2 QB Or Not 2 QB
By Jeff Pasquino
August 9th, 2010

If you have been playing fantasy football for at least a few years you have seen how each position affects the performance of your team. You know how valuable starting running backs are in your league. Some leagues and owners that dislike the minimization of wide receivers implement a point per reception, or "PPR", rule to increase receiver values. Other leagues give bonuses to tight ends, such as two points for a catch or more points per yard, while others just drop the tight end requirement altogether. All those leagues seem to have the same shortcoming - a depressed value on the quarterback position.

So what is the answer? How do you bring the value of Pro Bowlers like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning back to the top? Consider changing your starting lineup requirements by requiring every team to start two quarterbacks.

Are Two Heads Better Than One?

There will most assuredly be opposition to this change (unless you are starting from scratch). I have heard many of the arguments for and against making the switch.

The arguments for going to a "Start 2 QB" system begin with the idea that it accentuates the most important position in the NFL - starting quarterback. Why should 20-30 running backs be worth more than the overwhelming majority of NFL signal callers? Starting two quarterbacks brings the position back to its rightful status as a crucial element to your fantasy roster.

Another case for starting two quarterbacks is a comparison of the scarcity of starting quarterbacks and starting running backs. There are only 32 starters at each position, so why not have two starters from each? Proponents of this idea like to mention that 64 different quarterbacks started at least one game in 2007, an NFL record, and in both 2006, 2008 and 2009 there were at least 50 unique starters. That is a fair point, but on a given week in the NFL the number of quarterbacks that played is usually equal to the number of teams in action. The names may change due to injury, but for the most part you know a few days in advance who will be calling plays in the huddle for every team in a given week.

The analogy of quarterbacks to running backs continues to fall apart under closer scrutiny. Running backs are often exchanged for one another during a given game, yet it is rare for an NFL quarterback to not finish a game aside from an injury replacement. You can get away with starting the second or third running back on a team for a week, knowing that he will get a few chances to give you at least a few points. That does not translate over to the quarterback as the QB stat line for most NFL games usually consists of one entry per team.

Opponents to switching to a two quarterback lineup mention that there are not enough starting quarterbacks in the NFL to go around, especially in leagues with 12 teams or more. With so few options, rostering any depth becomes rather difficult. Injuries and bye weeks create difficulties in fielding two starters each and every week. However, I believe that this adds to the challenge - can you handle all these issues and be competitive to win your league?

There is one more thing to consider when deciding on using two starting quarterbacks. If you want to have a league that emphasizes in-season trading, then this option is really for you. Redraft leagues that start one quarterback rarely see trades that include a quarterback. Even if a trade is brokered, sadly the low value of quarterback is put on display yet again as a solid NFL passer may be traded for a marginal talent at running back or wide receiver. The reason for this is that starting quarterbacks are often available on the waiver wire and in free agency. All of those conditions change dramatically in a league that doubles the number of quarterback starters.

Death, Taxes and....

Some quarterbacks just seem to be more durable than others. When you are starting two quarterbacks, it is a huge boost to your roster if you can find a capable starter that can be inserted into your lineup week after week without worrying if he will be available. Only four quarterbacks - Eli Manning, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers - have become their team's perennial starter and not missed a game in over four seasons (and Drew Brees was given Week 17 off last year, giving him one missed start). The value of having stalwart signal callers like these four represent more than just their performances week after week - stabilizing your roster also adds value.

There are a number of other quarterbacks that are likely to start 16 games this season provided they are healthy. Some teams, however, are having a competition for the starter role or have young talent chomping at the bit to get under center in 2009. With so much turmoil at quarterback, we need to see just who would deserve to be selected in a two quarterback league draft.

Draftable QBs

With that in mind, it becomes very important to know the NFL quarterback depth charts, and who is worth of selecting on Draft Day. Here is my view on who is available and their viability for this year:

