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Quarterbacks Don’t Matter (In Best Ball): Player Win Rates and the Lamar Jackson Experience

We spent all offseason discussing roster construction strategies to hack our way to a positive win rate in fantasy football best ball leagues. We’re now six weeks into the 2019 NFL season and can start to see trends emerging in Best Ball Player Win Rates.

Last week, Shawn Siegele highlighted the players with the highest win rates through five weeks. Before we get to the really interesting stuff, here’s an updated list of players with a 20% win rate.

  • Christian McCaffrey’s dominating 34.2% win rate makes him the clear fantasy football MVP through Week 6.
  • We see Austin Ekeler’s win rate starting to dip now that Melvin Gordon is back.
  • Chris Godwin is the WR1 with four games above 25 PPR points.
  • While many at RotoViz (myself included) loved Dede Westbrook this offseason, we were right that someone in the Jacksonville passing game would be a screaming value. Instead, it was D.J. Chark.
  • The New England Patriots DST has provided the biggest positional advantage in fantasy football. Their 21.1% win rate is 8.7% higher than the next best defense, which is the highest gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 players in any position.

Now let’s home in on the quarterback position.

How Important Are QB Win Rates?

The QB with the highest win rate is Lamar Jackson. However, Jackson doesn’t show up until No. 11.

Jackson’s 15.8% win rate appears impressive on the surface. I mean who wouldn’t want to draft the best QB in fantasy football in the double-digit rounds?

Lamar Jackson checks every box we want in our best ball quarterback:

  • Late Round QB: He was the 14th QB coming off the board in the 12th round.
  • Production: He’s been a top-3 QB.
  • Spike-week upside:1 24-plus points in five of six games.

The problem is QBs can’t impact best ball rosters to the same degree as RB/WR/TE. Despite Jackson checking — and exceeding — every box we can hope for, his win rate is still just 15.8%. Compared to other positions where the top players are posting win rates above 20%, Jackson’s impact seems diminished.

QB Win Rates and ADP

On the other hand, drafting QBs with an early ADP can kill your best ball roster. Highlighted below are the QBs with win rates below 7%, sorted by ADP:

Four of the top-five QBs (by ADP) have win rates below 7%. Even if you exclude Andrew Luck from that list, still three of the top-four QBS are absolutely sinking your Best Ball rosters.

Another way to look at this is filter out players with an ADP above 200, thus excluding those QBs with job security concerns like Eli Manning. Now we sort the list by lowest-to-highest win rate.

Notice anything funny? I have highlighted the QBs who have not suffered an injury or had their win rates affected by an early bye week.

The three QBs with the lowest win rates — who are not affected by injury or an early bye week — all had an ADP in the top-five of the QB position and were all drafted in the top-100 picks. Patrick Mahomes is the QB4 on the year and is still crushing your chances of winning.

I’m now going to re-post the chart of QBs sorted by ADP, and use the following highlights for QBs drafted between picks 100-200.

  • Green highlight: QBs with a win rate above 8%.
  • Yellow highlight: win rate between 7% and 8%.
  • Red highlight: win rate below 7%
  • I did not highlight QBs who have suffered an injury or had an early bye week.

Things we can see from this chart:

  1. Seven green highlights: 7 of the 10 qualifying QBS have win rates above 8%. These players are currently on profitable best ball teams.
  2. Three yellow highlights: Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, and Andy Dalton are on more losing teams than winning teams, but they aren’t necessarily the reason those teams are losing.
  3. There are no red highlights.

The number of QBs drafted between picks 100-200 who are healthy and have not had a bye week is zero. And most of the QBs highlighted in green were drafted in Shawn Siegele’s QB Window draft strategy.

The takeaway here is pretty simple: never draft a QB in the top-100 picks. The opportunity cost is too great, and the potential upside is limited.

Image Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.

  1. In best ball, high scoring weeks are much more valuable than consistency, since the lineups are optimized with no start-sit decisions.  (back)

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