Over the years, fantasy owners have looked for new ways to spice up their stagnant leagues, and as a result, non-traditional formats are springing up. Leagues have stagnated partly because we all draft quarterbacks the same way -- late. Standard, one-quarterback leagues are now dominated by the late-round QB mantra. With most savvy players waiting until the final rounds to draft quarterbacks, strategy for drafting the position has been almost thrown out the window. Where’s the fun in that?
Enter 2QB (and Superflex) fantasy football leagues. For the unfamiliar, 2QB leagues require you to start two quarterbacks every week. It’s a simple change on the surface, but there are myriad differences between 2QB and start-one quarterback leagues. Each fantasy season, more and more players dip their toes in the 2QB waters because they’re tired of the most important position in football becoming devalued. We at TwoQBs.com noticed this trend, and it’s the reason we started a site dedicated to 2QB formats. Thanks to Rotoworld for giving us this platform to discuss 2QB leagues and provide you with the information necessary to try a 2QB league, if you’re so inclined.
Editor's Note: For updated rankings, projections, player profiles, positional tiers, mock drafts, sleepers and busts, exclusive columns and plenty more, check out our Draft Guide!
Draft Strategy and ADP Differences Between 1QB & 2QB Leagues
A two-quarterback draft looks nothing like what you have seen before. Quarterbacks are on the loose, and owners feel compelled to catch them all. Drafters stampede in their signal-caller quest, willing to trample anyone and anything to make sure they get two good quarterbacks. You'll see competitors draft mediocre quarterbacks ahead of reliable wide receivers, consumed by their fear and driven by runs on the position.
If you have not drafted in many 2QB leagues, that frenetic pace of quarterback drafting will catch you unprepared. Depending on the experience level of your competition, quarterbacks may fill the first few rounds of your draft, and they will be drafted early and often.
Because of the unique value placed on quarterbacks in 2QB leagues, you will do well to add an extra level of preparation before your draft. We recommend creating a gameplan for the quarterback position. For each draft, know how deep into the quarterback rankings you are comfortable waiting, and exercise patience in executing your plan.
In this section, we want to give you an idea of what to expect. The 2QB data we use below is collected from four years of mock drafts, all of which we filled with real people. None of the data is generated by a program, simulation, or computer. This ADP shows where real humans think quarterbacks should be drafted in a 2QB league, and in that sense it provides a reasonable baseline for what you can expect in your own 2QB draft.
The 12th quarterback is typically drafted around pick 100 in traditional 1QB leagues. In 2QB leagues, that number is nearly cut in half. 12 quarterbacks are gone, on average, after 58 picks. In a 12-team league, that means the entire QB1 tier is gone by the end of the fifth round, instead of the eighth or ninth round of a typical 1QB league.
Many 2QB owners report quarterbacks going even earlier than that in their home leagues, and our data shows that has been true over the last four years. If we average our ADP since 2013, the top-12 QBs have been gone by pick 89 in 1QB leagues and pick 43 in 2QB leagues.
Looking Forward to 2016 Drafts
We are tentatively expecting 2016 to start a new era of waiting to draft quarterbacks, but we also must admit our current data is heavily based on the more-experienced players who have been drafting fantasy teams in the early summer. As August approaches and brings in the more-casual crowd, we may see QB ADP rise, pushing it closer to historical averages. That would mean the top-12 quarterbacks could all be gone by the end of the fourth round.
But in a 2QB league, your work is far from done at that point; drafting your first quarterback is only the start. You need a plan for how to fill your second QB position. The QB2 tier -- QBs 13-24 -- are all drafted in the first 100 picks this year, the range where the QB12 typically goes in a traditional 1QB league.
That data suggests you need to be ready to draft your second quarterback by the end of the eighth round, unless you feel comfortable waiting and streaming players out of the QB3 tier.
Sal Stefanile has written that quarterback drafting breaks down into three dominant strategies: Studs & Streaming, Early-Round QB, and Late-Round QB. The last two are pretty well defined by their name: You either hammer the position early or wait and pick up the last girl left at the bar. Studs & Streaming relies on a combination approach. You grab one reliable, high-end option early in the draft, then swing back around to scoop up whatever is left. For deeper discussion of those approaches, along with their pros and cons, check out this in-depth look at 2QB draft strategies.
