Quarterback has to be the deepest position on an elite level. Last year alone, 10 quarterbacks had at least 260 fantasy points. Nine others topped 200, and that’s not counting an injured Aaron Rodgers (168) and Jay Cutler (166). Sure, Peyton Manning reined supreme (409), but it took NFL records for passing yardage and touchdowns for that to happen. The next highest guy was Drew Brees (357) and third was Cam Newton (297).
The gap between fifth place (288) and 10th (260) was a measly 28 fantasy points.
If you draft Manning or Brees early, yes, you probably hold a weekly advantage over other fantasy teams. However, is the value really the best? Considering you need to spend a first or second round pick on either of these guys on average (Aaron Rodgers, too), it’s at least arguable that it’s not.
For instance, if you draft Manning in round one, you get last year’s best quarterback and you’re hoping he can be the top fantasy quarterback again. He’s probably not going to match his insane 2013 numbers, and there’s also no lock he is the top fantasy passer again. By taking him in the first round, however, you’re banking on one of those things happening, while simultaneously forfeiting the right to an elite running back or an elite wide receiver.
Here comes the rub. You can still get an elite fantasy quarterback (a top-10 option) all the way in round eight. That’s where you can find Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Philip Rivers and even Russell Wilson right now. Cam Newton, who has finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in each of the last three years, is available in round seven on average. Those guys finished 10th, 9th, 6th, and 8th a year ago, respectively.
That means due to quarterback being so deep and fantasy rosters generally only requiring one starter, you can get a legit top-10 passer somewhere between rounds 7-9 in most drafts.
On the flip-side, if you waited that long to get your first or second running back, you’d be looking at guys like Pierre Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew and Danny Woodhead as your best options. These guys aren’t terrible and actually should be good Flex plays most weeks and decent RB2 plays every now and then, but can you rely on those guys on a regular basis at the running back position like you can with quarterbacks that late in drafts? Of course not.
Obviously that’s an extreme. Even if you draft Manning, Brees or Rodgers in round one or two, you’re probably going to spend your next couple of picks on running backs or wide receivers. The point is you’re playing a dangerous game when it comes to depth and stability and there is much more value at quarterback when it comes to elite production that most other positions – specifically running back.