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Waiting as long as possible to draft a quarterback has become en vogue in fantasy football. The trend is not without merit. There is ample evidence that the edge between a highly drafted quarterback and one drafted in the late rounds is a small enough difference that taking a quarterback early is rarely worth it. Even in superflex leagues, it is still a smart tactic to piece together two later-round quarterbacks to go with one drafted a little earlier. There is still immense value to be mined later in the draft – superflex or not.
The main issue with this strategy, however, is that it is easier said than done. What late-round quarterback drafters don’t think about in August that they’ll very much care about in November is that if they are wrong on their late-round quarterback shot, then they could have a guy who settles in as QB15 and fails to provide starter quality points. There is a way to mitigate the risk of being wrong or having a quarterback not meet expectations (usually due to injuries). The way to do that is to pair up two late-round quarterbacks that have complementary qualities.
A quarterback pairing is complementary when they can marry different strengths or qualities. This comes in the form of:
- Schedules that project to match up strength-wise
- Combining stability with upside
- Combining two players with elite potential coming off injury-riddled or statistical outlier seasons
To qualify as a late-round quarterback, the definition will be a player that can be selected roughly in the tenth round or later in most 12-team, 1-quarterback leagues. The best candidates are, therefore:
- Kirk Cousins
- Baker Mayfield
- Justin Fields
- Deshaun Watson
- Tua Tagovailoa
- Trey Lance
- Derek Carr
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Zach Wilson
- Sam Darnold
- Jameis Winston
A few have been omitted from this list because they don’t bring enough to the table in the form of upside, stability, or schedule strength to consider for this strategy.
So, like a sommelier in a fancy restaurant who can pair the wine with the main course, these quarterbacks can, and should, be paired up for maximum fantasy impact. Here are the choices.
Quarterbacks in this category are some choices that give a fantasy team a solid floor. They should be paired with quarterbacks in either of the following categories: Big Upside Big Risk or Scheduled Help.
Kirk Cousins – Cousins is the gold standard for the late-round quarterback strategy. He can be drafted at the end of the 10th or beginning of the 11th round, and he brings stability to the roster. He has thrown for 30 or more touchdowns in two of the last three seasons, and in the other one, he had 26. With rising star Justin Jefferson and red-zone threats Adam Thielen and Irv Smith, Cousins sets the pace for late-round quarterbacks.
Baker Mayfield – Mayfield’s season wasn’t as bad as most people think. In the first half of the year, he was getting comfortable with the offense and dealing with some freak bad weather games. He became consistent and reliable over the last six games of the regular season, averaging two touchdowns per game and turning the ball over only one time. He looks like one of the more stable, if unexciting, options when waiting on a quarterback.
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