  • Arizona Cardinals - Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson
  • Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan
  • Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco
  • Buffalo Bills - Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm
  • Carolina Panthers - Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen
  • Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler
  • Cincinnati Bengals - Carson Palmer
  • Cleveland Browns - Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace
  • Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo
  • Denver Broncos - Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow
  • Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford
  • Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers
  • Houston Texans - Matt Schaub
  • Indianapolis Colts - Peyton Manning
  • Jacksonville Jaguars - David Garrard
  • Kansas City Chiefs - Matt Cassel
  • Miami Dolphins - Chad Henne
  • Minnesota Vikings - Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson
  • New England Patriots - Tom Brady
  • New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees
  • New York Giants - Eli Manning
  • New York Jets - Mark Sanchez
  • Oakland Raiders - Jason Campbell
  • Philadelphia Eagles - Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick
  • Pittsburgh Steelers - Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisberger, Dennis Dixon
  • San Diego Chargers - Philip Rivers
  • San Francisco 49ers - Alex Smith
  • Seattle Seahawks - Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst
  • St. Louis Rams - A.J. Feeley, Sam Bradford
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Freeman
  • Tennessee Titans - Vince Young
  • Washington Redskins - Donovan McNabb
  • That's 29 quarterbacks that will likely be starters (BLUE), nine more that are competing for playing time or likely to see action (GREEN), and another six that are flyers that may see playing time in certain situations this year (PURPLE). I could 40-45 quarterbacks being drafted in a typical 12-team, 20-round redraft league employing two starting quarterbacks. That translates to all the quarterbacks in BLUE and GREEN above and nearly all of those in PURPLE.

    Draft Day

    I ran a mock draft for twelve teams using just the auto-draft option, but that did not tell me very much beyond what I expected - that you cannot wait too long to select your quarterbacks. So I decided that I needed to do a more hands-on mock, pretending to be the owner of all 12 teams, and see if I could come up with competitive teams at each draft position.

    Here are the results:

