Before we get into the prediction about quarterbacks, I wanted to give you a little insight into my Fantasy history. My longest-running Fantasy league is entering its 10th season in 2011.
This is a 10-team keeper league, and when we started back in 2002 we didn't penalize quarterbacks for interceptions while still allowing six points for passing touchdowns. What this did was make quarterbacks the highest-scoring players by far, but it also allowed you to wait on drafting your No. 1 passer.
You could take a chance on a gunslinger (someone like Brett Favre or Eli Manning) because even if they had a big game with a couple of turnovers, all you got were the positive stats. You wanted quarterbacks who were throwing a lot, and it didn't matter if they took risks.
I've won this league three times, including last year, and only once since 2006 have I drafted a quarterback prior to Round 6. It's because of this league that I usually tend to wait on drafting a quarterback, and I find that strategy to be successful.
The prediction is here is that you will have a better Fantasy season if you wait on drafting a quarterback.
I find that the best way to build your Fantasy team is to pass on taking a quarterback early and select as many good running backs and wide receivers as possible. Obviously, if a star quarterback falls on Draft Day and presents good value – Michael Vick in Round 2, Tom Brady in Round 3, Drew Brees in Round 4 – then don't pass him up. But you don't have to reach for a quarterback to build a championship roster.
In looking at the players with the best winning percentage for Fantasy owners on CBSSports.com in 2010, only three quarterbacks drafted by at least Round 3 in a standard league had a winning percentage of .511 or higher, and that was Aaron Rodgers (.533), Philip Rivers (.533) and Brady (.512). What this shows is Rodgers, Rivers and Brady were all part of a Fantasy roster that won games at that percentage.
Quarterbacks who were undrafted or taken late that had a better winning percentage than .511 were Vick (.574), Jon Kitna (.522), David Garrard (.521), Ben Roethlisberger (.517) and Josh Freeman (.514). All of them were more successful for Fantasy owners than Brady, Brees (.508) and Peyton Manning (.505).
Now, this doesn't mean those quarterbacks had better stats than Brady, Brees and Manning. Far from it. But it illustrates that most of those owners had quality players at running back, wide receiver and tight end and just needed enough from their quarterback like Kitna or Garrard to build a winning team.
What we're going to show you here using this year's ADP is what the core of a standard 12-team Fantasy league with a lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR and TE would start to look like if you drafted a quarterback early or waited until at least Round 7. I selected players as close to the ADP as possible to fill open slots, and I picked players that I would take in that general area. I'll rate these drafts as if they actually happened.
Judge for yourself the team you like best, but I prefer to wait on a quarterback in the No. 7-12 range in the rankings and stockpile talent elsewhere. As it showed last year, you have a better chance to win that way.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 1
Round 1: Aaron Rodgers at No. 6
Round 2:: Frank Gore at No. 19
Round 3:: Reggie Wayne at No. 30
Round 4:: Wes Welker at No. 43
Round 5:: Mark Ingram at No. 54
Round 6:: Owen Daniels at No. 67
Round 7:: Marshawn Lynch at No. 78
This is an excellent team when you consider there's a Top 2 quarterback and a Top 10 running back (Gore), receiver (Wayne) and tight end (Daniels). Add in New England's No. 1 receiver in Welker and arguably the best rookie in Ingram, and there's plenty of talent, with Lynch also having upside. But as good as this team can be, Rodgers is the only superstar given that Gore and Wayne are on the downside of their careers, and Ingram still has plenty to prove. Because of Rodgers in Round 1, you're now chasing talent at the other positions for the most part.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 2
Round 1:: Maurice Jones-Drew at No. 10
Round 2:: Drew Brees at No. 15
Round 3:: DeSean Jackson at No. 34
Round 4:: Shonn Greene at No. 39
Round 5:: Vernon Davis at No. 58
Round 6:: Mario Manningham at No. 63
Round 7:: Mike Tolbert at No. 82
It's difficult to argue with Brees and Jones-Drew to start your Fantasy team, and Jackson could be a No. 1 Fantasy receiver, with Greene also in line for a breakout season. Manningham is solid as a No. 2 receiver, and Davis is an elite tight end. And Tolbert in Round 7 is great value. But I don't know many Fantasy owners who are comfortable with Jackson as their best receiving threat. Taking Brees in Round 2 compared to a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or Hakeem Nicks could be a mistake.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 3
Round 1:: Andre Johnson at No. 9
Round 2:: Darren McFadden at No. 16
Round 3:: Tony Romo at No. 33
Round 4:: Mike Williams of Tampa Bay at No. 40
Round 5:: BenJarvus Green-Ellis at No. 57
Round 6:: Chad Ochocinco at No. 64
Round 7:: Kellen Winslow at No. 81
