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Quarterback by Committee

Finding a Starting Quarterback by Committee for 2017

Over the past few years, there have been two very popular articles written by our very own Chase Stuart that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based on the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good player, he has discussed both Team Defense by Committee ("TDBC") and Quarterback by Committee ("QBBC") as a general fantasy league strategy. In general, I think that this is a wise move because very early on in fantasy drafts there are a ton of running back and wide receiver prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at quarterback and also a few choice defenses, I do not see a huge need in leagues to pursue either too hard in the beginning stages of a fantasy draft.

Well, this year Chase asked me to help him out with the Quarterback by Committee Article, since I am so familiar with the concept.  Our methods sometimes differ, but the end result is usually close to the same.  So with this in mind, I decided to apply my normal method for the other positions (RB, WR and TE) to the quarterback position.  Let's take a look at how I went about building this committee and then we can digest and discuss the results.

HUDDLE UP

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to "committee" together. There's usually only one quarterback and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players / teams to try and pair up. However, I cannot expect to have every quarterback available to me for this process.  After all, the goal here is to wait at the position and pick up two value picks later in the draft to form our combo and serve as a solid committee. I decided that I would use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

CRITERIA #1 - QB13 AND BEYOND

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up QB1 numbers, that means we want QB12 or better production - else we would just draft QB12 or higher and forget the whole idea. So here is the list of players with which I started, based on their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP Player ADP Player
QB13 Dak Prescott QB21 Blake Bortles
QB14 Philip Rivers QB22 Joe Flacco
QB15 Matthew Stafford QB23 Sam Bradford
QB16 Eli Manning QB24 Alex Smith
QB17 Andy Dalton QB25 Deshaun Watson
QB18 Carson Wentz QB26 Jared Goff
QB19 Tyrod Taylor QB27 Brian Hoyer
QB20 Carson Palmer QB34 Jay Cutler

Table 1: Quarterbacks QB13-QB27+ Based on ADP

I went all the way to QB27 just to be thorough, but my gut tells me that I should not really bother for anyone beyond QB24 or QB25, except for one guy - but I decided I should be thorough and consider a few extra quarterbacks on the list.  Several situations are either a mess or not worthy of consideration, so drawing the line just above those 5-6 teams feels about right.  So I took the Top 27 quarterbacks from the ADP list, removed the Top 12 and added the wildcard himself - Jay Cutler - which left me with 16 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 120 potential committees, so there had better be a decent one (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before I go over the method of how to pair them up and the results, we need one more rule:

CRITERIA #2 - NO MORE THAN ONE QB FROM ROUND 8+ AND ONE FROM ROUND 10+

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of QBBC is to "free up" the first 9-10 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue all of the other positions for your team. Grabbing 3-4 running backs and 4-5 receivers after grabbing a stud RB or WR in Round 1 sounds like a good idea to me. This also gives you the flexibility of grabbing a stud tight end, depending on your personal preference, or even to get QB1 if there's a huge value play available and have the "QBBC" be your QB2 in a Superflex or "Start 2QB" league.  Flexibility is the name of the game here. We all want value in our drafts, and having the ability to grab lots of RBs and WRs in the first 9-10 Rounds gives us that ability.

Here is the good news - all of the quarterbacks on the list above except for Dak Prescott have ADPs that are Round 9 or higher (later). In fact, only two quarterbacks have an ADP in Round 9 (Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford) and just three -n Round 10 (Eli Manning, Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz). We will have to keep that in mind when we look at the result because if we decide to wait unit Rounds 11-12 to get the second quarterback in the pair to finish out our QBBC we may be pushing it a little too far and may not get the combination that we want.

So what do we do now to figure out some QB pairs?

CRITERIA #3 - USE FOOTBALLGUYS' QB STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

This sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Just take the QB Strength of Schedule to figure out when certain players are more likely to score well. What I did is similar to what the Projections Dominator and Draft Dominator do for you - take the projected fantasy points and slice them up over 17 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the "distributed fantasy points" for each receiver.

After I had all 15 quarterbacks with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible QB pairs to find the best duos for QBBC. So here we are - time for some results.

