2017 Fantasy Football: How to Draft a Quarterback First and Still Have an Awesome Lineup

By John Leinweber
Aug. 14, 2017

To help you perfect different draft strategies, I'm here with the best strategy after drafting a Quarterback first. In standard one Quarterback leagues, I never personally choose to go this route because of the depth at the position. When you’re in the position to draft a player like David Johnson, who outscored many Quarterbacks last season, it’s hard to pass this up. However, based on your own league rules or personal preferences, drafting a Quarterback with a first round pick might be the best fit for you. For you Quarterback lovers, I’ll show you how to attack drafting the rest of your lineup to win your league.

If you’re going to draft a Quarterback in the first round of a standard league, it has to be either Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Both will be at the helms of elite offenses and are the only two Quarterbacks that generally go before the fifth round. Last season, Rodgers led all Quarterbacks in fantasy points by a wide margin, as he accounted for 44 touchdowns. Brady had a 28-2 touchdown to interception ratio in the twelve regular season games he played. Both are the best of the best when it comes to Quarterbacks, and the choice really comes down to preference. Ultimately, I’d have to pick Rodgers because their defense is much worse, and this will force Rodgers to keep throwing late in the fourth quarter.

From here, the draft gets a lot more interesting. Even though I love to grab a great bellcow running back early, I let the board fall to me in drafts. Ultimately, I want to get the best player available at each remaining pick, especially at the running back and receiver position. However, I will have a different opinion of how players are ranked than the draft software might. Even if I spend tons of time on my rankings, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your perceptions and reasoning you have behind certain players. The goal is to take the best value at each pick, based on how you perceive the value of the players available.

Fortunately I had a really strong mock draft as plenty of talent fell to me on the draft board. When drafting Quarterback early, teams are subject to missing out on elite positional players. To balance this out, all of my other picks except the last three were all running backs and wide receivers. The goal is to get as much talent as I can early on, and take shots on players with the most upside later in the draft. I was able to get Mike Evans who is usually a first round pick, early in the second round. I also created a good balance between touches and touchdowns, along with boom or bust players and consistent PPR scorers. I typically choose to wait at tight end unless Travis Kelce was available, and got Jack Doyle in round 14. Below are all my picks, the point in the draft they were made, and an explanation as to why I went this direction. This is for a 10 team PPR mock draft, that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR.

1.09: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

*Courtesy of USA Today

As I mentioned above, if I’m going Quarterback in the first round then I’m taking the best of the best. Rodgers should be responsible for 40 touchdowns again this season between his passing and his legs. This is really a no-brainer here, unless you like Tom Brady more, which I can’t argue against.

2.02: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Loved having a first round receiver like Evans fall to me here. The additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard will help this offense in all dimensions. Jackson’s deep threat ability will take safeties and double teams away from Evans, and should make it easier on Evans. As much as I love getting a running back in the first two rounds, I can’t argue with this value at the 12th pick.

3.09: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

I absolutely love Leonard Fournette in the third round because of the volume he’ll have. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has made it clear that he wants to run the ball, play defense, and not let Blake Bortles throw at all. This defense looks scary on paper, and should prevent the team from being down more than one score. This will help Fournette hit close to 300 carries this season, as T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory haven’t impressed in Jacksonville.

4.02: Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots

Getting a high ceiling player like Brandin Cooks for my WR2 in the fourth round is a great bargain. I usually see Cooks go in the third because of how high his ceiling is. Taking Cooks in the fourth will help negate the struggles of the occasional down week for Cooks. With such a large number of mouths to feed in New England, it’s inevitable that Cooks will have a few bad weeks. However, he is the best receiver to play with Brady since Randy Moss, so how can you not be excited.

5.09: Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore Ravens

I would’ve grabbed Woodhead after Diggs typically, but there were many more receivers than running backs on the board here. When healthy, Woodhead has been an excellent pass catcher, and Baltimore threw to running backs more than any team in the NFL last season. Even if Joe Flacco misses the first two weeks, Woodhead will still be in line for lots of targets.

6.02: Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

I’m really high on Diggs this season, as he played through injuries most of last year. We saw sparks from him early last year as he diced up the Packers secondary in week two. Diggs is an excellent route runner and a PPR machine, as he had two games with 13 catches last season. I view Diggs similarly to Jarvis Landry and Julian Edelman, but he’s going two rounds later and has more upside.

7.09: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

I’ll admit Tyreek Hill hasn’t been a major target of mine in PPR formats, but I couldn’t pass on him here. Hill was definitely the best player available late in the seventh round, and should be a bigger factor in this offense. He’ll be the number two guy after Travis Kelce, and is the biggest speed threat in the NFL.

8.02: Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots

Gillislee has been the most targeted player in all my mock drafts this preseason. There are 18 rushing touchdowns from LeGarrette Blount up for grabs in New England, and Gillislee looks to be the primary recipient. All reports out of camp have been promising for Gillislee, and grabbing James White two rounds later for insurance will have me set.

9.09: Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints

Here in the ninth round I’m still stockpiling running backs and wide receivers. Taking Snead late in the ninth round, who will be the WR2 in a Drew Brees controlled offense is a great move. I like Snead better in PPR than in Standard, and think his ceiling could be similar to Golden Tate’s production. I think Snead could easily be a top 25 receiver, especially if Coby Fleener struggles again.

10.02: James White, RB, New England Patriots

I can’t even say this is just an insurance pick after seeing White in the Super Bowl. White will have a big role catching passes out of the backfield, the downside is his competition. Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis will be competing for running back work in pass catching and rushing. However, White has earned being atop these two in the depth chart, and is insurance in case Bill Belichick decides to change his mind on how to goal line work will be divided up.

11.09: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

I love Maclin’s value here as he can potentially be the WR1 in Baltimore. The Ravens lost about 300 targets this offseason, and Maclin should be in line for all of Steve Smith’s targets. This would help him significantly out-perform his ADP.

12.02: Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens

The second Raven’s running back I’ve drafted, West also has great value here. With the injury to Kenneth Dixon, West will get a much larger percentage of the rushing attempts. He and Woodhead will likely both be used throughout the field and especially by the goal line.

13.09: Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

After finishing as a top 20 receiver in 2016, Williams isn’t being drafted until the 12th or 13th round. With all the question marks surrounding Mike Williams’ injury, Tyrell Williams will likely be the WR2 for most of the season. Even though the Chargers have a lot of mouths to feed, Tyrell Williams has a lot of upside in this offense.

14.02: Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts

I’ve finally decided to take my tight end here in the fourteenth round. When I wait on the position, Doyle is one of my main targets. With Dwayne Allen now gone, Doyle will be on the field very often. He has developed great rapport with Andrew Luck, and should have a good target share for a 14th round draft pick.

15.09: New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams

16.02: Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers

I must say I have assembled a really good team considering I drafted a Quarterback first. You’ll notice how much depth I drafted a running back and wide receiver to make up for Rodgers. You won’t always get lucky with having a first round receiver fall to you in the second round. The point of this mock draft is to prove this strategy will work as long as you take the best players available from round two on. Load up on star running backs and receivers early and take shots on upside later in the draft. I don’t have a problem with taking a Quarterback earlier than the 14th round, but remember to consider the value you’re passing up on. Hopefully this will help solidify the strategy for those who love taking a Quarterback first, and help you win your league!

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