When you watched Robert Griffin III yesterday, you did it while drowning in your own saliva, especially if you own him. His 311 passing yards against the Cowboys with four touchdowns and one interception in addition to 29 rushing yards adds up to 29 fantasy points using standard scoring. He balled hard.
But that got me thinking, and when I get thinking, usually I do it while hitting black keyboard buttons, and hopefully what comes out is a coherent thought. As the 2012 fantasy football regular season begins to wind down (*shudders*), has RG3 further elelvated the draft value of quarterbacks? It’s a value that was already rising after a draft season this past August when easily three quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady) were first-round picks, with Cam Newton often sneaking in later in the round. When we toss in Newton and Matthew Stafford, five quarterbacks were selected in the first two rounds.
Using the final average draft positions in ESPN leagues, running back easily surpassed that, with nine RBs coming off the board over the first two rounds. And when we go deeper into those ADPs to begin the looking glass gazing towards 2013 (yep, this is happening) in re-draft leagues, what we see is that those holding the first overall pick should still de-emphasize the quarterback position, despite Griffin’s brilliance.
Taking a quarterback with the first overall pick was a less common approach this year, but perhaps only marginally. Arian Foster was the most common first overall pick, but among those early QBs, Rodgers often crept up. His overall ADP was 3.7, and there were leading fantasy analysts — most notably Matthew Berry, who also said Brady should have been the No. 2 pick — who advocated that a Rodgers pick was the right pick for those lucky enough to hold that top draft real estate.
The logic is sound. As we’ve seen with Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, and Rashard Mendenhall going down with serious injuries in 2011 and DeMarco Murray this year, running backs are far more vulnerable to exploding bones and muscles. And while there’s a premium at the position at the top, the middle is muddled with RBs who — at least in August — are all of similar value, and therefore capable of producing similar numbers. Combine that with a passing era that’s trending upwards, and this value mining is leading to a direction where safety and security bring Rodgers’ name to the top of many draft boards, a position Griffin could very well find himself in next year. Sex appeal does that to a man, because QB rushing yards are so damn hot.
I’m in three leagues this year, and in two of them the early QB School won the day, and Rodgers was the first overall pick. It wasn’t a bad pick at all, and the justification has now become rather, well, easy. With 208 fantasy points, Rodgers is currently the third overall scorer, behind only Brees (215), and Griffin (214), although the Redskins’ quarterback has played an extra game. But forget Rodgers and Griffin, because beyond them there’s a far greater tale of quarterback dominance in the fantasy point standings. Of the top 15 scorers, 12 of them play quarterback, with Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, and Foster the only exceptions.
So there’s another win for the early QB drafters, yes? Umm, maybe not. Actually, almost definitely not.
When you’re drafting, you’re pursuing points. Yes, a novel concept, but the wise, noble strategist also seeks value, because most often fantasy managers who paid the proper price for each commodity on their roster see the best returns, a process that starts with the first pick.
As C.D. Carter and I discussed earlier this week in our regular Five Questions post, the continued appeal of Griffin could easily lift him above Rodgers next year, with the pursuit of leggy running fun too irresistible. But while he’ll surely be a top three pick, current scoring trends show us that taking Griffin or Rodgers or Brees first overall remains poor value.
Right now there’s a 69-point difference between first and 15th among quarterbacks, and a gap of 73 among running backs. That doesn’t seem significant until we look at some of the names at the bottom of the QB list, and where they were drafted in relation to those at the top.
Again using the final ADPs in ESPN leagues as our guide, there’s a lot of quarterback value lurking while your friend Steve is still using his entire clock in the 10th round, long after you paid the highest price for Rodgers, or Griffin next year.
- Joe Flacco: currently 15th in scoring with 146 points after being drafted 106th overall
- Ben Roethlisberger: 14th with 148 points, drafted 84th
- Matt Schaub: 13th with 153 points, drafted 92nd
- Carson Palmer: 11th with 167 points, drafted 136th
- Andy Dalton: 10th with 169 points, drafted 124th
- Josh Freeman: 8th with 170 points, drafted 120th
- Andrew Luck: 7th with 171 points, drafted 126th
By comparison, only one running back who’s currently in the top 15 had an ADP over 65th, with Washington’s Alfred Morris at 101st. So sorry, creativity, the status quo is still the answer to our Great Question.