Upside Only: Swinging for the Fences at Quarterback

Downside and risk shouldn't be factors when evaluating and selecting quarterbacks in fantasy football.

Plenty has been made of the late-round quarterback strategy in fantasy football. This article isn't an attempt to reinvent the wheel but rather to summarize those principles and discuss why a quarterback's low-end outcome isn't relevant to his draft stock. And here are the reasons why.

  1. Positional Scarcity
  2. Flat Scoring Distribution at Quarterback
  3. Quarterback is a Predictable Position
  4. Quarterback is a Replaceable Position

Please note that all assumptions in this article are based on typical league setups (i.e. one-quarterback leagues with 18 or fewer roster spots).

Bizarro World: Quarterbacks Aren't Important (The Positional Scarcity Argument)

Here are the starting players in a 12-team fantasy league vs. how many available NFL starters there are at each position.

Position Fantasy Starters NFL Starters*
QB 12 24
RB 24-36 48
WR 36-48 52
* The "NFL Starters" column assumes that certain passing offenses aren't palatable in typical leagues (hence the reduction from 32 at quarterback and 64 at receiver) and makes assumptions that committee/third-down running backs are fantasy relevant (thus, a number greater than 32).

At the risk of over-simplifying things, which position seems least important? Now, here are the same numbers presented in a non-football way. Let's say you're hosting a barbecue, and your grocery list consists of 12 sides and 30 hamburgers. Your local grocery store is running out of stock as you and 11 other people enter the store. Which of the following are you going to pick up first?

  • 12 sides when 30 are available
  • 30 burgers when only 48 are available

Apologies to any vegetarians out there, but even a non-meat eater should understand the supply and demand here.

Takeaway: fantasy leagues require fewer quarterbacks starters while more are available, making it a position with high supply and low demand.

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