Ah, two-quarterback leagues. They're catching on like wildfire, no longer reserved for the ultra-involved owner or the fantasy expert. It's easy to see why: A league that allows you to greatly utilize and profit from the QB spot more closely mirrors actual NFL football. In reality, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are generally far more crucial to their teams than the likes of Ameer Abdullah and Jarvis Landry, so why not seek to prioritize them similarly in fantasy?
We Footballguys realize this, so we want to provide you with the advice and tools you need to enter into a two-quarterback or a superflex format.
Technically speaking, of course, a superflex league is not necessarily a two-QB format. Rather, it requires (of course) one QB starter, but includes a "super" starting flex spot that's not just for backs, receivers, and tight ends – a quarterback is allowed to fill it. This is huge, because you'll almost always want to use a quarterback there. Unless we're talking about a massively productive and consistent position player – think last year's David Johnson, or Antonio Brown from 2015 – even a mid-range QB is always the smarter (and higher-projected) play. In that flex spot, we're talking about raw points compared from one position to the others, and a QB will almost always outscore At the very least, he'll project much higher, and why not? A QB is all but immune to game flow, or far more so than a position player. Even the LeSean McCoys and T.Y. Hiltons will fluctuate in opportunity and scoring from one week to the next, while even Alex Smith can be counted on for a baseline of 12-15 fantasy points in even the worst of matchups and performances.
Here's a breakdown of 2016's top-15 positional finishes among quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers:
We can see just how quickly QB scoring takes the cake over that of the other positions, and how even the lower-scoring QBs easily outdid the backup fantasy backs and receivers. But that doesn't even tell the entire tale. There's also consistency to think about, specifically just how often a QB is likely to hit those markers compared to the others. Take our RB7 from above, for example, Devonta Freeman. He was an easy RB1 last year and will almost certainly fetch a Round 2 pick in any one-QB draft for this coming season. But he only hit that average 18-point mark in 6 of 16 games. That's some pretty wide variance, and an indication of the weekly boom-or-bust nature of his position. On the other hand, QB7 Dak Prescott hit his 18-point marker 12 of 16 times. (And he was a rookie in a run-oriented offense; there are far more extreme examples of this variance discrepancy every year.)
The bottom line is that, in a two-QB or superflex league, drafters should always be cognizant of just how much more consistent (and, usually, more prolific) a QB is to plug into a flex spot. In late May, 12 of us Footballguys entered into a mock draft to display just how we approach such formats, and how we prioritize QBs versus the other positions. Below are the results from the first four rounds; I'll be analyzing the nextfour rounds over the coming days, so stay tuned in and turned on.
1.01 Justin Howe – Johnson, David ARI RB
1.02 James Brimacombe – Elliott, Ezekiel DAL RB
1.03 Simon Shepherd – Bell, LeVeon PIT RB
1.04 Chris Feery – Brown, Antonio PIT RB
1.05 Jeff Tefertiller – Rodgers, Aaron GBP QB
1.06 Justin Bonnema – Beckham Jr., Odell NYG WR
1.07 Stephen Holloway – Jones, Julio ATL WR
1.08 Jeff Haseley – Evans, Mike TBB WR
1.09 Phil Alexander – Green, A.J. CIN WR
1.10 Jason Wood – Brady, Tom NEP QB
1.11 Clayton Gray – Luck, Andrew IND QB
1.12 Scott Bischoff – Wilson, Russell SEA QB
David Johnson – A no-brainer, even in a multi-QB league. The NFL’s most consistently dynamic weapon, he’s one of the few names that project to weekly scores around the top tier of QBs. We all know about his ceiling, but his floor is as safe as they come – Johnson racks up gobs of yardage, catches a ton of passes, and dominates the Cardinals offense near the goal line. As our Phil Alexander pointed out a few weeks back, “If he hadn’t rushed for a single yard last season, Johnson still would have finished as a top-20 running back (and top-30 wide receiver) in PPR leagues.” Quarterbacks generally rule the roost in a superflex league, but Johnson remains king.
