RC Intro: Leonard LaPadula is the founder of Advanced Sports Logic, and a long-time friend and colleague of mine. You may know his work as the creator of the DFS Optimizer (that uses FFM for number projections) or way back with the ahead-of-its-time Dynasty/Fantasy software 'The Machine' (which is planned for a comeback/redesign upgrade in the near future! Good news for 'Machine' fans!). Leonard was one of the FFM original customers back in FFM's infancy and has been with FFM for all his Dynasty/Fantasy teams for over a decade. Leonard has some unique, data-driven thoughts about how to manage his Dynasty teams and he shares them in published articles from time-to-time. He thought this report might be of interest to the FFM community, so I'm glad to post his thoughts/data here.
The Importance of having a Top-6 QB
I have always considered having a top-6 QB the most important priority for my dynasty fantasy football team. QB is the highest scoring position, and has greatest longevity after kicker in the NFL. So I consider getting that cornerstone top-6 QB locked down as top priority for my dynasty fantasy team.
Why a top-6 and not just a QB1? We start only one QB in my league, so starting the 12th best QB sets me up to be in 12th place in my league. If I want a fantasy playoff-caliber team, I want a top-6 QB. I consider a top-7 to top-12 QB as a good backup for by-weeks and injuries. My goal is to have my cake and eat it too.
But it is impossible for everyone in the league to have a top-6 QB, let alone a top-6 QB and a top-12 QB, right? Yep, exactly - and not everyone can win the championship. This is called winning. Not everyone can win. My strategy cannot be possible for all other team managers to accomplish. But to accomplish my goal I need an advanced strategy - more than just making good picks, but being more efficient at making good picks than anyone else in my league. I want more than just great NFL prospect knowledge - I want the power of math and statistics on my side.
I am planning for my draft, and I have Jalen Hurts on my team already. My RB corps is mediocre at best, but adding a QB1 to my roster is still my top priority. How many fantasy players say they lost because their top guy got injured in Week 14. Their whole season came crashing down because their super star got injured. Nobody that wants to win their league's championship should have their whole season riding on one player - and this mistake is made with the QB position more than any other position. There is no excuse if you lose your top-6 QB going into the playoffs and you don't have a viable QB1 lined up and ready to go if that happens. So I just want to find that QB1 (top-12) QB to be my back-up incase Hurts is injured or declines and for his bye week.
Last year 1/4th of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks were injured in the first six weeks of the season: Tua Tagovailo, Jameis Winston, Mac Jones, Trey Lance, Dak Prescott, Zach Wilson, Baker Mayfield and Teddy Bridgewater.
Introduction of the Study
This year, based on my strategy for stock piling draft picks (which could be the topic of another article), I have the 1.07, 1.09, 2.03, 2.05, 2.12, 3.09 and 3.09 pick in my draft (after coming in 3rd last year). FFM / R.C. is my favorite source for player evaluations and that enters into my draft plan, but first-and-foremost I am a numbers and math guy. I want to crack the code without needing to be or to rely on an expert NFL analyst. If I can do that, then with the addition of great player analysis, I can have a championship caliber team year after year.
So I have done a little homework regarding the success rate of drafting QBs versus average draft position (ADP). And whether you are desperate for a QB or, like me, just trying to increase your meaningful depth at the position, I believe what I discovered can help anyone use their draft picks most efficiently for building their QB position. (Notice I used the word “building”, not “filling” – anyone can fill a position – but we are building a position – improving it – making it stronger – we aren’t looking for one player, but we are looking for the overall strength of a position on our roster.)
This year I would really like to add Anthony Richardson to my team – I mean I really want this guy – he can run – he can throw – he could play linebacker. It might take a year or more for him to grow into his potential – but all the pointers for Richardson are positive. I thought this about Joe Burrow, Andrew Luck, Kyler Murray also. I didn’t get Burrow. Murray worked out for a few years, but is now on the decline. I got unlucky with Luck and lucked into Hurts, getting him in a trade for only a 2nd round pick.
