If I had to pinpoint a single strategy for one-quarterback redraft leagues I have found the most success with over the last 15 years, it would be waiting on the quarterback position. Often when you hear the phrase, "wait on quarterback", you might assume it means not taking an elite-tier quarterback or any other before the double-digit rounds. My definition is much looser. While I rarely find the likes of Patrick Mahomes II, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts on my squads, I'd be happy to take one if I felt I was getting them at a fair value. Waiting on quarterback means waiting on the value to be right for the higher-tiered quarterbacks or at a price I feel like I am absolutely stealing the player. So, if you find Mahomes, Allen, or Hurts around the turn of the second and third rounds of your drafts this summer, go ahead and make the move.
With that being said, I do love being the last one in a draft room to take a quarterback. It allows me to load up at the other skill positions early. The reason I've found comfort in waiting is due to the value you can find in mid- to late-round drafted quarterbacks. Over the past six seasons, twenty-nine top ten quarterbacks have been selected as the QB10 or later. This works out to roughly half of the top ten quarterbacks each year going late or not even being drafted, depending on league size. Last year we saw a total of six quarterbacks, from the QB5 all the way to the QB10, drafted at a positional average of QB22.
The best utilization of waiting on a quarterback also includes minimizing the likelihood of selecting a bust. There is an inherent risk that your mid- to late-round selection won't return top-ten value. With half of the top ten quarterbacks each season coming from outside the top ten drafted at the position, the other side of the coin is the other half being drafted within the top ten of positional ADP. This is why if I am going to wait, I've found drafting two quarterbacks - or creating a tandem - works best. I could just select one and hit the waiver wire during the season, but I like to beat my opponents to the waiver wire, and there is no better time to beat them than draft day.
Now, you could just select the two best options and call it a day, but I like to dig a little deeper to make the connection between my two players. Of course, you'll want to make sure they have different bye weeks to eliminate the rostering of a third quarterback during a week. The other factor I like to look at is something I call "premium matchups." This is similar to strength of schedule but more focused on the fantasy points allowed by opposing defenses to specifically the quarterback. I also look at the less-than-desirable matchups the quarterbacks will run into, or "non-premium matchups." Every season I create the below chart to assist me in creating my tandems. Once I select my first quarterback in a draft, I refer to the chart to see what my best option would be for my second. Below the graphic are a pair of tandems I am recommending for 2023.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions and Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
- Where To Target: Smith (Round 10) and Goff (Round 11)
- Combined Premium Matchups: Four
- Combined Non-premium Matchups: Two
This is the 2023 version of selecting the two best options and calling it a day. Both Geno Smith and Jared Goff finished as top ten fantasy quarterbacks last season, and surprise, both went essentially undrafted. It would be nice to see more premium matchups than just four total between a tandem, but with the amount of talent between the two, there is no reason to be deterred.
Jared Goff's finish as the QB10 last season was in great part to a career-best 29 to 7 passing touchdowns to interceptions ratio. He was even more dependable at home, where his ratio was 23 to 3. One area I see Goff's game improving is the utilization of the running backs in the passing game. Detroit brought in two very capable pass-catching backs in David Montgomery through free agency and the drafting of Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama. While the Lions and Goff already have a dynamic pair of wide receivers in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams, it is these two running backs I see helping Goff take the next step.
While Goff surprised many, it was Geno Smith who made the most unexpected impression. Smith was middle of the pack, 15th overall, in passing attempts in 2022, but finished 7th in completions and tied for 4th in receiving touchdowns. This was good enough to land Smith as a top-five fantasy quarterback for the first time in his career. Seattle rewarded the late career breakout season with a contract extension and the unanimous top wide receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, in the 2023 NFL Draft.
In a recent Footballguys Mock Draft, I selected Geno Smith and Jared Goff as the 13th and 14th quarterbacks off the board. I was the last manager to select a quarterback in this draft and was able to fill my other positions and even one bench spot. You would think last season's top-ten production would have landed them higher draft capital than their positional ADP of 15th and 16th overall. If I am waiting on quarterback, I am trying not to leave a single draft without one of the two. The best-case scenario, though, would be drafting both.
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