from 2007-2010 put up the difference-making season that those five did in 2011. If you think that it will happen again for any number of QBs, you must get one to win.
If you fail to get one of those guys, though, then there are about another 8-10 who could reasonably put up 30 TDs. Save your draft pick or your auction money and just get the best value there. Your only real chance of winning would be to stack up perfectly everywhere else. If the QBs are this unreal again, however, there is no denying how imperative it is to get one.
Do you believe that any quarterback in 2012 will reach the value level of the top-5 QBs of 2011?
To be sure, despite the elevated passing numbers in the NFL, it is not a guaranteed bet that multiple quarterbacks or even any quarterback will reach that lofty status again this year. Re-read the third paragraph of this Hub. That five QBs had such remarkable seasons last year is unparalleled: only one QB in the previous half-decade had a similar performance! The safe bet is to figure that only about two or three QBs have any chance at all of 40+ TDs, and, even then, it is still a toss-up if not a losing proposition.
If you believe that no QB(s) is realistically going to be out-of-this-world again, then your QB draft or auction strategy really opens up. The nice thing about Rodgers, Brady and Brees is that they have been top-5 multiple times. If any QB is likely to be top-3, it's one of them. If you want safety or a bankable 32 TDs, then you will still have to pay big for one of them.
But, if you do not think that they will return to last year's numbers, then there is no need to insure that your get one of the Big-Three. True, every other QB has more risk. Some (Stafford and Newton) have more upside or less downside. Nevertheless, any other quarterback after the Big-Three is also a legitimate candidate to finish at #4! If you think that you can identify the QB that will hit the 30 TD mark, then you should absolutely pass up Rodgers, Brady and Brees at a first-round pick or $40-$50. It would only cost a mid-round pick or $10-12 for one of the later guys whom you think could reasonably hit 30. That's a no-brainer.
Five QBs who could jump up to the 30 TD plateau
And, if you are really unsure of who might jump into that 30 TD world, then simply get the lowest guy in that next tier of QBs -- he would be the latest drafted or the cheapest to purchase. You would have as good a shot as anyone else to land the next thirty touchdown quarterback while getting ahead at every other position.
To review, there is likely no more important decision in 2012 than determining if one or some of the elite QBs can return to the unbelievably productive level of 2011.
--If you believe so, then your draft or auction strategy must revolve around securing one of them.
--If not, then your entire draft or auction opens up to you. If someone else, chasing 2011 numbers, reaches or overbids on one of them, then simply scoop up a similarly-valued quarterback much later or for much less. If no one reaches or overpays, then get one of the top quarterbacks (and the safest player in fantasy football!) for 2010 prices.
As for me, my money is on another big season for the Big-Three. Everyone else is relatively interchangeable in that next tier.
Questions, reactions? Let me know in the Comments section below.