Rank Quarterback 1 Quarterback 2 Value
1 Dak Prescott Philip Rivers 370.57
2 Philip Rivers Andy Dalton 364.75
3 Philip Rivers Matthew Stafford 359.72
4 Philip Rivers Eli Manning 359.04
5 Dak Prescott Matthew Stafford 358.42
6 Dak Prescott Carson Wentz 357.72
7 Dak Prescott Eli Manning 355.53
8 Philip Rivers Tyrod Taylor 354.26
9 Philip Rivers Carson Wentz 352.33
10 Philip Rivers Carson Palmer 351.85
11 Dak Prescott Carson Palmer 351.49
12 Dak Prescott Blake Bortles 350.73
13 Philip Rivers Alex Smith 350.72
14 Philip Rivers Blake Bortles 350.62
15 Matthew Stafford Andy Dalton 350.52
16 Eli Manning Andy Dalton 349.87
17 Andy Dalton Blake Bortles 349.07
18 Philip Rivers Joe Flacco 348.77
19 Matthew Stafford Eli Manning 348.7
20 Andy Dalton Carson Wentz 347.39
21 Dak Prescott Joe Flacco 346.33
22 Matthew Stafford Carson Wentz 346.2
23 Dak Prescott Alex Smith 345.68
24 Eli Manning Carson Wentz 345.64
25 Philip Rivers Jay Cutler 344.31
26 Philip Rivers Deshaun Watson 344.21
27 Matthew Stafford Blake Bortles 343.58
28 Dak Prescott Deshaun Watson 343.26
29 Andy Dalton Joe Flacco 342.58
30 Dak Prescott Jay Cutler 342.58
31 Dak Prescott Sam Bradford 342.06
32 Matthew Stafford Tyrod Taylor 341.2
33 Philip Rivers Jared Goff 340.76
34 Dak Prescott Jared Goff 339.71
35 Philip Rivers Brian Hoyer 339.67
36 Dak Prescott Andy Dalton 339.63
37 Dak Prescott Brian Hoyer 338.92
38 Eli Manning Joe Flacco 337.2
39 Matthew Stafford Carson Palmer 337.08
40 Eli Manning Tyrod Taylor 336.8
41 Andy Dalton Carson Palmer 336.78
42 Matthew Stafford Joe Flacco 335.96
43 Andy Dalton Deshaun Watson 335.64
44 Eli Manning Sam Bradford 335.61
45 Andy Dalton Sam Bradford 334.45
46 Matthew Stafford Alex Smith 333.67
47 Dak Prescott Tyrod Taylor 333.54
48 Eli Manning Jay Cutler 333.28
49 Eli Manning Deshaun Watson 333.15
50 Carson Wentz Tyrod Taylor 332.88
51 Andy Dalton Jay Cutler 332.8
52 Andy Dalton Alex Smith 331.63
53 Tyrod Taylor Blake Bortles 331.5
54 Carson Wentz Blake Bortles 331.35
55 Matthew Stafford Jay Cutler 330.57
56 Eli Manning Alex Smith 330.33
57 Matthew Stafford Sam Bradford 330.12
58 Andy Dalton Jared Goff 329.59
59 Andy Dalton Brian Hoyer 329.54
60 Matthew Stafford Jared Goff 329.52
61 Matthew Stafford Brian Hoyer 329
62 Philip Rivers Sam Bradford 328.89
63 Eli Manning Brian Hoyer 327.54
64 Andy Dalton Tyrod Taylor 326.18
65 Philip Rivers n/a 326.08

Table 2: Quarterback Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for QBBC. There are 64 pairs that are worth more than Philip Rivers by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 326.08 points. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Quarterback Freq Quarterback Freq
Philip Rivers 15 Alex Smith 5
Andy Dalton 15 Brian Hoyer 5
Dak Prescott 15 Jay Cutler 5
Matthew Stafford 14 Joe Flacco 5
Eli Manning 12 Sam Bradford 5
Carson Wentz 7 Carson Palmer 4
Tyrod Taylor 7 Deshaun Watson 4
Blake Bortles 6 Jared Goff 4

Table 3: Quarterback Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results are dominated by five names - Rivers (of course, appearing 15 times), Andy Dalton (15), Dak Prescott (15), Matthew Stafford (14) and Eli Manning (12).  That strongly implies that one or two of these quarterbacks will likely comprise our QBBC, but we need to do all the math to find out if that is the best option.  Using this knowledge of quarterbacks on the list with 12+ appearances, and that information along with Table 2 should make putting a combination of two of these five guys together pretty easy, or even using one of them with a key late pick for our committee.  To find out the best strategy, we need to look closer at all of the results. .

