When to Draft a Quarterback in Fantasy Football? And How Many?

When to draft a quarterback in fantasy football.
When to draft a quarterback in fantasy football. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

If you're new to fantasy football and your draft is coming up, you're probably wondering what to expect. Plenty of your questions will revolve around best draft strategies and specific strategy for your draft position, but some of the questions will be even more basic.

When you're planning for your fantasy football draft, and especially once that draft timer is live, you'll have to think a lot about roster construction.

Running backs and wide receivers will make up most of your roster, but what exactly should you do with the quarterback position? The Duel is here to help.

When to Draft a Quarterback in Fantasy Football

The popular answer to "when should I draft a quarterback in fantasy football?" has evolved over the years. Anyone who was playing fantasy football back in 2011 will remember when Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick were both considered first-round picks.

Fantasy football has come a long way since then, with people realizing that even an elite QB is not worth a first-round pick in a typical 12-team league with one starting quarterback per team. Over time the "late-round quarterback" strategy evolved, with late-round options and waiver wire streamers being a great way to get solid production at the position without sacrificing a high draft pick.

The NFL's current crop of elite quarterbacks has shifted the landscape a little bit, however. The top scorers have really set themselves ahead of that lesser tier, which allows for more variety in draft strategy. That makes it harder to provide a clear "when" answer, but there are some rules of thumb.

First, and most simply, do not draft a quarterback in the first round of a one-QB league.

Second, be flexible. You may want an elite quarterback anchoring your lineup, but you find yourself in Round 3 with the top tier of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert off the board, it's just not worth reaching. The next highest QB in average draft position (ADP) is Lamar Jackson, who goes on average at pick 49.0 — the start of Round 5. You'll have your shot at Jackson again in Round 4, and it's not worth passing up on a top RB or WR talent for him.

The same goes with lesser tiers — if you miss out on guys like Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott, don't bother reaching for a QB in the late ADP range. At that point you're better off waiting until late in the draft since there's a good chance you'll end up having to drop a quarterback taken that late at some point anyway.

How Many QBs to Draft in Fantasy Football? Should You Draft a Backup?

These are the next most common questions when drafting quarterbacks, so let's look at strategy for drafting backups.

If you're drafting someone you expect to start every week, like Josh Allen, then you absolutely don't want to waste a bench spot on a backup QB. If things go well, that is someone you will start only once (on Allen's bye week). And with how late you're going to be drafting that backup, by the time Allen's bye rolls around you may be able to get them (or someone who proves to be a better play that week) on the waiver wire anyway.

Now what about if you're selecting your starter later in the draft? That situation includes a little more nuance. If you land a guy like Dak Prescott (going off the board as the QB8 on average), then the way the draft plays out will impact if it's worth having a backup at all.

If you're looking at a backup late, and it's someone like Matt Ryan or Ryan Tannehill available? Skip them — you'll end up just dropping them when bye weeks roll around anyway.

If you're looking at more boom-or-bust players, then things become a bit more interesting. Tua Tagovailoa (QB16) and Justin Fields (QB17) are both being drafted as backups, but as youngsters who could be improving, they carry much more upside than a typical backup.

Let's say Tua and Tyreek really gel and the Dolphins' offense looks explosive. Suddenly Tua may be in the conversation as an every-week starting option. If your starter disappoints, Tua can replace him, and if not then you may be able to trade Tua.

This situation should also become apparent early in the season — if bye weeks roll around and Tua isn't showing much improvement, you can easily make the decision to drop him to free up that roster spot.

Fantasy Football QB Strategy

So to summarize, here are some key things to remember about drafting quarterbacks in fantasy football:

  • Don't draft one in Round 1
  • Don't reach on a quarterback — even if you're doing it to fill out your starting lineup
  • Don't draft a backup quarterback if you took a top QB as your starter
  • Don't draft a backup unless they have the upside to become a possible every-week starter

And if you're doing more prep for your draft, be sure to check out some of The Duel's other fantasy football resources too:

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.