Fantasy NFL

The QB drafting strategy guide

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's true that the quarterback pool is extremely deep, but three players -- Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers -- have their own section in the pool where none of the others are allowed to swim.

For fantasy owners, the cost to gain access to that section is a little steep in auction drafts (19-22 percent of the budget), but snake drafters can get in for the reasonable price of a late first- or early second-round pick.

Manning had 406 fantasy points in standard leagues last season, 124 more than the quarterback with the third most number of fantasy points and 158 more than the QB with the 12th most.

While Manning is likely to experience a slight decline from his record-setting level of play last year, he's still going to provide 340-360 fantasy points, as will Brees and Rodgers, provided his collarbone stays intact this year.

No other quarterback can be expected to generate more than 290.

That includes Matthew Stafford, who had 267 fantasy points last season and is now part of an offensive system that is less pass-happy. Stafford is going fourth among quarterbacks at an ADP of 48.2, but the worst thing owners who pass on the top three can do is take Stafford there. Stafford is not going to be that much better than Matt Ryan, who is going in the seventh round, or Philip Rivers, who is going in the 10th.

Either take one of the top-three guys or wait until Round 6-10 to draft a quarterback.

The concern for those who choose to draft a quarterback in the first or second round is that they will have a weaker group of running backs or receivers.

While that is a valid concern, there are still enough strong options available at other positions to build a good team from top to bottom.

Here are two examples of teams that can be created by drafting Manning in the first round and two that can be put together by waiting until the seventh round to take a QB (based on fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADPs):

QB - Peyton Manning (1st round)

RB - Le'Veon Bell (2nd round)

RB - Rashad Jennings (4th round)

WR - Vincent Jackson (3rd round)

WR - Torrey Smith (6th round)

TE - Jordan Reed (7th round)

FLEX - Joique Bell (5th round)

---------------------------------

QB - Peyton Manning (1st)

RB - Toby Gerhart (3rd)

RB - Joique Bell (5th)

WR - Brandon Marshall (2nd)

WR - Victor Cruz (4th)

TE - Jordan Reed (7th)

FLEX - Torrey Smith (6th)

---------------------------------

QB - Matt Ryan (7th)

RB - Le'Veon Bell (2nd)

RB - Rashad Jennings (4th)

WR - Dez Bryant (1st)

WR - Vincent Jackson (3rd)

TE - Jason Witten (6th)

FLEX - Joique Bell (5th)

---------------------------------

QB - Matt Ryan (7th)

RB - Arian Foster (1st)

RB - Toby Gerhart (3rd)

WR - Brandon Marshall (2nd)

WR - Victor Cruz (4th)

TE - Jason Witten (6th)

FLEX - Joique Bell (5th)

----------------------------------

Tight ends aside, when you break down Team 1 versus Team 3 it comes down to Manning and Smith versus Ryan and Bryant. Team 2 versus Team 4 is Manning and Smith versus Ryan and Foster.

The Ryan team in both of those scenarios looks better on paper, but Manning likely will outproduce Ryan by 100-125 fantasy points whereas Bryant and Foster will have 60 and 80 more fantasy points than Smith, respectively.

Plus, you have to keep these three things in mind:

1) The three top quarterbacks are much more likely to return their expected value than the low-end RB1s.

2) More starting-quality running backs and receivers become available on the waiver wire in the middle of the season than top-five fantasy QBs.

3) Mid-level running backs and receivers are more likely to outproduce their projected production than mid-level quarterbacks are to jump to the top-QB level.

Conventional wisdom says to wait on a quarterback because the field is so deep, but Manning, Brees and Rodgers are so far ahead of the rest that conventional wisdom shouldn't apply to them.

07/09 21:03:39 ET