The Salary Cap Roundtable Series
Joining a salary cap league can be intimidating for even a seasoned fantasy football player. Fortunately, the Footballguys staff has experience in this format and will help you. Over the summer, we'll cover various topics ranging from basic to advanced strategies.
How do you treat the quarterback position? Do you spend for a top quarterback? Do you try to get a starter for $5 or less? Do you pay a few extra dollars for what you hope is a low-end QB1 that can finish Top 6? How much of your cap do you like to allocate for the position? What's the ideal number of quarterbacks for you to start the season with?
I will generally wait on a quarterback until I know what I have spent on my top running backs and wide receivers. This will tell me if I can target a quarterback in the $10-12 range or if I can increase my spending in the $17-20 range. You can still get a top 10 quarterback in the $10-12 range or perhaps a top-four quarterback in the $17-20 range. It is not difficult to find a quarterback that you want. Find the right price range and hope to win someone you'd be comfortable with. Be careful. You can get stung at quarterback if you wait too long, and there are now 2-3 others without a quarterback and you're all bidding on the last big name on the board. My suggestion is to pounce on a decent quarterback after 5-6 are off the board. I will generally spend $9-14 on a quarterback unless there is a decent value on a top 5 that I can get in the $15-17 range. If I elect to target a QB2, it will be in the $1-$3 range.
I generally start looking in the lower QB1 zone in salary cap leagues. If a start-1QB format, the demand dwindles with most (or all) teams already having a starting option. The demand or price-enforcing simply cannot prevent a team waiting on a quarterback from getting their preferred options for more than a dollar or two. I would much rather pay up for a premium tight end than a quarterback considering the supply difference and typical scoring slope of the two positions. In Superflex, I am more open to allocating for a top-six option as my anchor and another in the top-15 or so as my QB2.
The depth at the quarterback position makes this a punt position. Ideally, I spend $1 here though throwing a couple of extra dollars is not the end of the world. No position depends more on how your league plays; a sharper room is likely only to roster one quarterback, while less experienced rooms will put more value on a backup quarterback. In the first scenario, rostering one quarterback should be fine with plenty of options on the waiver wire. In the second scenario, you have to move with the room and likely roster a second quarterback. Target a player like Justin Fields, who has a very high ceiling should the stars align.
I go cheap at quarterback, with roughly $150 of my budget gone on running back and wide receiver. The good news is that there are plenty of quarterbacks with fantasy value. This is where I use a nomination trick. I will nominate quarterbacks early, knowing I won't spend more than $10 on one. If they go for more than that, that's one fewer team I'm competing with later. If everyone is clued into my strategy, I could land a guy cheap because they don't want to waste their budget early. All in all, I will spend no more than $15 on two quarterbacks.
I don't spend up for top quarterbacks, mostly because this position possesses the most inherent value. Last year, I acquired both Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts for 4% of my budget while others were spending 12% of theirs on Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes II. I traditionally like to roster a second quarterback because of affordability. This year, my target for that $1 QB2 will be Justin Fields. I only roster a second quarterback if I think they possess immense upside and always limit my allocation to 8% or less.
My goal in a typical salary cap draft is to pay $10 or less for a starter I have projected in the Top 10, and then $2-$3 for my backup. Since almost everyone views quarterback as a position worth saving money on, you can find every-week stars for $6-$8 if you time the nomination right.
The only time I'm ever spending up for a top quarterback is if the value is too good to pass up. That can sometimes happen in a group of experienced drafters, but it is rare. The interesting thing about quarterback in salary cap drafts is that most drafters fall into one of two categories: they either want to wait as long as possible to get a cheap quarterback, or they want one of the top guys. This creates a value pocket where you can snatch up a couple of capable fantasy producers at a much lower price than the top guys. You may only be competing with a couple of other teams for those guys so the prices can sometimes be better than they should be. If I end up spending a little more for a quarterback like Jalen Hurts or Kyler Murray (approximately $12-$16) then I don't want to spend more than $1-$2 on a backup or I won't draft a backup at all. But when I go cheaper I buy two guys that could be starters. This year that would be like rostering Matthew Stafford and backing him up with Trey Lance. Or Russell Wilson and Derek Carr. Combining two players like that shouldn't cost more than $8-$10 and gives you two outs for elite production. Even in leagues where you start one quarterback, you can't afford to be starting QB13 every week when your opponent is starting QB3 so I like to give myself a couple of chances to hit on a top producer.
If I can get one of the elite quarterbacks, I will only get one other with a complementary bye week. I would not be afraid to get Josh Allen, but his price may exceed my budget. I would be looking at a $20 maximum at the quarterback position, preferably $10 or less. If I cannot get one of my QB1s, then I would have no hesitation in finding three QB2 types to keep the budget low. Two would be the preferred number though.
This is the year to pay up at quarterback. We have seen a bigger gap between the top guys and replacement-level in recent seasons. While I’d prefer one of the very top guys like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson, I would settle for someone like Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, or Russell Wilson if the bidding got too hot.
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