At the end of the day, pick your own strategy and stick with it. Draft quarterbacks how you want and trust your plan. But have a plan. Go into your 2QB draft with knowledge of typical QB prices, and know where you want to target the position.
Getting Into the 2QB Rankings Mindset
Fantasy football players love to identify and implement mental shortcuts in their analysis, and for good reason. If we can help ourselves dismiss what isn’t important, like the relative values of kickers to skill-position players, we’re afforded more time and brain space to focus on what matters. Still, acceptance of shortcuts is a slippery slope.
In years past, the prevailing wisdom in one-quarterback leagues told drafters to hammer running backs early and sort out other positions later. The early rounds became a cafeteria line, and most drafters were content to wait their turns and accept the soggy dregs from the bottom of the running back serving tray, all the while neglecting the cream rising to the top of the wide receiver dish. The shortcut of starting RB-RB in drafts worked, and leagues were won with it simply based on volume of adherents to the strategy.
In 2QB and Superflex formats, too many drafters continue to blindly adopt the shortcut of prioritizing quarterbacks above all other positions, despite recent trends illustrating the value of waiting at the position. Adding a second quarterback spot to starting lineups shouldn’t necessarily double the draft value of all quarterbacks. While principles of late-round QB drafting still have merit in two-passer leagues, quarterbacks are certainly in higher demand, and that’s the beauty of the format.
Increased need for the quarterback position breaks the binary nature of 1QB drafts. Forgive the simplification, but instead of considering only running backs and wide receivers in the early rounds, 2QB and Superflex drafts allow us to also consider quarterbacks, even as high as the first overall pick.
Our love of 2QB and Superflex stems from the formats’ varieties of viable draft strategies. There are many ways to skin this proverbial cat. Some fantasy owners will find success coveting a Panther pelt in the first rounds of 2016 drafts, while others will wait in hopes of trapping a Jaguar or Lion instead. Your quarterback choices certainly matter, but how you fill in the blanks around those passers will also help decide your fantasy fortunes. This is what makes overall rankings for two-quarterback formats such a tricky proposition.
As you might imagine, the extra variety of viable draft strategies can lead different rankers to weigh each of the positions in unique ways. Greg Smith’s 2QB rankings, for example, are rooted deeply in the late-round QB mindset. He believes drafting elite passers represents too steep an opportunity cost in the early rounds and he trusts his ability to find quarterback production in the middle and late rounds. Other drafters will feel differently and rank quarterbacks higher relative to other positions.
Ultimately, we at TwoQBs want to dispel the myth that there’s only one right way to draft. Whether you’re an enfranchised player or an amateur, try to identify your own strengths as a fantasy analyst and translate those skills to your own rankings. If you tend to find success unearthing breakout wide receivers in the middle rounds, go ahead and focus your earlier picks on rushers and passers. If you trust the middle class of quarterbacks, you can wait on the position and dive deep on backs and receivers with your opening picks.
Greg lays out the method to his valuation madness in the rankings linked above. His personal draft strategy informs his rankings, but the process he used to create the ranks can work for anyone. Start by ranking the positions themselves in order of importance. How you determine “importance” is up to you. You can choose to focus on depth, predictability, and/or replaceability of each position. Greg’s analysis tabs wide receivers as the most important position in 2QB fantasy, followed by running backs, quarterbacks, and tight ends, in that order. The kicker and team defense positions are willingly ignored due to their volatility and replaceability.
Whatever your most-valued position happens to be, the rankings within that position become the backbone of your overall ranks. You can then intermingle the players from your second-most important position with your primary list of the players from your top position. Repeat this process for all relevant positions until you have a handy set of overall rankings.
Keep in mind that rankings can only take you so far. At some point in your drafts, the actions of your opponents and your team’s developing needs will become greater factors in determining who you should pick in each round. The early rounds afford freedom to draft the positions you want, but you’ll still need a valid starting lineup for Week 1 with some semblance of balance and upside. If you can pull that off through strict attachment to rankings, those rankings might very well have been perfect for your draft. If that’s the case, however, we can infer those rankings would not have been perfect for any other drafter in the pick order. Again, it all goes to show how many different ways you can possibly approach two-quarterback rankings.
Working the Waiver Wire and Trades to Your Advantage in 2QB Leagues
You might think that once you’ve mastered the arts of creating player rankings and drafting in 2QB leagues your work is done. However, it’s only the beginning, and acclimating yourself to in-season management of 2QB leagues is a whole new world. You handle the waiver wire differently in 2QB leagues than you do in a traditional 1QB league and it, of course, all revolves around the quarterback position.