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that we have 64 possible pairs that are better than Philip Rivers, what exactly does that mean? Should he be the basis of our comparison? Of course not. Remember our goal - find a pair of quarterbacks that can combine for QB1-type fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for the Top 12 QBs in standard scoring:

ADP QB Rank Player Team FPs FP Rank
19 1 Aaron Rodgers GB 387.84 1
28 2 Tom Brady NE 380.16 2
38 3 Drew Brees NO 362.88 3
55 5 Andrew Luck IND 357.94 4
52 4 Matt Ryan ATL 352.48 5
62 6 Russell Wilson SEA 346.56 6
83 10 Marcus Mariota TEN 344.87 7
78 8 Jameis Winston TB 342.24 8
76 7 Cam Newton CAR 339.75 9
86 12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 332.57 10
85 11 Kirk Cousins WAS 327.76 11
88 13 Dak Prescott DAL 324.16 12
100 14 Philip Rivers LAC 322.72 13
123 17 Andy Dalton CIN 321.48 14
82 9 Derek Carr OAK 319.58 15

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top 12+ ADP QBs

Based on Table 4, we see that QBs beyond the Top 6 quarterbacks are well defined heading into 2017, but after that things get rather with unclear predictions for the bottomr half of the Top 10-12 list.  That makes things interesting for our QBBC approach, as a strong pair of QB2s could compare favorably to one or more of these Top 12 options.  To compare apples to apples, we need to adjust how we view Table 4 and the committee choices in Table 2.  The committees represent 17 full weeks of play, while the indivual players in Table 4 all have a bye week - so we have to add a correction to make the comparison more even.  A reasonable number for a bye week fantasy starting quarterback would be 15-18 fantasy points, so if we take a baseline of Cam Newton (forecasted as QB9, ADP of QB7, 339.75 projected points) from Table 4 and add 15-18, we have 354.75-357.75 points.  The Top 8 choices for QBBC from Table 2 are right in that range, which means that choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted - QB1 production on the cheap.  

Considering all of the results in Table 2, the QBBC committee recipe for 2017 has a pretty straightforward plan - take Philip Rivers (ADP of 100) in Round 8-9 and then take the quarterback you like the most in Round 10, 11 or 12.  Rivers represents 70% of the Top 10 QBBC options in Table 2, and he also appears five more times in the Top 26.  That is a ton of roster flexibility.  My choice here for the second half of the Rivers pairing is Eli Manning, who offers strong upside with Brandon Marshall joining the passing game and the Giants still lacking a strong ground game.  Taking Rivers in Round 8 or 9 (no later than pick 100) and then Manning before the end of Round 10 (ADP of 120) makes for a very valuable combination for a QBBC.  This duo is the #4 option on the list of Table 2, projecting to over 359 points, comparable once again to Cam Newton (QB7) and a bye week filler quarterback.  

An example schedule is provided in Tables 5 for the Rivers-Manning QBBC option this season.  Here I give you the best weekly plays for each quarterback, based on projections. 

Week Suggested Player Opponent
1 Eli Manning at Denver
2 Philip Rivers Miami
3 Philip Rivers Kansas City
4* Eli Manning at Tampa Bay
5 Eli Manning Los Angeles Chargers
6 Philip Rivers at Oakland
7 Eli Manning Seattle
8 Philip Rivers at New England
9 Eli Manning Los Angeles Rams
10 Eli Manning at San Francisco
11 Philip Rivers Buffalo
12 Philip Rivers at Dallas
13 Philip Rivers Cleveland
14** Philip Rivers Washington
15 Philip Rivers at Kansas City
16 Philip Rivers at New York Jets
17 Philip Rivers Oakland
*Week 4 is close with Philip Rivers hosting Philadelphia
**Week 14 is close with Eli Manning hosting Dallas

Table 5: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Philip Rivers and Eli Manning

The committee approach is not a perfect one, but having this knowledge prior to your fantasy draft can prove to be invaluable if you decide to adopt this approach.  If all the players on your starter list are gone, going with a committee can save your team and help you deal with the loss of bigger names.  The method is also a big help in "Best Ball" leagues, where lineup decisions are not necessary every week.  That's exactly where a committee can do the best, as either player can count for you each week.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.