I like the first three picks of this draft because you get the No. 1 receiver, a Top 10 running back and a Top 7 quarterback, and even Williams in Round 4 is excellent value. But I'm definitely not comfortable with Green-Ellis as my No. 2 running back (he's more of a No. 3 option or flex), and Ochocinco is not the best flex option based on his play in the preseason even though he was the best available player in that round based on his ADP. Winslow is good but not great, and this draft seemed to go downhill fast.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 4
Round 1:: Michael Turner at No. 11
Round 2:: Rashard Mendenhall at No. 14
Round 3:: Miles Austin at No. 35
Round 4:: Matt Schaub at No. 38
Round 5:: Vernon Davis at No. 59
Round 6:: Jeremy Maclin at No. 62
Round 7:: Julio Jones at No. 83
While I'm not a fan of starting a receiver at the flex spot, especially a rookie like Jones, I like the way this team came together. There are two Top 12 running backs, two quality receivers now that Maclin is healthy, an elite tight end and a proven quarterback. This team needs to draft Isaac Redman with a late-round pick in case Mendenhall struggles this season with his workload, but overall this team should be in playoff contention this season.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 5
Round 1:: LeSean McCoy at No. 8
Round 2:: Frank Gore at No. 17
Round 3:: Mike Wallace at No. 32
Round 4:: Brandon Marshall at No. 41
Round 5:: Ben Roethlisberger at No. 56
Round 6:: Percy Harvin at No. 65
Round 7:: Kellen Winslow at No. 82
This is a playoff team because Roethlisberger presents excellent value as your starter, and you have two Top 10 running backs in McCoy and Gore. Wallace and Marshall are a great duo for your starting receivers, and Harvin has the chance for a breakout year in his third season. This is a good example of what happens when you wait on a quarterback and make quality selections with your first four picks. One more running back like a Tim Hightower will make this team complete.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 6
Round 1:: Adrian Peterson at No. 1
Round 2:: Greg Jennings at No. 24
Round 3:: Hakeem Nicks at No. 25
Round 4:: Knowshon Moreno at No. 48
Round 5:: Jason Witten at No. 49
Round 6:: Josh Freeman at No. 72
Round 7:: Joseph Addai at No. 73
This is my favorite team thus far because Freeman is underrated as a quarterback, and you see the type of talent you can acquire if you wait to draft him in Round 6. How can you argue with an elite running back like Peterson, two standout receivers like Jennings and Nicks, a Top 3 tight end in Witten and then a capable flex option in Addai? This team has championship contender written all over it, especially if the reserves are quality players. And if you draft Freeman and are concerned about his ability, all you have to do is take someone like Sam Bradford or Kevin Kolb in Round 8 or 9.
Drafting a quarterback in Round 7
Round 1:: Roddy White at No. 12
Round 2:: Calvin Johnson at No. 13
Round 3:: Shonn Greene at No. 36
Round 4:: Felix Jones at No. 37
Round 5:: Vernon Davis at No. 60
Round 6:: Jeremy Maclin at No. 61
Round 7:: Matthew Stafford at No. 84
If you know anything about the way I draft you know I love the start to this team. Getting two stud receivers when drafting at the end of Round 1 is a great start, and then you can draft two running backs with upside like Greene and Jones. Davis is an elite tight end, and while I would prefer a running back at flex I'm OK with Maclin since he was the best talent on the board at that spot. Stafford obviously has some risk based on his injury history, but you can back him up with a safe No. 2 option like Joe Flacco or Eli Manning in Round 8 or 9.
An expert's view …
CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein is a former NFL quarterback and an avid Fantasy Football owner. I spoke with him recently about some quarterbacks you can take with a mid- to late-round pick on Draft Day like Freeman, Stafford, Bradford and Kevin Kolb, and here's what he had to say.
On Freeman: It's an understatement that he made a big jump last year. The way he played was unbelievable. A lot of people didn't know who he was because he played for Tampa Bay, and they didn't get a lot of TV coverage. He's a top-notch quarterback, and he can make plays with his arm and his legs. He's established himself, and now the bar is high for him to do it again.
On Stafford: I don't think there's any reason to think he won't have a great year. With the guys they have on the outside, Matthew Stafford is set up to have a big season. He has all the tools. But the proof is in the pudding. If he can stay healthy, Stafford should play well this year.
On Bradford: That guy is going to be the standard bearer for many years to come. He played well last year with not a lot of talent around him. Let's face it, even though Steven Jackson is still good, he's not the same running back he was earlier in his career. Bradford showed me a lot as a rookie. He is going to be wowing people for many years.
On Kolb: He's going to be a fun one to watch. Kolb has the weapons, especially with Larry Fitzgerald, and I like the move to get Todd Heap. He has good weapons and a good coach that will allow him to carry the football team. I'm still not 100 percent convinced he's worth what they paid him. But he has a bright future, and this is a good spot for him.
I asked Beuerlein if he had to pick one of these quarterbacks to start an NFL team with, and his answer was somewhat surprising.
Said Beuerlein:"If I was pressed it would have to be Bradford. Second would have to be Freeman because I've seen it from him. He's a proven commodity. Stafford would be next, but he has a lot of variables."