The Rise of the Great Passing Offense hasn’t just made receivers more desirable in fantasy leagues. It has leveled the playing field for most quarterbacks. We’ve discussed it a lot here, but it bears repeating. After you get beyond Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, there just isn’t that much difference among the next eight or 10 quarterbacks. There’s an argument to be made that they all belong in the same tier. That’s something owners in auction leagues can use to their advantage.
I have never been in an auction were there weren’t bargains to be had during the endgame. You can count on a few guys going the stars and scrubs route. In this strategy, an owner uses about 75 percent of their budget on three or four superstars -- think LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson and Demaryius Thomas -- and then scrapes together the rest of his roster with players of single-digit dollar value. You can count on another owner or two being too aggressive too early, and having to scrimp and save toward the end of the draft. You can also bet that because of the nomination format, a handful of players who would go somewhere in the middle rounds in a typical draft will be forgotten until only a few people can even come close to paying what they’re actually worth. If you’ve been in an auction before, you already know this, and if you haven’t you can take my word for it. There will always -- always -- be bargains in the endgame.
Nowhere is this truer than at the quarterback position. If you think about the makeup of a fantasy team, it makes all the sense in the world. Most starting lineups require you to have at least two running backs and receivers, with at least one flex, as well. Some leagues go even deeper. As such, an owner likely has to have a minimum of five backs and five receivers, and most will take even more than that. By contrast, you can take just one quarterback in most leagues.
If you end up with Rodgers, Manning or Brees in a league where you can only start one quarterback, you’d actually be wasting a roster spot by taking a backup. Even if you don’t have one of the elite guys, you can get away with having just one quarterback coming out of your auction. There are plenty of options at the position and you can always add one later. And if your guy ends up proving reliable, something that any of the guys ranked between fourth and 14th at the position can do, you may choose to only roster a backup when your starter is on a bye.
Taking those two facts into account, it becomes readily apparent that the quarterbacks ranked at the end of the starting class in a 12-team league will likely come very cheap in auctions. I can only speak for myself, but I feel like most everyone would be comfortable starting anyone of the following signal callers this year: Rodgers, Manning, Brees, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson. Out of those 16 guys, I’d be willing to bet all of you reading this like at least 10 of them.
There are plenty of options at the position, and in an auction, most owners are only worried about getting one of them. Whereas an owner playing the waiting game on quarterbacks might be worried about someone sniping them in a traditional draft, that worry is largely eliminated in auctions. It’s one thing to use a 10th-round pick on a backup quarterback. It’s an entirely different thing to burn $5 or $6 on one when every dollar in an auction counts.
The owners who have Rodgers, Manning and Brees will smartly be allocating their dollars elsewhere. Someone who spends on Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton or Tom Brady probably won’t invest much in a backup. That means you can spend aggressively on backs and receivers while some of the bigger-name quarterbacks are being plucked off the board. Then, once most everyone in your league has their quarterback, you can throw out someone like Cutler or Romo for a dollar. He’ll likely get bid up a few bucks, but sooner rather than later all you’ll hear is crickets.
Before you sit down for your auction, ask yourself the following question. Would I rather have Andrew Luck for $26 or Jay Cutler for $6, freeing up $20 to spend elsewhere. Those bargains will be out there at the quarterback position in your endgame. Exercise patience, focus on backs and receivers early, and you will be rewarded.