NFL quarterbacks get the money, women and power. But in this golden age of passing, they don’t get the value in fantasy leagues.
When you sit down to draft this weekend, the easy play will be to take familiar names like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning in the first couple rounds. Don’t do it.
The primary reason quarterbacks have become devalued in fantasy leagues is simply because there are so many good ones. Last year, 11 threw for 4,000 yards or more. If we’re in a 12-team league that starts one quarterback, we’re going to get a quality asset. Don’t believe me? Try to poke holes in this 12-man list: Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo.
The reason we can live with any of these 12 is because quarterbacks are generally the most durable of all the positions. We desperately need quality depth at running back and wide receiver because we’re going to incur injuries early and often at those spots.
We also can live with any of the 12 because of relative value in starting lineups. All this means is that the difference between the No. 1 quarterback and the No. 12 guy will be miniscule compared to the gap between the No. 1 wideout and the No. 36 wideout.
Lastly, there are tons of sleeper quarterbacks we can put on our bench. Michael Vick is a renewed threat to run for 800 yards, Jay Cutler is poised for the best year of his Chicago career and Ben Roethlisberger remains a difference-maker.
By being the last owner to take a quarterback, we set ourselves up to be absolutely stacked at the other positions and don’t lose much value by doing so. It’s a winning strategy to take with you to the war room.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns
Why: What do Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen all have in common? They all had career years under new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski – a former tight end himself. Chud will scheme to get Cameron, a highly athletic former basketball player at BYU, the ball early and often.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
Why: Arizona’s passing game features a one-two punch of improvement. First, they ditched the pathetic Kevin Kolb/John Skelton/Ryan Lindley trio for Carson Palmer. Second, they added vertical passing game guru Bruce Arians as their head coach. Floyd, a highly talented former first-round pick, will exploit single coverage.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots
Why: Thompkins is an undrafted rookie that was handed nothing. He simply went out and earned the starting “X” receiver job by outplaying the competition in OTAs, training camp and exhibition games. Thompkins will play every down at a position that saw Brandon Lloyd rack up 130 targets at last season.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
Why: Hillman has attracted a following because he’s been running as the Broncos’ first-team back for virtually the entire offseason. The problem is he’s an outside runner that fumbles and is getting pushed hard by both second-round rookie Montee Ball and reliable veteran Knowshon Moreno. Hillman won’t keep the gig.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams
Why: Don’t get fooled into thinking Austin will be a mini Percy Harvin as a rookie. He’s electric in the open field, but he’s not nearly as physical and might not even play in red-zone packages. The Rams suddenly have a lot of pass-catching firepower with Chris Givens and Jared Cook projected to lead the way in targets.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Why: Even if Rivers’ arm strength wasn’t rapidly declining, he’d be in a bad spot. The Chargers’ offensive line is among the league’s worst, he lost top wideout Danario Alexander to injury already and new coach Mike McCoy is installing a horizontal, quick-pass scheme.
3 RULES TO DRAFT BY
1. Don’t drink: Think alcohol is fun? Then you probably think losing fantasy leagues is fun too! The draft is a war or wits, don’t let yourself get clouded until it’s over.
2. Adjust your rankings if in PPR: Downgrade QBs heavily. Downgrade RBs that don’t catch (Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris etc). Bump up possession WRs (Randall Cobb, Danny Amendola).
3. Don’t take a defense or kicker before Round 12: They are too unpredictable and too dependent on matchups. We’re better off stockpiling depth at real positions.
FIRST ROUND MOCK
One-man mock. Standard scoring, non-PPR
1. Adrian Peterson – Once in a generation talent.
2. Doug Martin – Offensive line even better this year.
3. Arian Foster – Reduced workload still means 300 touches.
4. Trent Richardson – Gifted runner that’s centerpiece of offense.
5. LeSean McCoy – Chip Kelly will run more than you think.
6. C.J. Spiller – Stacked boxes won’t phase him.
7. Jamaal Charles – Look for 70-plus catches from checkdown captain Alex Smith.
8. Marshawn Lynch – Violent battering ram for a team that will be leading plenty.
9. Ray Rice – Ravens need him with Boldin, Pitta gone.
10. Alfred Morris – Not a fluke. Breaks tackles at elite level.
11. Calvin Johnson – Got tackled at 1-yard line six times last year.
12. Matt Forte – Role increasing under offensive guru Trestman.