Aaron Rodgers – It’s hard to quibble too much with picks 2-4, as Elliott, Bell, and Brown are all prime candidates to dominate their respective positions. But in superflex, a strong case can be made for taking Rodgers second overall. Remember, QBs carry just about as much value here as even elite positional players, and they boast far more consistency with less risk of injury – and virtually no risk of decreased usage. The clear-cut top passer on the board, Rodgers is a rock-solid bet to churn out 22+ fantasy points per week – something no one, not even David Johnson, can claim, considering the ever-present risks that the non-QBs carry. By my numbers, Rodgers projects to nearly a point and a half more per week than any other QB, which is crucial as we’ll be seeing QB2 types flying off the board by Round 3 or 4.
A.J. Green – It’s hard to call this a “reach,” as Green annually boats one of the top ceilings among fantasy wideouts. It wouldn’t be a bit surprising to see him threaten the WR1 mark by season’s end. That said, I’m not terribly interested in him with a mid-first pick, as I see a small but noticeable drop from the top wideout tier. Considering his (modest) injury risk and the Bengals’ addition of weapons, I think Green’s floor is lower than those of his peers. I’m especially looking elsewhere in superflex, where QBs are so valuable and come at a premium. Considering the rapid-fire QB run that’s right around the corner, a few guys comparable to Green (Jordy Nelson, Michael Thomas) will almost certainly be available to Phil in the next round. I think he would’ve been better served nabbing Andrew Luck or Tom Brady here, or perhaps a clear-cut RB1 like Melvin Gordon III.
2.01 Scott Bischoff – Freeman, Devonta ATL RB
2.02 Clayton Gray – Ryan, Matt ATL QB
2.03 Jason Wood – Gordon, Melvin SDC RB
2.04 Phil Alexander – McCoy, LeSean BUF RB
2.05 Jeff Haseley – Newton, Cam CAR QB
2.06 Stephen Holloway – Nelson, Jordy GBP WR
2.07 Justin Bonnema – Hilton, T.Y. IND WR
2.08 Jeff Tefertiller – Howard, Jordan CHI RB
2.09 Chris Feery – Murray, DeMarco TEN RB
2.10 Simon Shepherd – Brees, Drew NOS QB
2.11 James Brimacombe – Gronkowski, Rob NEP TE
2.12 Justin Howe – Mariota, Marcus TEN QB
Marcus Mariota – I didn’t love making this pick. Mariota is ultra-promising, but he’s also been hit hard by injuries over his first two years, and his upside may be capped by a slow-paced, run-heavy Titans offense. That said, the QB run hit especially hard in Round 2, and I never had a chance at the Drew Brees/Russell Wilson tier. Mariota may have his warts, but he still projects to churn out 19+ points per week – certainly more than I can say for the non-QBs in this range – and boasts the upside for even more. Armed with two dynamic wideouts and a reliable playmaker at tight end, I’m confident he’ll consistently reach the upper end of his projections.
Melvin Gordon III – Jason really lucked out here. Many drafters are lukewarm on Gordon, who’s yet to show much dynamism as an NFL runner. But if we’re looking to dodge risk and chase consistent – and often dynamic – RB scoring, we have to treat Gordon as a prized pig. The Chargers added nothing of note to their backfield in the early offseason while losing passing-game extraordinaire Danny Woodhead. Outside of the consensus top three backs, no one can boast Gordon’s outlook in terms of three-down volume and touchdown opportunity. Skeptics claim Gordon will struggle to match last season’s 12 touchdowns, but I’m not worried. He only needed a little over 13 games to reach that mark, and his TD rates weren’t wild outliers. All told, Gordon dominates the Chargers’ bare-bones backfield; even if we don’t see a boost in rushing efficiency, we can bank on a higher overall floor than any of his RB peers (LeSean McCoy, Devonta Freeman, etc.).
