Drafting QBs in Superflex – How Late is Too Late?

What does it mean to wait on quarterback in a superflex league? Simply by virtue of the roster requirements, it is unlikely to mean the same thing in superflex that it does in a traditional one-quarterback league. It does not mean QB5 is on the board until pick 60 and QB15 until pick 122, like we are seeing in MFL10 drafts this year.

Last week, I looked at how early is too early to draft a quarterback in superflex leagues, and in this article we will tackle the inverse question. How late is too late?

So, first, is it possible to wait on quarterback in a superflex league, and second, if you do, how long are you able to wait?

How Late Can You Wait?

The first question is easily dispatched: Yes, you can absolutely wait on quarterback in a superflex league, and your team will not suffer too badly if you do. The position is incredibly deep, and you can find reliable starters well into the tenth round of even a superflex league.

ChartQBADPinSuperflexAnd1QB

That chart shows the ADP for quarterbacks over the past two seasons, where you can starkly see the differences between traditional and superflex leagues.1 Draft position is along the y-axis, and the x-axis shows how many quarterbacks will have been drafted by that point.

If you want to wait on quarterback in a superflex league, you will need to adjust to a different pace and know when to time your late-round quarterback pick.

You can choose to wait until roughly the end of the fourth round to draft a quarterback, but know that you will be drafting somewhere around QB11 or 12 in a typical superflex league, rather than QB5 like you would in a one-quarterback league. Similarly, if you want to aim for the QB18-20 range, that means somewhere around the seventh round, rather than the twelfth round like in a one-quarterback format.

With all these numbers, note that they are averages, and your own league may differ greatly. Superflex leagues place widely divergent valuations on quarterbacks, depending on the owners involved. You need to remain flexible and tailor your picks to your own draft, rather than any set of stock numbers, these included.

Waiting on QB1

Returning to our hypothetical scenario, where you are looking to take your first quarterback in the late fourth round, in a superflex league that will likely mean about ten quarterbacks are off the board, leaving you to choose between quarterbacks including Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Philip Rivers.

ChartQBADPtoPPGUpdated

That chart shows that over the last four years you could expect roughly 20.8 PPG if you drafted QB11 or QB12,2 which is right about the range of quarterback you should expect to draft in the late-fourth round. That’s not too much worse than the 22-26 PPG you would expect from a top-five option. If you aren’t willing — or able — to take Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck in the first round this year, I would strongly recommend starting with three position players and grabbing a quarterback there in the late fourth.

Like I wrote last week, there are two early tiers of quarterbacks most years: the top four or five, then the next group through about QB10 or 11. Given that you will likely aim to start two quarterbacks in a superflex league, I would strongly consider grabbing a first quarterback inside the top-ten this year, right around QB10-12.

Sure, But What About Waiting on QB2?

If we look farther down the line, the previous chart suggests there isn’t a huge difference between QB13 and QB19, in the typical year. QB19 has a lower ceiling, but not by a lot. And all the quarterbacks in between have had roughly identical floors. Rather than waste a pick on a mid-range quarterback, why not wait for the QB18-20 range, which means you target a quarterback around the seventh or eighth round. ADP this year suggests you would be looking at Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford or Jameis Winston in that range, where you could reasonably expect about 18.5 PPG.

If you want to be even more bold, wait longer. A host of quarterbacks fall to the ninth or tenth round of a superflex draft, and if you are willing to grab a couple of them, you can stream your QB2 position and expect reasonable production not far off the range you would get if you spent a higher pick on a more reliable QB2. Recent history tells us those late-round quarterbacks finish all over the place in terms of points-per-game, with a few of them busting completely. But if you have the proficiency and nerve to study matchups each week and pick the higher upside or the safer play, you can get reasonable production out of your QB2 position for the relatively low cost of, say, a ninth- and an eleventh-round pick.

Where Are Your Value Plays?

From all that we have said, we can draw a few conclusions. First, there is a clear reason for drafting an elite quarterback. The fantasy community has, in recent years, been quite accurate in recognizing those transcendent talents who guarantee both a higher floor and higher ceiling than anyone else at their position. Barring injury, those players provide guaranteed value.

But beyond those top few, there has tended to be an overpricing of the quarterbacks in the 5-8 range. Over the last several years, QBs 5-8 have performed nearly identically to QBs 9-11, yet each year the fantasy community feels certain they see someone who is better.

Last year, it was Nick Foles who rose into that range, and we saw how that ended. In 2013, we pushed Colin Kaepernick to QB7, but he finished the year with fewer points per game than the quarterbacks who had been drafted 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. In 2012, Eli Manning was drafted as QB6, but he finished QB17 in points per game. There is another tier of near-identical players, as we mentioned, between QBs 13 and 19.

One way to look at those tiers is to point out the obvious, “Pick the right players, and you’ll win. Pick the wrong ones, and you’ll lose.” But there is more to it than that — Start viewing your superflex quarterbacks by tiers, rather than tying yourself to a specific player. There’s a fair chance you will be wrong if you pick just one, so instead, look for values within a tier.

This year, that means waiting until the late-fourth and taking whoever falls to you. And later, it means passing on the fifth- and sixth-round quarterbacks in favor of any who fall into the seventh round. Why pay a higher pick when you can grab a similar guy later? Don’t do it.

The Raw Data

Here’s the full chart.3

 Avg PPGSuperflex ADP
QB126.334.7
QB225.355.9
QB327.6813.4
QB424.9524.6
QB522.2325.7
QB620.3029.2
QB721.7332.0
QB821.9832.6
QB921.8840.0
QB1020.8542.9
QB1120.1045.7
QB1221.5050.2
QB1321.1352.4
QB1418.9053.3
QB1518.6062.6
QB1619.4367.3
QB1720.0370.7
QB1818.7380.8
QB1919.5886.9
QB2018.0389.6
QB2117.8397.1
QB2217.10105.9
QB2315.00111.8
QB2421.33113.0
QB2513.85117.8
QB269.10123.8
QB2716.10133.7
QB2815.50135.4
QB2916.78150.2
QB3012.08172.8
QB3116.98182.5
QB3215.58192.3

  1. 1QB data from MyFantasyLeague redraft leagues. Superflex data is pulled from the Scott Fish Bowl.  (back)
  2. Those values are based on a linear regression of QB PPG finishes over the last four years, based on the ADP where they were drafted. Note, this chart is modified from last week’s version. I now gather ADP from MyFantasyLeague, because their data is more reliable.  (back)
  3. Average points per game is drawn from the last four seasons, and superflex ADP is based on the last two years of data.  (back)