The notion that anyone could claim to have fantasy football credentials is amusing to me. Are we to believe that all alleged "fantasy football experts" have decades of experience as NFL scouts, as well as advanced degrees in statistics and game theory?
No, in most cases, the experts just people like you and me. They enjoy this fantasy football thing -- or as I like to call it, "Dungeons & Dragons for sports fans" -- and they've seized some opportunities to write about it. So up front, all I'm going to say is that this season will be my ninth as a fantasy football nerd and I've had a lot of success doing it.
My secret has been to wait for value while drafting a quarterback. I'm going to say that one more time: this year, in your fantasy football draft, wait for a quarterback.
Guys like Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles can give you tremendous fantasy production per game, sure, but the odds that you strike gold and draft a signal caller who can single-handedly carry your football team -- like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots a few seasons ago -- are slim. Plus, the difference in production between the top fantasy quarterback and the twelfth-ranked fantasy quarterback are usually marginal when compared to the same discrepancies for halfbacks and wideouts.
Instead, you need to be swinging for the fences and drafting for depth at wide receiver and running back -- the bread and butter of a fantasy roster built for the long, injury-riddled haul of the NFL season. Like I said, wait for a quarterback. (And wait for a tight end ... but that's a topic for another post.)
For those unwilling to mortgage their entire draft with an early-round quarterback selection, someone like the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger is an excellent choice. In just twelve games last season, he passed for 3,200 yards (267 ypg), minimized turnovers and recorded 19 total touchdowns. If you extrapolate those statistics over the course of a full season, you're reaping the benefits of Drew-Brees-like production for a substantially lower price tag.
According to Mock Draft Central, Roethlisberger is typically being drafted around pick No. 72 - as of August 18 - sandwiched between Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys (No. 67) and Matt Schaub (No. 80) of the Houston Texans.
So my advice to you -- as a self-described fantasy nerd with no particularly relevant advanced degrees -- is to wait and select someone like Roethlisberger, Schaub or the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (No. 101), who I actually prefer to Roethlisberger. Another prudent option is to really load up on depth at running back and wide receiver, then address quarterback with a platoon of young, unproven quarterbacks with upside -- guys like Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (No. 105), Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams (No. 130), Kevin Kolb of the Arizona Cardinals (No. 171) and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (No. 193). Then you can play the matchups each week.
The bottom line is. Wait. For. A. Quarterback.