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Kirk Hollis | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

The Value of Quarterbacks and your Fantasy League

In the real world of football that serves as the feeding ground for the hobby of fantasy football, quarterback is the most valuable position on the field. Few teams go far in the NFL playoffs without a signal caller that is amongst the elite at that position. And yet, for fantasy purposes, quarterbacks are often thought of as the third most valuable position behind running backs and wide receivers. In some cases, a general manager might even see getting an elite tight end as more important than obtaining a top-tier quarterback. Isn’t the purpose of fantasy football, though, to replicate real-world value? Shouldn’t getting a quarterback like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees be considered the ultimate catch? Perhaps. The reality of the situation is every league gets to decide how valuable quarterbacks are going to be. For those who wish to make it as important as it is in the real world NFL, here are some suggestions:

Six Points per Touchdown pass

The number of points assigned to a touchdown pass has varied over the years. When I first starting playing fantasy football (Ronald Reagan was the president back then), the debate was whether to credit a touchdown pass with three points or six. Then, somewhere along the line, four points for a touchdown pass became the norm. This despite the fact that RBs, WRs and TEs have always received six points for their journeys across the goal line --even if the score came on a simple one-yard plunge following a pass interference call in the end zone. Two points per touchdown doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade, but consider this: Peyton Manning had 55 touchdown passes last year. If you assign six points per touchdown pass using that number, you generate an additional 110 fantasy points. He was the MVP of the NFL. That upgrade would make him the MVP of all fantasy leagues, as well. Replication of value. And, it would create more separation between Manning and quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan, given that they only had 31, 29 and 26 TD passes, respectively. Fantasy general managers would pay much closer attention to quarterback numbers rather than just considering it the deepest position and pre-determining a mid-round draft selection for a starter.

Obtainable Yardage Bonuses

Another way to enhance the fantasy value of the quarterback position is to grant bonus points for certain yardage milestones. For example, five bonus points for 300-plus yards thrown -- or even 10 bonus points for 400-plus yards thrown. Using those milestones, look how the value of each of the following quarterbacks would increase using their 2013 performances:

Peyton Manning - 80 additional points (16 bonus milestones hit)
Drew Brees - 55 additional points (11 bonus milestones hit)
Tom Brady - 40 additional points (8 bonus milestones hit)
Philip Rivers - 40 additional points (8 bonus milestones hit)

In addition, guys like Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan hit at least seven bonus milestones. Now, yardage milestones also can be used for the other offensive skill positions, but generally speaking, players at those positions don’t eclipse the milestones nearly as much as quarterbacks do. For example, if you set your yardage milestone at five bonus points for 120-plus rushing or receiving yards and 10 bonus points for 200-plus yards, only five players would have benefited for 25 additional points or more in 2013, meaning they achieved those milestones five times or more. Those players would have been Josh Gordon (nine times), LeSean McCoy (six times), and Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, and Andre Johnson (five times apiece). Twelve quarterbacks (some already noted) reached the previously mentioned yardage bonus milestones five times or more. So, this is something to try, and if it is decided that it turns the quarterback position into something more valuable than you ultimately wish it to be, you can always adjust either the milestones for passing yards (go to 350 yards for the first bonus, for example) or for rushing and receiving yards (go to 100 yards for the first bonus).

Points for Efficiency

If the goal we’re aiming for is truly to replicate the real-world value of the NFL quarterback, yardage totals aren’t always the ticket. For example, check out the numbers that quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Matthew Stafford put up in “garbage time” the past couple of seasons. Does piling up huge yardage numbers when you’re down by two touchdowns or more really make you a top-tier NFL quarterback? No. Most would agree it doesn’t. So, why should it make you a stud quarterback on the fantasy playing field? A solid argument would be this is simply a logistical issue, as yardage is so much easier to assign value to than other quarterback measures, and some host sites don’t allow for much variance with respect to measuring a quarterback’s value. But, that landscape is changing. Consider this: One of the top league hosting websites on the market today allows you to assign fantasy points for: Pass Completions, Pass Completion Percentage, and Passer Rating . Putting those numbers into play would have made guys like Troy Aikman much more valuable in the past as it could be argued they should have been given their impact on the real world game of football. Russell Wilson might be the modern-day equivalent of Aikman. Wilson is on a team that wins primarily via running the ball and playing outstanding defense, but the team is also great because of his efficiency. In 2014, we have the means of rewarding that trait in addition to simply allowing the “garbage time” quarterbacks to swallow up so much value.


Here’s the thing: I’m not suggesting that leagues that don’t try to replicate the real-world value of a quarterback are missing out. The list of quarterbacks that can score you 20 points a game or more is quite a bit longer than the list of guys who can produce a dozen points rushing the ball, and that alone will almost certainly make running back the greater position of value no matter how you decide to alter the value of the quarterback position. What I am suggesting is there’s tremendous freedom with respect to value assignment available in 2014, and it’s definitely worth consideration. If the NFL were to wipe the slates of each team clean and start from scratch with each team choosing players in a serpentine fashion, how many quarterbacks would go in the top 24 picks? How many running backs? We all know the answer. Quarterbacks would be scooped up like candy thrown to children at a Christmas parade.

It’s something to consider as you examine your league’s scoring system for this year and years to come.