The NFL is a matchup-based league. In any given game, a running back, wide receiver, or tight end could come from relative obscurity to hit paydirt. An NFL offense can very easily support multiple fantasy players at these skill positions. But there is always only one quarterback on the field, save for gadget-type trickeration. Because of this, the 2QB draft strategy is markedly different than that of a 1QB league.
Most of us have spent much of this draft season sifting through depth charts and reading beat writers to try to discern who may have a bigger role than most people anticipate, or who could potentially benefit from an injury within their position group. However, we generally know who every team is starting at quarterback and who their primary backup is. More importantly, the gap between a team’s starting quarterback and their backup is, in most cases, wider than the difference between, say, its second and third-string running back. We have seen time and time again where a running back comes out of nowhere to thrive in an offensive system tailored to his skill set. But we’ve seen what happens when an elite starting quarterback goes down. And the results usually aren’t pretty. That is why there is an added emphasis on securing multiple starters in a 2QB league.
This sounds easy enough. But when you are in a 12-team (or larger) league, you soon realize that you must prioritize drafting quarterbacks early in a 2QB league. In a perfect world, you would draft three solid starters, making sure to cover byes. However, some quick math would indicate that not every team will be able to accomplish this. Of course, planning byes is often a fool’s errand as it is, between injuries and other factors. Even though the league is seemingly flush with potential franchise quarterbacks, you cannot afford to wait on the position as you can in a 1QB league.
2QB Draft Strategy
Ignore Quarterback ADP
In our current ADP, Josh Allen is the only quarterback going inside the first three rounds of a 12-team league. Fantasy managers are drafting anywhere from 10-15 quarterbacks between Rounds 4 and 9. However, in a 2QB league, things change dramatically. As you can see in my Top-360 Rankings for 2QB leagues, quarterbacks make up 11 of my top 24 players overall. I am perhaps a bit more bullish on drafting a quarterback early compared to some other sources. I believe that you should take a quarterback with one of your first few picks. Otherwise, you will have to hope to hit on a player with upside like Trey Lance or Justin Fields. That could certainly work out, as I am a fan of both. However, I would much rather start one of them as my QB2 than rely on them as my QB1.
As I mentioned when I posted my rankings last week, I currently project 16 players to eclipse the 300-point mark in PPR leagues. 13 of the 16 are quarterbacks. Therefore, I want to ensure that I get at least one of those 13. While there are only three Flex-worthy players (running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends) who I project to score north of 300 points, there are well over 100 who I project to score at least 100 points. However, I can only confidently project 32 quarterbacks to do the same. Sure, that will change if and when an injury occurs to a starting quarterback. But Flex players have value independent of each other. Quarterbacks do not. I can very easily expect my 48th-highest-rated wide receiver to put up points each week. The same cannot be said of quarterbacks.
Finding Value Elsewhere
Willingness to pay up at the quarterback position is dependent on your ability to find value elsewhere. If you can identify Flex players who can provide an added round or two of value relative to where they are being drafted, you can confidently take a quarterback in the early rounds. I suggest doing your research and having your own projections handy. I currently project my WR50 (Tyler Boyd) to score more PPR points than my TE9 (Zach Ertz). That means I would be more comfortable waiting on wide receivers than tight ends, especially since Boyd can be had two rounds later than Ertz. These comparisons will allow you to make better decisions on how to fill out the rest of your roster.
One of the interesting things about 2QB leagues is that value can be had at the top of the draft. Because fantasy managers are prioritizing quarterbacks, some high-end players fall much lower than they normally would. You could theoretically draft Ja’Marr Chase or Davante Adams in the second round, which would rarely happen in a 1QB league. If you went with a running back in Round 1, you could pair them with Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins in the next two rounds. In that scenario, you would likely have a decided edge at three of four positions (QB2, RB1, WR1) right from the get-go, giving yourself the ability to continue to find value in the later stages of the draft.
How to Approach Backup QBs
I would rather reach a round or two early for a QB in the 25-32 range than draft a backup quarterback whose value is directly tied to injury or ineptitude. People can make cases for players like Teddy Bridgewater or Nick Foles. But there is a very real chance those players never see the field, much less start a game this season. That is seldom the case with a Flex player because teams deploy a variety of running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends on virtually every play. I cannot tell you if Alec Pierce is a steal in Round 16 or not. But I think it is safe to say he will have some value. I have no idea if Taylor Heinicke will even play a snap this year.
My line of thinking here goes in conjunction with the handcuff conversation that is often had at other positions. If you think that any of the quarterbacks I just mentioned (or your preferred backup de jour) will provide good value if they get playing time, then draft one (preferably if you have that team’s starting quarterback). But I would not draft another team’s backup just to add bench depth to my roster. For example, say I have Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as my quarterbacks in a 2QB league. I would draft Blaine Gabbert or Jordan Love as a QB4 over someone like Nick Mullens or Tyrod Taylor. You would never play Mullens or Taylor over Brady and/or Rodgers regardless of the circumstances. At least with Gabbert and Love, you cover yourself in the event of an injury.