Usable quarterbacks are readily available in the late rounds of 1QB drafts. The story is the same once the draft is over and you're looking to pick up a quarterback from waivers. They’re plentiful and usually don’t involve a bidding war to acquire. The opposite is true in 2QB leagues.
Once a 2QB draft is finished you’ll notice the quarterback position is thin on the waiver wire. The only types of signal callers not drafted in 2QB leagues are undesirable starters (e.g. Nick Foles last year), or backups without clear shots at starting like Scott Tolzien. You’re not going to be able to grab an Andy Dalton type off waivers in 2QB leagues.
As a result, you must be well-versed in the world of quarterback depth charts. Soak up all the quarterback news and Rotoworld blurbs your brain can handle to spot potential depth chart shakeups. Sam Bradford might be the QB1 in Philadelphia and drafted as such in your league, but Chase Daniel is a veteran presence lurking and rookie Carson Wentz could get a chance to shine if the Eagles’ season goes off the rails.
Picking Daniel off the waiver wire in Week 1 isn’t necessary, but if you keep tabs on the situation and see beat reporters mentioning the possibility of him starting down the line you’ll want to make a claim before he’s named the starter. There are two advantages to this:
1. You don’t have to worry about spending your high waiver claim or entire FAAB budget to fend off your league mates, since you’ll be ahead of the curve.
2. If Daniel is named the starter after you have claimed him off waivers he becomes a valuable trade chip (especially to the Bradford owner in your league) or he’s an insurance policy if you’re the Bradford owner.
Once you figure out how to navigate the waiver wire, the next aspect of in-season 2QB management you will need to master is trading. One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear from owners in 1QB leagues is how worthless quarterbacks are in trades. With every team owning at least one top-end QB, and sometimes two, there is no need to trade for a quarterback when you’re required to start only one.
Trading in 2QB leagues is turned on its head compared to your traditional fantasy league. Not only do quarterbacks have trade value, but they also tend to have the most value of any position. The worth of quarterbacks, especially elite signal callers, skyrockets in 2QB leagues, making trades more complex.
If you own three viable starting quarterbacks but can only start two, trading one of them is an option. Injuries and ineffective play lead to turnover at the position (53 different quarterbacks started at least one game in 2015), and there is usually a team or two in desperate need of a starting quarterback. This is where you strike and use your quarterback depth to strengthen the rest of your roster. High-end QB1s like Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck could yield an elite RB like Le’Veon Bell or a top-flight WR like Odell Beckham.
Imagine the reaction from your trade partner in a 1QB league if you offered Rodgers for Bell straight up? You’d get laughed out of the room and maybe even kicked out of the league with such an insulting offer. That’s not the case in 2QB leagues, where quarterbacks are king. Even mid-range and low-end quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Alex Smith have value. It’s not uncommon to see a QB2 net a starting piece like a RB2, WR3, or high-end flex player in trade.
Bye weeks also stump many newcomers to the 2QB format. Owners who have not prepared to cover the their starting quarterbacks’ bye weeks can feel pressured to overpay for a one-week QB3 rental to avoid the dreaded ‘0’ for the week. If the waiver wire has been picked bone dry, trading for a bye-week replacement quarterback is the only alternative. Again, teams with depth at QB become the most likely trading partner and, all of a sudden, someone you planned to start only once or twice can turn into a weekly starter at RB/WR/TE. A QB3 with an early in-season bye can become an attractive trade piece as your season progresses. Trading in 2QB leagues is an art form and if you’re looking for more tips, let Patrick Swayze and Dirty Dancing show you the way.
The Future of Fantasy
Our goal was to provide a blueprint of how 2QB leagues compare to traditional fantasy formats and to act as a general guide to all things 2QB. If you are an experienced 2QBer you already know how much more fun and in-depth 2QB leagues are. If you’ve never played in a 2QB league before but are inclined to try one, we guarantee you’ll have a blast and probably won’t look back. Superflex and 2QB are the future; welcome to our world.
This post was written by TwoQBs.com co-founders:
Joshua Lake – @LakeTwoQBs
Greg Smith – @gregsauce
Salvatore Stefanile – @2QBFFB