Every time I see an experienced fantasy player draft a QB in the 1st 4 rounds of a redraft league with 1QB I am completely befuddled. Waiting on a QB is the most logical and obvious choice to me so I am going to lay out the reasons why you should never draft a QB early unless the league has a different formula.
The QB position is very deep for fantasy and in a league where you only start 1 the importance of the position easily falls behind both RB and WR. This year, the QB position is at least 20 deep with guys I would be comfortable drafting as my 1st QB to go along with a strong RB and WR core. I know when you look at the top scorer from each season it will normally be a QB, but the thing is all QBs score more points so the value needs to be judged relative to their position.
Taking a QB with an early pick means you are not taking a quality RB or WR and putting yourself behind at those more important positions. It puts you under greater pressure to find breakouts in the later rounds or off the waiver wire. This means you either need to have the right waiver wire position or spend a lot of your FAAB budget when that player becomes available.
Draft Night Returns
The biggest reason not to draft a QB early is because they are unlikely to return the value to justify the pick. Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott & Jared Goff all finished as top 12 QBs and they were all drafted outside the top 12 according to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP. This means last year there was a 50% chance of missing on the QB you picked in the top 12.
Every year there are career years or breakouts, it makes more sense to target players going later who have a chance to break out. You need to be prepared to move on if you are wrong, but there will always be QBs you can pick up on the waiver wire.
If you are not comfortable trying to find a player that will breakout there are plenty of safer values on draft night. Early ADP information for 2018 shows Matthew Stafford going at 9.03. Waiting for him bring more value to your team, compared to spending a costly early pick on QBs like Rodgers, Brees or Brady who will all be drafted by the 5th round. Last year Stafford averaged 17.1 fantasy PPG, while Rodgers, Brees and Brady averaged 18.5, 16.4 and 18.5 fantasy PPG respectively. Gaining an additional 1.5 PPG is not worth missing out on critical mid round RB and WRs.
To illustrate the point further, instead of drafting Aaron Rodgers that pick could be used on Doug Baldwin or Adam Thielen, who are both going within a few picks after Rodgers. The next two WRs going after Stafford are Robert Woods and Kelvin Benjamin. If I was offered Rodgers and Benjamin for Stafford and Thielen I would reject that immediately. Looking at ADP, you can wait and draft Stafford, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers in the 9th round or later. The only way drafting a QB early is going to be worth the draft cost is if they have an all-time great fantasy seasons like Tom Brady in 2007 or Peyton Manning in 2013.
Success Through Streaming
A lot of fantasy players value having that safe option they can plug in every week and forget about at QB, but they truth is if you look at match ups and remain active it is not very difficult to stream your way to the equivalent of a mid-level QB1. Basically if you put in time to do a little effort each week (or read my planned QB streaming article this season) you will have a free QB1 and be able to save an early round pick on another WR or RB.
In 2017 the following QBs had 4 or more QB1 finishes through week 16: Tyrod Taylor, Deshone Kizer, Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, Jared Goff, Andy Dalton, Josh McCown, Eli Manning and Jacoby Brissett. They would all have been available on the waiver wire at multiple points in the season. To go a step further the following QBs all had QB1 weeks by week 16: Blaine Gabbert, CJ Beathard, Brett Hundley, TJ Yates, Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles, Kevin Hogan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer and Trevor Siemian. You can almost always find a startable option on the waiver wire. It might not feel great to start some of these guys, but when the matchup is right they can all produce and they will all be available for no cost.
Sure having Aaron Rodgers is nice, but if you want to maximize the potential of your team using an early round pick on a QB is a mistake. Please do that right thing and wait on your QB, I am basically begging you at this point.