For a while it looked like Richardson would fall to the 7th overall pick. It could happen in my league – but current ADP has him as the 4th overall pick, so it isn’t likely I will get him at 1.07, especially with most of the teams drafting before me in rebuild mode. Should I try to move up to 1.03 to grab him? What are the real chances he will be a difference maker, what are my other options?
So in planning for my draft, I went through the last 9 years of ADP data to see where quarterbacks were drafted and correlated that to being top-6 and top-12 performers for fantasy.
Historical ADP Information
First, based on historical ADP information, this is where quarterbacks were drafted over the last 9 years:
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are the steals of the last decade, and they were drafted in the bottom of the 2nd and in the 3rd round. You cannot trade for them efficiently now, so they are untouchable for all practical purposes. We will come back to why some of the players have colored boxes around them, but let's go to the next nugget of information from my study.
Success Rate vs Years of Experience
I wanted to see how these players panned-out since being drafted. What I did was that for every year they were a top-6 QB I gave them 1 point and for every year that they were a top-7 to top-12 QB I gave them 0.5 points. Then I took the integral of all their results and got this chart:
It's kind of an ugly chart, but I show it so you can understand how I am getting these numbers. The last row is where the really valuable information pops out. It shows success rate versus years of experiences. Here I am showing these final numbers in the graph below:
Quarterbacks have rarely been a top-6 or top-12 quarterback their first year. Historically, their best year is their 2nd year, and they drop off after that.
Wow - I never imagined this. It appears the shelf life of the top-6 and top-12 QBs isn't really very long - not like in the Peyton Manning / Tom Brady era. Could this be because of the dual-threat style that NFL teams (and our fantasy teams) are beginning to relish? (I am sure R.C. will have some thoughts on this.)
This opens up two avenues for further investigation:
#1) How closely does the expectation at draft time match with actual results, or more simply put, what is the success rate versus ADP?
#2) Who are the undervalued 2nd-year QBs that we might be able to steal in a trade now?
This is a break down of success rate by round:
1st round: 13.9%
2nd round: 19.6%
3rd round: 15.4%
Also because of what I was seeing, I broke the success vs ADP data into 4 bands of 9 draft positions each - which is the reason for the four bands of color in my first two charts. This is the success rate by those four bands of ADP range:
This doesn't made any sense! It says that the quarterbacks drafted in the 2nd round have a 41% greater chance of being a top-6 or top-12 QB than quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round. And even the quarterbacks drafted in the 3rd round were more successful than the quarterbacks in the 1st round.
How is that possible?
Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Josh Allen
Johnny Manziel, Trey Lance, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Zach Wilson, Dwyane Haskins, Tau Tagovailoa, Mac Jones
That's how it's possible. (And let's not forget Jalen Hurts didn't even make the top three rounds.)
Breaking it down more, there seems to be a large band of failure between the 1.10 and 2.06 draft picks. And then a second band of success in the 2.07-3.03 range.
So in reality the top of the 1st round has a decent success rate, which makes sense, but what is going on with the 2nd band of success between the 2.07 and 3.03 range?
I am going to speculate here. There are a lot of dynasty draft formats. Many have email drafts where the tail end of the draft is during or deeper into the pre-season games than the start of the draft. Perhaps it is right in the 2.07 to 3.03 range when we get a little more information on who the QBs are that are actually going to succeed, and they start to come off the board then, but by the end of the 3rd round of our draft, they are mostly all discovered, and there is a 2nd drop off.
It is said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. And it is also said that numbers don't lie. So I am going to trust the numbers.
Based on the numbers, both Anthony Richardson and Bryce Young (ADP 1.07) fall in that 1st band of a 21% success rate for 2024. Based on strictly ADP versus success rate, they have a one-in-five chance of being a top QB in 2024.
C.J. Stroud has an ADP of 1.10. He is in the worst probability band from 1.10 to 2.06, with only a 7.8% chance of being a top QB in 2024. So he is completely off my radar screen.
Now here's where R.C.'s great scouting work comes in. He can help us be even more efficient with our draft picks by identifying the QB(s) that will be above that 21% top-band threshold and the QB(s) that will be below that 21% threshold. If the ADP of a quarterback is in that 1.01 to 1.09 band and R.C. is giving the thumbs-up then everything is aligned to make that pick. Probably the odds of that QB being a top-6 QB has risen to 40 or 50% with R.C.'s thumbs-up. And if R.C. has given the thumbs-down, then we need to stay away from that QB. 21% isn't great odds to begin with, but with R.C.'s thumbs-down the odds are probably more like 5 to 10%.
