It might be hard to believe, but the names listed above were all fantasy-relevant quarterbacks in 2013. Okay, maybe not in your standard fantasy league, but if you played in 2-QB leagues you might have had to start one or more of the above at some point.
Sure, Scott Tolzien sounds more like the name of a villain Sterling Malory Archer has to chase down in a sword fight while driving 110 MPH in rush-hour traffic rather than an NFL starter. But that was the year of quarterback in the NFL last season. Injuries and ineffective play led to a number of quarterbacks who were not the QB1 of their team at the start of the year taking the reins at some point in the season.
Rich Hribar, the Raymond Babbitt of the fantasy football community, with the way he can drop fantasy stat nuggets on a dime, mentioned in an article for XN Sports that "forty-five quarterbacks posted a top-12 week" in 2013. That's not a typo. He really did say forty-five. There are only 32 teams in the NFL, yet 45 different quarterbacks put up a fantasy QB1 performance. It was a great year for those into streaming quarterbacks, or those who live by the late-round quarterback (LRQB) philosophy.
Editor's note: You can get more Two-QB League analysis, Auction League analysis, Dynasty League strategies and much more in the 2014 Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide, which will be available July 1.
In your standard 1-QB league, you might not care so much for the Tolziens or McGloins. There's a good chance you were able to find a much better fantasy quarterback from the waiver wire that passes The McGloin Bar, than Mr. McGloin himself.
That was not the case in 2-QB leagues last year, though, and usually never is. Most 2-QB drafts pick the quarterback position bone-dry, leaving few scraps on the waiver wire. For those of you accustomed to playing in 1-QB leagues, you'll probably be astounded to hear I was in a 12-team touchdown-heavy 2-QB league last season that saw 17 quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds.
The number of quarterbacks drafted in 2-QB leagues far outweighs the number of quarterbacks that go in most standard leagues, and is one of the first aspects of 2-QB leagues you need to come to grips with.
Based on recent MyFantasyLeague.com ADP data for standard redraft 12-team leagues that start one quarterback, the 17th quarterback off the board is Teddy Bridgewater with an ADP of 123.40. An ADP like that sees Bridgewater roughly going in the 11th round.
Recent as-of-yet unpublished 2-QB ADP has Ben Roethlisberger at QB17 with an ADP of 62.3. Or sixth round-territory to put that into perspective versus Bridgewater's ADP. (Here is some published 2-QB ADP for you. An update will be out soon).
Those two differences in quarterback ADP should give you an idea of how different drafting in 2-QB leagues is compared to your routine 1-QB league. Once you wrap your head around the contrast, it might be time to delve into these crazy 2-QB leagues.
We briefly mentioned the LRQB draft strategy, which has become popular thanks to JJ Zachariason. It's kind of hard not to wait to draft a quarterback until the latter portions of 1-QB drafts because you're guaranteed to get a solid starter.
If you take a 12-team league with a ‘start one quarterback’ rule as an example, the 12th drafted quarterback on average in 1-QB leagues right now is Tom Brady, who was QB14 in standard scoring last year. Would you be okay with Tom Brady as your QB1? If not, what about Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, or Philip Rivers? They’re all being drafted outside of the QB1 tier right now.
All you have to do is wait until every team in your league has drafted their QB1 to snag any of those four mentioned. It's kind of hard not to follow the principles of the LRQB philosophy when you're rewarded with a valuable starting fantasy quarterbacks so late. However, it also kind takes the enjoyment out of drafting, in my opinion.
If I know I'm going to get a top fantasy QB1 or a couple of solid QB2s I can stream in most 1-QB drafts, where's the fun in that? I don't have to put much thought into quarterback draft strategy at all.
One way to combat that is by playing in 2-QB leagues where you have to put a lot of thought into strategy, particularly when it comes to the quarterback position.
Do you go QB/QB, hoping to secure an advantage over your leaguemates by grabbing two elite fantasy signal callers? Do you mix it up and go with a combination of one quarterback and a top player from another position, giving you the opportunity to run a balanced team? Or do you bypass early-round quarterbacks, letting your opponents gobble up all the high-end QB talent while you build a juggernaut of a team everywhere else?
Each strategy has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, like most draft strategies in any fantasy setting. Except, unlike 1-QB leagues, you actually have a few different strategies to employ in 2-QB leagues that can lead to different ways of constructing your roster.
Take the QB/QB strategy for example. Imagine landing a Matthew Stafford/Tony Romo combo as your starting tandem. You would feel pretty comfortable with that duo leading your team, but you'd miss out on the top RB1/WR1/TE1s. While having a couple of stud quarterbacks who will bring you plenty of fantasy points has its advantage, is the cost to acquire them worth it? Your specific 2-QB league, scoring settings, and league size will play a part in your answer.
