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The Right Two-Headed QB Will Win Leagues – Matt Ryan Isn’t One of the Heads

After looking at quarterback ADP from My Fantasy League MFL10s for the first time this summer, I was surprised to see several things, especially regarding quarterback draft position. Although these are draft-only leagues, we can begin to draw some conclusions about the likely redraft tiers this fall.1

Specifically, my interest was piqued when I saw how early Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford are being drafted. Let’s see what the data has to say about this early ADP.

Below is a list of the average draft position of the top 15 quarterbacks with their 2014 fantasy points per game (assuming 4 points per passing TD):

#PlayerAvg. PickFPPG
1Luck, Andrew IND QB22.2323.36
2Rodgers, Aaron GBP QB29.322.51
3Wilson, Russell SEA QB56.420.98
4Manning, Peyton DEN QB67.4820.48
5Brees, Drew NOS QB74.5820.25
6Newton, Cam CAR QB79.9818.93
7Ryan, Matt ATL QB82.518.7
8Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB89.5219.82
9Brady, Tom NEP QB96.918.13
10Stafford, Matthew DET QB98.4316.6
11Tannehill, Ryan MIA QB104.0618.34
12Romo, Tony DAL QB106.1118.55
13Manning, Eli NYG QB115.2217.97
14Rivers, Philip SDC QB117.0317.85
15Bridgewater, Teddy MIN QB121.8114.59

With quarterbacks scoring more points than ever, manufacturing solid QB1 production without paying Top 100 prices has become one of the biggest keys to fantasy roster construction. Let’s take a closer look at the individual players.

If you’re comfortable selecting a quarterback around pick 85, take Ben Roethlisberger over Matt Ryan.


Not only did Roethlisberger score more fantasy points last year – but he was also more efficient, threw for more yards, touchdowns, and fewer interceptions. Also, Roethlisberger’s weapons are developing while Ryan’s are diminishing.

Even if Ryan is better, I don’t like taking a quarterback that high as it almost forces you to start that QB weekly. As I wrote about last year, if you pair two quarterbacks from the QB1/QB2 border and play the matchups, you can expect to score almost as many points as playing a high end QB1 against all opponents.

I would pass on Ryan and take a comparable (or potentially better) QB in Tony Romo at QB12/106 overall or Eli Manning at QB13/115 overall.

Career Graphs

Here’s a career graph of how each of those quarterbacks performed last season:


While Romo admittedly threw the least, he was the most efficient and could receive more pass attempts with workhorse DeMarco Murray out of the picture. Eli Manning reaped the benefits of an elite target in Odell Beckham Jr. and threw the second most touchdowns out of this group.

Matt Ryan had the most attempts in 2014 but doesn’t have the same weapons without Tony Gonzalez and with a 33-year old Roddy White. With Kyle Shanahan in town, we can’t be sure that Matt Ryan is going to continue to thrive on volume. Right now Ryan is projected for the 10th most attempts in the staff composite projections.

Stafford was the worst out of this group, but should bounce-back a bit with a healthy Calvin Johnson and developing Eric Ebron. The main issue with Stafford is his draft position already assumes that he’ll see an increase of about 1.8 points per game from last season. It’s a fair assumption if Calvin Johnson stays healthy but limits Stafford’s upside from the perspective of where he’s being drafted. Basically, you are assuming significant improvement when you draft him at his current ADP.

Despite being drafted later, Romo and Manning out-performed Ryan and Stafford in terms of efficiency last season.

Average Draft Position


Out of this cohort, Matt Ryan is consistently being drafted first and Eli Manning is consistently being drafted last. Romo and Stafford are being drafted similarly, but on average Stafford is being drafted eight picks prior.

To make sure it’s not just my personal bias against these passers, let’s see what the QB Similarity Score app projects.

Similarity Scores

Matthew Stafford17.219.220.1
Eli Manning17.518.520.4
Tony Romo15.919.220.6
Matt Ryan1618.319.6

The app gives Eli Manning the highest floor. Stafford and Romo tie for the highest median score and Romo receives the highest high projection. The scores clearly disapproves of a high Matt Ryan selection as he finishes last in nearly every projection. If the app were a person, it would tell you to take the cheapest QB. Eli Manning.

In Summary

While I do think Eli Manning is a great value, my advice is not to take him blindly. Wait, see who falls and take the player out of this group who lasts the longest. Be the one to end the tier and capitalize on the value while stacking your skill position depth.

When he’s not searching for ways to defeat his opponents, Mike Braude spends his time finding ways to remove the randomness of fantasy football and reward the most skilled fantasy owners. He has remedied this issue by creating Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues.

  1. It’s possible drafters will prefer QBs in a different area of the draft or in a slightly different order in redraft formats, but this gives us a good starting place.  (back)

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