    Rnd
    Team 1
    Rnd
    Team 2
    Rnd
    Team 3
    Rnd
    1
    Chris Johnson
    1
    Maurice Jones-Drew
    1
    Ray Rice
    1
    2
    Brandon Marshall
    2
    Greg Jennings
    2
    Jamaal Charles
    2
    3
    Kevin Kolb
    3
    Eli Manning
    3
    Brett Favre
    3
    4
    Antonio Gates
    4
    Michael Turner
    4
    Dallas Clark
    4
    5
    Ryan Mathews
    5
    Jason Witten
    5
    Jonathan Stewart
    5
    6
    Ricky Williams
    6
    Darren Sproles
    6
    Mike Sims-Walker
    6
    7
    Matt Forte
    7
    Terrell Owens
    7
    Mike Wallace
    7
    8
    Jerricho Cotchery
    8
    Steve Breaston
    8
    Devin Hester
    8
    9
    Malcom Floyd
    9
    Kenny Britt
    9
    Donald Driver
    9
    10
    Devin Aromashodu
    10
    Mike Thomas
    10
    Donnie Avery
    10
    11
    David Garrard
    11
    Vince Young
    11
    Matthew Stafford
    11
    12
    Arizona
    12
    Larry Johnson
    12
    San Diego
    12
    13
    Pierre Garcon
    13
    Rob Bironas
    13
    Braylon Edwards
    13
    14
    Dustin Keller
    14
    Trent Edwards
    14
    Sam Bradford
    14
    15
    Jake Delhomme
    15
    Fred Davis
    15
    Ben Tate
    15
    16
    Michael Vick
    16
    Dallas
    16
    Bo Scaife
    16
    17
    Pittsburgh
    17
    New Orleans
    17
    Ryan Longwell
    17
    18
    Javon Ringer
    18
    Josh Cribbs
    18
    A.J. Feeley
    18
    19
    Matt Prater
    19
    Tashard Choice
    19
    Julius Jones
    19
    20
    Dennis Dixon
    20
    Rashad Jennings
    20
    Louis Murphy
    20
    Rnd
    Team 4
    Rnd
    Team 5
    Rnd
    Team 6
    Rnd
    1
    Adrian Peterson
    1
    Aaron Rodgers
    1
    Andre Johnson
    1
    2
    Calvin Johnson
    2
    Jay Cutler
    2
    Philip Rivers
    2
    3
    Matt Ryan
    3
    Marques Colston
    3
    Donovan McNabb
    3
    4
    Ryan Grant
    4
    Hakeem Nicks
    4
    Joseph Addai
    4
    5
    Jermichael Finley
    5
    Jahvid Best
    5
    Tony Gonzalez
    5
    6
    Carson Palmer
    6
    Dwayne Bowe
    6
    C.J. Spiller
    6
    7
    Fred Jackson
    7
    Justin Forsett
    7
    Cadillac Williams
    7
    8
    T.J. Houshmandzadeh
    8
    Owen Daniels
    8
    Vincent Jackson
    8
    9
    Robert Meachem
    9
    Jerome Harrison
    9
    Eddie Royal
    9
    10
    Donald Brown
    10
    Correll Buckhalter
    10
    Arian Foster
    10
    11
    Alex Smith
    11
    Chad Henne
    11
    Miami
    11
    12
    Chicago
    12
    Toby Gerhart
    12
    Derrick Ward
    12
    13
    Santonio Holmes
    13
    Garrett Hartley
    13
    Nate Burleson
    13
    14
    Dexter McCluster
    14
    Kevin Walter
    14
    Matt Moore
    14
    15
    Stephen Gostkowski
    15
    Baltimore
    15
    Brian Hartline
    15
    16
    Kevin Boss
    16
    Kevin Smith
    16
    Jermaine Gresham
    16
    17
    Devin Thomas
    17
    Austin Collie
    17
    Early Doucet
    17
    18
    Marshawn Lynch
    18
    Nate Washington
    18
    Robbie Gould
    18
    19
    Laurent Robinson
    19
    Tony Moeaki
    19
    Brian Robiskie
    19
    20
    Brandon Jackson
    20
    Demaryius Thomas
    20
    Jerious Norwood
    20
    Rnd
    Team 7
    Rnd
    Team 8
    Rnd
    Team 9
    Rnd
    1
    Larry Fitzgerald
    1
    Drew Brees
    1
    Peyton Manning
    1
    2
    Reggie Wayne
    2
    Matt Schaub
    2
    Miles Austin
    2
    3
    Rashard Mendenhall
    3
    Sidney Rice
    3
    DeAngelo Williams
    3
    4
    Joe Flacco
    4
    Knowshon Moreno
    4
    Chad Ochocinco
    4
    5
    Vernon Davis
    5
    Ronnie Brown
    5
    Reggie Bush
    5
    6
    Jeremy Maclin
    6
    Michael Crabtree
    6
    Felix Jones
    6
    7
    Michael Bush
    7
    Ahmad Bradshaw
    7
    Brandon Jacobs
    7
    8
    Santana Moss
    8
    Lee Evans
    8
    Heath Miller
    8
    9
    Chester Taylor
    9
    Laurence Maroney
    9
    Mohamed Massaquoi
    9
    10
    LaDainian Tomlinson
    10
    Dez Bryant
    10
    Johnny Knox
    10
    11
    Montario Hardesty
    11
    Visanthe Shiancoe
    11
    Chris Cooley
    11
    12
    Green Bay
    12
    Thomas Jones
    12
    Jason Campbell
    12
    13
    Mark Sanchez
    13
    Tennessee
    13
    Minnesota
    13
    14
    Matt Leinart
    14
    Ben Roethlisberger
    14
    Jabar Gaffney
    14
    15
    Jacoby Jones
    15
    Chaz Schilens
    15
    Charlie Whitehurst
    15
    16
    Jonathan Dwyer
    16
    Greg Olsen
    16
    Nate Kaeding
    16
    17
    Todd Heap
    17
    Josh Morgan
    17
    Mike Bell
    17
    18
    Roy Williams
    18
    Neil Rackers
    18
    New York Giants
    18
    19
    David Akers
    19
    Fred Taylor
    19
    Davone Bess
    19
    20
    Anthony Gonzalez
    20
    Legedu Naanee
    20
    Brian Brohm
    20
    Rnd
    Team 10
    Rnd
    Team 11
    Rnd
    Team 12
    Rnd
    1
    Tony Romo
    1
    Frank Gore
    1
    Steven Jackson
    1
    2
    Roddy White
    2
    Randy Moss
    2
    Tom Brady
    2
    3
    Pierre Thomas
    3
    Chris Wells
    3
    Steve Smith
    3
    4
    DeSean Jackson
    4
    Steve Smith
    4
    Hines Ward
    4
    5
    LeSean McCoy
    5
    Cedric Benson
    5
    Shonn Greene
    5
    6
    Percy Harvin
    6
    Wes Welker
    6
    Anquan Boldin
    6
    7
    Tim Hightower
    7
    Derrick Mason
    7
    Clinton Portis
    7
    8
    Kellen Winslow
    8
    Zach Miller
    8
    Brent Celek
    8
    9
    Marion Barber
    9
    Steve Slaton
    9
    Darren McFadden
    9
    10
    Leon Washington
    10
    Philadelphia
    10
    New York Jets
    10
    11
    San Francisco
    11
    Matt Cassel
    11
    Kevin Faulk
    11
    12
    Jeremy Shockey
    12
    John Carlson
    12
    Willis McGahee
    12
    13
    Golden Tate
    13
    Mario Manningham
    13
    Chris Chambers
    13
    14
    Matt Hasselbeck
    14
    Kyle Orton
    14
    Josh Freeman
    14
    15
    Byron Leftwich
    15
    Bernard Berrian
    15
    Tony Scheffler
    15
    16
    Tarvaris Jackson
    16
    Derek Anderson
    16
    Tim Tebow
    16
    17
    Mike Williams
    17
    Mason Crosby
    17
    Jimmy Clausen
    17
    18
    Devery Henderson
    18
    Bernard Scott
    18
    Arrelious Benn
    18
    19
    Dan Carpenter
    19
    Seneca Wallace
    19
    Jay Feely
    19
    20
    Leonard Weaver
    20
    Jason Snelling
    20
    Darrius Heyward-Bey
    20

