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Drafting a Quarterback

Mon Jul 22 10:42am ET
By JEFF PAUR @jeffpaur
Sr Fantasy Writer

There is plenty of debate every year and this year is likely no different. Should I act early on a quarterback or wait? It is an interesting conundrum. Getting Patrick Mahomes early in your draft secures you an elite player at the position, but is it worth grabbing him with an early pick? We thought it would be a good idea to look at last season to help make that decision for the coming year. 

So we decided to crunch the numbers of the champions on our site last year. The first set of data we looked at was the round that championship teams took their first quarterback.

Round champs drafted first QB % Selected
1. 10th Round 13.1%
    11th Round 13.1%
3. 9th Round 10.7%
4. 12th Round 9.9%
5. 8th Round 7.6%
6. 13th Round 6.8%
7. 6th Round 6.6%
8. 7th Round 6.2%
9. 5th Round 6.1%
10. 14th Round 5.5%
11. 4th Round 4.4%
12. 15th Round 3.8%
13. 16th Round 2.8%
14. 3rd Round 2.7%
15. 2nd Round 0.3%
      17th Round 0.3%
17. 18th Round 0.1%


This data jumps out. Two rounds were tied for first. The rounds were the 10th and 11th rounds at 13.1 percent of champions. These were followed by the ninth, 12th, eighth and 13th rounds. As you can see, the earliest round in the top five was the eighth. Needless to say, the strategy of waiting on a quarterback last year was a successful one. The numbers say that 61.2 percent of champions took their first quarterback in between the eighth and 13th rounds.

The top early round was the fifth, which came in at 6.1 percent. The fourth was another early round that had some success with 4.4 percent of champions taking a quarterback that round. But overall, just 13.5 percent of champions selected a quarterback in the first five rounds of their drafts. It was a very small number that went early and won their league. 

Another set of data we wanted to examine was most owned quarterbacks on championship teams. This would give us an indication again if players that were selected early paid off or waiting on a quarterback was beneficial. It is not a surprise that Patrick Mahomes tops the list but some other names might come as a mild surprise. 

Player % Owned '18 QB Rank '18 ADP
1. Patrick Mahomes 9.8% 1 122.77
2. Ben Roethlisberger 7.1% 3 101.89
3. Deshaun Watson 6.2% 5 46.88
4. Matt Ryan 5.4% 2 112.48
5. Andrew Luck 5.2% 4 101.88
    Kirk Cousins 5.2% 9 100.13
7. Jimmy Garoppolo 4.8% 40 116.99
    Russell Wilson 4.8% 10 62.45
9. Philip Rivers 4.6% 12 111.41
10. Aaron Rodgers 4.5% 7 30.39
11. Jared Goff 4.4% 6 139.41
12. Carson Wentz 4.1% 23 102.4
      Marcus Mariota 4.1% 26 177.88
14. Cam Newton 3.5% 14 65.93
      Alex Smith 3.5% 32 159.67


Patrick Mahomes was owned on 9.8 percent of championship teams, which is the clear top quarterback. It is a little bit of a surprise he wasn’t owned on more teams, though, considering his record-breaking season and low ADP (101.89). This also shows that championship teams were able to win even if they didn’t have Mahomes. 

The biggest thing that jumps out is the variety of players owned. There were 10 quarterbacks owned between four and 5.5 percent. There was a big variety of players in this group, including Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. Championship teams won with a variety of quarterbacks.

Rodgers had the highest ADP of any quarterback on this list at 30.39 and came in as the 10th most owned. DeShaun Watson had the next highest ADP (46.88) and was third most owned by championship teams. So some teams did have some success using an early pick on a quarterback. 

But we do have to point out that six of the first seven quarterbacks on the most owned list had an ADP of 100-plus. Again, the data shows that more teams waited and had success with that approach. 

It is also interesting to note that two injured quarterbacks made this list (Jimmy Garoppolo and Carson Wentz). This points out that those owners had great backups, which is another sign that the position was deep and you could win even if your starter didn’t pan out. 

Overall, things change from year to year, but the quarterback position looks as deep as ever this year. It might be the deepest in fantasy history with Tom Brady being the 18th quarterback off the board with his current ADP. So with that said and data from last year, waiting on a quarterback in your draft certainly seems to be the prudent strategy. 

Last year showed that you can win with a host of different quarterbacks and the most successful championship teams won by taking their first quarterback in either the 10th or 11th round. So while it might be tempting to use a third-round pick on Mahomes or a fourth-round selection on Andrew Luck, your chances of winning your league might be better if you wait and get someone like Carson Wentz or Matt Ryan much later in your draft. The number don’t lie.