Should Top QBs Be Taken Higher?

September 02, 2007

ON FANTASY DRAFTDAY, most elite quarterbacks take a backseat to even average running backs.Peyton Manning will usually last until late in the first round or early in thesecond, and other top QBs such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Marc Bulger and CarsonPalmer will often drift into the third. Owners are following the conventionalwisdom that running backs rule fantasy football. But is that wise? A look atthe last three seasons of fantasy production shows that elite quarterbacksdeserve more respect.

First, understandthis point: Top QBs outperform top RBs. Since 2004, 28 of the 50 highestsingle-season fantasy point totals have been by quarterbacks--compared with 20by RBs and two by WRs. Twelve of those 28 were tallied by Manning, Brees,Palmer, Brady and Bulger. LaDainian Tomlinson's astounding effort in '06 wasonly the third-best single season over the last three years.

But, the argumentgoes, aren't quality running backs harder to find, while quarterbacks are adime a dozen? Why blow a high pick on a QB when you can get a decent one later?Indeed, most fantasy league teams employ two or three running backs and onlyone quarterback, seemingly creating a glut of QBs and a shortage of runners.But shrewd fantasy owners know that quality is more important than quantity.Once you get past the quintet of passers mentioned above, you're left withless-than-inspiring choices such as Jon Kitna (inconsistent), Donovan McNabb(injury prone), Vince Young (weak supporting cast), Matt Hasselbeck and EliManning (inconsistent, and weak supporting cast), Philip Rivers (inexperienced)and more unproven options (see next page). One or two of those QBs could put upbig numbers in 2007, but not many more.

The second tier ofRBs--every starter not named LT, Steven Jackson or Larry Johnson (who has hisown issues)--includes 26 running backs who gained 1,000 rushing yards and/orscored 10 or more TDs last season, and at least three strong rookies. Thismeans you can make an aggressive move for a top quarterback and still land adecent second running back later on.

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

TOP FANTASYPERFORMERS, 2004-06

PLAYER, TEAM TOTAL
YARDS
TOTAL
TDS
Peyton Manning, Colts 12,820 112
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers 6,036 74
Tiki Barber, Giants 6,613 31
Larry Johnson, Chiefs 5,151 51
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers 6,036 74
Tiki Barber, Giants 6,613 31
Larry Johnson, Chiefs 5,151 51
Drew Brees, Chargers/Saints 11,357 80

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

TOP FANTASYSEASONS, 2004-06

PLAYER, TEAM SEASON TOTAL
YARDS
TOTAL
TDS
Peyton Manning, Colts 2004 4,595 49
Daunte Culpepper, Vikings 2004 5,123 41
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers 2006 2,343 33
Shaun Alexander, Seahawks 2005 1,959 28
Daunte Culpepper, Vikings 2004 5,123 41
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers 2006 2,343 33
Shaun Alexander, Seahawks 2005 1,959 28
Peyton Manning, Colts 2006 4,433 35

TOTALS INCLUDEPASSING, RUSHING AND RECEIVING

PHOTODAVID BERGMAN (BREES) HighFive
Brees is the fifth-leading fantasy scorer of the past threeyears.
PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (BRADY)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)