    Table 1: Draft Results for Start 2QB League

    Looking over the teams, I noticed:

  • There were 43 QBs taken, with every team taking at least three.

  • Teams definitely take QBs much earlier in this system. Four teams took a QB in Round 1, and nine more by the end of Round 3.

  • All but one team had at least one QB by the end of Round 4, with three teams grabbing two with their first four picks.

  • Four of 12 teams had two QBs by the end of Round 6. After that point many teams waited until a later run in the draft in the range of Rounds 11-14.

  • Rounds 11 seemed to be quite popular from a value standpoint for a QB2 or QB3 run

  • Teams near the edge have it rough. They must go QB2 or QB3 early else they will lose out on a potential QB1. Team 1 waited for QB3 and then got "stuck" with a starter that had the same bye week as their QB1 (Kevin Kolb / Jake Delhomme). Trading will be a priority if the waiver wire pickup route is ineffective.

  • Handcuffs were not that difficult to secure.

  • Bye weeks are a definite factor.

  • Being one of the first teams with 3 QBs was advantageous - Team 5 had Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer and Alex Smith in Round 9, for example.
  • Putting Our Two Heads Together

    Some lessons learned from the mock draft:

  • It is OK to wait on picking your first quarterback, but be one of the first to get your second and third QB.

  • With 43 QBs selected, teams taking 4 or 5 quarterbacks are at a disadvantage. Depth on your roster may suffer at other positions if you have to use 20-25% of your team for QB. While quarterbacks will likely score a good number of points for your team, the issues of depth at running back and wide receiver may present themselves later in the year.

  • There was an overall trend towards at least one quarterback run - In Rounds 11 and another in Round 14. Both rounds had the majority of the picks as quarterbacks - six QBs were taken in Round 11 while eight more are collected in Round 14.

  • Selection of two solid starters early with later bye weeks allows for a team to build depth at other positions and wait on a midseason injury replacement to cover bye weeks. Teams 6 and 8 both employed this strategy and they can hope that a waiver wire pickup opportunity arises for their QB bye weeks.

  • Conclusions

    Now your draft is over, you have some good quarterback starters, and there are some teams that have issues in your league at the position. These teams will be hungry all year for improving their team if they are to have a chance to compete. Be sure that your commissioner has set up your league for these owners to get back into the mix by implementing these supporting rules.

  • Trades - These have to be permitted and encouraged. Any rules that might stifle trade activities have to be looked over and possibly scrapped. Quarterbacks now have much more value, and trading for QBs will promote trades amongst all the other positions. Consider this an added benefit of starting two quarterbacks, as your owners should now be far more active during the season

  • Roster Depth - This should be done BEFORE the draft, but at the very least you need to allow for additional player room. As shown by the mock draft above, having 3-4 QBs on a roster is common, so adding 1-2 more roster slots would be warranted

  • Waiver Wire - This is a critical step. Every owner will be after the next second-string quarterback that will be thrust into a starting job when the starter goes down with an injury (just like a starting running back). Determining how to claim players in a reasonable fashion such as blind bidding or a closed market until Tuesday or Wednesday would be prudent maneuvers.
  • I hope that many of you consider the positives of running or joining two quarterback leagues. They are a lot of fun to play in, and I make a point of joining at least one per year. The strategy and entertainment value alone are worth the effort to find one, and I encourage everyone to try this alternative league style.

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

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