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Quarterbacks: The elite, the middle and the bargain

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Three quarterback targets for three different fantasy tiers.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There are two main strategies when it comes to drafting quarterbacks in fantasy football. Either you’re spending a third or fourth round pick on big names—a la Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson or this year’s newcomer Deshaun Watson—or you’re sitting patiently until the double digit rounds to get yourself a Jared Goff or Marcus Mariota or Alex Smith type. Or you’re the spunky type who decides drafting a quarterback is for sissies and you instead pick someone up off the waiver wire. (Let the record show this isn’t a terrible strategy as you can regularly get at least one decent QB option off the wire.)

Lucky for you, whatever your strategy might be, I’ve got you covered. Below are three quarterback targets depending on how you want to tackle the position and how much you want to spend, ranging from the elite, to the middle of the pack, to the guy who could massively outplay his ADP.

(ADP via Fantasy Football Calculator)

The Elite

Aaron Rodgers (ADP: 3.06, QB1)

NFL: Green Bay Packers-Training Camp Jim Matthews-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t overthink it. He’ll cost you a lot but when Rodgers is healthy, he is the best quarterback in fantasy. And I’m not just saying that. Since taking the starting gig back in 2008—and ignoring 2013 and 2017 where he played less than 10 games—Rodgers has finished QB1 or QB2 seven out of eight times.

Rodgers does have questions heading into this season. Last time we saw him throw a football is was not pretty, under-throwing plenty of balls against the Panthers when he tried to stage a late season return last year. But his questions are no more than any other quarterback in the “elite” category. Deshaun Watson is a second year player coming off of an ACL tear who’s played only six games in his career; Tom Brady is losing receiving targets right and left and while his play on the field isn’t declining, his fantasy production hasn’t been what it once was recently; Russell Wilson’s lack of receivers and offensive line eventually has to catch up with him right?

If you’re investing a high pick in a quarterback, Rodgers is the clear choice.

The Middle

Matthew Stafford (ADP: 9.03, QB11)

NFL: Detroit Lions-Minicamp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what it might seem (since I’ve been preaching Matty Stafford since the dinosaurs left this planet in their spaceships) I had a really hard time picking my quarterback for this section. To me, Cam Newton starts the “middle” section—QB7 going atop the seventh round—and he could easily have been my focus for the section as he’s always a fantasy monster given his ability to rush. I wouldn’t surprise me if Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback in fantasy this year with all the weapons that surround him in Minnesota. But I had to pick Stafford to not only stay on #brand but also because he routinely outplays his ADP and finishes a top 10 fantasy quarterback year in and year out.

The big things I love about Stafford are a) he doesn’t get injured, b) no matter how hard the Lions try to develop a running attack, it never happens and c) this Lions’ passing attack could be even more potent then it was last year. Marvin Jones just continues to get better each year while Golden Tate is a monster out of the slot. With a full year under his belt, Kenny Golladay could take a nice step forward and truly be the third weapon we thought he was going to be last year.

The Bargain

Alex Smith (ADP: 12.04, QB19)

NFL: Washington Redskins-Training Camp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If I were to tell you the fourth best quarterback in fantasy last year joined a team who’s passing attack routinely falls inside the top 15 per DVOA over the last three years, would you wait until the 12 round to draft him?

If Alex Smith were any other quarterback, I don’t think he would be sitting around until the 12th round for you to casually pick up. But the Alex Smith syndrome is alive and well and people just don’t trust him to get you tons of fantasy points. Cousins was a fantasy machine in Washington and Smith showed us last year that in the right system, he can rip the ball all over the field. Will he finish in the top 5 like last year? I doubt it. But I would not be at all surprised to see him inside the top 10 this year. If you’re some one like me who likes to wait until the last possible moment to draft your quarterback, Smith is a guy to keep eyes on.

The Bonus

Andrew Luck (ADP: 8.06, QB9)

If Andrew Luck is healthy and firing on all cylinders, he beats Aaron Rodgers in terms of fantasy production this season. Mark my words.

Poll

Where do you like to draft your quarterback?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    The elites (rounds 1-6)
    (10 votes)
  • 52%
    The middle (rounds 7-11)
    (32 votes)
  • 29%
    The bargains (rounds 12-15)
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    The waiver wire
    (1 vote)
61 votes total Vote Now