DeMarco Murray – I could make a strong case for my Mariota pick here, but ultimately I had to take the QB dive where I did. If I have to pick apart a strong second round, I’ll point out that I’m not especially high on Murray, who likely peaked around midseason last year – his scrimmage yardage fell by 33% after Week 9 – and doesn’t have the greatest outlook going forward. The Titans finished fourth leaguewide in rushes last year, but are almost certain to throw more in 2017 after investing their top pick in wideout Corey Davis. And while I don’t see Derrick Henry as a huge threat to Murray’s 2017 workload, his presence means nothing good for the value of the 29-year-old starter. This wasn’t a bad pick at all, but Chris spurned Drew Brees, the last remaining QB in his tier, as well as a few arguably superior receiver options (Michael Thomas, Dez Bryant).
3.01 Justin Howe – Thomas, Michael NOS WR
3.02 James Brimacombe – Carr, Derek OAK QB
3.03 Simon Shepherd – Cooper, Amari OAK WR
3.04 Chris Feery – Prescott, Dak DAL QB
3.05 Jeff Tefertiller – Hopkins, DeAndre HOU WR
3.06 Justin Bonnema – Bryant, Dez DAL WR
3.07 Stephen Holloway – Ajayi, Jay MIA RB
3.08 Jeff Haseley – Gurley, Todd LAR RB
3.09 Phil Alexander – Fournette, Leonard JAX RB
3.10 Jason Wood – Robinson, Allen JAX WR
3.11 Clayton Gray – Cooks, Brandin NEP WR
3.12 Scott Bischoff – Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB
Michael Thomas – As much as I wanted to nab a second QB here, the value just wasn’t there to compete with Thomas, who boasts top-5 WR upside in PPR formats. (I wrote up Thomas more extensively last month.) Drew Brees commands a spread-it-around offense, and his No. 1 target is always a little overvalued, but this is a perfect spot for Thomas. He was Brees’ top target as a rookie and managed a PPR WR10 finish with Brandin Cooks in the lineup. With Cooks gone, Thomas projects to a small but extremely helpful usage bump, one that should put him near or over the hump in the quest for 100 catches and double-digit touchdowns. Again, a second QB would have been ideal here, and had Brees or even Cam Newton been available, this pick may have been different. But as it stands, I don’t have any buyer’s remorse over Thomas. By my projections, the next QB tier is enormous and clumps together tightly, which should leave me at least one or two optimal choices at the back end of Round 4.
Dez Bryant – In a superflex draft, since owners are going QB-crazy in the early rounds, value gems open up even more than usual. Enter Justin Bonnema, who’s still without a QB, but is clearly embracing it and profiting mightily from the frantic QB run. This is the contrarian take on superflex: we know that even the mid-round passers will routinely post a consistent 15+ points a game. Bonnema is banking on assembling a workable QB corps later on, and as a result, he snags Bryant a full round or so later than he’d normally go. Bryant has question marks: his health, his inexperienced QB, and an offense that just screams “regression to the mean.” But at this point on the receiver board, everyone carries a question mark. DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson are coming off major letdown seasons and will again catch passes from subpar quarterbacks. Brandin Cooks is joining a crowded Patriots situation that we don’t know how to project; they could open the passing floodgates to accommodate their weapons, or that could skew just as run-heavy as last year. And none of those guys can boast Bryant’s track record. For me, Bryant and Doug Baldwin represent the class of the available WR tier, and Bryant represents the better upside play. Considering Bonnema went with two safe yet dynamic wideouts in the first two rounds, this is a perfect spot to roll the dice on Bryant.
