The time has come to start changing your fantasy football strategy. No matter how much old-fashioned players like myself to try to fight it, quarterbacks are now more valuable than running backs in fantasy football. The era of the featured running back has come to an end while the era of the 5,000-yard passer has begun.
In standard fantasy football leagues, the top four players through half a season are quarterbacks. To elaborate, 18 of top 30 scorers so far in 2011 are QBs. That’s exactly how the statistic read for the entire 2010 season. In fact, 9 of top 10 scorers in 2010 were QBs.
It’s been coming for a while, but we just refused to accept it. Two years ago, drafters started taking QBs at the end of the first round. Those with the 9th or 10th pick who wanted a stud running back panicked when they were all gone and grabbed Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. That didn’t turn out so bad for them.
So last season, those same players did the same thing, but with higher picks. If they didn’t get Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, they chose Rodgers or another stud QB as their top player. Then it finally happened.
This season, a QB was the No. 1 overall pick in a majority of fantasy football drafts worldwide. That’s right; Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick or Rodgers were taken first overall in almost three-fourths of all fantasy football drafts this season.
You know the reason why this is happening; the league is leaning on the pass more and more each season. Now it’s to the point that Dan Marino’s single-season passing record will soon be obsolete. There are three quarterbacks on pace for over 5,000 passing yards this season. The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady and Rodgers are all on pace to break Marino’s record in the same season.
The decline of the featured running back also contributes to this mutiny of fantasy football superstars. The number of running backs who average 20 carries per game is half of what it was a decade ago. If you don’t have Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy on your team these days, you’re up a creek without a paddle.
With all the running back committees in the NFL these days (curse you, Mike Shanahan!), you’re hard-pressed to find a running back you can start every week without double checking how many carries he had after each contest. This has made all-around players like McCoy more valuable than ever.
In all formats, but especially Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues, running backs who can catch the football are heavily coveted. Players who can rush for 100 yards and a touchdown while adding a few catches for 40 receiving yards are the breed of stud. Of course, those players are few and far between, leading to the higher drafting of QBs.
The more teams lean on the pass, the more they develop quality fantasy quarterbacks. With more stud QBs now, there are also more quality second-tier starting passers than ever before. For example, all those players who drafted the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford in the late rounds this season are basking in the glory of their first place standings. Those who picked up Cam Newton off waivers are doing the same thing. Even now with all the scrambling for a stud QB, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger is on pace for over 4,600 passing yards and he typically went in Round 6 or later this year!
If you’re winning in your fantasy football league this year, bookmark this page for next season. If you’re season is already toast, you need to start moving QBs up your draft board. A guy like Rodgers is easily the difference in a .500 fantasy team and an undefeated squad. QBs rule now. Case closed.
Contact Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin