2010 Fantasy Football Strategy and Sleepers Discussion: Quarterback

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2010

Joe Flacco has seen a significant boost in interest lately, but still provides value in the eighth round or later.
Joe Flacco has seen a significant boost in interest lately, but still provides value in the eighth round or later.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Like a moth drawn to the beckoning ultraviolet glow of a bug zapper, I just couldn’t stop staring at the headline on a certain fantasy football magazine found recently at the grocery store newsstand.

“Why you MUST draft an elite quarterback to win in 2010”

The teaser was developed to make you purchase the fantasy magazine … that without this little nugget of fantasy wisdom, you’d be floundering around in your respective fantasy football basements all season long – the laughingstock at the office water cooler.

I wasn’t buying it. Not the headline … nor the magazine. To be successful in fantasy football, you need to draft the team which will score you the most points in comparison to your league-mates. It’s that simple.

And to do this, I’ve developed the following mindset, in the same vein as my positional draft strategies for running backs, kickers and team defenses

Early-round quarterbacks don’t equal fantasy dominance.  Really.

In 2009, squads with quarterbacks who were taken high in 2009 fantasy drafts didn’t fare any better than teams who found the right combination of value QBs. In fact, in many cases, championship teams made their big push using signal callers that were draft-day bargains.

For example, I was in four competitive Yahoo leagues in 2009. Championship teams in those leagues were using Jay Cutler (drafted in the sixth round), Aaron Rodgers (drafted in the late second round), Brett Favre (picked up off waiver wire) and Tony Romo (drafted in an auction for a ridiculously cheap price).

Out of those, Rodgers was the only one considered “elite” based off his preseason draft slot. The other three came at a greatly reduced price.

This nugget of info, however, comes with a caveat. Be sure to know your league’s scoring system. Some leagues’ scoring heavily favors a QB on his yards, TDs or both. In such cases, drafting a QB earlier may be necessary.

However, in most general league formats, you can wait for a QB while filling out your roster with more proven commodities at RB and WR.

This strategy has worked wonders for my fantasy teams in years past. Each season, I target one or two guys with big upside who are falling in most draft formats. Each year, probably more by luck than anything else, I have been fortunate enough to hit QB gold.

Three seasons ago, it was Carson Palmer. Two seasons ago, I went hard after Aaron Rodgers in the later rounds. Last year, it was Matt Schaub and Brett Favre.

This year? The crop looks better than ever. In fact, I don’t feel honed in on just one guy. Here are the QBs who I’ve been focusing on as draft-day bargains this season.

Jay Cutler has been drafted, on average, in and around the seventh round in most leagues so far this offseason, according to ep’s ADP QB rankings. Considering his aptitude last year for interceptions, offset somewhat by his talent, this seems about right in the grand scheme of things. Except, the Bears added pass-happy coordinator Mike Martz who always seems to transform ordinary signal callers into decent fantasy options.

I’ll take Cutler in the seventh round. In fact, in one competitive league at work, I got him in the eighth round Saturday night. The upside in that system is just too juicy to pass up at that spot, as long as you know there will be interceptions to weather at times.

Kevin Kolb has been going, on average, in the eighth round of most drafts. Considering he isn’t a proven commodity, that’s a tad high for me. However, lackluster showings in the first two preseason games has dropped Kolb closer to the 10th or 11th round in some drafts. If he falls far enough, take a shot on him.

Matt Ryan had a tough sophomore campaign and people are leery of him this summer. Don’t be. Compare his stats, even the dip last year, to Peyton Manning’s first two years in the league, and it is apparent that Ryan has a chance to take the next step in his career this year. Roddy White is an elite receiver. Tony Gonzalez is one of the most sure-handed weapons in the league. In fact, I called Ryan my early-season sleeper several months ago.

As much as I love Ryan this offseason, I’ve fallen even more love with Joe Flacco lately. He’s projected to go in the 10th round of leagues, although his “sleeper” status has him moving up the ranks.

I’d take him as high as the eighth round. What I like about him, outside of the improved receiving weapons, solid run game and solid defense, was that even when injured last season, he played gutty football and produced regardless. He’s healthy this year.

Ben Roethlisberger is falling really far in drafts this summer, and for good reason. He’ll miss the first four weeks of the season and lost a top receiving weapon (Santonio Holmes) this offseason. However, reports are that Roethlisberger is in the best shape of his career, and he has a lot to prove, when he gets back on the field, to the Pittsburgh fans he disgraced with his off-field actions. Great athletes find ways to elevate their game when they have a lot to prove. Obviously, you should draft Roethlisberger late enough to be your QB2 with upside, or at least have a solid option for the first four weeks until his return.

Matthew Stafford will have a big fantasy season. Mark my words. Not Drew Brees or Peyton Manning big, but much better than his current ADP. He has a growing stable of able receivers and his defense is bad enough for Stafford to air it out week after week in catch-up mode. Some great fantasy quarterbacks have been found in similar situations.

Alex Smith deserves much more love than his ADP suggests. He morphed into a reliable option last year, and Michael Crabtree has an extra year of maturity under his belt, Vernon Davis has emerged as a top tight end and the Niners will be playing in some high-scoring games.

What more on this topic? Check out the version here.

Want more QB rankings, player capsules and discussion? Be sure to check out my redraft QB rankings, ep’s ADP rankings discussion, sockonfl’s redraft rankings, our composite quarterback rankings and our overall fantasy football strategies and advice index.

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