If you are already a subscriber to R.C.'s premium content, then you already know the answer. Here are the links to R.C.'s most recent articles for Richardson, Young and Stroud:
DRD Market Watch - Anthony Richardson
2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida (2.0 update)
2022 Devy Preview Scouting Series (for 2023+): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB Bryce Young, Alabama (2.0 update)
2022 Devy Preview Scouting Series (for 2023+): QB Bryce Young, Alabama
2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (v2.0)
RC Advice/Intent on which prospect report to read first -- B. Young or C.J. Stroud?
2022 Devy Preview Scouting Series (for 2023+): QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio St (2)
If Anthony Richardson falls to me at the 1.07 spot, I will be ecstatic. I will draft him in a heartbeat and not think twice about it. But I have Hurts and Zappe (a promising 2nd year QB that has a shot at becoming a starter this year) on my roster. I am not going to go up and compete for Richardson and use up my stock pile of draft ammunition for a single battle. If I didn't have a top QB on my roster already, that might be a different story, but then I would probably already have a top-4 pick take Richardson.
Furthermore, the numbers tell me, I might be able to find a 2024 top-6 or top-12 QB with one of my 2nd round or 3rd round draft picks in that 2.07 to 3.03 band. I have a 2.12 pick, so perhaps when the pre-season games are going, an unexpected rookie QB will pop out of the woodwork, and I will take him. Now I am wondering if R.C. graded any QBs that currently have a mid 2nd round or lower ADP that R.C. has QB1 potential. How about Dorian Thompson-Robinson (no ADP yet) or Stetson Bennett (ADP 4.05) or both of them?
Here are R.C.'s most recent articles on them:
2023 Dynasty Rookie Draft Rankings (top 300) + Devy 2024 (v1.6)
2023 Post-NFL Combine Scouting Preview Re-Grade: Quarterback (QB)
2023 East-West Shrine Preview Scouting: Quarterbacks (QB)
I will be watching DTR and Bennett in the pre-season and if everything adds up, I won't mind using my 2.12 pick. (The 2nd better probability ADP range is from 2.07 to 3.03 - but the assumption is that this related to learning more from pre-season play - so it is more of a timing issue than the actual draft pick range that matters - so it could be different in your league.)
Finally I have the option to try to trade for a QB. Looking at the first chart again, and what is happening with various QBs, I have identified Derek Carr, Jared Goff because they started to rise last year and are in good situations, and Desmond Ridder, and Bailey Zappe (who is already on my roster) as players to do a bit more research on, and see if I might want to trade for Ridder at a bargain. (That is the reason these players are in colored boxes in the first chart - veterans to fill out QB depth on my roster in yellow - promising sophomores that might be undervalued in green - and sophomores to stay away from in red.)
I rejected Malik Willis and Matt Corral, two other second year QBs drafted in that 2nd good ADP band from 2.07 to 3.03, just from mainstream readily available information.
2023 Free Agent Preview: The Quarterbacks (QB)
And thanks to R.C. and the FFM team, that research is done.
The Dynasty Value of an OEWR (a new acronym I've just created)…
2023 NFL Draft First Reaction Commentary/Grades: NFC South
2023 Free Agency: Team-by-Team NFL/FF Commentary (after week one)
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1 Mock v1.0 (by Andrew DFS)
2023 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft v5.0 (by Ross Jacobs)
No matter what your situation is with your own dynasty team, rebuilding or already solid for 2023, keeping your QB corps strong is an important priority. If you already have a top-6 QB, then you still want to fill in behind him with a top-12 QB, but you want to use your picks efficiently. If you don't have a top-6 QB, then you need to be more aggressive, but you probably already have the pick you need to go get Anthony Richardson.
I plan to cover RB, WR and TE in a similar manner over the next two months as I build out my own draft strategy.
And I hope this analysis will be helpful for you also as you finalize your draft plan.