If you've read anything I've ever done on fantasy football, you know my disdain for wasting early fantasy football draft picks on quarterbacks.
That won't change with the 2018 season. In fact, it's even more of steadfast strategy.
Of the top-12 2017 fantasy football quarterbacks (according to fantasy scoring), eight of them could have been found in the middle to late rounds in the 2017 fantasy football draft. Top-12 scorers like Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Dak Prescott and Jared Goff were rated lower than quarterbacks, like Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers and Jameis Winston, who finished well off the pace in fantasy scoring.
And really the only breakaway winner in 2017 among quarterbacks was Russell Wilson, who tallied almost 50 more fantasy points than the second-place finisher — Cam Newton. Newton's totals, artificially inflated thanks to three monster efforts this season, weren't that much better than the rest of the top-12.
Jared Goff, who finished 12th among fantasy quarterbacks, finished 44 points off of Newton's pace, equaling about 2.6 points per week. In contrast, the second-highest producing running back, Le'Veon Bell, finished with 90 more fantasy points than 12th-place fantasy running back Dion Lewis.
Quarterbacks just don't offer the same value that other positions offer.
Let's say you're in a league with two running backs and a flex. And let's say you invested heavily in running backs and were rewarded with injury-free seasons by your staple. If those three running backs were all ranked in the RB1/RB2 categories, that would offer a far bigger return on your investment than wasting a second-round pick on a quarterback who is only going to provide 2.6 more points per game than the worst QB1 in fantasy football.
Even if your running backs offered just a 2.6-point differential (which is unlikely it would be that low), then that would offer up a little more than seven points of difference over those three positions, a better return than just owning that point differential in just the quarterback position.
Still unknowns with QBs
This also doesn't touch on the fact that I don't believe we've written an entire fantasy football book on some of these quarterbacks.
Winston and Mariota were the darlings of the 2017 fantasy football draft. I took the bait and drafted Winston in the middle rounds. And he was terrible, along with Mariota. But, I also won my 14-team league's fantasy football championship, with Winston as my main quarterback. That's because I invested heavily on running backs and had playoff monster Todd Gurley at my disposal.
Winston and Mariota's value will likely decrease heavily, while Wentz and Goff will likely see a far bigger fantasy hype campaign heading into the 2018 season.
But are those options really going to be better than Winston and Mariota? Mariota looked injured throughout 2017, and Winston may just be a year off from everyone's assessment.
Goff was written off after just one year of spotty play and look how that turned out. I had both Goff and Newton in one of my fantasy leagues, and more often than not, Goff was the smarter play.
But as defenses catch up to the Rams offense, that may not be the case in 2018. With the quarterback position, you just don't know. And if you falter, there are plenty of opportunities to either stream quarterbacks or find a semi-consistent option on the waiver wire.
With running backs and wide receivers, especially running backs, that's almost impossible to find.
Goff, Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith and Tyrod Taylor finished in the top-16 of fantasy quarterbacks, and all could be found on the waiver wire at some point this season in most leagues. That's just not the case with other positions.
Quarterbacks can be inconsistent and are generally not matchup-proof. Don't take the bait in 2018 and pick up a quarterback over one of the many running backs who will be available in those early rounds. Be patient on the position and reap the benefits when it's time to pack up for the season or move on to the playoffs.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH