Originally written on Roto Rankings  |  Last updated 11/17/14
The Fantasy Football landscape of the last couple years has been one of two ideologies, those who favor the running back early and often and those who favor the ‘elite’ passer as the foundation for a winning squad. To get either, you have to get one early. These Yin Yang effects of seemingly opposite or contrary forces are actually interconnected and interdependent of each other. Coming out of 2011 when ‘elite’ quarterbacks seemingly were on all championship winning squads (3 QB’s with 5k+ PaYD’s and 3 with 40+ PaTD’s) the tide shifted to a record number of ‘elite’ quarterbacks being taken in round 1 of 2012 fantasy drafts and even #1 overall.  To the contrary, the success of the RB was limited when it came to benchmark figures: only 1 RB surpassed 1,500 RuYD’s and only 4 scored a dozen or more RuTD’s. So with our fish brains we only remember what happened the year before and decided to follow the food;  the real football landscape of the passing first league into the fox hole and draft Rodgers #1, Brady in the top 5 and Brees in the Top 10. Thus, hunkering down with whatever RB’s we could get after, because we were happy to have an ‘elite’ QB and believing their scoring variance would outweigh a deficiency in other roster spots.  But what happened in 2012? Only 1 QB surpassed 5k yards and it was Drew Brees. Secondly, only 1 QB passed for more than 40+ TD’s, again Drew Brees. While the ‘elite’ QB drafters continually waited for that breakout stretch, or that one needed 40 burger because the rest of their squad was underperforming, it was the teams with Tony Romo and Matt Ryan enjoying the success of their first and most likely second round running backs. 2012 saw four RB’s go over 1,500 RuYD’s and again 4 with a dozen or more RuTD’s. So what happens in 2013? Does the Yang rise back up and the QB’s bounce back after a down year? Do the steady and reliable ‘stud’ running backs continue their 1,500 yards and a dozen or so RuTD’s? Will you be a hipster spitting in the face of 2012 and the old school regime and get that ‘elite’ quarterback against all the depth and value based arguments? In 2012 we thought we saw the beginning of a trend. We tried to correlate real life with fantasy. We jumped on the QB train and tried to ride it to back to back championships, but we were derailed by a tried and true RB philosophy. Unfortunately in 2013, we may never know what could have been with the ‘elite’ quarterbacks and if they could have bounced back in scoring as pocket passers.  This new young crop of QB’s are throwing and running; and what’s more valuable than a QB that can get you double value on yards by running? Looking at Brady and Brees vs. Cam and RGIII you are looking at a 300 yards passing to 225 yards passing and an almost 2 to 1 passing TD ratio. But where Cam and RGIII make up the scoring difference is their 50 yards rushing a game.  50 yards rushing from your pistol/option/zone read quarterback is worth 100 to 125 passing yards to the pocket passing QB. So those additional rushing yards more than surpass the aforementioned 75 yard passing difference.   Furthermore Cam and RGIII are averaging almost a half RuTd as well. So that’s another 3 points that if in a standard league of 4 point passing TD’s would help bridge that 2 to 1 gap on the passing TD’s. Bridging these ‘elite’ (Brees, Brady and Rodgers) pocket passers and the mobile quarterbacks (Kaepernick, Cam and RGIII) are the “very good guys” like Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, and risers like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. So how big is the league you play in? 10, 12 or 14?  Well I just named 12 guys that can all score similarly and guys like Eli and Big Ben are still out there slinging the ball all over in a serviceable manner. Regardless of how those QB’s matriculate the ball the down the field, the end result in points between any of the aforementioned players will be negligible on an average basis.  Sure Rodgers, Brady or Brees can single handedly win you a week with a 40 or 50 burger, but ask 2012 Rodgers owners what it felt like waiting for that week to happen! So are you going old school and running back first? First and second?  Til all the RB2’s are gone? Or are you a hipster hanging on that pre 2012 trend of the pocket passer and banking on the 5k yards and 40+ TD’s?  The question I have for you is which of the 3 ‘elite’ quarterbacks will it be this year? What I can tell you with great confidence is that I do know who’s going to rush for 1,500 yards and a dozen or so TD’s.
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