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The Quarterback Free Fall

Fantasy football draft strategy

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Updated: July 21, 2013
Original Release: August 4, 2003


Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, and Jay Cutler are all quarterbacks that can be had much later in your draft than some of the higher profile names (see our free Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings). While each of these QBs have a question mark next to their name, they also have the potential to hold their own to allow you to select fantasy football players at other positions where the pickings get slim real fast. Therein lies the upside in this draft strategy, which will serve you well in virtually any fantasy football scoring system and league setup. The only exceptions being extreme leagues that require multiple quarterback starts (two or more each week) or leagues that are composed of a large number of teams (20 or more). However, by in large, this is a nice draft strategy to keep in mind. Without further ado, let's discuss what we like to affectionately refer to as, "The Quarterback Free-Fall" (someone cue Tom Petty please):

The Concept
The problem with drafting is that you can only have one player at a time and you have to wait your turn. Inevitably, you have to wait to fill certain positions. The question is - which position do you let "slide"? A common answer to this question for most fantasy football scoring systems is to strap on your skydiving goggles and do a "Quarterback Free-Fall." If you are planning a "Quarterback Free-Fall", you're gambling that you will be able to pick-up a quarterback several rounds later in your draft than your fellow competitors and only lose a few fantasy points in production in the difference. Meanwhile, as you are letting the quarterback position slide during your draft, you are gobbling up positions such as running back and wide receiver, which typically show more separation in fantasy points from the elite players to the middle to lower tier players. The end result is stacking the odds a little better in your favor that your team's aggregate fantasy points will exceed those of your opponents (i.e. the sight hit taken in fantasy point production at your quarterback position is exceeded by the gain in fantasy point production by selecting higher quality players at other positions). The real trick is to know when to pull your ripcord, thus stopping your free-fall by grabbing your starting quarterback before all the decent options are taken. One of the best ways to find the right players is to compare Fantasy Football Mock Drafts to our Fantasy Football Player Rankings. You might find some solid players that the rest of the world is ignoring. That is exactly what our Fantasy Football Draft Software does, as it generates custom player rankings based on your fantasy league scoring system and league setup while showing you the latest and greatest ADP information.

Why Quarterback?
Every year there are a number of quarterbacks ranked from about 8 to roughly 20 that could perform very nicely for your team. Granted they are a bit more risky than your elite quarterbacks, but that is why you will be able to get them later in the draft. As noted above, typically in most fantasy football scoring systems the fantasy point differential between the middle-tier quarterbacks relative to the upper-tier quarterbacks is not as great as compared to other positions such as running back and wide receiver. As such, the quarterback position makes a perfect target to let slide during your draft. So whether you are placing your bets on an older, proven veteran rebounding for a big season or a younger gun ready to light up opposing secondaries due to acquiring some key off-season additions at receiver, there are a load of candidates that could post solid years ranked in the top 20 or so. However, be warned. Don't wait too long to grab your quarterback. For the exact same reason you are considering a "Quarterback Free-Fall", your opponents will be considering grabbing one of these lottery ticket players as a backup. An explosive, but often injured quarterback as a backup sounds pretty nice to that "quarterback guy" in your league. If things work out for that owner and this is the year that quarterback happens to stay healthy, a nice piece of trade bait would have been acquired for upgrading a weaker performing position later in the season.

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The Danger
The emotions that a "Quarterback Free-Fall" will generate during your draft can be tough to handle. Your emotions will fill with excitement, exhilaration, and fear. Your competitor's emotions will range from indifference to hatred. Oh yes, hatred is where the danger lies. Others in your league will be keeping an eye on you, and they will stop you if you fall too far. League mates may begin a back-up quarterback run that will devastate your Quarterback Free-Fall. If the back-up quarterbacks start to fall off the board before you get your starter, you may find your team being led by a sub-standard quarterback and find yourself saying, "This is not a beautiful life and this is not a beautiful fantasy football quarterback!"

The Benefits
If you are planning a "Quarterback Free-Fall" for your fantasy football draft, you are conceding that your team will not be led by any of the top quarterbacks listed in our Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets. Depending on the size of your league, you will have anywhere from two to eight more teams that will need quarterbacks after the elite quarterbacks are drafted. If you don't select one of these elite quarterbacks, you are probably hoping to get a mid-range quarterback to fill your quarterback slot. If you are able to grab a jewel of a quarterback later than other teams in your league, you will have a significant advantage with all of the other positions you have filled while "free-falling" (Maybe three top running backs and two top wide receivers in the first five rounds).

What Quarterbacks should I think about free-falling to in my 2013 fantasy football draft?
At this time in the NFL, there are a load of quality quarterbacks that have made the position of QB go very deep in fantasy drafts. Hence, you can still get a good quality QB late in your draft, allowing you to gobble up other skill positions earlier in your draft like RB and WR that are not as deep. For one, this article has a photo of Eli Manning, who is going much later than in previous years. Feel free to look at our Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings to help target quarterbacks that will still be available after the big names are gone. In addition to Eli Manning, players like Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman, and Alex Smith all find themselves in situations this year that could make them solid value picks, and they all can be had much, much later in your draft.

The Jist
If you pull off your "Quarterback Free-Fall" successfully, you will find your fantasy football team loaded with a good stable of running backs, wide receivers, maybe an elite tight end, and a quarterback that will keep you close to the big boys. However, if things don't go your way and you fail to pull your ripcord in time, you will find your team splattered across the preverbal fantasy pavement - led by a quarterback who couldn't hit a barn with a pass or find the end zone with a map.

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