Derek Carr – I’m no huge fan of Carr, and while I applaud James’ eagerness to add a QB here, there are several other directions I would have preferred to see him take. My projections place Carr well below at least 4-5 other available QBs, and while I could just be too low on him, it’s hard to find much room for the statistical upside to jump them. His lead receivers are generally strong, but much of his weaponry (I’m looking at you, Amari Cooper and Jared Cook) seems almost allergic to scoring touchdowns. That’s not a trend I’m expecting to reverse itself: Over the past two years, among full-time NFL starters, only two (Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston) have posted lower completion rates than Carr in the red zone. That may seem nitpicky, but that kind of short-yardage inefficiency forces a QB to connect on a ton of longer scores to reach value. And unlike much of his peer group, Carr doesn’t boast the yardage or rushing outlooks to make up for a slide in touchdowns. He’ll also suffer if his interception rate bounces back toward the mean. If Cooper truly breaks out and posts a full season of WR1 production, Carr’s value will definitely swell, but there are much surer plays on the board with similar (or better) upside.
4.01 Scott Bischoff – Baldwin, Doug SEA WR
4.02 Clayton Gray – Jeffery, Alshon PHI WR
4.03 Jason Wood – Winston, Jameis TBB QB
4.04 Phil Alexander – Rivers, Philip SDC QB
4.05 Jeff Haseley – Thomas, Demaryius DEN WR
4.06 Stephen Holloway – Miller, Lamar HOU RB
4.07 Justin Bonnema – Hyde, Carlos SFF RB
4.08 Jeff Tefertiller – Landry, Jarvis MIA WR
4.09 Chris Feery – Manning, Eli NYG QB
4.10 Simon Shepherd – Cousins, Kirk WAS QB
4.11 James Brimacombe – Wentz, Carson PHI QB
4.12 Justin Howe – Dalton, Andy CIN QB
Andy Dalton – Sometimes, in a superflex draft, you have to hold your nose and take the QB. Dalton isn’t sexy, but he’ll reliably outscore a number of the remaining flex options on a week-to-week basis. Besides, I’m higher on him than most; when all of his weapons are healthy, he’s a borderline fantasy QB1. Over the past 2 years, Dalton has started 14 games alongside both A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, and over that span he’s averaged 19.7 fantasy points. By my 2017 projections, that would make him the upcoming season’s QB6 – a bit high perhaps, but a reminder of just how capable he is with starting-caliber receivers in the lineup.
Doug Baldwin – This wasn’t exactly a “steal,” as it’s exactly where I’d project Baldwin to go in a superflex draft. But like Dez Bryant in the previous round, it’s an example of the non-QB value that oozes into the fourth round of multi-QB drafts. Baldwin is a strong PPR play, one who boasts a relative stranglehold on his team’s wide receiver targets and typically chips in a strong touchdown rate to boot. A lot of the upcoming receiver options tend to specialize in one of those factors or the other. Baldwin may not carry the same eruptive upside as the likes of Sammy Watkins or Keenan Allen, but he’s a far safer play and holds a stronger ceiling than many realize. We saw late in 2015 – and for chunks of 2016 – just how much Russell Wilson can latch on to Baldwin, especially in the red zone.
Carson Wentz – Again, I’m not going to knock a superflex drafter for reaching at the QB spot. And this is the ideal spot to reach for your QB2 – question marks abound throughout the ranks of the upcoming running backs and receivers. Still, I’m not high on Wentz’s chances to ascend to this level, and I feel that James left several superior options on the board. Wentz really seemed to hit a wall midway through his rookie year, and his yards per attempt fell from 6.83 to a pitiful 5.61 after the Eagles’ Week 10 bye. He also began hemorrhaging turnovers after the break, a trend that obviously needs to stem if he’s going to remain the face of the franchise. To threaten QB1 status, he’ll also need to practically double his rookie touchdown output, and I’m not sure how realistic a proposition that is – especially after coach Doug Pederson’s comments about decreasing Wentz’s passing volume. The team did provide him with Alshon Jeffery this offseason, but I’m wary of Jeffery’s injury, conditioning, and suspension histories – as well as the fact that he could only secure a one-year deal on the market.
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