Is the QB Window Still Viable? Exploring the Impact of Quarterback Breakouts and Injuries
Image Credit: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence.

Earlier this offseason, Michael Dubner suggested that elite quarterbacks can carry teams to the playoffs despite the elevated cost. Shawn Siegele has found a number of late options with breakout potential. Both rightly pointed out that the QB window did not provide the returns in 2022 that we’ve come to expect. Yet, in many ways, the death of the QB window has been greatly exaggerated.

The Power of the QB Window

To see why we shouldn’t give up on the QB window just yet, we need to look in greater depth at what has historically made the window so powerful. To give you a sense of just how much of an advantage the QB window has historically given drafters, look at the win rates in classic FFPC leagues for QB window teams.

These teams took their first QB after Round 5 and their second QB before Round 13, with no other requirements. This includes a lot of teams who made suboptimal roster construction decisions elsewhere. Teams that took three quarterbacks in the window have been even better.

When the QB Window Loses Its Power

But the results have been a little different in Underdog leagues.

We only have data going back two years, but teams that have drafted QBs in the window have slightly underperformed. The different scoring settings do have an impact. In FFPC (non-Superflex) leagues, QBs get a point for every 20 passing yards. In Underdog leagues, they get a point for every 25. This small difference can account for a 50-point gap in fantasy scoring over the course of a season.

This difference is mitigated somewhat by the fact that scoring is lower at every position. But the effect of scoring settings — especially on non-rushing QBs — should not be underestimated.

The Underperformance of Window QBs

That said, there are bigger factors at play. In particular, we can’t forget that these rates depend on what the actual players taken at these picks do. In 2021, only five of the 13 QBs drafted in the window finished with an above average playoff advance rate.

In 2022, only five of 14 window QBs beat the average.

By comparison, prior to 2021, nearly 53% of window QBs (38 out of 72) sported above average win rates in FFPC leagues. The question is whether the collapse of the window QB in the last two seasons represents a trend or an aberration.

The QB Window and QB Injuries

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Blair Andrews

Managing Editor, Author of The Wrong Read, Occasional Fantasy Football League Winner. All opinions are someone else's.

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