Going a more balanced route is also an option, as you can secure both a QB1 and an elite player at a different position. This allows you a chance to build your overall team depth, rather than stacking the odds in your favor at quarterback. Then you just wait until later to grab a QB2 you like, or a couple of them, and stream your QB2 position. I've dubbed this the 'Studs and Streaming' approach. With the increasing amount of quality fantasy quarterbacks each year, it's a 2-QB draft strategy that could pay off in the long run, but is better suited for 10-team 2-QB leagues.
You can also play the numbers game and bypass quarterbacks in the early portion of your 2-QB draft, with the intention of attacking the position in the mid-to-late rounds after you've built a powerhouse elsewhere. While the rest of your league drafts all the top quarterbacks, you can load up with top-tier non-QB talent, and come away with a duo like Calvin Johnson/Matt Forte that wouldn't normally be possible in your standard 1-QB league. Elite players fall in 2-QB leagues because all the signal callers are getting pushed to the top of the draft. If you draft wisely and follow the draft room, it's not out the question that a semi-LRQB strategy could work. You just have to be careful because it might lead to a starting quarterback duo like Eli Manning and Geno Smith.
Those are a few draft strategies to keep in mind for 2-QB leagues, but as with most fantasy leagues, it's not just the draft itself you have to factor in.
Draft slot will also play a huge role in determining your strategy. If you're in a 12-team 2-QB league and land the 1.01 spot, you might feel forced to go quarterback, as you won't have another pick until 2.12. What happens if you don't draft a quarterback and a whole bunch of them go? You could be left with Sam Bradford as your QB1 and Matt Schaub as your QB2. If you're picking in the middle portion of the draft or near the end you'll get a feel for your draft room, which will help you decide how to attack the quarterback position.
Scoring is another factor to be wary of; in particular the four points vs. six points per passing touchdown settings. It might not seem like a lot, but adding those two extra points per passing touchdown greatly impacts quarterback value. In PPR leagues last season, Jamaal Charles scored 378 points, which was second behind only Peyton Manning. In standard scoring leagues, Charles was third overall, behind Manning and Drew Brees. Out of the top-ten standard scoring leaders, LeSean McCoy was the only other non-quarterback in the top ten.
In PPR leagues where passing touchdowns are worth four points, Manning and Brees were the only quarterbacks in the top ten. But when you bump up the passing touchdown scoring setting to six points, the top ten gets a complete makeover, with only Charles and McCoy once again being the only non-QBs in the bunch. If you thought Manning scoring over 400 standard fantasy points was insane, in six points per passing touchdown leagues the total rose to 519.98. That's 141.98 more points than Charles scored in PPR leagues.
The other biggest factor with 2-QB leagues is league size. The difference between a 10-team 2-QB league and a 12-team 2-QB league might not seem like much, but with four more required starting quarterbacks in 12-team leagues, the position is more scarce than in 10-team leagues. You have more leeway to wait on quarterbacks in 10-team leagues than you do in 12-team leagues, and that will play a large role in your draft strategy.
You also need to factor in the waiver wire during your draft. There won't be many, if any, serviceable quarterbacks on your waiver wire to start the season. They are all going to be drafted. That means you need to account for bye weeks during your draft and have to determine whether or not a QB3 is worth taking.
You want a QB3 on your roster for the main purpose of having a bye week fill-in for your starting quarterbacks, and hopefully nothing more than that. But is the cost of a QB3 worth it? You could be drafting a WR4 or TE2 instead; two possible every-week flex starters.
It's not uncommon to see owners in 2-QB leagues draft a QB3 and flip them for a nice profit during the season to a quarterback-desperate team. Especially during heavy bye weeks. One 2-QB league last season saw Alex Smith get traded for DeSean Jackson. Doubtful such a trade would occur in your standard 1-QB league.
That's just another aspect that makes 2-QB leagues unique. With quarterbacks no longer devalued, it not only changes the way you draft, but the way you trade. So what if you have Peyton Manning and Nick Foles in your 1-QB league? If Andy Dalton or Jay Cutler are both available for free on the waiver wire, why would an owner trade anything to acquire your team's backup quarterback when a perfectly capable one can be had for free? In 2-QB leagues, quarterbacks can fetch a high return on the trade market.
Hopefully you've been able to learn from this article what it's like to play in 2-QB leagues, and the mindset of preparing for a 2-QB draft. There is no one set 2-QB draft strategy and the more you play in 2-QB leagues, the sooner you'll realize how true that is. 2-QB leagues aren't for everybody, but if you tried one before and hated the format give them one more shot. You just might come to like them your second time around. And they’re perfect for those of you who are tired with how devalued the quarterback position has become in 1-QB leagues.