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The Great Debate: Draft a QB or TE Early or Late?

Photo courtesy Bucs Nation/USA Today

Have you ever gone into a draft telling yourself you are going to get an elite QB like Pat Mahomes or Lamar Jackson but end up getting sniped by the team in front of you? Or gone into a draft thinking you are going to draft the elite TEs like Travis Kelce or Darren Waller but end up missing out on them?

We all know that if we could just walk into a draft and get all the best players, we would win every year. That’s a great thing about redraft leagues, you cannot get all the best players. If you do happen to miss out on one of those elite QBs or TEs there are still players in the later rounds that can still get you value.

Lamar Jackson looking confident
Lamar Jackson looking confident

QB 2018

Who was the MVP of the 2018 NFL season? Patrick Mahomes. Can you guess what round he was being drafted in according to FFC in 2018? Looking back, you may say probably 3rd round or 4th round. Nope. Mahomes was being drafted in the 10th round! That’s most of the way through the draft! Even though he was drafted in the 10th round he finished as the QB1 overall in 2018 and finished as a QB1 87.5 % of the time according to PFF. That’s value! This was also his second year in the league. Andrew Luck was drafted in the 8th round and finished as the #5 QB overall that year and finished as a QB 1 75% of the time. There were 7 QBs in 2018 that finished QB1 at least 57.1% of the time and only one of them was drafted before the 5th round. Another stat I looked at was that there were only 13 QBs that had more than 7 QB1 weekly finishes in 2018. Of those 13 only 2 of them were drafted after the 4th round.

QB 2019

We previously talked about how Pat Mahomes was the MVP of the NFL in 2018 and I noticed that was a two-year trend. This is because Lamar Jackson was the MVP in 2019 and he finished as the #1 overall QB in Fantasy Football in 2019. He was drafted where? The 9th round! That’s crazy! He finished as a QB1 in 86.7% of the games he played in 2019 that was the best out of all QBs that year. Dak Prescott and Ryan Tannehill were right behind him with 75%. Dak was being drafted in the 11th round and Tannehill wasn’t being drafted at all.

All three of these players have rushing ability which makes sense that they finished as a QB1 so often. Jackson rushed for 7 TDs, Dak ran for 3 but passed for 30 and Tannehill rushed for 4 and threw for 22 touchdowns. Dak finished as the 2nd overall QB and Tannehill as QB22. The same thing happened in 2019 as in 2018 when it comes to players with 7 or more weekly QB1 finishes. Only 13 QBs finished with 7 or more and only 2 of them were drafted before the 4th round.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) attempts a pass during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Nissan Stadium.
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

QB 2020

In 2020 we saw Pat Mahomes finish as the #5 QB and Lamar Jackson finished as the #9 QB. Josh Allen finished as the #1 QB in 2020 he was being drafted in the 9th round. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a three-year trend where the MVP that season would finish as the #1 QB as Aaron Rodgers would win the MVP and would finish as QB #2. Josh Allen also only finished as a QB1 in 56.3% of the weeks he played, but he averaged the second-most PPG in 2020 with 24.99. This wasn’t the only thing that helped him secure his top spot. He also scored 8 rushing touchdowns.

Aaron Rodgers who was being drafted in the 8th round(!) finished as a QB1 81.3% of the time! And had the most QB1 weekly finishes of the group. Kyler Murray who was being drafted in the 6th round finished as a QB1 68.8% of the time and was only 13 points away from finishing as QB1 overall. He finished as a QB1 in 11 weeks last season.

We do not know what is going to happen with Deshaun Watson this year but last year he was QB4 and had 11 weekly QB1 finishes and was being drafted in the 6th round. Ryan Tannehill finished as QB8 on the season and was being drafted in the 13th round! Tannehill finished as a QB1 only 8 times but finished as QB11 in PPG last year. Rookie Justin Herbert who got a chance to start after a freak accident to Tyrod Taylor wasn’t even being drafted and finished as QB10 in total points and QB9 in PPG. He also finished as a QB1 in 9 games last year and that was without his star Rb in Austin Ekeler. Out of the 13 QBs that finished with 7+ QB1 weekly finishes only 2 of them were drafted before the 3rd round; the same goes for the Top-13 QBs last year.

TE 2018

Now it’s time to talk about TEs. There is a TE that has been ruling over all tight ends over the past three years. His name is Travis Kelce. He has finished as the #1 TE in the previous 5 years, which is amazing. Having Patrick Mahomes as your QB has helped of course and also, he is a problem for defenses. Enough about him though and let’s talk about some players in 2018 that you could have drafted after Kelce and still got solid value on. George Kittle was being drafted in the 12th round and scored over 16 PPG in 2018. He also finished as a TE1 12 times.

Eric Ebron was being drafted in the 13th round and scored just under 15 PPG last season finished as a TE1 11 times. Ebron finished as TE4 in 2018. Zach Ertz who was being drafted in the 4th round finished second overall that season and had just over 17.5 PPG. If he caught 2 more passes a game, he would have been TE1. Ertz had 12 TE1 weekly finishes. Out of the 7 TEs that finished as the TE1 weekly only Kelce and Ertz were being drafted before the 6th round. They and Rob Gronkowski were the only three players in the Top-10 at the position to be drafted before the 6th round. Austin Hooper finished as TE6 overall and was being drafted in the 13th round.

TE 2019

In 2019 we had Travis Kelce finish as the Top TE and he had 14 TE1 weekly finishes. There is a name on my list that was being drafted in the 8th round and had 9 TE1 weekly finishes his name is Austin Hooper. He again finished as TE6 overall on the season a TE4 in PPG. Mark Andrews was being drafted in the 12th round, finished as TE 5 overall and TE6 in PPG, and accumulated 10 TE1 weekly finishes. What helped Andrews was the fact that Lamar Jackson, his QB, had an MVP season. Darren Waller finished as the TE2 overall and was being drafted in the 13th round. He had 11 weekly TE1 finishes and just under 14 PPG in 2019.

Jared Cook was another player who was being drafted after the 5th round and finished as TE7 on the season while also having 10 weekly TE finishes. Out of the 9 TEs that accumulated 7+ weekly finishes as a TE1, only 3 were being drafted before the 4th round and one of them went undrafted according to FFC. Out of the Top-10 TEs overall in 2019, only 3 of them were being drafted before the 4th round and 2 of them went undrafted.

TE 2020

A lot of the TEs we talked about in the year prior went a little higher in the drafts since they had good seasons. There were a few players that stood out last year when it came to the TE position. One is T.J. Hockenson he finished as TE5 overall. Hockenson was drafted in the 12th round while putting together 8 TE1 weekly finishes. Jonnu Smith is another one of those players that stood out last year. He was being drafted in the 13th round and had 7 TE1 weekly finishes. Noah Fant who was drafted in the 10th round finished as TE11 but only had 4 TE1 finishes. Hayden Hurst was being drafted in the 7th round and finished as a TE1 9 times last season. Hurst also ended up being the TE9 overall on the season.

Waller ended up as a TE1 11 times last season. Of Top-10 overall at the position, only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews were being drafted before the 5th round; only 3 of them went undrafted. 11 TEs that had 7+ weekly finishes as a TE1. Before the 5th round is where two of them went. Three of them went undrafted.

Darren Waller Fantasy Football
Sep 29, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) misses the ball during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusion

You can find value without spending up for one of these positions. Use these picks to solidify your RB or WR. Yes, it would be great to have the elite TE or Elite QB or both for that matter. If you lose out on those top players don’t worry! It shows you can find value in the late rounds as well as on the waiver wire.

Written by John Borges

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